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Win Fringe tickets with Aperol Spritz

The Aperol Spritz Garden in St Andrew Square is getting ready to party.

The Aperol Spritz Garden in St Andrew Square is getting ready to party.

Edinburgh Fringe roars into life this weekend and we can help you make the most of the fun thanks to a series of competitions which we are running with our friends at the Aperol Spritz Garden in St Andrew Square.

Over the course of the Fringe, the 5pm Dining blog is offering four lucky winners tickets to see some of the festival’s hottest shows plus an Aperol Spritz kit containing everything you need to make the perfect Aperol Spritz.

To get the party started, the first prize is for an Aperol Spritz kit plus a pair of tickets to see both the Five-Thirty Cabaret at The Famous Spiegeltent and Ruby Wax in the Music Hall at the Assembly Rooms on George Street.

The tickets are for performances on Wednesday 6th August. The Five Thirty Cabaret Show is at 5.30pm (obviously) while Ms Wax will be hitting the stage at 2.05pm.

To enter the competition, all you have to do is to head over to the 5pm Facebook page here and like & comment on the post with your name [post below]. Entry will close at midnight on Monday 4th August and the winner will be notified on Tuesday 5th.

The Aperol Spritz kit will be sent out to your home address and your tickets will be at the Box Office of the venue where the show is on.

Quirky comedian

Ruby Wax’s show is called Sane New World. Using knowledge from her recent Masters Degree in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, the quirky comedian and TV presenter will offer tips on how to survive the 21st century. All done in her own inimitable style.

Ruby Wax: she's got brains.

Ruby Wax: she's got brains.

Comics, crooners and cabaret artistes

The Five-Thirty Cabaret is billed as the perfect appetiser for your evening on the Fringe. Held in the atmospheric Spiegeltent, it’s a fast-paced variety show that packs a whole lot of entertainment into one hour. Enjoy a showcase of the best talent on the Fringe courtesy of a handpicked selection of comics, crooners and cabaret artistes.

Life's a cabaret, old chum.

Life's a cabaret, old chum.

Aperol Spritz goes Venetian

Now resident in St Andrew Square, the Aperol Spritz Garden has everything needed to get you in the festival mood.

For 2014 The Aperol Spritz Garden is a Venetian hideaway with a modern twist. Imagine orange groves; wooden terracing covered with Italian lounge furniture; idyllic water features; cozy heaters, beanbags, and grassy picnic areas filled with deck chairs.

Open from 11am-midnight until the 25th of August, the Aperol Spritz Gardens are the festival’s coolest place to hang out and chill with an Aperol Spritz.

Pop in before your show or stick around afterwards to soak up the atmosphere.

Expect sunshine

We’re expecting sunshine, of course, but just in case there’s plenty of cover to make sure the summer showers don't dampen the party spirit while you lap up a vibrant programme of live world music on the talent-filled Aperol Spritz Showcase Stage.

Acts playing over the next few weeks include the lovely Lady Carol, Black Cat Bone and Lord Holyrude – the gramophone DJ.

You can keep up with everything that is going on at Aperol Spritz Garden through Facebook or on their twitter account @AperolSpritzUK.

Here’s the hashtag #AperolSpritzGarden

Lady Carol will be bringing her ukulele to the party.

Lady Carol will be bringing her ukulele to the party.



Fish Eatery launches in Edinburgh

Fish Eatery

Love ling? Hot for haddock? Mad for monkfish?

If you answered yes to any of the above then you may well fall hook, line and sinker for Fish Eatery which opens to the public today on Edinburgh’s Picardy Place.

The new venture is headed up by chef Jason Wright who also runs the adjacent Steak restaurant.

Scottish seafood

The 46 restaurant aims to serve the best of Scottish seafood at affordable prices. Judging from the menu, the pricing is certainly keen.

The most expensive item on the menu is a chicken and lobster macaroni at £22 but the vast majority of the main courses are under £15.

