Archive for March, 2012

A ‘special occasion’ meal for my daughter Jane’s birthday – we went to Castle Terrace, Edinburgh’s newest Michelin star restaurant, for Saturday lunch.  Dominic Jack, the chef here, worked with Tom Kitchin and you can see the influence (in a good way) in the cooking here.

The menu was certainly interesting and there were one or two qualms about what was on offer for starters – raw mackerel, smoked eel or Ox tongue. Before starting however, we had canapés and an amuse-bouch. The canapés were something fishy (the black one) Caesar salad (the green one) and a micro pizza Marguerita. An astonishing taste explosion – the Caesar salad was my favourite.

The amuse bouche did not really look that appetising – carrot, coriander foam topped with a cumin crumble – but it tasted great.


Carrot with coriander foam with a cumin crumble topping

On to the starters, mine was Ox tongue ravioli. It looked a bit flaccid but was superb. Tongue was something that we often had when we were young in the 60’s but it has fallen out of favour. This was nothing like the limp, pink meat of the past – it was meaty and delicious. The smoked eel panna cotta looked absolutely beautiful and tasted as good as it looked. The mackerel was fine but was perhaps the most ordinary of the starters.

Ravioli of ox tongue

Smoked eel panna cotta

Mackerel tartare

For my main, I went for the hake on a brandade puree – others had pork and plaice with crab ravioli (the green strip in the photo below). I tasted all of them and all were wonderful. I’ve never really been a great fan of brandade – too salty usually – but this one had the seasoning just right. I tasted everything and, although its a close run thing, I reckon the sous-vide pork was the best. Absolutely outstanding.

Hake with brandade

Plaice with crab ravioli

Roast pork with artichoke and basil gnocci

Finally – puds. We all had the beautiful pear cheesecake. Sublime. It was my daughter’s birthday and the staff must have overhead us wishing her happy birthday. So they produced a card and a mini-birthday cake – a really nice touch which Jane really appreciated.

Pear cheesecake

Happy birthday Jane

Finally, on to coffee and the petits fours – what we’ve been waiting for, said my wife.  I rarely eat sweets but these were delicious.

Petits fours

For this standard of food, £24 is a bargain. We had the matched wine package for £19 each – a glass of wine with each course, selected by the sommelier to match the food. I didn’t write down what wines we had but it was a great selection and they matched the food perfectly.


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Buchanan’s Bistro is part of the Woodend Barn Arts Centre in Banchory. This was our first evening meal there although we’d been there for lunch in the past. The space is modern, light and airy – light wood and lots of windows. The menu is fixed price – £17.50 for 2 courses and about another £3.50 for pudding. I had a fish plate as a starter – 3 different kinds of smoked salmon, anchovies and smoked mussels – something I’d never tried before – I really enjoyed them. The main course was lamb cutlet with lamb kibbeh – ground lamb with bulgar wheat, spices and pine nuts. The cutlet was cooked as I like it – very rare – and the kibbeh was nicely spiced. Small selection of veg as accompaniment.

We shared a pudding – coconut tart. 

The name says it all – it really is bistro food – simple, tasty and nicely cooked. We ended up with a bill of about £30 each including wine and coffees. Recommended if you are in Aberdeenshire.

Sorry – no pics – I forgot both camera and phone.

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