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New openings in Glasgow

Glasgow is about to get Mess-y.

Glasgow is about to get Mess-y.

Thanks to the eagle eyes of the contributors to Yelp's excellent new places thread, we can tell you that Mess Cantina is expanding from its original base in East Kilbride and opening a branch on Glasgow's Otago Street.

As the name suggests, Tex Mex is on the menu here with chilli con carne, nachos and pulled pork fighting for attention with wings and slow cooked ribs.

The new branch is taking shape in the former Skinny's site.

Scotland's first Bill's?

We're much less certain about this one but we hear rumours that Scotland is going to get its first Bill's on West Nile Street.

Named after its founder Bill Collison, Bill's is a chain of rather quirky cafe restaurants and shops selling everything from Bill's Red Wine to Bill's Red Onion Chutney.

Open from 'breakfast to bedtime', the menus range from porridge to 28-day aged sirloin steaks.

We also see that Giraffe have opened a new branch in the massive Tesco at Silverburn.



Topolobamba takes off

Mezcal and tequila will be on the menu at Topolobamba.

Mezcal and tequila will be on the menu at Topolobamba.

All being well, the highly anticipated Topolobamba on Glasgow’s St Vincent Street should open to the public this Wednesday.

Rather than being a vaguely Tex Mex joint, Topolobamba is aiming to serve genuine Mexican street food with recipes taken from the country’s four main culinary regions.

Canteen and bar

Billed as a canteen and bar, the venture is aiming to be as authentic as possible and will be importing key ingredients from the North American country.

A sneak peek at the menu shows that it is certainly a long way from a box standard Mexican.

Tequila-basted prawns

Dishes which jump out include the tamales stuffed with barbacoa beef or Yucatan pork; grilled prawns basted in Agave tequila and chilli; taquitos filled with tangy cactus and marinated chicken plus a baked fish of the day served with a chilli red mole.

While not a tapas restaurant, Topolobamba will be serving smaller portions so that diners can try two or three dishes a visit.

Topolobamba has been taking shape over the last few months.

Topolobamba has been taking shape over the last few months.

Amber gambler?

A fun touch is the traffic light system on the bar which will indicate how hot the chilli is on that particular day.

Customers will be welcome to pop in for a margarita, tequila or Mexican beer. Tortilla chips and bowls of salsa on the bar will help encourage drinkers through the door.

Given the boom in authentic Latin American restaurants in London, it is interesting to see a team try to develop a similar concept in Glasgow.

With the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, Topolobamba couldn’t have picked a better time to launch a new venture.



Bar food in Edinburgh’s West End

Just minutes from Princes Street in the heart of the theatre district, Edinburgh's West End is home to some of the city's liveliest bars, many of which serve up top quality food. We've listed our picks of the best gourmet bar food in the area with not a pork scratching in sight.

The Westroom

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Burger and chips at The Westroom.

Chefs at The Westroom in Melville place cook traditional Scottish classics with a twist; mussels are served in a white wine, shallot and cream broth and haggis is stuffed in spring rolls and served with a plum and ginger jam. British classic fish and chips with pickled onion and tartar sauce is served in a bag, just like at the chippy.

20% main menu discount at The Westroom when booking on 5pm.

Sygn

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Burger and chips at Sygn.

Tucked away down Charlotte Lane, Sygn is not the sort of place that shouts too loudly about its presence. However, as one of Edinburgh’s hipper bar and kitchens, it is well worth seeking out. As well as an inventive range of stone-baked pizza, including one with pulled lamb, peas, sweet onions and Parmesan; they have a mighty burger selection and a gourmet choice of cleverly named haute dogs. Chargrilled wraps and salads add to diners’ what-to-choose dilemma.

15% kitchen menu discount + cocktail at Sygn when booking on 5pm.

Ryan's Cellar Restaurant

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Indulge in steak at Ryan's Cellar Restaurant.

Head downstairs at Hope Street's Ryan's Bar for Ryan's Cellar Restaurant, considered by many to be one of Edinburgh's best kept secrets. Enjoy the ambience of live piano music while you tuck into the restaurant's Scottish influenced menu which includes their 35 day aged steaks from the Borders – served with chunky chips, the cuts available include the 8oz larder trimmed fillet to the 16oz T-bone. A must for the meat lovers.

£11 for main course on fixed price menu + craft beer or glass of wine from Ryan's Cellar Restaurant when booking on 5pm.

Whigham's Wine Cellars

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Seafood platter at Whighams Wine Cellars.