Open Tuesday to Saturday, from noon until 11pm, Fish Eatery offers, among other dishes, a clam chowder, dressed Newhaven crab, monkfish scampi and a ‘bucket o’ fish’ designed to be shared between two.

Fun menu

It looks as though Jason has had fun devising the menu. One of the main courses is a halibut Kiev served with crab baked beans and waffles.

A teatime menu, served until 6.30pm, offers a choice of three main courses for a tenner. Options include steak frites, moules frites and, of course, a fish tea – fish ‘n’ chips, mushy peas, bread, butter and a pot of tea.

Edinburgh fishmonger Gary Welch is supplying the fish.

Having established the very successful Steak restaurant, branching out into fish may not seem the most natural of moves. However, before setting out on his own, Jason was head chef at the award-winning seafood restaurant Ondine.

Ahead of its opening, Jason commented, ‘I am so excited about opening Fish Eatery especially after the amazing response and success we have had with Steak. It was the next natural step for me and my team and opening another restaurant is something I’ve always wanted to do and now is the right time to do it.  I’m ready and up for the challenge.’



One Square gets tattooed

The Shetland Fiddlers will be at One Square on Sunday.

The Shetland Fiddlers will be at One Square on Sunday.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo gets underway on Friday and One Square at The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa is getting into the spirit of things with two Sunday events.

On Sunday 3rd August, some of The Shetland Fiddlers, who are performing in this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, will entertain One Square’s lunch guests with a selection of tunes from their lively repertoire.

In addition to providing a short overview on the unique tradition of Shetland Fiddling, they will hold a fun, interactive sing-along session.

Meet the Tattoo Fox

Later in the month (Sunday, 17th August), it’s the turn of the Tattoo Fox – a secret fan of the event who lives on the Castle’s Esplanade – to engage with One Square’s younger guests.

Alasdair Hutton, the author and narrator of the Tattoo Fox, along with the illustrator Stref, will bring the world-renowned event to life through the eyes of the Tattoo Fox using extracts and drawings from the book.

They will also unveil an exclusive preview from their sequel The Tattoo Fox and Friends.  This event is particularly suitable for families, as children will receive a complimentary Tattoo Fox activity pack.

Sunday lunch

Tristan Nesbitt, the General Manager of the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa said: ‘Our Sunday lunches in One Square are very popular with locals as well as visitors to the city, and we are delighted to bring these to life through our partnership with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Our guests will enjoy an enhanced festival experience as they tuck into a delicious buffet lunch with a chocolate fountain, live music and Edinburgh Castle and the surrounding cultural quarter as the backdrop.’

Both events take place from 1pm until 2.30pm in One Square at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa. Sunday Lunch costs £29 per adult including freshly brewed tea and coffee, and £14.50 per child (6-14 years old). Children aged five and under eat free.

You can see a typical Sunday lunch menu from One Square here.

Regular blog readers may recall that the 5pm Dining blog had a perfect morning at One Square recently. You can watch what happened here.



Scotland’s larder showcased at street food pop-up

Some of Scotland's top artisan producers will be selling their wares at Street Food Sundays.

Some of Scotland's top artisan producers will be selling their wares at Street Food Sundays.

Edinburgh’s street food scene is bubbling along nicely at the moment. In anticipation of the Festival, members of the Street Food Cartel have already set up shop in Assembly George Square Gardens. Pad BKK, The Bullet and So la ti Dough are among the vendors dishing up the goodies.

At the other end of town, the Tram Stop Market on the corner of York Place is putting on a good show every Thursday and Saturday. Regular traders include Jones and Son Bespoke BBQ and Currito. The markets come under the umbrella of Edinburgh Markets and you can keep track of all the goings on here.

Street Food Sundays

The latest to join the fray is Street Food Sundays, a new initiative which will be popping up on Castle Terrace every Sunday in August from 11am-4pm.

