What To Cook On Valentines Day

When it comes to Valentine’s Day it is important to treat the one you love! With many restaurants profiting on this occasion and only offering special ‘set’ menus I often feel a little hard done by going out. I have designed a menu that I believe makes a special evening and that can be prepared in advance. Also as you are in the comfort of your own home it gives you more reason to snuggle up.

Click on any of the links below to see individual recipes for each of the dishes.

I have included a starter of Thai scallops. This can also be made with chicken. Just fry a chicken breast and slice to serve.

thai scallops Thai Scallops

 The fish course is Halibut with a Brown Butter Sauce.

20140201_201001 Halibut with Brown Butter Sauce

 For main, Fillet Steak with Tarragon and Parsley Dressing.

20140201_212021 Fillet Steak with Tarragon and Parsley Dressing

 Finally, dessert; Lemon Posset with Fennel and Almond Biscotti.

20140201_221745 Lemon Posset with Fennel and Almond Biscotti


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Lemon Posset with Fennel and Almond Biscotti

Lemon posset is one of the simplest desserts that you can make but the zingy lemon and fennel biscotti combination is so rewarding. This dessert has to be made in advance so when you are ready to plate up all the hard work has already been done.

20140201_221745 Lemon Posset with Fennel and Almond Biscotti


225ml Double Cream            20140201_152646_Richtone(HDR)

65g Caster Sugar

Juice of a Lemon

For the Biscuits

225g Plain White Flour

1tsp Baking Powder

170g Caster Sugar

85g Butter softened

2 Eggs

50g Flaked Almonds

2tsp Fennel Seeds


Over a high heat, in a small saucepan mix the sugar and cream and bring to the boil, stirring at all times. Turn the heat down to a simmer and continue stirring for 2 minutes. The mixture should have large bubbles. Add the lemon juice and whisk thoroughly until well combined. Pass the mixture through a sieve and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Skim any air bubbles off and pour into two serving glasses. Leave to cool completely then put them in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set.

For the biscotti:  pre heat the oven to 170°C/Gas mark 3 and line a baking tray with baking paper. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the butter mixture and stir until well combined. Toast the almonds in a small frying pan until lightly browned then fold into the mixture.

20140201_161106 Biscotti Dough 

 Shape the mixture into a log shape on the baking tray and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave on the baking tray for 10minutes to allow to cool. Keep your oven on.

After 10 minutes, slice widthways into biscotti. Return the sliced biscotti back into the oven directly onto the oven shelf and cook for a further 8 minutes or until crisp and dry. Remove and leave to cool completely. Then store in an airtight container until needed. The extra biscotti will keep for up to a week.

20140201_171412_Richtone(HDR) Fennel and Almond Biscotti 

 To serve simply take the possets out the fridge and place a biscotti on the side.


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Fillet Steak with a Tomato, Tarragon and Parsley Dressing

The dressing for this dish can be prepared well in advance, meaning that you can give the cooking of the steak your full attention. You can cook the steak any way you want, but I like to ask the butcher for 1 piece of fillet steak, big enough for 2 people, from the tail end (the thin end). This way it can be roasted in the oven and cut through the middle before serving. I think this makes the presentation of the dish more sophisticated.

20140201_212021 Fillet Steak with Tomato, Tarragon and Parsley Dressing


1 Fillet Steak (large enough for 2 people)      20140201_163349

Handful Rocket Leaves

For the Dressing

3 Tomatoes

2tbsp Tomato Ketchup

1tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Few dashes Tabasco Sauce

Juice of 1 Lemon

1tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

1tbsp Olive Oil

1 Shallot, peeled and finely chopped

Handful of Tarragon leaves chopped

Handful of Parsley leaves chopped


To make the dressing, halve the tomatoes and spoon out the seeds and juice. Chop the flesh and put in a bowl. Add all the other dressing ingredients to the bowl and mix.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Season the steak and pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Heat a frying pan over a high heat with a tablespoon of oil. When hot add the steaks. Sear all over and add a knob of butter. Baste the steaks with the melted butter, then transfer to the oven and roast for 5-10 minutes or until cooked to your liking. When cooked set aside to rest for 5-10minutes.


