inverness restaurant

Thai Dining Flies The Flag In Inverness 

After finding two Thai restaurants that we loved in Glasgow (Thai Siam & Thai Lemongrass), I was really rooting for Thai Dining to fly the flag for Inverness. Conveniently located on Academy Street in the centre, it is handy for an after work meal or parking at Rose Street at night. Not to mention it’s less than five minutes to Black Isle Bar for a pre-dinner drink. And it’s near Miele’s for a sneaky ice-cream after. 
We decided to ask our favourite Thai experts, my folks, to come with us to see if it was going to live up to our expectations. 

The starters arrived, with prawn Chub Pang Tod (£6.95) kicking us off. That’s king prawn tempura to me and you. Firstly, the presentation of the plate was superb – so pretty and appetising. Mr S was a bit unsure of them being breadcrumbed instead of in a usual tempura batter but I quite liked the change. Maybe a detail to put on the menu though. The sweet chilli dip provided some welcome sweetness and zing. 

My Satay Gai (£5.95) was another beautifully presented starter. Succulent, marinated chicken with a rich peanut dip and refreshing cucumber relish- an accomplished attempt at satay that I’ll order again. 

My veg loving mum chose the Por Pia Tod (vegetable spring rolls), which came with a sweet chilli dip (£5.95). They were crispy on the outside and the veg was soft enough inside without becoming mushy. 


The first of the main courses was Pad Khing (£12.95). This was a stir-fry dish full of ginger, spring onions, mushrooms and other veg. It was really tasty, so tasty that I didn’t get to try too much because it wasn’t my dish! I also liked that with this dish, as well as many others, you can choose whether you wanted it with chicken, duck, pork, veg, prawn or beef depending what would go with the sauce. 


My pick was the chicken Pad Thai (£11.95) because pre-made sauces always taste rubbish so I don’t bother buying them & my one at home is not a patch on restaurant quality. I also got to have peanuts, which is a rarity when you live with a nut allergy sufferer. My dish was packed to the brim with flavour as I was hoping it would be. With an almost caramelised taste from wok cooking, the marinated chicken contrasted well with the crunchy beansprouts and spring onions. The peanuts gave a lovely crunch too. 

We’d been having an excellent run of it so something had to go wrong and unfortunately it was Mr S & his pork laab (£11.95). The dish had two chillies next to it on the menu to indicate its spice level but I think it should have at least three. Either that or the chef accidentally got chilli happy. With less chilli it could be a delicious dish but our taste buds were numb after a mouthful. 

Rice

The Gaeng Penang curry (£11.95) on the other hand was gorgeous. Also with a two chillies spice level, the dish was expertly balanced between being spicy, tasty and creamy. Creamy coconut milk with a tangy thai sauce coated the chicken and the veg still had a nice bite to it. Kaffir lime leaves completed the dish. 

The staff at Thai Dining were incredible with our daughter, who loved them, and helped us to feel relaxed and enjoy our meal. What fantastic service. 

Seven out of eight dishes were lovely, and the meal was reasonably priced too. 

I’m happy to say that Thai Dining was every bit as good as the aforementioned Glasgow Thai restaurants. And 170 miles closer! 

Advertisements

Fig & Thistle – Bringing Bistro Back

  It’s a difficult time to open a restaurant in Inverness city centre. At the weekend up here you have to book tables well in advance but during the week it’s like a ghost town. Restaurants can’t survive on weekend trade alone so I urge you to turn Wednesday into your new Saturday- I bet that you won’t have to book far in advance and will get better service. I prefer to eat out when it’s not so busy and this is exactly what we did on our visit to Fig & Thistle. This Scottish restaurant is situated on Stephens Brae, just above the long-standing Girvans. It’s a small place inside so try to book if you can but chance your arm if not. 

 

Dad opts for steak ninety nine percent of the time in a restaurant and the one in the Fig & Thistle was from the specials board. It was served with chorizo, potato cubes and seasonal veg. The fillet steak was a tad undercooked but tasty indeed, and a few more potatoes would have made this dish. 
  