The pop-up market will feature stalls from Bakery Andante, Hugh Grierson Organic, Creelers, The Edinburgh Larder and Seriously Good Venison 

Created by the organisers of Edinburgh Farmers Market, Street Food Sundays will mean that market goers can enjoy freshly prepared, made-to-order produce including oysters, foraged fruit cordials, vegetable layer cakes, venison kofta and artisan pasta dishes.

Pop-up restaurant

A pop-up restaurant serving a menu of locally sourced, seasonal produce will also offer a seated outdoor brunch and lunch experience with Edinburgh Castle as its backdrop.

Event organiser Brian McAteer explained more about the concept:

‘Until now, Scottish street food has been dominated by chips, burgers and kebabs.

Native larder

‘Street Food Sundays is about redefining Scottish street food by showcasing how our native larder can be used to create delicious takeaway-style eats like venison pies, pulled pork rolls, artisan breads and seasonal cakes.

‘Visitors to the market can also enjoy the theatre of watching their food being made-to-order while meeting the farmers, producers and bakers in person.’



Pommery pops its cork on Friday

The Signet Library ish osting the Pommery pop-up again.

The Signet Library is hosting the Pommery pop-up again.

August is nearly upon us which means that it must be time for the Pommery Champagne Cafe Bar to pop up again in the magnificent Signet Library on the Royal Mile.

Back for a fourth year, the purveyors of festival fizz will open its doors on Friday and the corks will keep popping until Monday 25th August.

As visitors and Edinburgh residents know, the Royal Mile during Festival time is a cross between a chimps’ tea party and a World Wrestling Federation jamboree.

The Pommery Champagne Cafe Bar offers an oasis of sophisticated calm where visitors can soothe their troubles with lots of bubbles.

Champagne afternoon teas

While Champagne afternoon teas, roast lobsters and the Pommery burger are all big draws, this year’s Pommery programme includes several extra treats.

We blogged about the Tattoo and dinner packages here but other goodies include:

Tutored Champagne tastings – you’re in safe hands with Pommery ambassador Sara Hicks. Taste four seasonal Pommery Champagnes – what’s not to like?

Chocolate, whiskies and cocktails – the 5pm Dining blog had a taster of this event and it’s a belter. The lovely Annabel Meikle – AKA The Whisky Belle – leads the charge. Expect two whiskies, two whisky cocktails and damn fine chocs from the Highland Chocolatier.

Four beers and a burger – does what it says on the tin. Tuck into a burger and sample brews from the Knops Beer Company with the man who makes them.

Single malt Sundays – The Whisky Belle is back to take visitors around Scotland in a glass. Four regional single malts and some Scottish tapas will make your Sunday go with a swing.



Popcorn cocktails & smokey burgers at NY American Grill

A cocktail lined with popcorn, 30 different types of American bourbon and a magic grill that blasts up to 700 degrees without gas or electricity, are just some of the unique selling points of NY American Grill, the latest restaurant to open in Glasgow's Princes Square.

Launched by the same owners as Barca Tapas & Cava Bar and Cranachan, also both in Princes Square, NY American Grill has injected  a dose of good ol' American charm into the upmarket shopping mall.

The restaurant menu covers US cuisine from coast to coast, border to border, including New York deli sandwiches, New England clam chowder and Florida key lime pie.

There's also an enticing range of cocktails and drinks available at the restaurant's bar.

Cocktails

"We have 15 different American craft beers, American gin, American vodkas etc," Danielle Dexter, Group General Manager said. "We have a section of the bar dedicated to bourbons and we also run bourbon master classes."

"We also have a big cocktail list. We have space at the bar during the week for people to come in and just have a cocktail or a coffee or dessert."

"From Tuesday to Thursday there are half price cocktails which gives you an opportunity to try something you wouldn't normally to see if you enjoy it."

Josper grill

The meat and vegetables in the restaurant are cooked using the famous Josper Grill, the first casual restaurant in Glasgow to do so.

"A Josper grill is essential a barbecue in your kitchen," Danielle said. "It's a contained unit like an oven but it's built up with charcoals."

