Continuing our culinary round-up of 2012, we look at what happened on our plates in the months of May to July.
Man v Food style challenges seemed plentiful last year. Glasgow’s Grill Room, part of 29 Royal Exchange Square, launched a promo for a 96 ounce steak.
Not including the trimmings, it weighed in at six pounds and cost £360. Anyone who finished the Big Yin in under an hour got it for free along with a year’s membership of 29. The Sun ran a belt-busting piece on the challenge.
Chip voted best in Scotland
The Ubiquitous Chip was voted The Good Food Guide Readers’ Restaurant of the Year for Scotland. Opening in 1971, The Chip championed Scottish cuisine and ingredients long before such a notion was in any way fashionable. Some 41 years later, practically any chef worth his salt will happily tell you about his sourcing policy and the importance of local provenance but Ronnie Clydesdale, the late founder of The Chip, pioneered the approach in Scotland.
Sticking with The Chip and sister restaurant Stravaigin, both hit the headlines when they put rook on the menu. A pest to farmers, rook was a popular meat during wartime rationing. The bird can only be culled during an annual two week period as a part of a pest control program on farms.
Nick Nairn opened a new cook school in Aberdeen. Formerly a church hall, the ground floor at the Nick Nairn Cook School features a cook shop and Quick Cook Bar which looks like a rather sexy cross between a sushi bar and a cocktail joint.
Upstairs is a state of the art teaching kitchen with cooking stations for up to 24 people. Designed for full day classes, the teaching kitchen is headed up by local chef Kenny Smart who previously worked at the 1906 restaurant in His Majesty’s Theatre.
Noma best in world. Again
For the third year in a row, Copenhagen’s Noma is the best restaurant in the world according to Restaurant magazine’s annual survey of global gastronomic royalty. The highest British entry is Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner at Number Nine while his Fat Duck at Bray has fallen eight places to thirteen.
Six British restaurants made it into the top hundred, all of them based in London except for the Fat Duck. The full survey is here.
Michael Neave launched his eponymous kitchen and whisky bar in the Old Fishmarket Close, just off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Neave may be in his early twenties but has already got a number of flying years under his belt with stints at The Bonham and Amber Restaurant in the Scotch Whisky Experience.
The latter helps explain the occasional appearance of Scotland’s national drink in Neave’s dishes such West Coast scallops with beurre blanc and Caol Ila.
Beat the burger
Returning to the Man v Food theme, Ad Lib on Hope Street laid down a Monster Burger challenge. Their gut-busting burger consisted of 3lb’s of Aberdeen Angus beef; 3 beef tomatoes; 2 onions, 1lb of cheese or ‘the wall of cheese’ as the first challenger aptly described it and a giant bun, specially made to fit this humungo burger.
Challengers have 2 hours to complete the challenge and in that time are not allowed to leave the table, not even for a toilet break. If the burger is finished, the challenger’s bill is waived and they are given their own special T-shirt. Those lily-livered souls those who don’t finish have to pay £35 for their meal. Rennies are extra.
Indian restaurants in Scotland
The Scotsman ran an interesting piece looking at the history of Indian restaurants in Scotland. Fascinating family story behind Mithas, winners of the Indian Restaurant of the Year at the Scottish Restaurant Awards earlier this year.
Edinburgh Larder Bistro opened as a new venture from the people behind The Edinburgh Larder deli on Blackfriars Street. An adventurous Scottish /Nordic menu was the initial premise at the West End venue.
Europe’s biggest Thai
Chaophraya Thai restaurant launched in Glasgow’s Nelson Mandela Place. Set over four floors of a revamped townhouse, the multiple bars and dining areas are festooned with brightly coloured elephants, Buddha statues and moody pics of old temples. It is said to be the largest Thai restaurant in Europe.
5pm Restaurants was delighted to welcome the new member of the Soba family to the site. Soba Bar and Noodle Kitchen, like its city centre sibling, offers a fantastic pan-Asian menu and taste bud tingling cocktails.
The conversion of a semi-derelict bungalow well away from any of Edinburgh’s main drags may not sound too promising but the launch of the Gardener’s Cottage was an immediate success.
Chefs Dale Mailley and Edward Murray dish up the best seasonal, local produce while nurturing sustainable and mutually beneficial relationships with the local community and local producers.
Every new restaurant says much the same thing but Mailley and Murray walk the walk as well as talking the talk. Most importantly, their food tastes fantastic. the Observer’s Jay Rayner was impressed.
Jamie’s Italian opened in the newly revamped Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. The popular telly chef has transformed the Supper Rooms which open out on to Rose Street. The new restaurant in the capital joins Jamie’s Italian in Glasgow. A third branch is planned for Aberdeen and scheduled to open in early 2013.
The Taste of Edinburgh food festival was hit by torrential rain and closed early.