To serve, scatter the rocket over the plate. Cut your steak through the middle and place, cut side up, in the centre of the plate. Spoon the dressing all over plus any juices from the steak.


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Halibut with Brown Butter Sauce

What I love most about this dish is its simplicity, yet the look and taste will never fail to impress. The brown butter sauce will work with any type of white fish, so don’t worry if you can’t get halibut.

20140201_200908 Halibut with Brown Butter Sauce


2 Halibut fillets skinned

80g Butter

1 tbsp Capers

1 Lemon segment chopped

1tbsp chopped Parsley

2 Potatoes peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes


Firstly par- boil the potatoes until just soft. This should take 5-8minutes.  Drain and season the potatoes with salt and black pepper. Over a high heat, heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. When hot add the potatoes and cook until crispy and golden.

Meanwhile heat another frying pan over a medium heat with a tablespoon of oil. Season the halibut. Add the halibut to the pan and fry for 2-3minutes each side. While the fish is cooking, heat another small frying pan over a medium heat and add the butter. Once browned add to the pan with the fish. Finally add the capers, parsley and chopped lemon.


To serve, pile your potatoes on a corner of your plate. Place the fish slightly over the potatoes and spoon the melted butter and capers on top.


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Thai Scallops

Thai flavours with fish is a combination that works really well and this dish makes the perfect starter. However, the sauce can be used to accompany other dishes and is delicious, paired with chicken in a Thai Green Curry.

thai scallops Thai Scallops


 For the paste

1 Lemongrass stalks, chopped

1 Green chilli, seeds removed, chopped

2 Lime leaves, chopped                                                      20140201_171135

1 Lime

1 Shallot, chopped

Thumb size piece fresh ginger

1 Garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 tsp Ground Cumin

1 tsp Ground Coriander

½ tsp Crushed Black Peppercorns

1 tbsp Thai Fish Sauce

1/2 tsp Palm Sugar

For the curry

6 Scallops

200ml Coconut Milk

3 Asparagus spears shredded (I use a vegetable peeler)


Firstly make the paste. Add all the ingredients for the paste to a blender and blend until smooth. Heat a small sauce pan on a medium heat and add the paste. Add the coconut milk and stir until well combined. Keep on a low heat until ready to use.

For the scallops heat a frying pan over a high heat, add a tablespoon of oil. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. When the frying pan is hot add the scallops and fry for 1-2 minutes on each side. It is important to only turn the scallops once to ensure they caramelise.

2014-02-02 10.01.51

When ready to serve. Spoon a little of the sauce on the plate and add the scallops. Top with the shredded asparagus


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Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

Since the end of the 18th century, Burns suppers have been taking place in memory of the famous poet Robert Burns. To celebrate his life the tradition of Burns suppers take place on his birthday, the 25th January. The Scottish national dish Haggis is served at these and many homes will also be continuing this celebration dish next week. In 1787 Robert Burn’s wrote a famous poem ‘ode to a haggis’ which is why this has become a tradition and national dish.


Instead of your usual haggis, neeps and tatties, I have created a dish that gives this national favourite a sophisticated feel.

Serves 4


1 haggis      IMG_2957

Filo pastry

50g butter

For the Potatoes

700g flourly potatoes peeled and roughly chopped

150ml double cream

50g butter


 200g turnip peeled and chopped in small cubes

200ml chicken stock


1 onion finely chopped

1 tbsp honey

200ml whiskey

200ml port

200 ml chicken stock


Cook the haggis according to the packet instructions and leave to cool.

In the meantime put the potatoes in a pan of boiling water and cook until soft. When soft, drain and mash. For the perfect mash push through a sieve, or, if you have a stand mixer, beat the potatoes using the K-beater attachment. Add the butter and cream and continue to beat until smooth. Season to taste.

Cook the turnip with the stock until soft. This will take approx. 15minutes. With a hand blender blitz to make a puree.

