Saturday, 11 August 2018

The Honours Brasserie, Edinburgh, French restaurant review

Truly exceptional service in a restaurant comes along less often than a new season of Rick and Morty.

Darren, our waiter at The Honours in Edinburgh, was charming, super passionate about the food he served and all his recommended booze pairings were on the mark. He elevated what was already a brilliant meal into a truly memorable meal.

The Honours is the more casual restaurant of the double Michelin-starred chef Martin Wishart. The whole gaff oozes modern art deco sophistication. Wishart brings his bags of classical technique to bear on French brasserie food. This is brasserie lux. 

Pre-dinner drinks saw a textbook strawberry daiquiri (£10) made with berries that had been macerated in booze for 10 days. I had a highly drinkable Paolozzi lager (£5.50) from Edinburgh Beer Factory. 

A snack of haggis bon bons (£3.75) were golden crumbed morsels of well-seasoned meat. We quickly inhaled them. 

Sea bream tartare (£11.95) let its main ingredient speak for itself. Supremely fresh cubes of clean tasting fish were bathed in a light creme fraiche dressing with a subtle warmth of horseradish. It was punctuated by pieces of lightly pickled cucumber. 

Crab cappuccino (£9.50) sounded a bit naff but in reality was as cool as the Fonz. A light foam and creamy soup were the pure essence of crab. A mound of sweet white crab meat, a dollop of smooth saffron rouille and dainty gruyere topped croutons were the classic accompaniments dialled up a notch. 

A rump of Dornoch lamb (£24) was one of the best bits of sheep I’ve ever eaten. Ridiculously tender with buttery fat, it was bathed in a meaty, fragrant thyme jus. Accompaniments included painstakingly turned golden potatoes and precisely grilled courgettes and skinless tomatoes. A fine dice of sweet tomato, black olive and potent garlic brought a distinctly rustic feel to the whole plate. 

Across the table, a golden and juicy piece of guinea fowl (£24) was served with squidgy goats cheese gnocchi and a light fricassee of garden peas, artichokes and crisp pancetta. Another first rate sauce brought the whole dish together. 

A cracker of a cheese plate (£12.50) combined a nice mix of socky, tangy and savour numbers joined by a brick of quince jelly and pieces of warm and crisp fruit bread. 

An apricot souffle (£9.50) was unlike any I’ve eaten before. A light and sweet puck of plain souffle was bathed in a summery apricot sauce and joined by a super smooth apricot sorbet, candied pecans, honeycomb and apricot coulis. It was delicious but I think I prefer the theatre and burnished edges of a potted souffle. 

Dinner at The Honours was exquisite from the food to the service and setting. If you want relaxed French luxury then I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The Details:

Address - The Honours Brasserie, 58A North Castle Street, Edinburgh EH2 3LU 
Web -
Telephone - 0131 220 2513

Saturday, 4 August 2018

The Secret Garden cafe, Bute Park, Cardiff review

It might seem an odd decision to wait until the only rainy weekend of the summer to visit the Secret Garden cafe in Bute Park.

But, on the last two occasions we’ve tried to visit it was a full house with a decent queue.

This time, there there were plenty of free tables and no one waiting to be served. And there’s sheltered seating so we didn't get wet. Win.

The Secret Garden was taken over earlier this year by the lovely team behind Penylan Pantry and Cheese Pantry.

A hearty brunch menu (see the bottom of the post for pics) includes nutty granola, avocado on toast and sausage sandwiches. Lunches comprise of seasonal salad bowls, stews, toasted sandwiches and baked sweet potatoes.

If you arrive between 11.30am and 12pm on a weekend both menus are still in action…

A sugar free Karma Kola had a proper medicinal hit instead of being bland sugary fizzy water. Filter coffee was fragrant and delicate rather than harsh and bitter. 

A salad bowl (£6.50) was a pretty beast which included marinated mushrooms, dill-fragranced tomato and bread salad, vegetable couscous, creamy tahini dressed butternut squash and butterbeans, basil spiked red cabbage and harissa spiced new potatoes. 

A big wodge of frittata (£3.50) was flecked with tangy goats cheese, sweet butternut squash and tender courgettes and scattered with pine nuts. Mixed leaves were well-dressed rather than just shoved on straight from the bag and a pot of spiced apple chutney was a lovely accompaniment.  

Crisp wholemeal waffles (£6.50) were topped with buttery kale, tender avocado and a runny fried egg. A side of killer Welsh sausages (£1.50) were golden brown and loaded with peppery meat. It was a lovely plate but as the waffles cooled they unfortunately became rather soft and chewy. 

Whilst mains were very good, desserts knocked it out of the (Bute) park.

Soft serve ice cream (£3.50) was the creamiest I’ve ever eaten. It was topped with intense blackcurrant sauce and cinnamon spiced oat crumble. I inhaled it so quickly that I gave myself brain freeze. 

A slice of lemon and almond polenta cake (£3) topped with icing and flaked almonds was stupendously moist and fragrant. 

We had a delicious brunch, lunch and afternoon tea rolled into one at the Secret Garden. I can see why it’s been so busy on my previous attempts to visit.

The Details:

Address - North Rd, Cardiff CF10 3ER