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Raise a dram to your whisky clan

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So, what clan are you? And we’re not talking about Game of Thrones.

As part of Homecoming Scotland’s Whisky Month in May, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is launching a Clans & Drams project.

The Society, which bottles single cask single malt whiskies from a huge range of distilleries, has created twelve special whisky clans based on flavour profiles.

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Spicy and sweet

It works on the idea that every traditional family clan has attributes such as bravery, honesty or dexterity that defines them.

The Society have taken real clan mottos and personalities and attributed these to their flavour clans. They include the fiery Spicy and Sweet and the majestic Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits.

Mark van der Vijver, UK Sales Manager for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society said: ‘We believe it’s really important for our members not to have any preconceptions based on traditional whisky regions or distillery brands when choosing a whisky.

Focus on flavour

‘We encourage everyone to focus on the flavours within each whisky so they don’t miss out on discovering something they may not usually try. Clans & Drams embodies this concept by taking a playful approach to traditional clans and creating our own flavour-based whisky clans.’

Normally a members only club, the Society is opening its two branches in Edinburgh and its London outpost to non-members throughout May so that everybody can try to find their perfect whisky clan.

The Clans & Drams project is just one of several that the SMWS is running in May. A full list of the events can be found here. They are open to members and non-members alike.

The following especially caught our eye:

EDINBURGH WHISKY FESTIVAL 2014,

SMWS is back at The Hub with their friends, The Whisky Lounge, to kick off Whisky Month and Homecoming 2014. The second Edinburgh WhiskyFest will offer drams and food to match.

Sat 26th April, noon- 5pm, The Hub, Castlehill, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2NE

SEAFOOD AND WHISKY DINNER

A celebration of the best Scottish seafood, paired with SMWS whiskies and served with entertaining tales from Jimmy Buchan of BBC series, Trawlerman.

Thu 29th May, 7pm-10pm, The Vaults, Leith.

CLANS AND DRAMS TASTING

In celebration of Homecoming Scotland, local Society Ambassadors will help guests find their Flavour Clan with a range of tasty SMWS whiskies and a delicious supper.

Thu 29th May, 7pm-10pm, Garvock House Hotel, St Johns Drive, Dunfermline, KY12 7TB

Fri 30th May, 7pm-10pm, Radisson Blu Hotel, 301 Argyle Street, Glasgow G2 8DL

They are all open to non-members. Call 0131 555 2929 (Mon-Fri 9am-4.45pm) to book tickets.

Food and whisky pairing is always fun at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Food and whisky pairing is always fun at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.



Aizle opens

Aizle's dish of pork cheek, pig ear crackling, turnip, radish, watercress, togarashi

Aizle's dish of pork cheek, pig ear crackling, turnip, radish, watercress and togarashi.

The 5pm Dining blog had a fun evening last night at a preview of Aizle, a new restaurant on Edinburgh's St Leonard's Street.

Regular blog readers may recall that we wrote about it a couple of weeks back but, for those who missed it, here are the basics.

Aizle is co-owned by husband and wife team Stuart Ralston and Krystal Goff. Stuart cooks while Krystal is front of house and makes a mean cocktail. Try the Sparky Jay – a turbo-charged G ‘n’ T.

They have a background in high end restaurants and bars around the world including stints in New York, Barbados and working with a certain Mr Ramsay.

Unconventional

The idea behind Aizle is to have no menu. Or at least not in a conventional sense.

Instead, diners are presented with a list of potential ingredients and asked to cross off any they don’t like.

Stuart then takes each list and prepares a four course dinner for £35.

Best produce

It makes choosing a bottle of wine slightly tricky although the easy solution is to order by the glass.

It’s a system which has definite benefits. Stuart gets to create dishes with the best produce that his suppliers can provide on the day and adventurous diners get a surprise with every course.

Last night, among other ingredients, the list included Mallaig skate wing, Wye Valley asparagus, sweet cicely, sea lettuce, Yorkshire rhubarb, Inverurie hogget and heritage carrots along with a couple of things that I had to look up.

Congrats if you know what chawanmushi is without Googling it.

Unexpected flavour combos

There is little point describing each dish we ate as tonight's menu will almost certainly be different.

What we can say is that Stuart’s dishes are beautifully presented; use unexpected flavour combos and feature an eye-opening range of textures.