For the sauce heat a glug of olive oil in a medium size pan. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat until soft and caramelised, ensuring it does not burn. Next add the whiskey to deglaze the pan. Cook for a few minutes then add the port, stock and honey. Increase the heat and allow to reduce by half. The sauce is ready when it is thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon.

For the haggis parcels, pre heat the oven to 220 degrees C.  Lay a filo pastry square on a clean surface. Brush all over with melted butter.


Fold the pastry in half then cut into two squares. Brush again with butter.


Add a heaped spoon of haggis in the centre of each square.


Lift all the corners together to form a parcel and nip at the top. Brush the parcel again with butter. Lay on a lined baking tray.


Repeat this process until you have 2-3 parcels per person. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp.

To Assemble

Re heat the potatoes, turnip and sauce. Put the potaoes in a piping bag and pipe a square around the plate. Next pipe the turnip alongside the potatoes. Spoon the sauce in the middle to fill the square and then place two parcels on top.

IMG_2977Haggis, Neeps & Tatties


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The Vintage

Tucked away on the corner of Henderson Street at the Shore, Leith, The Vintage offers a relaxed informal dining experience. Opening its doors early in 2013 as a craft beer bar and kitchen, I have now found myself here twice in a short period of time which says something in itself.

Walking through the door gives you a sense of excitement. A stylish open plan kitchen is situated at the far end, with large wooden tables and the dark wooden bar dominating the room. There is a naturally warm laid back feel. The blackboard on the wall highlights all the beers that are on offer with various keg and cask ales alongside a selection of bottles and an extensive wine list. The Vintage certainly offers a variety!

IMG_2724Local Cask Ale

I was accompanied with 6 other adults and one child for Sunday lunch. We were seated at a large wooden table and shown the menus which the waitress enthusiastically described.  Immediately I felt relaxed and at ease. The menu has various sections that you can opt for. These consist of a grazing menu, Sunday roast special, weekend brunch and a la carte menu all with various choices. The charcuterie section in the grazing menu is the meat section. Charcuterie is described as ‘the craft of salting, smoking and curing’ which they do themselves, in house.

The waitress had recommended we order various dishes of the grazing menu for starter to share, however, after a lot of consideration and discussion amongst the table we decided to order our own. For starter I chose two of the grazing dishes, Goats cheese and fennel seed brulee and from the charcuterie section hot smoked pigs cheeks. These were served with tomato and sherry chutney, sauce gribiche and bread. I was glad that we chose our own as I feel that these would be difficult to share between everyone as they are only small tapa size portions.

grazing boardGrazing Board With Goats Cheese Creme Brulee & Smoked Smoked Pigs Cheeks

Presented on a wooden board the starter had a rustic feel. The Hot smoked pigs cheeks were full of flavour. Natural salty taste along with the bread and chutney was a marriage made in heaven. The Goats cheese brulee however had a slightly strange taste. The very sweet sugar topping overpowered the melted cheese and made the dish taste like more of a dessert than a starter. The fennel slightly balanced the flavours but was still not enough to cut through the sugar.

grazing boardGrazing Board With Pickled Shellfish 

For my main course I opted for the Sunday roast special which was Roast Leg of Peelham farm Organic Mutton (on the bone) with Braised Leg Boudin, Celeriac Fondant, Braised chicory & Wild Watercress, served with a Mushroom Sauce. This was slightly more pricey than the other mains on the menu but after the waitress trying her hardest to sell the dish, explaining it as the “best roast you will ever have”, I felt I had to see what she was talking about! I was not let down. Melt in the mouth Lamb which was tender and juicy. The mushroom sauce was rich and creamy. The other accompaniments gave the dish a lighter edge. Overall an amazing Sunday roast.

sunday roastMutton Roast Of The Day

A few of my fellow diners ordered the “Mac ‘n’ cheese” burger with pulled pork served with homemade chips. This was a monster of a burger. A round ball of macaroni cheese tightly packed in breadcrumbs topped with soft juicy pulled pork all on a burger bun. This was definitely a burger required to be eaten with a knife and fork! It got high praise all round.

mac and cheese burgerMac ‘n’ Cheese Burger

The Vintage has cleverly managed to combine the bar and restaurant providing a relaxed informal area where you can enjoy a meal or just a drink and feel at ease. The waitress, at times, seemed a little pushy but she was extremely friendly and the other staff were all very helpful. On my second visit with friends I ordered 5 dishes from the grazing menu which were all exceptional especially the in house smoked duck and pulled pork. My only complaint that day was that they had ran out of Sunday roast!