Mum loves a veggie option so chose the risotto of garden vegetables, toasted walnuts and Gorgonzola with salad leaves. I’m not a Gorgonzola fan so never tried it but mum found it to be creamy and flavoursome. She would order it again so that says it all. 
  

I immediately spotted what I wanted on the menu – rump of lamb. It is a meat that I don’t often cook at home so it’s a treat to have it. The menu did not say this but it arrived with potato dauphinoise, my favourite potato dish. The lamb itself was cooked to perfection for my taste with the reddish pink inside and slightly caramelised outside that blended with the jus perfectly. The Mediterranean veg also complemented the jus, and it was nice to have the extra veg on the side. 
  
Mum and I shared a classic creme brulee. They had executed the dish well- it was set and creamy below with a caramelised crunchy top. 

  

We all ended up digging in to dads cheeseboard, after the go-ahead from the man himself of course. Creamy Brie and rich cheddar topped off with fruity jelly rounded off the evening nicely. 
  
This petite place reminds me of a little French bistro with solid cooking and an intimate atmosphere. I’ve heard good things about their burger on the lunch menu so I’ll be back to try that. Midweek of course. 
Support our Inverness restaurants all week! 

Ed’s Diner

A few months ago one of the shops in the Eastgate Shopping Centre was boarded up and they started work on something new. Eventually signs went up that it was going to be a diner – exciting times. Often I’ll be shopping in town then want lunch around 3pm but many restaurants in town are closed between lunch and dinner so the idea of a diner in the shopping centre made sense to me. I’m all for more places opening up in town – now they just need to start a shorter 1 hour or less parking tariff and attract more people in. We’re getting there. 

  

Ed’s Easy Diner is a UK based chain with almost 50 outlets since the first one opened in Soho in 1987. I have come across Ed’s in other cities, mainly in shopping centres, but had never eaten there so a shopping day with Mr S presented the perfect opportunity. 

  

First impressions were good. We were met at the door by a manager who said that she would get a booth set up for us in five minutes. It was a busy lunchtime and I’d expected a longer wait so my belly was happy. 

Ed’s decor formula is the typical old style American diner look and I think it works for them. They continue the theme to the actual tables, where there are mini jukeboxes that play a range of funky tunes for 20p each. The money made from this goes to the charity Action Against Hunger. 
  

I spent a while looking at the menu before choosing a beef burger over a hot dog or chicken option. My thinking was that the beef burger is the mainstay for an American themed diner so it is what Ed’s should do best. They offer the option of a burger by itself or as a plate that also includes fries, onion rings and coleslaw. We both went for the cheeseburger plate option, one with American cheese and one with cheddar. It appealed to me that you can choose the type of cheese in the cheeseburger- little things that make a difference to my enjoyment. 

We didn’t wait long for our food and the jukebox distracted us anyway. There’s always the open kitchen to watch as well. 
  
On arrival the plates looked good. I had upgraded my meal to have sweet potato fries instead of regular fries because the look of the regular fries on other peoples plates that I had passed hadn’t appealed to me. This probably sounds pernickety but they reminded me of the chips they served in my old high school – which I enjoyed at the time but now expect a higher quality from a restaurant. Mr S said they were fine and I tried one and they were ‘fine’ but who wants that when they eat out? My sweet potato variety were much better – crispy on the outside and soft inside. The coleslaw and onion rings were pretty bog standard but I hadn’t expected homemade from a chain. 

The burger itself was of a good size (you can also upgrade to a large patty) with lettuce and tomato. A regular seeded bun pleases the masses – sadly my preferred brioche bun that holds the burger together better was not an option but I suppose this one is more in keeping with the old American style. The patty itself was a bit disappointing. It definitely did not taste homemade and the meat was too ground down. It just reminded me of a frozen burger that you’d buy in Tesco – flavourless. 

The cheeseburger plate costs £11.30, but due to my upgrade to sweet potato fries mine was £12.80. The location of Ed’s in the shopping centre, and therefore high rent for the business, was always going to bump the price up. On the other hand, diners should feel that they are getting what they pay for & I can’t justify that much money when the burger quality was so sub-standard. It might have worked in 1987 but burger places have improved so much since then & you have to move with the times. 
  