Seafood lovers are spoiled at Whigham's Wine Cellars, a popular Hope Street wine bar. The seafood platter includes a selection of langoustine, oyster, clam, tiger prawn, shrimp, mussel, smoked mackerel and trout, and other seafood options include Cullen skink soup, smoked Scottish salmon and oysters, fresh from Loch Creran. If seafood doesn’t float your boat then Whighams has plenty of other options such as the Ayrshire baked honey and mustard ham salad or the ever popular rare roast beef salad made with silverside from the Buccleuch estate. 

£15 for 2 courses on prix fixe menu + glass of wine at Whigham's Wine Cellars when booking on 5pm.

Ghillie Dhu

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Spectacular surroundings in Ghillie Dhu.

Located on Rutland Place in Edinburgh’s West End, Ghillie Dhu is set over three floors in spectacular surroundings. It boasts an auditorium for events such as their hugely popular ceilidh nights, a spacious bar with occasional live music and sports on big television screens, as well as a welcoming restaurant serving Scottish fare in hearty portions. The menu is Scottish focused, with dishes such as haggis neeps and tatties, baked fillet of Scottish salmon and Cullen skink.

2 for 1 main courses from Ghillie Dhu when booking on 5pm.

For more dining offers in Edinburgh's West End, check out our Piece of my City Edinburgh West End page.

 



Caffe Contini sneak peek

Plans for the third floor restaurant at Contini Caffe.

Plans for Contini Caffe are taking shape.

As we noted on the 5pm Dining blog back in June, Victor and Carina Contini are planning to extend their Edinburgh empire with the opening of a third outlet towards the end of July.

Contini Caffe is taking shape in Cannonball House on the Royal Mile. The new venture will join Contini Ristorante on George Street and The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant at the Scottish National Gallery on The Mound.

The exact details have still to be worked out but these sneak peek images give a reasonable indication of what the final manifestation of Contini Caffe will look like.

An ice cream counter features in the plans for Contini Caffe.

An ice cream counter features in the plans for Contini Caffe.

Spread over three floors, the new venture will include a porridge bar and Italian gelateria, or ice cream bar, on the ground floor.

A cafe/takeaway serving light bites and gourmet sarnies is being set up on the first floor.

On the third floor, diners can look forward to a top notch restaurant. Apparently, the views to Edinburgh castle are superb.

A possible version of the third floor restaurant.

A possible version of the third floor restaurant.

 

 



A perfect morning at One Square, Edinburgh Sheraton Hotel & Spa

When Edinburgh's Sheraton Hotel & Spa invited us along to their Festival Square hotel for a gin afternoon tea, they had us at gin and afternoon tea.

The hotel wished to show off their summer take on the classic British afternoon tea, which will be served with the tipple until the end of August, paying homage to the hotel bar's collection of 52 gins.

The Sheraton also said they had a surprise treat for us at lunchtime. More on that later.

First we paid a visit to the Sheraton's One Square Bar to learn more about their gin collection.

Gin collection

When it comes to gin, there's little One Square Bar Manager Hugh Gibb doesn't know about the subject.

As he showed us the bar's gin collection, his knowledge and passion for the spirit shone through.

"At the moment we stock 52 gins but the numbers constantly change. It's always a considered collection," he said.

"We try and stock as many different types as possible, gins from different regions, gins with different methods of distillation."

"Cocktail bar tenders like to experiment. Creating things that haven't been made before is what they live for and gin is the perfect base spirit to do that with because of the amount of botanicals."

"It's such a good spirit because there is something for everyone and there are lots of different types. If you are not a huge gin fan immediately, it's not that you don't like gin; you just haven't found the one you like yet."

Learn more about gin from Hugh in the video below.

Afternoon tea

Next we headed into One Square's dining area to experience their Bloom gin afternoon tea.

One Square are well known for their themed afternoon teas, with previous examples being Wimbledon and Christmas themed afternoon teas.

The Bloom gin afternoon tea will run all summer and include the traditional cakes and sandwiches with a gin themed twist.

Example dishes include heather honey glazed ham sandwich with a bloom gin jelly and strawberry macaroons accompanied by a little tube filled with Bloom gin to squeeze inside.

The tea is served with a Bloom gin cocktail.

Watch chef Craig Hart talk about the Bloom gin afternoon tea in the video below.

Dining on the pass

After we tucked into the delicious afternoon tea, staff at the Sheraton led us down to the kitchen for an exclusive behind the scenes look at how the hotel prepares five star food for its guests.