Overall I will be returning to The Vintage as it is a great place to chill with friends and family for a drink or something to eat. The food was superb and the choice of beers is exceptional.

Finer details

Food: Rustic and modern

Service: Attentive but slightly overbearing

Atmosphere: Warm/homely

Overall: 8 / 10

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Mark Greenaway

With all the talk of Mark Greenaway’s new bistro restaurant, Bistro Moderne, recently opening in Stockbridge, I thought it was time to try his successful restaurant on North Castle Street which holds 3 AA Rosettes for outstanding cuisine .

Restaurant Mark Greenaway re-opened in 2013 in a new building after being based for 2 years at Picardy Place. The reopening did not change the modern creative approach to the dishes on offer but did enable Mark to showcase his stunning dishes in contemporary bespoke surroundings.  The restaurant has a grand atmosphere with white linen table cloths and brass Chandeliers. Providing an intimate, formal atmosphere.

My husband and I were greeted as soon as we entered the restaurant and taken to our seats where we were given the menus. As it is December we were given the Festive menu. This consisted of 4 starters, 4 mains and 3 deserts all showing various styles of cooking. However my husband and I actually chose the same which rarely happens! Shortly after ordering , we were presented with an amuse bouche of Pumpkin Espuma. Fluffy light foam packed full of sweet pumpkin flavour. This had me looking forward to what was to follow.

IMG_2794Pumpkin Espuma

For starter, we had Ham Hough and Pork Ballontine.  This was served with a seared west coast scallop and parsley mayonnaise. The scallop was succulent and juicy and was cooked to perfection. This was the highlight of the dish.  The actual Ballontine itself was full of flavour; Smokey from the ham and with a really meaty texture. Sitting on top were some small crisps (I can only explain these as being like posh prawn crackers) which added another texture to the dish. The parsley mayonnaise was very light and gave the dish a modern fresh taste. My only criticism would be that there was not enough of this, making the dish slightly dry.

IMG_2796Ham Hough and Pork Ballontine

This was not the case for the main course of Loin of Borders Lamb.  The rosemary jus poured by the waitress at the table was full of flavour and brought the dish together. The lamb was luscious, still pink and very tender. This was served with roasted cucumber, soused tomatoes and tapenade. The cucumber and tomatoes changed this dish from being a very good lamb dish to an excellent one; however it could perhaps have benefited from some form of starch to soak up some of the lovely jus. Luckily we had ordered some extra home-made bread to do the job for us.

IMG_2798Loin of Borders Lamb

Now, I know I love every dessert, but this was truly exceptional. Titled “Knot” Dark Chocolate Tart. This is definitely the best chocolate tart I have ever had; the pièce de résistance.  The chocolate was smooth and heavenly. Served with crème fraiche parfait to give the dish a creamy feel, kumquat Syrup and sweet white chocolate soil which melted in my mouth. The dessert also had popping candy throughout which gave the dish a theatrical feel and a surprise texture in the mouth.

IMG_2800“Knot” Dark Chocolate Tart

Throughout the meal the service was very attentive without being overpowering. Always ensuring your wine glass was never empty and that you were being attended to. Mark Greenaway has managed to restore my faith in Christmas menus again; often they consist of pre-made, easily re heated food; but not here. Here you will find gastronomic delights in a romantic setting. I will definitely be returning to sample Marks normal (non-festive) menu at a later date.

Finer details

Bill for two: £112 (including bottle of wine and coffees)

Food: Modern

Service: Attentive, Friendly

Atmosphere: Intimate

Overall: 8.5 / 10

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This was actually my second visit to Timberyard situated on Lady Lawson street in Edinburgh.  My previous visit was before I started my reviews and since then I have been waiting for an opportunity to go back. I had high expectations this time around.

