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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Brockmans bring their Press For Gin buttons to Òran Mór, Glasgow


For the first time, Press For Gin is going on tour. On Tuesday the 19th and Wednesday the 20th of September, Brockmans are bringing their famous buttons to Òran Mór in Glasgow’s West End for a night like no other.
Hot off the back of sell-out events in London (have a look here & here), Brockmans will be taking over the 19th Century church for 100 ticket holders. It’s simple. Press a button, gin appears. Top bartenders will be at the beck and call of guests, shaking and stirring a menu of bespoke cocktails. Exclusive gin-infused food will be on offer to soak it all up, with a host of entertainment and competitions throughout the night.
Brockmans is a gin with a difference. Brimming with botanicals and berry flavours, the over-riding taste profile is derived from ingredients drawn from across the globe. It’s best enjoyed in its perfect serve; mixed with premium tonic and garnished with a twist of grapefruit and fresh blueberries. The brand is celebrating recent gold medal prizes from the 2017 SIP Awards and International Craft Spirit Awards.
The events take place on Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th September, and tickets are priced at £20.00. This includes four cocktails and canapés. Tickets can be purchased here: http://bit.ly/P4GGlasgow.
The Press For Gin concept arose from a viral stunt video in 2016 where Brockmans Gin created the world’s first Press For Gin buttons. One more Press For Gin event will take place later this year in Manchester. Follow @brockmansgin on Twitter and Instagram for updates.
· Tickets include four cocktails, canapés and entertainment
· Follows on from two sell out events in London
· The event takes place on the 19th and 20th of September, with tickets costing £20.00
· Tickets will be on sale through Skiddle: http://bit.ly/P4GGlasgow.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Recipe - Buttermilk Chicken with Asian Slaw

Gerry's Kitchen, easy recipe, buttermilk chicken, food blogger
I'm always trying to cook easy dinners at home that can be served up quickly after a long day at work. Recently, I prepared this delicious buttermilk chicken dish that had so many of my friends and family asking for me to share the recipe.
There's a little preparation involved the night before but the end result is definitely worth the effort.
Ingredients (serves 2)
  • 2 chicken breasts, chopped into large chunks
  • 100ml buttermilk
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 1tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 1tsp smoked hot paprika
  • 1tsp onion salt
  • 1tsp garlic salt
  • 1tsp cracked black pepper
  • 100g seasoned flour (for frying)

For the salad

  • 10 sugar snap peas, sliced lengthwise
  • 5 radish, thinly sliced
  • 4 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • Half cucumber, sliced into ribbons
  • Handful coriander, chopped

For the dressing

  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 clove garlic, grated
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Salt to season
Method


  1. Mix all of the dried spices in a bowl with the chicken, stirring to make sure the chicken is compelety coated. Add the buttermilk to cover the chicken. Cover the bowl with cling film and store in the fridge overnight.
  2. Remove the chicken from the fridge before coating the chunks of chicken in the seasoned flour then set aside over a wire rack.
  3. Fill a deep cast-iron frying pan or heavy-based saucepan half full with oil and heat until the oil reached a temperate of 170C on a cooking thermometer.
  4. Carefully place 3 or 4 pieces of chicken into the pan. Take care not to overcrowd the pan as the oil temperature will drop rapidly. Cook the chicken for 10-12 minutes, poke the thermometer into the meat - the chicken will be cooked when it reaches 73C.
  5. Once cooked, transfer the cooked chicken pieces onto a clean wire rack to drain then repeat the process until all of the chicken is cooked.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the salad by tossing all the contents together. Prepare the dressing by shaking all the ingredients in a small jar then pour over the salad. Toss the salad again to make sure that everything is covered by the dressing.

To serve, divide the salad and chicken between two plates with some lemon mayonnaise and tuck in. Soaking the chicken in buttermilk is all about science. The lactic acid in the buttermilk starts to break down the proteins strands in the chicken resulting in the cooked chicken being tender and moist. The buttermilk also helps the dredged flour to stick to the chicken better giving a good crunchy finish.

The sharp slaw and tangy lemon mayonnaise are the perfect accompaniment for the crispy fried chicken. This dish is so good, I'm sure that once you've tried it one, you'll quickly become a frequent fryer!