"The flavour you get from it being cooked on the Josper is really different from it being pan fried. It lends itself to the American feel as it has that really smokey taste."

"The burgers are definitely the most popular dish. We have different versions such as the Big Devil that has our own homemade hot sauce, smoked American cheese and jalapenos or the Smoked House Burger that has a barbecue sauce and a smoked cheese."

NY loft

With its huge mirrored bar, industrial lighting and comfy booths, NY American Grill combines the feel of a Tribeca loft with a 1930s art deco Manhattan bar.

"With NY American Grill, our main goal is that it is accessible to everyone in Glasgow City Centre," Danielle said.

"In Princes Square people expect the decor and everything to be right and for things to be nice. But we want to try to keep it as casual as we can. We don't want to make anyone feel like they can't come in as it's too fancy."

"We want to be accessible to all ages and for young people and older people to feel welcome."

"So we are very pleased with how the restaurant has turned out."

£11.95 for 2 courses on the lunch/pre theatre menu at NY American Grill  when booking on 5pm.



Our picks for bar food in Glasgow City Centre

It should not be a surprise to residents or visitors that Glasgow has no shortage of bars in the city. More likely to raise an eyebrow is the high quality of bar food in Glasgow City Centre. The smoking ban and changing drinking habits have collided with an explosion of culinary interest among the public. The result is that any bar which wants to see the next decade needs to offer a pretty nifty bar food menu. A pickled egg and a pack of dry roasted no longer cut the mustard.

Glammed up street food

Black Sparrow

Black Sparrow

As in other cities, Glasgow has not been immune to the fashion for glammed up street food. Especially the sort of BBQ, burgers, pizza and hot dogs which are associated with our friends across the Atlantic. At the rather cool Black Sparrow, the kitchen serves up some interesting variations on the classic burger. We like the sound of the breaded chicken burger which has been marinated in buttermilk.

Bath Street Palomino places more emphasis on its smokehouse menu. So, while there are sliders and meat grinder burgers, the menu also offers ginger-rubbed brisket, Kansas style pork ribs and hickory smoked chicken, all cooked in their own pit oven.

Meat Bar

Meat Bar

While in the same geographical and culinary territory, we should also mention Meat Bar on Bath Street. The name may be self explanatory but it doesn’t do full justice to the carnivorous treats on offer here. Being both greedy and a fan of trying a little bit of everything, this scribbler likes their tasting smoked plate which features pork ribs, pulled pork, chicken wings and crispy beef brisket. Good selection of craft beers too.

Sticking with Bath Street, Bunker is another bar on the party circuit that provides some mouth-watering treats to help counter the cocktails. Yes, they do lots of burgers but they also serve pizza, wraps, fajitas, pastas and build your own salads.

If you like your bar food to come with a healthy serving of rock, jazz and blues then Slouch, again on Bath Street, dishes up sweet sounds plus chilli, burgers, dogs, pizza and lasagne. The bar is open until a crippling 3am with food served until 2am. Great for a big night out. Less handy for work the next day.

None of the above will break the bank but if you are looking for great bar food that is especially wallet-friendly then Lucky 7 has got your number. The decor is charmingly pick ‘n’ mix while main courses start from £5 at lunch and £7.77 in the evening. Moroccan chicken with sweet potato and chilli stew or a mixed pork and bean cassoulet are typical of the hearty dishes on offer.

Sophistication

Hutchesons

Hutchesons

Now, without wishing to cast any aspersions on the aforementioned bars, there are times when a little more sophistication is needed. On these occasions, you could do a lot worse than heading to Hutchesons. Recently launched, this European-style cafe bar and brasserie restaurant sits in a 200 hundred-year-old A-listed building. The upstairs dining room is all seafood and steaks but the downstairs bar cafe is also rather swish. Try it for breakfast, the house burger or a whole baked lobster.