If your idea of a good meal is meat and two veg then you probably won’t like Aizle. If you enjoy being surprised, intrigued and possibly mystified by every mouthful then book a seat now.

There is nothing else quite like it in Edinburgh. Although if you crossed the Gardener’s Cottage with Paul Kitching’s 21212 then you might come close.

Aizle's presentation is playful.

Aizle's presentation is playful.

 



Innis and Gunn HQ launch

The rather stylish Drawing Room at the new Innis and Gunn HQ and events space.

The rather stylish Drawing Room at the new Innis and Gunn HQ and events space.

‘Learn something new every day, even if you forget what it was two days later’ is the motto of the 5pm Dining Blog.

Never let it be said that we are not ambitious in our continuous personal development targets.

Last week, at the official launch of the Innis & Gunn HQ on Edinburgh’s Randolph Crescent, we learned that Innis & Gunn Original beer pairs incredibly well with Isle of Mull Cheddar while their Rum Finish matches well with Strathdon Blue.

Trust us, you’ll thank the blog for those little nuggets the next time you have friends around for dinner.

Georgian townhouse

Anyway, the Innis & Gunn HQ is well worth a visit. A Georgian townhouse in the West End, it has two floors which are given over to public tastings and food matching events as well as hosting private launches, dinners and conferences which can all be tailored to suit clients’ needs and budgets.

There are four spaces available: the Drawing Room is a rather elegant reception space with an open fire and custom-built oak bar. Also on the ground floor is the Dining Room which can sit up to 24 for dinner.

Downstairs is The Boardroom with all the AV stuff needed for modern meetings plus the cosy Beer Kitchen – a sample cellar with four draught lines pouring two beers from Innis & Gunn’s core range and two rotating limited edition brews.

Canapés to three course dinners

It’s all backed up by Chef Russell Smith who can cook up everything from canapés to three course private dining.

You can view all the events which are open to the public from here. The forthcoming haggis event – James Macsween Haggis Hero – taking place on Tuesday 6th May should be a great evening.

Cheers!

Scotch eggs made with haggis. Which Innis and Gunn brew will they match best with?

Scotch eggs made with haggis. Which Innis and Gunn brew will they match best with?



Piaf night at Le Bistro Beaumartin

 

Rather like Edith Piaf, the 5pm Dining blog ne regrette rien. Except perhaps that large wedge of Camembert we rather unwisely demolished just before bedtime last night.

We’re certain that you won’t regret anything if you sashay along to Le Bistro Beaumartin on Saturday 26th April.

On that evening, the marvelous Christine Bovill (that’s her in the YouTubeclip) will be performing her acclaimed Piaf show at the Hope Street restaurant.

Guests will enjoy a welcome drink, three course a la carte dinner and two forty minute performances from La Bovill.

Troubled chanteuse

Packed with memorable songs made famous by the troubled chanteuse, Bovill’s Piaf show has been a huge hit at the Edinburgh Fringe for the last three years.

The Scotsman has given the show five stars while the Sunday Times noted that the show was ‘something that will stay with you for the rest of your life’.

Authentic Gallic cooking

Le Bistro Beaumartin has also had its fair share of plaudits.

The List’s Eating and Drinking Guide reckoned that ‘Le Bistro Beaumartin is an independent with real strength of personality that prides itself on marrying the spoils of Scotland’s natural larder to authentic Gallic cooking techniques’.

5pm customers have given the restaurant a healthy rating of 4.1/5.

The evening starts at 6.30pm and tickets for dinner and the show cost £50 a head. You can book here.



Family friendly restaurants in Glasgow

This week on 5pm Dining we've been looking at family friendly restaurants. Eating out with children can be a challenge and it can often be tricky to find restaurants which easily accommodate children as well as provide a quality dining experience for mum and dad.

Real mums and dads

We decided the best way to recommend family friendly restaurants was to ask YOU. Sure, a restaurant might provide a children's menu, but it's the real mums and dads who know the details which matter - space for a buggy, changing facilities, accommodating staff. With that in mind, we asked this question on our Facebook page:

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Answers:

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Nicola McFadyen: Cafe Andaluz are great with my 2 year old.

Kerry-Ann Begbie: Cafe Andaluz all the way!