 

Gerry's Kitchen, easy recipe, buttermilk chicken, food blogger

 

 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Restaurant Review - The Seafood Ristorante, Bruce Embankment, St Andrews

Gerry's Kitchen, restaurant review, St Andrews restaurants, seafood restaurant, The Seafood Ristorante, food blogger, Citylicious
When I think of St Andrews, I either think of childhood holidays or the sport of golf however following a recent visit to The Seafood Ristorante, I might need to add fine dining to the list.
The restaurant is housed inside an iconic glass and steel cube on Bruce Embankment (formerly The Seafood Restaurant for almost 15 years) that overlooks St Andrews West Sands, which has been refurbished and rebranded under the new ownership of Stefano Pieraccini, a 22 year old entrepreneur from the East Neuk town. With a change in name, albeit not massive, the new restaurant will lean towards Italian-style quality dining. Fans of good food need not worry about the the new owner's young age as Stefano will be mentored by his father, restauranteur Adrian Pieraccini who previously owned the hugely successful Rocca restaurant for many years.
Gerry's Kitchen, restaurant review, St Andrews restaurants, seafood restaurant, The Seafood Ristorante, food blogger, Citylicious
Thanks to the floor to ceiling windows on all four sides of the building, the restaurant is light and airy and I imagine that the view from the restaurant will be stunning all year round.
We were fortunate enough to be seated in one of the corner tables and although it wasn't the nicest of days outside, we still had pretty good views of the North Sea rolling onto the beach.
Gerry's Kitchen, restaurant review, St Andrews restaurants, seafood restaurant, The Seafood Ristorante, food blogger, Citylicious
As we took time to look over the menu, we were served a couple of traditional Italian snacks, including shards of aged Parmigiano Reggiano and 'Baccala' salt cod croquettes as well as a selection of home baked breads with creamy butter.
The salt cod croquettes were delicious and a good indicator of how the rest of our lunch was likely to be. The croquettes were served with an aioli that was was packed full with garlic flavour that worked wonderfully with the salty cod. As for the Parmigiano Reggiano, what can I say? Cut from a huge wheel of cheese, the crumbly, salty shards were the perfect way to make up the taste buds.
Gerry's Kitchen, restaurant review, St Andrews restaurants, seafood restaurant, The Seafood Ristorante, food blogger, Citylicious
As we waited on our starters being prepared, we were served the house speciality as a second appetiser. This hand dived Ardnamurchan scallop which has been baked in the shell in an Asian style has been on the menu since the restaurant opened. Owing to the popularity of this dish, it will likely be on the menu for many years to come.
Gerry's Kitchen, restaurant review, St Andrews restaurants, seafood restaurant, The Seafood Ristorante, food blogger, Citylicious
The scallop was seasoned with garlic, ginger, chilli and soy sauce before being being baked in the oven. The pastry seal acts not only keeps the steak inside the shell to help cook the scallop but can also be used to mop up the spicy sauce one yet I've finished your scallop.
We both loved the flavours of this dish with fiery chilli and ginger working really well with the sweet scallop. I actually prefer my scallop cooked more simply but I loved this Asian twist.
Gerry's Kitchen, restaurant review, St Andrews restaurants, seafood restaurant, The Seafood Ristorante, food blogger, Citylicious