The crowning glory of the visit for me was my strawberry shake. It wasn’t cheap but it’s more of a dessert than a shake, thick with ice cream. It was served half in a glass and half in a steel malt & tasted delicious. The drinks menu also had other favourites of mine such as cherry Coke, root beer, Coke floats and Samual Adams beer. 
  
I was trying to weigh up my opinion of the place and it came down to alternatives for me. Nearby restaurants that offer burgers such as the Heathmount, Mcgonagall’s, Fig & Thistle and Cafe 1 charge around the £10 mark but Ed’s win points on location convenience & all day opening. I wouldn’t return for a burger but if I am in town with someone else who really wants to go to Ed’s then I’ll go back and try a hotdog. 

Saffron Brings Flavour To Cradlehall

I’d been hearing positive reviews from the Miller clan about an Indian restaurant in Cradlehall called Saffron so decided to try it for myself. First of all, Cradlehall is a residential area of Inverness in the East of the city that takes about ten minutes to drive to from the centre. Saffron has opened up next to Cradlehall shop in a tiny unit that has 7 or 8 tables and a takeaway area. There are no other restaurants in Cradlehall so it’s great for those who live there now that the drink drive limit has been reduced. It’s also currently bring your own bottle so you won’t spend a fortune. 

I had tried to book on another night but they were full, so booked a few days in advance this time – something to remember if you’re planning a visit. 
I have been twice now and both times had poppadoms and dips to start so I didn’t fill myself up before the main course. Mr S was eyeing up the Saffron Thali so that he could sample a bit of everything so we shared that and my choice of curry. I usually picked a Chasni in Glasgow but apparently this is a Glasgow curry & you don’t usually see it in other places. Undeterred, I asked about it anyway thinking that the staff might have heard of it and recommend something similar. The waiter asked me to wait a second and returned saying the chef would be happy to make me a chasni – happy days! 

 

The Saffron thali has tandoori chicken, seek kebab, chicken tikka mossallah, lamb bhuna, chicken dansak, lamb samosa, basmati rice and naan bread. The tandoori chicken was still moist and well marinated – great dunked in the sauces. Chicken tikka mossallah (spelt different on the menu from the chicken tikka massala so don’t know if it is different) could have done with some oomph whilst the Dansak was both of our favourites and new to us. The sweet and sour element gives a flavoursome curry and we’ve ordered it since. I’m glad to have started with the thali on our first visit – it’s a bit like samples at launches in the sense that you can find your favourites without having to order whole dishes.
 My chasni was exactly as I remember it – sweet and sour with a hint of mango chutney. It is a good sauce for mopping up with naan and often the whole table end up using my sauce for this towards the end of the mains. It’s my guilty pleasure and any time I order anything else in an Indian restaurant I just don’t enjoy it as much. 

 

  

I’ve spoken to several other people about Saffron and it seems to be a hit all round. They score points with me for having an up to date website with a menu to browse – it is so important for restaurants to build their business up. The idea of more local restaurants around the residential areas of Inverness appeals to me as buses up here aren’t very reliable and taxis are expensive. I don’t think it takes much business from the city centre because both times we went we would have ordered a takeaway or eaten in if we couldn’t get a table. Walking ten minutes to a restaurant for dinner & a glass of vino is something that I’d spend my money on regularly, as long as the food is of a high standard.  Now if someone can open a good restaurant in Inshes please…

Cafe 1 Take 1 

Cafe 1 piqued my curiosity after several recommendations and being told that it’s owned by a chef. Then I looked at their website & I saw that they rear their own Hebridean sheep & Highland cows to use in some of the dishes *swoons*. Is this the place I’ve been looking for up here? We ended up going in for an impromptu midweek meal to see. 

First impressions were positive – coming in to the restaurant facing the bar was a great element of design as it allows staff to instantly greet customers in the ‘hive’ of the restaurant. Decor is simple and we were sat at the back in a romantic little corner. Low lighting added to the effect but meant that my photos came out rubbish, can’t have it all!