The restaurant is in a 19th century building, converted from an old Timber yard into a warming, contemporary restaurant. The transformation has still retained the building’s industrial heritage but with a warm rustic feel to produce a memorable setting. The moment you walk through the big red swinging door you are greeted at the open bar and wood burning stove. My husband and I were seated at our table where tartan blankets covered the back of the chairs giving a snug, homely feel.

Complimentary water


We were given the daily menu and the set menu and were offered complimentary still or sparkling water. The water is filtered in-house which may not be something to write home about, however it was an early indication of their attention to detail and willingness to deliver beyond the customers expectations. Timberyard also boast a space for growing, curing, smoking, and drying ingredients. This, along with their use of ingredients from local artisan growers, breeders, producers & foragers, allows Timberyard to showcase some of Edinburgh’s finest assets.

Both menus have four sections; bites, small, large and sweet. Unlike other set menus you are able to mix and match from the daily menu. However we both opted to dine from the set menu. Freshly baked bread arrived soon after we ordered. Still warm from the oven, along with Timberyard’s own soft whipped butter, sea salt and cracked juniper pepper, for some DIY seasoning, was the perfect start to the meal.

Fresh Bread

For my “bite” I ordered ‘Ham Hock Jelly, Quail’s Egg, Toast, Cress, Mushroom, Apple’. This dish was more than just one bite, and each one was delicious. The yolk from the quails egg was soft and runny; the perfect accompaniment for the salty ham. Then, crunchy crumbs of toast added another texture. I couldn’t wait for the next course.

ham hock jellyHam Hock Jelly

My husband had ‘Oyster, Horseradish, Creme Fraiche, Celery’ for his “bite”. Since this was really just one bite I obviously did not get to taste but it earned very high praise.


We both opted for ‘Cured & Smoked Sea Trout, Rye Crumb, Roe, and Cucumber’ for our “small” dish. This was such an attractive starter with vibrant colours and was plated in such a way you could see all the different elements of the dish. The different types of trout brought different textures to the dish but both were very fresh tasting. The  other ingredients added more layers of flavour but without overpowering  the trout. Simply delicious.

 cured & smoked sea troutCured and Smoked Sea Trout

For “large” we had ‘Lamb Loin & Belly,Beetroot, Kohlrabi, Kale, Radish and Whipped Potato’. The sweet beetroot complemented the succulent lamb loin along with the earthy kale. The loin was tender and melted in my mouth; cooked to perfection. The whipped cream potatoes were creamy but were almost like a sauce as they were a little too runny.

 lamb loin & bellyLamb Loin and Belly

For “sweet” I had ‘Baked Apple, Nut Crumb and Cider Caramel’. On first impressions I thought that it looked very pretty but was disappointed I could not see much cider caramel. However I was in for a surprise. As I took my first spoonful to break the round baked apple I was greeted with oozing caramel spilling out of the centre. Almost like an apple take of the chocolate fondant! Amazing.

baked appleBaked Apple

Not a sweet tooth, my husband was not certain on what desert to have. The waitress was only too happy to give advice on what she thought and he opted for the ‘Sea Buckthorn, Crowdie,  Carrot and Biscuit’. This was not a disappointment. In his opinion it was possibly the best dessert he has had. A deconstructed cheesecake with the smoothest crowdie along with sour sea buckthorn and sweet carrot gave contrasting tastes.

sea buckthorn, crowdie,Sea Buckthorn and Crowdie

To finish our meal we had coffee which was served with quirky petit fours. These were presented in a paper bag in a cigarette tin on top of some straw.


Throughout the evening our waitress was very attentive and friendly. It was only her second night working there but she went out of her way to answer our questions and make our evening enjoyable. My only criticism I have for this family run restaurant is that the menu is very small. I personally don’t mind this as I would try anything but it might put other diners off. Also, if not going for the set menu the Daily is a little pricey. Again however I would pay this for a special occasion as when you go to Timberyard you’re in for a treat.