One Up, linked to the 29 private members club but open to all, is another cosmopolitan spot for a Pimm’s and a teriyaki beef skewer or a Thai green chicken curry. People also like to get dressed up for an evening in the Corinthian Club. Visually stunning, with a huge cupola in the Tellers Bar and Brasserie, the kitchen here serves everything from a triple decker club sandwich to a walloping great tomahawk steak for two. Late opening hours, a dance floor and casino also exert a powerful pull.

The Collage Corner Bar at the Radisson Blu is another good location for people watching. The hotel itself is an architectural eye-opener and the floor to ceiling windows are great for having a swatch at the street life. Especially when you have one of their burgers in one hand and a glass of something chilled in the other.

While the Collage Corner Bar leans towards the minimalist, that is a description which could never be used about Hummingbird on Bath Street. Gourmet burgers form the backbone of the menu but it is the mind-warping decor that really stands out. Hanging seats? Check. Birdcage lighting? Check. Glitter room? Check.

Exotic tastes

The bars in Glasgow city centre also cater to exotic tastes. In the Thai-styled Palm Sugar bar on Buchanan Street, you can quench your thirst with a Siam Smile cocktail before heading upstairs to the main Chaophraya dining room and feasting on four seasons duck curry or a weeping tiger steak. A pan-Asian menu is also one of the draws at Bar Soba on Mitchell Lane. You want sushi; a Cambodian seafood laksa or a dirty Bangkok burger? They got ‘em along with nifty cocktails and DJ pre-club parties.

If your preferences are more continental, Barca Tapas and Cava Bar in Princes Square does what it says on the tin. We like the montaditos de morcilla con viersa - fresh scallops on sliced Spanish black pudding topped with crisp Serrano ham. You can see Barca making this tapa in the video below as well as chuleta de cordero, lamb cutlets with fresh fig and honey sauce, and garbanzos con espinaces, spiced chickpeas with spinach.

Scottish choices

Those who like their food to fly the flag for Scotland’s larder might like to head to The Hope. As well as frieze inspired by the Sistine Chapel, this relatively recent newcomer has a Flavour of Scotland section on its menu. Haggis, neeps and tatties, cranachan plus mac ‘n’ cheese are all present and correct. There is a similar offer at the recently refurbed One Ten Bar and Grill. The menu here has Wee Taste of Scotland options which feature choices such as haggis fritters, smoked salmon and even a deep-fried Mars bar.

Finally, there are times when all you really need, apart from an espresso martini, is a little sweet something. At Horton’s on West George Street, the burgers, pastas, salads and steaks are crowned with a short but potent dessert selection. The Oreo cheesecake is the perfect pick-me-up if you start flagging in the middle of an epic shopping expedition.

All these venues and more have offers on 5pm Dining - you can view them all as well as menus and reviews here



Edinburgh gets spritzed

Aperol: tastes so sunny you'll need shades.

Aperol: tastes so sunny you'll need shades.

The Edinburgh Fringe officially gets underway in one week and the city is going into overdrive as it readies itself for the onslaught.

Likely to be popular is the Aperol Spritz Garden which is moving from its previous George Street location to St Andrews Square.

Running from next Thursday to the 25th of August, the Garden promises to be a ‘Venetian hideaway with a modern twist’.

World music

Look out for orange groves, idyllic water features, beanbags, and grassy picnic areas. A full programme of live world music on the Aperol Spritz Showcase Stage will keep the vibe smiley.

The square will also play host to the Famous Spiegeltent and The Stand in the Square, a new outpost of the long established comedy club.

The 5pm Dining blog has become rather partial to Aperol. Tall glass filled with ice, three fingers of gin and a good slosh of Aperol, all topped up with soda water – makes for a splendid breakfast.

Perfect serve

The Italians go for a lighter version. This is how Aperol recommends you make their perfect serve.

You will need ice, soda, Prosecco, a slice of orange and a bottle of Aperol. Obviously.

Take a large wine glass and add the ice. Pour in the Prosecco, followed by the Aperol and a splash of soda water. Top with a slice of orange. Apparently, this serving avoids the Aperol settling at the bottom.