After deciding on red meat for mains, the wine list was studied. They do reds ranging from £15 to £175 so it’s fair to say there’s a good selection. 

Quite boring but we chose the same starter, it sounded too good a special to miss. Roast partridge, chicken liver pâté, crouton, Marsala sauce and watercress – reads epically but could they pull it off? In short, yes. 

The partridge was flavourful, not dry and boosted by the rich pate whilst the watercress gave a freshness to cut through this. Most importantly for me, (personal bugbear time) the Marsala sauce was both savoury and sweet. It was a sauce for a dish like this and not a dessert. 

This is my favourite Inverness starter so far. I would happily order two of these with potatoes next time I go and that would be me content. 

  

In a strange turn of events at main course ordering time, I had singled out the fillet steak & Mr S had elected the lamb to fill his tummy. 

The garlic and thyme rump of lamb (£16) was nice & pink so we were off to a pleasing start. It came with rosemary sautéed potatoes but there was not enough for the amount of lamb so Mr S ordered a portion of chips that arrived just as he was finishing them. The haggis bon-bons were lovely with the lamb and some of the red wine jus. Carrot ribbons, sun-blushed tomatoes and spinach lent a hand but it was the meat that stole the show.

 

I had heard glowing reports on their steaks and their description and accompaniments sold it to me. I can’t lie, it was the duxelle (Or duxelles) that reeled me in. A duxelle is a fancy word for very finely chopped mushroom, onion, shallot and herbs that are slowly cooked in butter until they are soft and intense. Mushroom duxelle immediately leaped out of the menu and I wanted the steak. 

My Aberdeen Angus fillet steak (£24) was massive, not that I’m complaining. Mr S was gleeful when it arrived, knowing that I’d never finish that much so he could have some. Steak and duxelle are a delicious and long-term marriage that should never split up & I loved it. The crisp fried potatoes also went well, as did the spinach and shallots. Pepper sauce wasn’t too overpowering and was perfect for my taste but, as a personal preference, I like my steak sauce in a jug so I can decide when & where to put it. 

 

 

I was stuffed and now regretting telling Mr S about how the Cafe 1 Malteser crepes are famous in the Highlands. He was ordering one and I knew a spoon was coming my way. I wanted something sweet to accompany it, so we ordered a couple of glasses of Sauternes dessert wine. 

The crepe (£6.50) arrived and we took our time starting so that we could wait for the dessert wine. I couldn’t see any staff nearby to ask so it must have been busy. After a while the ice-cream was melting so we had to eat the gooey, sweet dessert that is worth its fame. I nipped down to the bar & cancelled the dessert wines and this was the only time during the meal that I felt a bit disappointed. The service besides that was attentive and friendly, with the dessert wine thing probably being more of an organisational error. 

 

We left Cafe 1 delighted that we’d found another go to place and have since been back. Definitely one to recommend. 

Highland Aspendos Turkish Feast

I have a huge appreciation of Greek & Turkish food after going to Greece last year. If there’s anyone that knows how to cook simple but do it very well, it’s them. You think that the lamb skewers sound basic then they arrive & you can tell that it’s been skilfully marinated in lemon, oregano and other beautiful flavours. And the dips are fantastic and the seafood out of this world. 

Inverness only has one restaurant that fits the bill, unless there’s others hiding. Aspendos is a Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant on Queensgate next to the post office. 

We almost never made it here because I’d tried phoning all the day before to book but no-one was answering or it was engaged, and they don’t have an online booking system. I know from working in a restaurant not to phone at peak times (taking a booking at 8pm on a Saturday night for a week in advance when you have a full restaurant waiting for service is a nightmare for a restaurant worker!) but I tried about 8 times to no avail. Luckily I popped in on the off chance but I hope they don’t lose a lot of business from such things happening. 

IMG_8665 

The mixed mezze menu would have appealed but my cousin is a bit fussier than me so we chose from the lunch menu instead. 

IMG_8664 

Starters were decided on – mucver and meze tabagi – and they brought us complimentary bread and dips whilst we waited. 