Timberyard has a very relaxed atmosphere that makes you feel special but not in an overpowering way. They do this by providing the highest quality food served with friendly enthusiastic staff in a rustic yet modern restaurant. Timberyard not only provides a restaurant to eat in but a place you can go for a whole evening as the bar area in the middle of the restaurant offers top quality imaginative cocktails and drinks which I felt would be rude not to try!


Finer details

Bill for two: £90 (including bottle wine, coffees and cocktails)

Food: Modern

Service: Excellent

Atmosphere: Contemporary and stylish

Overall: 9 / 10

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Italian Kitchen

As a birthday celebration myself and 7 of my friends dined in Italian Kitchen in Stockbridge. This restaurant had come recommended by a fellow guest. The restaurant prides itself on working with a number of local suppliers in order to provide the best of Scottish produce on a contemporary Italian menu.IMG_2763

Situated near the ancient bridge over the Water of Leith the basement restaurant has an immediate presence with fairy lights, lighting the stairs and leading the way to the cosy restaurant. Inside large wooden tables dominate the small dining area creating an intimate but relaxed atmosphere.

We were greeted by the waiter who provided us with wine menus; the actual dinner menus were a little slow to follow but we were in no rush as we sipped the Prosecco that was delivered as a birthday treat. The menu consists of specials such as homemade ravioli of the day and then the usual dishes you would expect to find on an Italian menu. However it is not over loaded with different pizzas and pasta, focussing instead on just a handful of dishes. All bread and pasta is made fresh here.

As our starters arrived it was evident that they had taken our order wrong and brought one of my friends the wrong dish. However, they were very quick and apologetic to rectify their mistake and it wasn’t long before we were all eating our starters. I shared two starters with one of the other diners; Gamberoni all`Antica Roma and a special soft shell crab in flour.

 Gamberoni all`Antica Roma

Gamberoni all`Antica Roma

The Gamberoni all`Antica Roma was my favourite of the two.  King prawns in garlic chilli and olive oil. Juicy plump prawns oozing in olive oil and fresh garlic. This dish, however, did lack chilli; I actually don’t think there was any! The soft shell crab was deep fried in crispy batter. This was served on a bed of samphire which gave the dish a salty taste.

 soft shell crab

soft shell crab

For main I opted for the homemade ravioli of the day which was mallard duck served with a vine tomato sauce. Overall the dish was pleasant but nothing special. Soft shredded duck inside thick homemade pasta. The sauce lacked in taste and was slightly watery and bland.

Duck Ravioli

Duck Ravioli

The other mains chosen by the table included Pizza Prosciutto e Rucola, a pizza with cherry tomatoes, Parma ham, rocket and parmesan shavings. Unlike pizza from a chain restaurant this was traditional and was served without a tomato sauce. This gained high praise from my friend. Other dishes tried were Penne Italian Kitchen (Chicken, Cream, Mushroom, Broccoli and Fresh Chili) and Tagliatelle con Salsiccia e Funghi Porcini (Pasta with Italian sausage and porcini mushrooms in tomato) both of which were enjoyed. The special of rack of lamb did not deliver on flavour and taste and was felt to be an overall bland dish.

Pizza Prosciutto e Rucola

Pizza Prosciutto e Rucola

As a birthday surprise my friends had brought a birthday cake for desert. This arrived with a singing waiter carrying plates for us to serve it on. We ordered tea and coffee to have along with the cake. Unfortunately my friends had finished there tea when the coffees arrived!

Overall this restaurant has a lot of potential as, unlike many other Italian restaurants, they make their own pasta, bread and even ice creams to provide an authentic Italian dining experience. However they did not deliver on flavour and many dishes were bland and required seasoning. Also the service was slow at times. This is not to say that I wouldn’t go back. I think the atmosphere is rustic and intimate and by choosing dishes carefully you can have a tasty Italian meal knowing that the ingredients are all fresh.

Finer details

Bill for eight: £230 (including 3 bottles of wine and coffees)

Food: Authentic traditional Italian

Service: Room for improvement

Atmosphere: Relaxed and intimate

Overall: 6 / 10

Categories: Edinburgh Restaurant Reviews | 1 Comment

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