Our starters weren't too far away and had me know that the portion sizes were so big, we might have skipped starter altogether. Nicola opted for the langoustine ravioli with roasted langoustine tails and spice shellfish vinaigrette which was a delightful bowl of flavour. A single ravioli, stuffed with a pâté which was mostly well seasoned langoustine, sat atop three good sized langoustine tails and topped with a little caviar. The vinaigrette was more like a shellfish bisque, packed with fresh shellfish flavours with just the right balance of acidity to cut through the sweet langoustine.
Gerry's Kitchen, restaurant review, St Andrews restaurants, seafood restaurant, The Seafood Ristorante, food blogger, Citylicious
I decided to take a break from fish and selected the steak tartare with nasturtium and bacon butter for my own starter. Pretty as a picture, the tender beef was well seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, capers and shallot although maybe just a touch too much white pepper for some. Thinly sliced radishes and some microherbs added some much needed texture to dish, although there was also a slice of toasted bread served on the side with the aforementioned bacon butter. I love steak tartare but the portion size was huge and knowing that I still had a main course to follow, I struggled to finish my starter.
Gerry's Kitchen, restaurant review, St Andrews restaurants, seafood restaurant, The Seafood Ristorante, food blogger, Citylicious
When Nicola's main dish of Anstruther lobster pappardelle with roasted buttered lobster and shellfish sauce arrived, we both felt a little disappointed in how the dish was presented. Don't get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with the taste or quantity it's just that the previous dishes had been presented beautifully whereas this dish looked like a big plate of pasta. Of course, it's difficult to make pappardelle look sexy but we expected to see a more refined delivery after the previous courses.
Putting that aside, the pasta was cooked perfectly, the shellfish sauce was wonderfully rich without being 'too fishy' and the roasted buttered lobster claw that sat on the top of the dish was as good as I've tasted.
Gerry's Kitchen, restaurant review, St Andrews restaurants, seafood restaurant, The Seafood Ristorante, food blogger, Citylicious
My own main of Isle of Gigha halibut, steamed with lemon, cockles, new season asparagus and watercress was a picture on a plate. It looked classy and tasted wonderful. The halibut was soft, succulent and seasoned well with the subtle flavour of lemon doing just enough to add to the fish without overpowering it. The accompanying cockles added a natural saltiness to the dish whilst the watercress purée was a peppery counterbalance.
Gerry's Kitchen, restaurant review, St Andrews restaurants, seafood restaurant, The Seafood Ristorante, food blogger, Citylicious
After our hearty feast we both admitted defeat and didn't even attempt to look over the dessert menu, instead rounding off our meal with a shot of strong Italian coffee. The accompanying homemade pistachio cannoli was the perfect sugary sweet pick-me-up to ready us for the long drive home.
The menu prices are maybe a little higher than I would usually pay for lunch or dinner but seafood restaurants have never been cheap and I can honestly say that at The Seafood Ristorante, you get what you pay for. The quality of the fish and seafood was exceptionally high and when matched with the cooking skill in the kitchen and the attentive service, The Seafood Ristorante delivered a truly memorable lunch and somewhere that I would happily recommend should you ever find yourself on a St. Andrews.
We dined as guests of the restaurant but the review above is an honest account of our experiences on the day. We wish the staff, management and new owners all the best for the future although based on what we seen, I'm sure that Stefano and his team will be around for many years.
Keep up to date with news and offfers from The Seafood Ristorante on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Restaurant Review - The Tayberry St Andrews, Kinnettles Hotel, North St, St Andrews