I’m guessing that the bread was homemade & it was wonderful. The soft, warm and herby bread tastes delicious topped with some creamy cheese dip or tomatoey number.

IMG_8666 

Mucver arrived looking like rosti cakes dolloped with yoghurt. They were crispy on the outside and full of flavour, I’d order this again.

IMG_8667 

The meze arrived with cacik, humus, tarama salata & what I think was maydonoz salatasi and kozlenmis pathican. Cacik is similar to tsatziki, humus is chickpea dip and tarama salata is fish pate. The more acidic maydonoz salatasi lifted the creamy flavours (a tabbouleh parsley salad with tomato, onion, olive oil and lemon juice) and the kozlenmis pathican (roasted aubergine, peppers, parsley, garlic & olive oil) complemented it. 

IMG_8668 

Main courses arrived and I was lacking in stomach space already. The tavuk sis across the table from me was marinated chicken with rice and salad. Exactly what I mean about simple done well. I tasted it and my only criticism is that I like lots of fresh oregano on my meat and there wasn’t, but this is purely a personal observation. 

They also came out and offered their homemade chilli sauce – just say yes (delicious!). 

IMG_8669 

My mantarli karides guvec arrived as a baked pot of prawns, mushrooms, green pepper, garlic, onion, aspendos sauce and cheese. Again, the flavours were all there and there were plenty of  tiny prawns. I would have preferred a smaller portion of this and some rice to accompany it instead to soak up the lovely sauce. There were so many prawns that I couldn’t finish it as a dish alone. 

IMG_8671 

Having decided not to have a dessert, we were somehow convinced into sharing a ‘small’ one (not a hard job really!). 

Classic baklava was gooey and nutty. When it arrived it looked a small-ish portion but it’s so rich you wouldn’t want any more.

IMG_8672

Aspendos isn’t a fancy looking place, but that lends itself to making you feel at home and comfortable. The service is friendly and polite. It would be a good place for a friends get together as a group. Our trip to Aspendos was one we enjoyed so much that I’ve been back since with Mr S. I had to go back for the bread, dips & chilli sauce alone. 

How Contrasting Was Contrast?

Let me set the scene; it was lashing down with rain, stormy and cold, the streets were pretty empty. We practically ran from the High Street along the river to Contrast Brasserie in the upscale Glenmoriston Hotel. A friendly man greeted us at reception and took our coats before whisking us off to the warm, inviting & cosy restaurant. There’s nothing better than escaping a cold, wet night. It was an encouraging start to our meal at Contrast.

The dining room is beautiful – rich, warm tones made us feel relaxed in our surroundings.

The pre-theatre menu had four starter choices but we both opted for pate based on the fact that we’d never make it at home. It was served with granary bread (only one slice but the staff were pro-active in offering more), apricot chutney and dressed leaves. I like a bit of salad with my pate so I was happy. The pate itself needed seasoning and perhaps some herbs or something to lift it.

2015/01/img_8546.jpg

Loin of pork, caramelised watermelon, pont neuf potatoes & mustard sauce was overcooked for our taste. The watermelon didn’t blend with the dish & the caramelisation was lost on us but the potatoes were lovely. A mixed bag really.

2015/01/img_8557-0.jpg

My seabream fillet with green olive & herb potato cake, saffron espana and chorizo oil sounded amazing. The fish was cooked well – the skin wasn’t crispy but I never eat the skin anyway. I just wanted more flavour – seasoning on the fish before cooking, more olives & herbs in the potato, more chorizo oil (or the fish cooked in it) and more saffron espana. The espana was like a foam so melted as I was eating.

2015/01/img_8553.jpg

There were two waitresses on and they seemed to be helping each other to ensure a successful service. We couldn’t help but listen in as the table next to us wanted to taste the steak sauce before ordering it. She explained that they use the meat juices during cooking to make it but he wasn’t happy. They had already been difficult with her & I really wanted to step in. Never off duty!

The sticky toffee sundae with meringue, caramel sauce and chantilly cream was nice.

2015/01/img_8560.jpg

My chocolate fondant (not on the pre-theatre menu) had the richness that it should and I enjoyed it.

