Well, we started our stay in Edinburgh in style, with a load of Scotch whisky and deep fried goodness! I woke up on our second day with a bit of a hangover, and after a cuppa we headed downstairs for some breakfast.
I just played it safe this morning with a small selection from the continental buffet, some cheese, smoked salmon and some surprisingly good quality pastrami and a couple of slices of toast.
Sara had a Skype meeting scheduled this morning, so I decided to take a wonder around the New Town, including a visit to the statue of Sherlock Holmes!
I also, perhaps foolishly considering I left my inhaler at home, decided to scale the Scott Monument. All 297 feet of it. I got to the first level and instantly regretted it, but there was no way I was turning back!
Half way up I took this photo of the National Gallery and Edinburgh Castle… so only roughly 150 more steps to go, give or take…
The view from the top was spectacular, it was a beautiful clear day and you could see for miles, all the way over to Fife!
I spotted this bakery on my walk and knew I would have to pop in for some sweet treats to take back to Sara in the hotel room.
Two excellent Salted Caramel Macarons, crispy on the outside with a chewy centre and an intense and creamy filling!
On our walk to our lunch reservation at the Scran & Scallie, I popped into a corner shop and picked up a can of one of my favourite soft drinks you can seemingly no longer get outside of Scotland, Red Kola!
The Scran & Scallie is listed in the Michelin guide with a Bib Gourmand award and is described as “the more casual venture from Tom Kitchin, located in a smart, village-like suburb. It has a wood-furnished bar and a dining room which blends rustic and contemporary décor. Extensive menus follow a ‘Nature to Plate’ philosophy and focus on the classical and the local”
We started in the bar section of the pub with half a lager for me and a coffee for Sara, and a bucket of bar snacks, crispy pig’s ears and pork scratchings. Thin slices of pigs ears, all stuck together like crisp little nets, and perfectly light pork scratchings.
I had the excellently velvety and smooth spring pea soup, it was such a vibrant green and had a pure taste of peas.
Extra kudos has to be given to the team at the Scran & Scallie for accommodating Sara’s dietary needs as she forgot her lactase pills, and despite not being on the menu, swapped the spring pea soup for a leek and potato soup. Again, another vibrant and velvety soup, made with leeks and cubes of potato at the bottom of the bowl.
The soups were also brilliant with the flavourful and expertly made bread and butter.
For mains Sara opted for the confit chicken, quinoa and spring vegetables. Crispy skinned pieces of chicken with well flavoured quinoa… it’s just a shame that quinoa has something of a middle class/new ager image problem.
I chose the roast hake, pearl barley and octopus. Two pieces of hake sat atop a richly savoury orzotto. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, but it was insanely delicious and full of umami goodness.
For afters, I had the buttermilk pannacotta, blood orange sorbet and rhubarb. I do prefer a pannacotta to be properly turned out, but that sorbet could make me forgive war crimes, so not turning the sorbet out is forgiven!
Once again, the team were super accommodating and did Sara a version of the pudding without the pannacotta, adding a scoop of rhubarb sorbet.
The Scran & Scallie is a superb example of a gastropub, and is well deserving of it’s Bib Gourmand award, more towns need places like this. This is how you do a gastropub, not just Jenga chips, beer battered fish and burgers in brioche buns!
After this lunch we strolled back to our hotel, via a shop to buy more Red Kola to take home, and had a lie down at the hotel.
Later that evening we were meeting up with an old friend of mine from Preston who has made the jump from the Eurosceptic north west England, to the pro-Europe Scottish capital city! With that in mind, and knowing we were visiting a rock pub who specialised in bourbon, stomach lining was required. Another place that was recommended to me was Pickles, and it was conveniently around the corner from our hotel.
Located below the French restaurant L’escargot Bleu this place was rammed, but we found a little table in what seemed to be a former coal shed outside. All snug and tucked away with blankets we ordered ourselves a cheese and meat platter to share.
For just £20 we got all this, more bread, oatcakes, chutneys, pickles, olives, cheese and meat than you could shake a stick at! Delicious charcuterie from the Mediterranean, smoky chorizo, melt in the mouth prosciutto, a peppery salami and the most brilliant nutty Serrano ham.
The cheeses from left to right were Morangie Brie, which had that almost farmyard funky smell letting you know this is proper cheese, Blue Murder, which surprised me as I’m not good with blue cheese, but this was very mild and creamy, despite the name, a mature cheddar with salt crystals and an oak smoked cheddar.
All of this and the drinks were priced reasonably, which is always good to find in a city notorious for being extortionate for drinks!
After this we met up with Lou, and had a great night at the Black Bull listening to rock music, drinking beer and bourbon! I need to do this more often!