The Tayberry St Andrews, Gerry's Kitchen, Restaurant Review, St Andrews Restaurants, food blogger, Kinnettles Hotel St Andrews
Just over a year ago myself and Nicola celebrated by birthday with a wonderful tasting menu dinner at The Tayberry in Broughty Ferry. The restaurant is run by CIS Excellence Awards Young Chef of The Year 2015, Adam Newth, who is a chef with his star on the rise. I love Adam's approach to cooking because he makes a big effort as he sources from local producers where possible so when I was asked if we would be interested in reviewing his 2nd restaurant venture in St Andrews, I was quick to say yes and sort a date for the diary.
The Tayberry St Andrews, Gerry's Kitchen, Restaurant Review, St Andrews Restaurants, food blogger, Kinnettles Hotel St Andrews
The Tayberry St Andrews is located within the recently opened Kinnettles Hotel & Spa on St Andrew's North Street and in order to make the most of our long drive from East Kilbride, we were invited to stay overnight at the hotel. See my recent review here.
The Tayberry St Andrews, Gerry's Kitchen, Restaurant Review, St Andrews Restaurants, food blogger, Kinnettles Hotel St Andrews
The restaurant is situated on the ground floor, sitting to the right of the main hotel reception desk and although the dining area looks very elegant, there is nothing to separate where the restaurant stops and the foyer starts. The design and layout of the hotel and restaurant will have no doubt been a headache for the architects involved but it does mean that you might be enjoying your slap up meal while reception try to check in guests or giving information or directions to tourists. It does take the shine away a little from the fine dining element of The Tayberry although I understand that a solution is currently being looked into at the moment so don't let this put you off visiting.
We were being treated to the Tasting Menu along with a selection of paired wines. The tasting menu cost £55 per person with the paired wine option being a further £40 each. Whilst I'm a huge fan of having paired wines with dinner as it gives you the chance to try wines that you might not have had before, or have the Somellier pass on their knowledge of a particular grape, region or vineyard, I feel that the value for money on the paired wines doesn't stack up.
Don't get me wrong, the wines that we had were all very pleasant - the Cosmina Pinot Grigio was particularly nice - but the hotel bar wine list only runs to about 12 wines (and we had four of them plus a glass of fizz) so I think it's a little optimistic to think that the selection of wines on the menu are going to be paired effectively with a changing menu. If we were dining at The Tayberry St Andrews again, we would simply choose one of the well priced wines and share the bottle.
The Tayberry St Andrews, Gerry's Kitchen, Restaurant Review, St Andrews Restaurants, food blogger, Kinnettles Hotel St Andrews
Despite my negative comments on the value on the paired wines, I can't say the same about the tasting menu itself. From start to finish, the portion sizes were great and everything looked and tasted great.
We started with hot smoked salmon blini, orange, salmon roe 'caviar' which was an explosion of taste and a great way to open our account at The Tayberry St Andrews. The salmon was moist with a heavy smoky flavour that was balanced by the sharp orange sauce and saltiness of the salmon roe.
The Tayberry St Andrews, Gerry's Kitchen, Restaurant Review, St Andrews Restaurants, food blogger, Kinnettles Hotel St Andrews
Next up was a wonderful dish of smoked ham hough terrine, pickled daikon, hazelnut. This is the type of starter that I would order if I had seen it on an a la crate menu so was delighted that it was one of the courses on the tasting menu. The balance of flavour and texture was spot on, with the coarse ham hough terrine which was well seasoned balanced with the pickled daikon. The hazelnut purée was silky smooth and packed full of nutty flavour that worked really well with the other flavours on the plate.
The Tayberry St Andrews, Gerry's Kitchen, Restaurant Review, St Andrews Restaurants, food blogger, Kinnettles Hotel St Andrews
The next dish was both of our favourites and in my opinion, reason enough to make a trip to St Andrews, especially as this dish is on the a la carte menu at The Tayberry St Andrews.
The Scrabster hake, chorizo, borlotti beans, haricot vert, garlic butter was simply outstanding! Hake is still underused but this fish from the same family as the cod is every bit as good. The fish was cooked perfectly and served with the crispiest skin over a bed of soft borlotti beans and green beans which carried them smoky flavours of the spicy chorizo. The addition of a plump mussel was a pleasant surprise although I'm sure the dish would manage without it.
The Tayberry St Andrews, Gerry's Kitchen, Restaurant Review, St Andrews Restaurants, food blogger, Kinnettles Hotel St Andrews
The last savoury dish was slow cooked beef cheek, potato purée, burnt leek, raisins, red wine jus which was another knock-out course. The beef had been cooked for hours until it was melt-in-mouth tender and served over silky mashed potatoes. The beef cheek tasted great while sweetness from the raisins and bitterness from the charred leeks added extra layers of flavour.
The Tayberry St Andrews, Gerry's Kitchen, Restaurant Review, St Andrews Restaurants, food blogger, Kinnettles Hotel St Andrews
The penultimate course was our cheese course which was a pretty plate of Brie, apple jelly, poached pear, bitter leaves. I like cheese but often feel that the cheese selections in restaurants are too 'grown up' for me but the cheese course at The Tayberry was right up my street. The Brie was soft and creamy with a mild flavour which was lifted thanks to the bitter leaves. The apple jelly and pear brought enough sweet to the dish and set us up for our dessert.
The Tayberry St Andrews, Gerry's Kitchen, Restaurant Review, St Andrews Restaurants, food blogger, Kinnettles Hotel St Andrews
The final course of the tasting menu was one for those with a sweet tooth which suited me down to the ground. Our dessert of Pittormie strawberries, white chocolate cannelloni, vanilla ice cream was delicious. What's not to like about strawberries and ice-cream? When you throw in a crispy filo pastry tube filled with soft gooey white chocolate, you've got something not far short of my perfect pudding. As part of the paired wines, our dessert was served with a glass of fizz - a perfect way to end the evening.
With dinner done, we made our way through to the bar for a final G&T before heading up to bed.
We dined during the soft launch of the hotel and restaurant and as a result, the restaurant was very quiet. In fact, there was only one other couple eating in the restaurant that evening which meant that the atmosphere was pretty flat. However I'm sure that once word is out about the food and service, the locals will be flocking to The Tayberry St Andrews.
We would like to thank the staff and management of The Tayberry St Andrews for their hospitality and generosity and wish the every success in the future. We dined as guests of the restaurant however my review above is anhonest account of our evening.
Keep up to date with with news and offers at The Tayberry St Andrews on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Rioja Finnieston Unveils New San Sebastián Inspired Menu