The recently redone kitchen was nothing short of spectacular. Gleaming silver surfaces and the latest hi tech equipment, it was the most impressive restaurant kitchen we've ever seen.

It was then One Square told us we would be eating our five course lunch right there on the kitchen pass; as chef Craig prepared the dishes before our very eyes.

Craig quickly got to work preparing our first course; a pineapple carpaccio served with rocket, ox spring ham and parmesan.

Things heated up with the hearty butternut squash served with coriander, apple and a melt in your mouth goat's cheese ball which was dropped in the centre of the soup.

The main course was fresh turbot served with parmieter potatoes, tomato and asparagus. As I'm a vegetarian I was treated to stuffed globe artichoke instead which was simply outstanding.

Watch Craig prepare the turbot on the pass in the video below.

Dessert was a gin and tonic sorbet and jelly encased in a sugar case. It was a little strange to slurp on a gin and tonic flavoured sorbet but definitely strange in a good way.

Our tummies filled with delicious food, we thanked the Sheraton for their hospitality. But little did we know they had another treat to come.

Dessert on the pass

First chef Craig cleared away our plates and cleaned the surface of the pass until it was spotless.

He then brought out some vanilla, mango, raspberry and chocolate, sauces which he sprayed on a circle on the surface.

He began to scatter honeycomb, chocolate, raspberry crumble, blueberries, pistachio crisps, violets, dried strawberries, biscotti and dried oranges.

It was then we realised this was going to be our second dessert which we would be eating right from the pass! It looked delicious enough at this point but there was one final flourish.

Chef Craig disappeared into the back and came out clutching a chocolate egg which he lifted high and dropped it leading it to explode all over the pass.

We were then given a spoon and told to tuck in!

Craig told us no one who has dined at the pass has ever finished the dessert and try as we might to scoop up every morsel of chocolate, marshmallow, fruit and cream, we simply couldn't manage it all.

Watch Craig prepare dessert on the pass in the video below.

We left the Sheraton hotel stuffed but happy after an extremely enjoyable day.

Dining on the pass was truly memorable and like nothing we had experienced in a restaurant before.

A fine dining meal in an unforgettable setting.

£23 for the Bloom gin afternoon tea, £16 for two courses from the chet's set menu and £29 for the Sunday buffet plus jazz entertainment at One Square within the Sheraton Hotel when booking on 5pm.co.uk.
You can watch each fantastic course we ate in our YouTube playlist below.



5 must-try Japanese dishes from YummyTori

Lovers of Japanese food must give YummyTori on Edinburgh's Lothian Road a try.

It adds a different spin to the cuisine by specialising in Japanese tapas and we've picked some of our favourites below.

Yakiniku beef

Yakiniku beef

Yakiniku beef

This uses the chef's very own special recipe for the black pepper sauce which coats the tender and thinly sliced beef.

Wasabi prawns

Wasabi prawns

Wasabi prawns

Again the chef's own recipe for wasabi sauce is used as a sauce for the crispy battered prawns offering a delicious bite to the seafood.

Teppan gyoza

Gyoza dumplings

Gyoza dumplings

Comforting and homely, the teppan gyoza dumplings are pan steamed parcels of goodness with aromatic, succulent pork and vegetables.

Salmon tataki

Salmon tataki

Salmon tataki

Fish fans should give the salmon tataki a try. The salmon is cured and flash seared then drizzled with a  fresh citrusy ponzu vinagrette.

Daily selection of sushi

Sushi

Sushi

Finally, YummyTori change their sushi selection daily and it's definitely worth checking out what's on the menu.

If these dishes whet your appetite then we've got a number of offers to give it a try on 5pm Dining.

15% a la carte discount or £38 per couple for 6 tapas dishes and a bottle of house wine - menus & booking here



Pommery Champagne at the Tattoo

Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.

For the fourth year, the Pommery Champagne Cafe Bar is to return to Edinburgh's Signet Library for the duration of the Festival.

The 5pm Dining blog will have a much bigger preview a little closer to the launch day on the 1st of August.

Chocs, drams and cocktails

As always, there are lots of tasty events going on over the month. Not least is a series of Sunday afternoon events in which Annabel Meikle, aka The Whisky Belle, will be introducing small groups of lucky people to the delights of chocolate, whisky and cocktails.

However, before our main preview, here's another little taster snippet to whet the appetite.