CAFE ANDALUZ

£13.95 For 3 Tapas + Dessert from Cafe Andaluz City Centre and West End.

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Mhari Riddell: Soho Miller Street town centre is brill.

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£14.50 For 2 Courses + Drink from Soho on Miller Street

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Joanne Buchan: Sapporo Tepanyaki in Glasgow. Food is fantastic, service is fab and u get a wee bit of entertainment.

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£16.95 for 3 Courses from Sapporo Teppanyaki

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Lauren Murphy: The Byre East Kilbride are very family friendly! Lots of things for little ones they can make their own pizzas, there a park in it and also bouncy castle and face painting in the nice weather.

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£13.99 For 2 Courses from Bothy at the Byre, East Kilbride.

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John Bones Koolba Indian Restaurant is great for families, very friendly and remember curries are not always hot so kids will love them.

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£10.95 For 2 Courses from Koolba.

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For more restaurant offers in Glasgow and Edinburgh take a look at our 5pm Dining page.



Edinburgh’s changing restaurant scene

Rascals' Messy Burger is not misnamed.

Rascals' Messy Burger is not misnamed.

The 5pm Dining blog has recently been pondering why the Glasgow burger boom hasn’t seemed to travel across the M8.

Of course, there are loads of places in the capital selling burgers but there hasn’t been the explosion of burger bars and BBQ joints seen in the West over the last eighteen months or so.

Well, that’s changing. On the South Bridge, Rascals, formerly Aspen, has been slinging badboy burgers, double burgers, veggie burgers, pulled pork burgers and pretty much every other kind of burger since late last year.

It’s a new branch which has developed out from the original in St Andrews.

The Crafters Barn

A ten minute walk away, is The Crafters Barn on North Bank Street.

Back in December, we blogged about this place when it was called The Scottish Burger Bistro.

As The Crafters Barn, the emphasis seems to have moved away from burgers to a globe-trotting menu which takes in steaks cooked on hot lava stones, pizza, mussels and a selection of small plates which range from pan-fried octopus to a beef tongue stir-fry.

Belgian and Scottish craft beers will help it slip down.

Uncle Zeb is cooking tonight

Meanwhile, in the western suburbs of Edinburgh, Uncle Zeb’s American Diner is serving sit-in guests as well as delivering southern-flavoured goodies to American food fans in nearby postcodes.

Operating from the Clermiston Inn on Rannoch Road, Uncle Zeb seems to like cooking up steaks, burgers, pizza, wings and wraps.

Leith Walk goes Spanish

Serrano Manchego is importing barrels of wine from Cordoba.

Serrano Manchego is importing barrels of wine from Cordoba.

Finally, last November, we blogged about Serrano Manchego, a new Spanish pinchitos bar which was taking shape in the old Dalmeny Bar on Leith Walk.

According to our chums at STV’s Edinburgh city app, the new venture is pencilled in to open come May.

The STV article is here. It looks as though they are making a fair old stab at creating a genuine Spanish bar rather than an ersatz UK version.



Vegan night at Bread Street Brasserie

The eye-catching interior at the Bread Street Brasserie.

The eye-catching interior at the Bread Street Brasserie.

Just a quickie to point out that the Bread Street Brasserie is holding one of its extremely popular vegan nights on Thursday 10th April.

A tremendous three course meal is yours for £16.

Vegans are not always well catered for by most restaurants but the Brasserie in the recently relaunched DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh City Centre pulls out all the stops for their vegan nights.

You can read all about the hotel’s swish new looks in an earlier blog wot we wrote here.



Savour the flavours of Edinburgh

Savour

Looking forward to June, there is an interesting event taking place at the ever lively Summerhall on Sunday 15th.

Billed as Savour, United Flavours of Edinburgh, some of the capital’s top artisan producers, suppliers, chefs and wine merchants will be providing an afternoon of food-related exploration.

Virtual menu, real eats

The Savour team will be taking over Summerhall, the former Dick Vet School, and creating ‘a virtual menu where spaces will be used imaginatively to create a fun journey around a wealth of produce’.

So, among other events, the former Histology Lab will be transformed by Queen Margaret University’s Gastronomy Department  into a Beer Lab which promises to take visitors on a mini journey through beer’s production, taste, styles and social history.