No Beach Required, Transport Yourself To The Spanish Seaside With Seasonal Flavours on Rioja Market Menu

Glasgow’s most authentic Spanish restaurant, Rioja Finnieston, is celebrating modern Iberian gastronomy and Scottish flavours with the launch of their seasonal market fresh dishes.

Marking an elevated evolution of their menu, the dishes push boundaries with contemporary fare and will be updated every four weeks to reflect seasonal produce; this month they are inspired by San Sebastián - famed for incredible fresh foodie flavours and innovative cooking methods.

The market menu celebrates the best of Spanish high quality produce; Galician blonde beef aged for 78 days from Rubia Gallega cattle; the finest Ibérian ham reared from black Spanish pigs in eastern Spain; razor clams from the North Atlantic and incredible Scottish seafood from independent producers like Glasgow’s own, Bernard Corrigan’s.

Expect intoxicating dishes like green apple ceviche with smoked mackerel and celery, inspired by summers by the sea in Bilbao. A must try it’s like a fresh, refreshing breeze on a hot lazy day.
Squid ink rice with Spanish langoustine is another seafood classic, while West Coast Scottish mussels enjoy a Spanish twist with a splash of Albariño and lemongrass. Drinks are not an afterthought either with refreshing Spanish cocktails and speciality drinks on the menu, like the zingy Zarza Roja - a perfect combination for summer; muddled citrus fruits layered with vodka, blackberry, and juicy soft fruits. Or if you prefer something darker, the tall and alluring El Pulpo Loco sees Kraken Dark rum and Disarrono collide with apple to create your new drink of summer.
Rioja has long been a go to dining destination favourite with Glasgow since it opened in 2013, first as pop up on the Finnieston strip before cementing its place as a foodie favourite with permanent residence in 2014.

The seasonal menu was unveiled this week and to celebrate the new flavours, the restaurant is offering complimentary bubbles for customers who ‘Taste their Spain’ and dine on their market menu throughout August. Available Monday to Wednesday from noon until 10pm. Simply sample two dishes from the menu and sip on Spanish bubbles courtesy of the restaurant.

Owners hope that the seasonal dishes will make you discover the essence of the Mediterranean, perfectly paired with refreshing drinks in the heart of Glasgow’s West End.

Unveiling the new menu, Toni Carbajosa co-owner of Rioja said:

“Summer isn’t just about salads, evoke your senses and indulge in the exciting flavours of Spanish cooking and culture. Our team has created an exciting monthly menu that will inspire you to explore modern gastronomy techniques and dishes that will transport you straight to the vibrant streets of Spain. Our dishes are creative, authentic and we really can’t wait for our customers to ‘Taste Our Spain’ in Rioja.”

Kevin Campbell, co-owner of Rioja Finnieston continues:

“Our seasonal menu respects local produce and combines the best of Spanish and Scottish flavours in exciting combinations. We work with only the most premium and consistent suppliers to deliver a true flavour of Spain, and we hope that Glasgow enjoys our new dishes. ”

Rioja Finnieston is an independent restaurant owned and operated by The Rotunda Group in the heart of Glasgow’s West End. Founded and operated by Kevin Campbell and Toni Carbajosa.

Rioja is open seven days from noon until late specialising in modern Spanish cuisine, cocktails and wine.

To book a table and enjoy the introductory menu package at Rioja, please contact Javier via email; manager@riojafinnieston.co.uk or call 0141 334 0761

Keep updated, follow Rioja:

Facebook.com/riojafinnieston

Twitter @riojafinnieston

Instagram @riojafinnieston

All other bookings can be made on 0141 334 0761, or alternatively online at http://www.riojafinnieston.co.u

 

Glasgow Gets Behind 'No Straw' With 100% Plastic Reduction

The Last Straw – 100% Plastic Reduction in Halloumi After They Back No Straws For Summer

Glasgow’s much-loved Greek restaurant, Halloumi, has cut down their plastic consumption by 100% in the last two months after banning plastic straws since June in their busy restaurant.