2015/01/img_8563.jpg

The dining room decor and the service were both spot on but the flavours were too delicate for our palates. Their website states that they use simple flavours – it is on brief in a way but I wanted the simple flavours to sing.

Have you been to Contrast? What did you think? Comment below…

Sundaes On Monday In Rocpool

If I was choosing one restaurant in Inverness that people speak most highly about, it would have to be Rocpool on Ness Walk. It has gone from strength to strength since the Pieraccini’s opened it in 2002, had an owner change and has now cemented its status as one of the city’s finest. We went a little over a year ago & were served the best mussels in chorizo I’ve had so we were confident in our choice.

Eating early, we took advantage of the pre-theatre menu. 2 courses for £16.95 is more than I’m used to for a pre-theatre menu so they were setting the bar high from the start.

On entry were greeted by who I would say is probably the owner and were made to feel comfortable. He stopped for a chat then got the night kicked off with a Caorunn.

Not wanting to fill myself up, I chose the salad option for starter. The menu described it as ‘fresh pear and pecorino cheese salad with minted broad beans and lemon’. Mint in a salad used to scare me but Jamie Oliver has recently sorted that out, phew. The salad was well balanced with the right ratio of leaves to the creamy cheese, sweet pear and fresh broad beans. I could have eaten a whole plate of those broad beans.

2015/01/img_8084.jpg

Mr S tried the scrambled egg and crab on toast with cress and spring onion creme fraiche on a recommendation from his dad. He was very happy. It’s such a simple but great idea & they executed it pretty perfectly.

2015/01/img_8078.jpg

For main course I was between the seabream and steak tagliata but eventually chose steak because Mr S was having it and I thought I’d get jealous. The description of ‘Scotch rump steak ‘tagliata’ style carved pink over fresh rocket leaves, fine beans and butter roasted new potatoes with salsa rosso and lime’ definitely sounded worth the two pound supplement, we thought we were getting a bargain. The potatoes were delicious – well cooked, seasoned and flavoursome. The rocket could have done with lots of salsa rosso through it to add zing. The meat was too chewy for me and I left more than half of it. I was surprised that Mr S found it chewy because he likes tasty cuts of fibrous beef like hanger. The meat portion size was far too big for either of us and we’d have preferred more quality over quantity in this case. Not one to order again but I saw other tables with the seabream and haddock and it looked nice.

2015/01/img_8090.jpg

Since the main was a flop, I was having a dessert (like I need an excuse). We decided on the homemade honeycomb ice-cream with popcorn and hot chocolate sauce. Let’s just say that this was a star indulgent dish from Rocpool. It was like an elegant version of an American style sundae. I wanted to lick the glass.

2015/01/img_8093.jpg

I have to mention the toilets! Very plush looking sink area, clean toilets and they are unisex. Was very strange going into the toilet at the same time a man did, and doing my lipstick next to a gent washing his hands but I got used to it.

2015/01/img_8095.jpg

The service, wine, atmosphere, starters and dessert were all getting top marks so, although neither of us liked the main course, we still want to come back soon. We’ll maybe do one more pre-theatre before parting with our a la carte pounds but we’re sure we’ll be won over by it.

A Song In Little Italy

I’m a big fan of Italian food, whether it be traditional or modern style. A traditional Italian restaurant should have charm, Italian owners and red checkered tablecloths (cliché as it sounds). Little Italy on Stephen’s Brae has all of the above. It has been in Inverness for a few years but I had never got around to trying it so a few months ago – before the hectic move – we visited this tiny venue.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/48d/76703779/files/2014/12/img_5930-0.jpg

Little Italy restaurant sits next door to Little Italy Tapas & Prosecco Bar, where we almost went for lunch. I was peckish for a pizza so we saved tapas for another day.