Try and aim for about three parts Prosecco to two parts Aperol.

Naturally, 5pm has lots of fantabulous dining offers around Edinburgh city centre. Amarone is just next door to St Andrew Square or you could browse this little lot.

Chin chin!



Classic French with a Scottish twist at The Arches

You may know Glasgow's Arches as a nightclub, theatre or eclectic arts venue.

What you may not be as familiar with is The Arches Cafe Bar which serves up freshly cooked, seasonally inspired dishes from its regularly changing menus.

Arches Cafe Bar

Located downstairs in The Arches under an array of funky flying saucer lights, The Arches Cafe Bar may just be one of Glasgow's best kept dining secrets.

"I think a lot of people are surprised by the food and drink when they come in," Danny Byrne, chef at The Arches Cafe Bar said. "They do know about the Arches but they don't know about the standard of the food and service."

"Our customers tend to be events lead. Before the theatre we will get the arty crowd in, depending on what gig is on we might get metal heads or film buffs. At the weekends we will couples and families in. It is really mixed."

French, Scottish and Vegetarian

As well as lunch and dinner menus which feature a range of burgers, fajitas, curries and a few Scottish dishes thrown in, The Arches serves a market menu which changes every day.

Danny described the food as "classic French with a Scottish twist" as well as a strong focus on vegetarian.

"A lot of the clients are vegetarian so we try to cater to that as much as we can," he said. "We are currently serving a "vegetarian fish and chips" of beer battered halloumi, which is flying out the door."

“The dishes are seasonal and everything is locally sourced. All our meat is from Cairnhill Farm."

Creativity

Creating a new menu on a daily basis certainly is a challenge but one Danny, and the other chefs at The Arches, thrives on.

“When I'm creating a dish I think of the colours on the plate, the flavours, the balance, what has been selling and what hasn't."

"Changing the market menu every day is a challenge but I enjoy the creativity."

"It gives the customers diversity. And for the price they pay, it is amazing value."

Watch Danny cook pain fried scallops and chicken supreme in the video below.

20% a la carte discount OR £10.95 for 2 courses on pre-theatre menu + glass of wine OR £15 2 person offer - 1 course each on the chef's burger and pasta menu + drink OR £5 for lunch offer at Arches Cafe Bar when booking on 5pm.



Who has got your goat?

The Grump Goat has a sunny disposition.

The Grump Goat has a sunny disposition.

The 5pm Dining blog would like to extend a cheery ‘Hiya!’ to The Grumpy Goat which recently started welcoming customers to its lair on Old Dumbarton Road.

It’s a new venture from the Matteo family who have been involved with Glasgow’s dining scene for donkey’s years.

Their website is worth a browse. Not least for the mini-history covering The Grumpy Goat’s West End stomping ground.

Graze your livestock

Apparently, in the 17th and 18th century, the west end of Glasgow was predominately countryside with quiet meadows, small farms and, of course, farm animals. Which is where the Byres Road name comes in.

A few hundred years from where the restaurant and bar now stands there was a grazing area for goats. So, a couple of hundred years back, the area was known as The Goat.

See where all this is heading?

Intriguing menu

The Grumpy Goat’s menu is a really intriguing mix of classic influences, traditional dishes and cutting edge trends.

On the plate, this means traditional dishes like pressed Ayrshire pig’s head, potted Morecambe Bay shrimps and meat puddings.

More modern touches can be seen in options like the Clyde Valley cauliflower fritters with a curry mayonnaise sauce, the Cullen skink soufflé and the pan-roasted rock cod (from a day boat, natch) which is served with a lentil broth, cod cheek pakora and an organic yoghurt and chilli dip.

We wish them well.

Not so very far away, a new venture called The Scullery Bar & Kitchen is taking shape on Claremont Street.

According to their Facebook page, the just-off-Finnieston business ‘features atmospheric relaxed dining, stripped back decadence, and a well stocked bar.’



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