Inspired to cut down their plastic pollution to do their bit for the environment, the restaurant stopped putting straws in customer drinks and has eliminated plastic straws completely from their restaurant and bar. Instead, they offer bright paper straws in Greek colours – Santorini blue and white, as a funky alternative for any customers wanting to sip their drinks through a straw.

Located on Hope Street in the city centre, the bustling restaurant, which specialises in Modern Greek fare is encouraging other restaurants and bars to follow suit. They have also cut down their overall straw use by 90% (10% of customers request continue to use a paper straw) since the restaurant went plastic free.

Speaking of the plastic ban, Lapreet Atwall, general manager of Halloumi said:

“We are proud to be a plastic-free bar and the response we’ve have had from our customers has been really positive. I think it's habit that you feel the need for a straw in your drink. You don’t ask for a straw, your bartender decides for you. We now only serve straws upon request and even the uptake on that has been very low – around 10% or less, which has led to our overall straw reduction sitting around 90%.

“If the Scottish hospitality industry could collectively back the campaign, we could really see a massive plastic reduction across the country. I’d really encourage any other business thinking about saying no to plastic to implement it in their restaurant or bar. Invest in some cool straws for those diners who’d still like a straw, it’s really worth it for the plastic reduction.”

Toni Carbajosa, co-owner of Halloumi continues: “It's our duty of care as a business to try and reduce waste as much as possible. By making a small change in our daily business practice we’ve really eliminated the need for plastic straws and our customers have backed our pledge.”
Halloumi is an independent restaurant owned and operated by The Rotunda Group in the heart of Glasgow. Co-owned and operated by Kevin Campbell and Toni Carbajosa.

For more information please visit:

Facebook.com/HalloumiGlasgow

Twitter @halloumiGlasgow

Instagram @halloumiGlasgow

#HalloumiGlasgow

Open seven days from 12 noon until 11pm, Halloumi is situated at 161 Hope St, Glasgow, G2 2QU, and serves sun-drenched dishes from lunch right through to supper.

Bookings can be made on 0141 204 1616, or alternatively online at http://www.opentable.co.uk/r/halloumi-glasgow

 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Pompadour by Galvin wins Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year 2017

The Pompadour by Galvin was crowned Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year 2017 at the fourth annual Food Awards Scotland at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow on Monday night, hosted by radio presenter Gina McKie.

The Food Awards Scotland recognise the success of local professionals and establishments. The winners are a true reflection of high standards and customer service as they are chosen by members of the general public.

Pompadour Head Chef Dan Ashmore commented: “It’s an honour to be recognised for all the hard work that my team and I have put in. I feel very privileged to have the chance to showcase the best seasonal, Scottish ingredients in one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the country.”

The Pompadour by Galvin, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian, Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2AB

www.thepompadourbygalvin.com

Twitter: @GalvinPompadour

Instagram: @galvin_edinburgh

Restaurant Review - Cucina (at the G&V Royal Mile Hotel) 1 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh

I recently posted a review of an overnight stay that myself and Nicola enjoyed at G&V Royal Mile Hotel in Edinburgh. Whilst staying at the hotel, we were treated to dinner at the award-winning Cucina, a modern Italian restaurant headed up by Head Chef Matteo Camorani.
In years gone by, the hotel went under the name of Hotel Missoni and despite the fact that the Italian designer's name is no longer above the door, the hotel and restaurant still carries all the hallmarks of the iconic fashion house from prints and tapestries hanging on the walls, right down to the crockery and table wear in the restaurant.
As you would expect in a 5 star menu, the wine list is extensive with a good range of wines from both Old and New World at budgets to suit everyone. Our menu choices better suited being paired with a white wine so we opted for a chilled bottle of Fuedo Antico Pecorino, a crisp, dry wine with plenty of floral notes on the nose but a more complex taste of citrus, and dried fruits. This wine was a good all-rounder and worked well with both of our mains.
The menu changes regularly, making the best use of fresh and local produce. I stared with a vegetarian option of curried cauliflower, almonds and sultanas which was well seasoned and well presented. A hearty cauliflower 'steak' had been seasoned with a little spice before frying to a crisp finish on the outside. The accompanying curried cauliflower purée had just enough heat to make the dish interesting. The scattering of golden sultanas and toasted almonds added a nice balance of sweet and texture.
Nicola's starter of crab, onion marmalade, pea and herb sorbet was light and fresh. The portion size was very generous with a good amount of well seasoned, sweet crab meat on the plate. We weren't sure about the crabs companions on the plate but the balanced the dish well. The sorbet was packed full of flavour, like a frozen salsa verde and acted as the perfect palate cleanser after each forkful.
As soon as I spotted rabbit on the menu, my choice of main course was easy as I opted for rabbit loin, Pommes Anna & braised chicory. My top two all time meals have both been rabbit so I was looking forward to seeing how Cucina would fair. My main was good and although not in the same league as other rabbit dishes that I've had, I can't fault the cooking. The rabbit loin, wrapped in Parma ham, was cooked well with the saltiness from the ham working really well with the subtle flavours of the rabbit. I'm not usually a big fan of endive but the braising process had tamed the usually bitter taste adding a savoury balance to the dish. The star of the dish however was the perfectly cooked Pommes Anna, thinly sliced and layered potatoes which are slowly cooked in butter - a perfect accompaniment to the rabbit. The dish was dressed with a glossy rich jus that packed so much flavour without dominating the meat while a scattering of toasted hazelnuts added another layer of texture.
I've always said that Italian restaurants do 'meat and two veg' very well and Nicola's main dish of roast guinea fowl, spelt, cabbage and potatoes was testament to that. Think the perfect Sunday roast chicken then multiply by the first number you think of - it was that good.
Guinea fowl is a wonderful meat, leaner than chicken with a mild gamely flavour. As the meat is drier than chicken and has almost halt the fat, it takes a decent piece of cooking to ensure the meat isn't over cooked. In this case, the guinea fowl was cooked perfectly, and served on bed of buttery braised cabbage and the silkiest mashed potatoes. Everything was seasoned well, the whole dish was brought together with a fantastic rich spelt & mushroom gravy.
After the hearty Italian cooking, we didn't really have room for pudding but after a short break while we finished our wine, we got a second wind.
Those without a sweet tooth should look away now because my dessert of Italian meringue would have the tooth fairy flying for the hills! Full marks for presentation - my dessert looked stunning with rich vanilla ice cream, covered in silky sweet Italian meringue and a generous spattering of candied fruits and crushed pistachios which was a pretty good way to end my meal although the pudding was even a little too sweet for me.
Nicola wasn't really feeling up to a dessert but when she spotted the words 'white truffle honey', she somehow found room for the milk sorbet, honeycomb and white truffle honey dessert. This was a much simpler affair than my own pud but every bit as classy.
Homemade chunks of honeycomb and shards of meringue surrounded the luxurious milk sorbet which tasted as good as a creamy vanilla ice cream but with a lighter finish. The sorbet had been drizzled with lashings of honey that had been infused with white truffle and although you would think that the savoury flavour of truffle has no place on a dessert, in the honey, it works so well to add a grown up touch of class to the simplest of puddings.
With dinner behind us, we were both feeling a little tired so made our way to the chic G&V hotel bar, Epicurean for a cheeky wee G&T before bed.
Overall, we can have no complaints about the food or service - the portion sizes were very good and the food was tasty and well presented, the service was attentive without being too over the top. The menu is perhaps a little more expensive than what I would look to pay normally but when you consider that the restaurant is located within a classy 5 Star hotel, the prices are probably on a par with others of a similar style. That said, there is also a Seasonal Set Menu available at a reasonable £18 for two courses or £23 for three courses.
We dined as guests of Cucina but my review above is an honest account of our visit. We enjoyed our meal and would have no hesitation in recommending Cucina at G&V Royal Mile Hotel if you're looking for quality food in luxurious surroundings.
After a decent night's sleep, myself and Nicola made our way back downstairs for breakfast which is also served in Cucina.
The continental breakfast included the usual selection of meats, cheese, fruit, yogurt and pastries plus kippers and fresh salmon however we both selected one of the freshly prepared hot breakfast with Nicola starting her day with a mushroom & cheese omelette. Slightly crispy on the edges but light and fluffy on the inside, the omelette was perfectly cooked.
For my own breakfast, I opted for bacon, goats cheese and avocado on toasted ciabatta which was a great way to start the day.
The restaurant was very busy at breakfast time but the service was slick and efficient with all of the waiting staff seeming to know their role in the restaurant, helping make sure that diners were seated and served with little fuss.
Keep up to date with news and offers from G&V Royal Mile Hotel on Facebook & Twitter.