Drinks matching

In the Dissection Room, a variety of food producers, chefs and restaurants will be cooking up a delicious range of goodies to taste or buy. These will be paired with local wine and beer merchants.

Pudding Hall

The Pudding Hall will feature a long table with a pudding banquet. The space is designed so you can enjoy a variety of sweets things from several local pudding purveyors and then sit down to enjoy them.

In The Cheese Lounge and Larder – the former Bone Room of the Veterinary College - Edinburgh Larder will be selling a variety of chutneys, pickles, cordials and other goodies. Match these with a platter of cheeses and retire to the lounge area to enjoy!

There is more to be announced and you can keep track of developments here. Normal price tickets £15 but early birds booking before April 15th can snaffle tix at £10 a pop. Kids under 12 go free with a paying adult.

Tix from here.



More new Glasgow restaurants

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Are Mexican restaurants due to be the next big thing in Glasgow?

You could argue that with the spread of the Pinto restaurants; new openings such as Juan Chihuahua and, perhaps, the Latin American Las Iguanas, that that the Mexican boom has already started.

What makes it even more likely to happen is when one of the partners at the Di Maggio's group gets involved in a new Mexican restaurant project in the city centre.

Topolobamba

If anyone has their finger on the pulse of Glasgow's eating out scene, it's the team at Di Maggio's so if one of their directors is linked to the project, then it seems a fair bet that Glasgow is indeed about to experience a Mexican boom.

Called Topolobamba, the new venture is on St Vincent Street. The plan is to have it opened in time for the Commonwealth Games.

NYC American Grill

Sticking with food from the other side of the Atlantic, we note that the NY American Grill is taking shape in Princes Square.

It is run by the same team as Barca which is also in the Buchanan Street centre.

Steaks, burgers and boozy shakes are among the goodies on offer when the venue opens in early May.

Ox & Finch

Looking a little further in to the future (?), Ox & Finch restaurant is shaping up fast on Sauchiehall Street. It's the new, permanent project from the people at street food specialists Scoop.

Ox and Finch is coming together on Sauchiehall Street.

Ox and Finch is coming together on Sauchiehall Street.



New Glasgow restaurants

The Grand Hall at Hutchesons.

The Grand Hall at Hutchesons is undergoing restoration.

 

As the Commonwealth Games begin to loom large on the horizon, Glasgow’s restaurateurs have gone into overdrive opening new restaurants.

The 5pm Dining blog will be taking a closer look at a few of them today and tomorrow with a round-up of developments in Edinburgh on Thursday.

We’ve learned of many of the restaurants from the ever lively, new restaurants thread on Yelp. Their eagle-eyed contributors usually know about new Glasgow restaurants long before the doors open.

We’ve already blogged about Hutchesons in our Chewin' theFat chat with James Rusk, the brains behind both the Butchershop Bar & Grill plus the exciting new development of the old Hutchesons Hospital.

You can pick up more details from our friends at the STV city app and there was also a story in The Herald last week.

Scotland’s first sake brewery

We also see that Arran Brewery is to open Scotland’s first sake brewery in Dreghorn by Kilmarnock.

Managing Director Gerald Michaluk said ‘It may not at first appear there is a connection between Dreghorn, near Kilmarnock, and Japan but there is. In Japan you will find a small piece of Scotland in the form of a church which once graced Dreghorn but which was dismantled and rebuild in Tokyo.

‘As well as the sake brewery, which will almost exclusively export its sake to Japan, there will be our research and development centre and a brewing and distilling training school; subject of course to licensing. We have been making sake on a very small, almost domestic, scale and are now ready to build a sizable facility’.

New tapas bar

Back in Glasgow, La Boca is a very authentic new tapas bar on Hope Street.

Spanish tapas made from Spanish ingredients and cooked by Spanish chefs is the ethos here.

We like the look of their take on the sarnie or montadito packed with pork loin and Manchego cheese.

La Boca's montadito.

La Boca's montadito.

Vegetarian and vegan Indian

Over at the bottom corner of Byres Road, Usha’s Vegetarian is taking shape.

Vegetarian and vegan Indian dishes are promised. It’s being launched by the team behind the Tribeca diners – Usha is the mother-in-law of Tribeca’s owner. More info here.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more details on a new Mexican restaurant opening on St Vincent Street.



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