The cafe is offering a series of dinner and Tattoo packages. For £75 a head, guests can enjoy a Champagne cocktail and three course meal in the rather magnificent Signet Library before toddling up the road to watch Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

You can view the menu here but a typical main course might be the slow cooked shin of Scottish beef with poached summer vegetables, new potatoes and a gravy of cooking juices.

The tickets are available for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets can be bought from here.

Afternoon tea is always a hit at the Pommery Champagne Cafe Bar.

Afternoon tea is always a hit at the Pommery Champagne Cafe Bar.

 

 



Beyond Beer at Traquair

Traquair House: brewing up a great day out.

Traquair House: brewing up a great day out.

August is shaping up to be a fine month for food lovers. Not least because of events like Beyond Beer which takes place at Traquair in the Borders and is billed as ‘a feast of fine ales, craft brewing and good food’.

The event is being held over two days, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th of August, 11am-8pm. The event will focus predominantly on breweries in the Scottish Borders including Traquair, Broughton, Borders Brewery and Tempest Brewery as well as some guest ales from further afield.

Local food producers

In addition to being able to sample ales there will be a host of local food producers ranging from, among others Whitmuir Organics, Cocoa Black Chocolate, Peelham Farm Produce, The Juicy Meat Company to Breadshare.

Beer and food matching

The event will aim to educate and entertain on the subject of beer and food matching. Catherine Maxwell Stuart, organiser commented;

‘We are really keen to get people to enjoy great food and great beers, explore matching food and beer and try things they may not have tasted before.  Beer is definitely the new wine and the breadth and variety of beers now available is stunning.’

A talks and events marquee will also host talks, demonstrations and workshops throughout the weekend with well known beer journalists, brewers and chefs.

Home brewers will have a chance to enter the Home Brew Competition and have your beer judged by experts and perhaps brewed by a micro brewer.

Family friendly

Beyond Beer welcomes families and there will be some innovative food related workshops for kids as well as live music and entertainment in the garden all day.

Tickets can be booked in advance. Adult entry is £10. Kids go free.



4 restaurants for Italian food in Edinburgh’s West End

The buzz of Edinburgh’s West End means there are lots of dining options and for Italian dining fans from modern to traditional you’ve got plenty of choice. We’ve rounded up some of our Italian West End Edinburgh favourites.

Zucca

You couldn’t get a restaurant more ideally situated for pre theatre dining than Zucca. This Italian has doors leading directly into the Lyceum theatre – see for yourself in our video below.

If you go to Zucca don’t expect a long menu of numerous pizzas and pasta. Zucca change their menu regularly and keep it limited to seasonal customer favourites.

2 for 1 main courses from the a la carte menu - more offers & menus here

Croma Plaza at the Odeon

Croma Plaza at the Odeon

Perfect for pre-cinema dining, Croma Plaza is a modern pizzeria located on the ground floor of the Odeon in the West End.

Pizzas are baked at 750 degrees in specially imported ovens and you can, of course, get your margherita and pepperoni  pizza classics as well as toppings for the more adventurous such as the marinara , tuna, king prawns, anchovies, olives, capers, red onions and tomato (no cheese) or the tandoori chicken pizza, strips of tandoori chicken breast, cashew nuts, green peppers, red onions, mozzarella, tomato, coriander, with fresh lime and a yoghurt and mint dressing.

If you want to give Croma Plaza at try they've got a few offers on 5pm Dining including:

£10.95 per person for a main course on the main menu. Includes a soft drink, bottle of Peroni or 175ml glass of red or white wine and a portion of garlic bread, dough balls or mixed salad - book here.

Bar Italia

Bar Italia

Sister restaurant to Ciao Roma in the Old Town, Bar Italia is a traditional, friendly Italian that has a wonderful family friendly atmosphere that's perfectly located for the Filmhouse and the Usher Hall.

From the olive oil used to the mozerella, Ciao Roma tries to get as many ingredients as it can from source in Italy to provide a truly authentic experience. Its pasta is homemade; check out the video below to see the monster of a machine that they make it with!

20% a la carte discount + more offers & menus for Bar Italia here

Quattrozero

Quattrozero

This stylish Italian is a modern venue with an open kitchen and wood burning stove as well as a well-priced menu and Quattrozero gets great reviews from 5pm diners – just read what they say below, we don’t need to say much more!