As we are big sharers, we ordered a pizza and a pasta between us. The pasta was Linguine Salsicia Italiana but we swapped the linguine for penne. The pasta was slightly more cooked than al dente but it was flavoursome. I’m a total Italian sausage lover (why we put breadcrumbs and things in our sausages is beyond me) so this was always going to be a hit with me. A bit of parmesan or grana padano and the sweet tomatoes are lifted immediately.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/48d/76703779/files/2014/12/img_5932.jpg

The ‘Brindisi’ pizza that we chose had similar ingredients to the pasta but why change a winning formula? The normal tomato & mozzarella base was accompanied by mascarpone, onion, peppers, chillies, spicy Italian sausage and rocket. I’m getting better with how much spice I can take so even had some of the chilli, Mr S is at last converting me. Even although there was both mozzarella and mascarpone, they hadn’t overdone the cheese. The toppings were tasty and the rocket gave a leafy lightness with a peppery hit.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/48d/76703779/files/2014/12/img_5933.jpg

Whilst we were waiting for an affogato to share, the Italian restaurant owner broke into song in the dining room! I’ve been told since that this is a regular occurrence and, as surreal as it was, I liked it. It’s the kind of thing that in most places could have gone either way but Little Italy manage it.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/48d/76703779/files/2014/12/img_5935.jpg

The affogato arrived in a martini glass with three big scoops of vanilla ice-cream and the shot of espresso poured over. It was nice, I was distracted (and clapping) by the singing man, and the meal had been a success. Somewhere I would return to for sure.

Lunchy Munchy At La Tortilla Asesina

Finding your feet in a new city can be hard – even if you’ve lived there before a million moons ago. You get lost and you don’t have favourite places to go, it’s a blank canvas. Exciting but unfamiliar and my control freak side hates the thought of giving somewhere rubbish my money.
Luckily we seem to be off the starting block by finding somewhere that has convenient opening hours, is near to work and that we feel welcomed and at ease in. La Tortilla Asesina on Castle Street is a Spanish tapas restaurant that also has a bar area. A wee post-work glass of vino with some Spanish ham is my idea of bliss so you can see why we’ve been a few times.
Last week after a mortgage appointment (yes, we are hopefully getting our house!) we felt like a celebratory lunch so ended up in La Tortilla Asesina.

IMG_8318.JPG

We have actually been here twice before in the last few years and the first time didn’t think much of it. The menu was massive and I think they were doing too many mediocre dishes – definitely quantity over quality. But the last time we visited before we moved up the road, they seem to have streamlined things and concentrate on doing more with less dishes.

IMG_8316.JPG
(Love their sense of humour!)

I’ll get my bugbear out of the way first – when you google this place no website comes up and their Facebook didn’t have any menu handy that I could see. Websites are expensive so I understand why small businesses don’t always have them but if they don’t then a pinned post of their menu on Facebook or regular photos of it (and on Twitter) then I often don’t go to places. Going to a new restaurant is all about reeling you in but La Tortilla is putting no bait out.

So it was unsurprisingly quiet on the Wednesday lunchtime that we visited. They do a fantastic lunch deal with two tapas for £5 that we didn’t know about – why they are not screaming about this on social media I don’t know.

Mr S and I shared a selection of dishes and they gave us free bread too. My first choice was chipirones – fried tiny baby squid. I would never have ordered this before but my father in-law loves it and after trying his I’m hooked. Chipirones just seems to have so much more flavour than calamari and less rubber to it – more like little fishy, salty bites. They were lovely and crunchy – a definite high point.

IMG_8326.JPG

We had a prawn dish each because Mr S wanted the battered prawns with garlic mayo and I wanted the Gambas pil pil. He was happy with his prawns and I was enjoying mine. A little more chilli and garlic wouldn’t have gone amiss but they were still good.

IMG_8323.JPG

Our meat choice was pollo chisporroteante, which is sizzling chicken strips marinated in mojo sauce and fried with onions and peppers. It was yummy! Full of flavour, the chicken wasn’t dry and the oily pan sauce was perfect for mopping up with bread.

IMG_8320.JPG

We had patatas bravas to accompany the meat and the ‘chips’ were soft in the middle but golden on the outside. The sauce is usually spicy but this lacked flavour.

IMG_8324.JPG

A tomato salad finished our selection of goodies well and provided some much needed veg.

IMG_8329.JPG

We left after lunch with full bellies and contented smiles… I think we’ve got our first favourite.