Great Value (Rating 4.2/5)

Quattrozero was a very pleasant experience. The bruschetta was very nice. The calamari starter could have been a bit less chewy and could have been doing with some kind of sauce on the side. The steak with peppercorn and brandy sauce was good. Would visit again. -- Ross Murphy - 27/06/2014

Authentic Italian fare at a very fair price. (Rating 4.8/5)

Delicious home made food served by friendly, helpful staff. Great for families as very relaxed and informal surroundings. Tiramisu is superb! Have returned on several occasions. -- amanda muir - 06/06/2014

A good meal in a handy West End location (Rating 4.4/5)

Good food and efficient, pleasant service. Excellent value on the 5pm deal. -- Kenneth Macinnes - 16/04/2014

£9.95 per person for a starter and main course from the set menu – more offers & booking here.



Scotland from top to toe: Sourcing locally with Edinburgh Larder Bistro

Edinburgh Larder Bistro

Edinburgh Larder Bistro lives and breathes local produce, it's at the heart of the operation on Edinburgh's Alva Street.

From the top to the bottom of Scotland, Edinburgh Larder Bistro sources the freshest and best quality, local ingredients it can find. We are, after all, spoiled for the choice of meats, fish, vegetables and more right on our doorstep.

We take a look across the country at some of these suppliers below.

West of Scotland

From Ayrshire, the Bistro uses Creelers based on the Isle of Arran who catch and smoke lobster, crabs, langoustine, salmon and other local shellfish and seafood in a sustainable manner.

Also from Ayrshire, a small operation near the village of its namesake, Dunlop Dairy provides the Bistro with cheeses. It's won gold and silver awards at the International Cheese Awards for its cheeses that range from its moist, mild and nutty traditional cheese to its smoked beechwood Dunlop.

Loch Arthur Community Creamery

Sticking with cheese, the Bistro also uses Loch Arthur Camphill Community's creamery who produce award winning cheeses that are sold across the country (including Harrods). Just outside Dumfries, the charity supports, houses and employs people with learning disabilities who all contribute to the running of the operation.

Onto the Glasgow area and Ramsey's of Carluke supplies the Bistro with various farm assured meats; their bacon has been described by Tom Parker Bowles as "pure bacon bliss".

East of Scotland

Phantassie Fruit & Veg

Natural compost, organically certified, green manuring, Phantassie Organic Produce grow their fruit and vegetables the right and sustainable way in their 5 acre estate in East Linton, just outside Edinburgh and make sure the kitchens at the Bistro has the best produce.

Within Edinburgh,  family run Welch Fishmongers provide the Bistro with their responsibly harvested fresh fish.

South east of Edinburgh Peelham Farm Organic in Berwickshire, where the Bistro also get their meat, bring a 'creative vision to farming' through new techniques.

St Andrews Cheese

North of Edinburgh 'anster' cheese is sourced from St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese. Made from  unpasteurised milk from home-bred Holstein Friesian cows the cheese has a crumbly texture that dissolves in the mouth leaving a full-flavoured finish. 

Highlands

All the way up to Tain and Highland Fine Cheeses have produced cheeses like brie and Highland cowdie from their dairy since 1951 and now also supply restaurants like the Bistro.

Still in Invernessshire and still with cheese, Connage Highland Dairy also supplies the Bistro with a wide range of cheeses that are fully traceable from cow to cheese.

Great Glen Charcuterie

Onto Perthshire and beneath Schiehallion in the heart of the Highlands, Rannoch's smokery produces smoked meats including venison from their very doorstep.

Similar fans of Scotland's venison is the Great Glen who use it in a sustainable manner for their charcuterie and you'll find these meats on the Bistro's menus.

England

Heritage potatoes

Edinburgh Larder Bistro nip over the border to get their potatoes from Carroll's Heritage Potatoes in Northumberland.  Carroll says their potatoes have "gourmet eating qualities - excellent flavours, textures, colours, shapes, and a taste of history" and these are brought to the attention in Bistro dishes like rump of lamb, Dunsyre blue potato cake and wild garlic.

Drink locally

Fife Fruit Merchants

The Scottish produce experience continues to the drinks menu which features local botanical drinks from Cuddy Bridge Apple Juice, Fife Fruit Merchants and Get Juiced and Scottish brewed beers from suppliers Cairngorm Brewery, Stewart Brewing, Falkirk Tryst, Innis & Gunn, Black Isle Brewery, Williams Bros Brewing Co. and Thistly Cross Cider.

Plus their coffee is straight from Edinburgh based merchants Artisan Roast.

If all this talk of Scotland's fantastic produce has whet your appitite, Edinburgh Larder Bistro have offers on 5pm Dining letting you taste the food from their wonderful suppliers including: 

£15 for 2 courses on the pre-theatre menu - menus and booking here



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