Chimney Cakes Come to Glasgow

Attention Glasgow foodies! There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to the Merchant City food scene: The Chimney Cake Corporation is bringing traditional European chimney cakes (otherwise known as Kürtőskalács or Trdelník) to Scotland with their own unique twist.

Not only can you get your teeth stuck into classic sweet chimney cakes (I’m talking the likes of nutella, oreos, biscoff, or just a simple yet delicious coating of cinnamon sugar…) but savoury ones too! I shared the smoked salmon chimney cake with a friend, and we thought it was fantastic. I wouldn’t automatically think to order a savoury option when eating somewhere like this but was really impressed (if a little surprised) by how well it worked. The dough itself was lovely and savoury with a slight crust and I’d definitely recommend giving savoury chimney cakes a go.

Obviously I couldn’t leave without devouring a “Biscoff Overload” chimney cake with honeycomb ice cream…

The Biscoff Overload consists of a chimney cake with biscoff sauce, spread, whipped cream, ice cream and lotus biscuit – what a dream! The dough itself was deliciously soft and buttery – a perfect match for some temptingly sweet fillings. The cake itself was actually lined with a coating of biscoff spread and I was really impressed that the filling went all the way to the bottom, meaning you’re not going to be left with a disappointing mouthful of plain dough to finish.

Definitely give this place a visit – with friendly staff, delicious food and a wide variety of chimney cakes on the menu, The Chimney Cake Corporation on High Street is an ideal spot for catching up with friends whilst trying out some of Glasgow’s newest eats!

Mánes Art Restaurant – PRAGUE

During my recent trip to Prague, I visited an incredible restaurant in the city centre, within a stone’s throw of the famous Charles Bridge.

Mánes Restaurant not only serves wonderful food but also showcases numerous works of art, creating a classy and engaging atmosphere in which to dine.

Mánes art restaurant

To start our meal, we had “Mrkev tažená v másle” (carrots slow-cooked in butter, served with carrot purée, mayonnaise, lentils, onion dust and a brioche crumb) which was tasty although essentially a rather simple dish of root vegetables on a bed of black lentils.

However, I was completely blown away by the alternative starter of creamy goats cheese with spiced apple purée, pistachio and homemade orange bread infused with Cointreau. Each flavour complimented the others beautifully and I couldn’t get enough of that sweet yet citrusy bread!

Czech goats cheese starter

Moving onto mains, Mánes served a stunning Beef Bourguignon: tender red wine stewed beef with onion, mushrooms and mashed potato. The beef (although it looks rather dark in the photo) was succulent and cooked to perfection, flawlessly paired with a rich red wine sauce and glass of red wine.

Beef bourguignon

We also tried the pork cheeks braised in dark beer and served with smoked potato mash – an utterly stunning combination. The potato had a subtle smokiness which together with the meat was irresistible. A total delight!

Pork cheeks with smoked potato

To finish, I couldn’t resist ordering the chocolate fondant served with plum sorbet, gingerbread and a creamy poppyseed sauce (poured over post-photograph). The dessert was totally melt in the mouth, with a molten chocolate centre. The use of plum lightened the dish too, adding a wintery touch of fruit which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Chocolate gingerbread fondant

All in all, an utterly sublime meal in a fabulous venue – definitely one of the best meals out I’ve had in the last while. With such a spacious and glamorous venue, I’d certainly recommend putting Mánes on your list if planning a trip to Prague.

https://www.manesrestaurant.cz

Národní Kavarna – PRAGUE

When visiting Prague last week, I had a fantastic meal at Národní Kavarna, a classy restaurant conveniently located near the city centre.

To start, we shared sides of goats cheese with beetroot, balsamic vinegar, marinated apples, pistachios and beetroot crisps as well as a stunning steak tartare. Everything was beautifully presented and tasted just as good as it looked!

The mains we tried were both utterly sublime – my boyfriend described himself as “close to tears” upon tasting how good the duck was. Served with horseradish foam, roasted carrots, onions and potato gnocchi, the meat was perfectly cooked, flavoursome and incredibly tender.

We also tried the pan-fried homemade potato gnocchi ala Carbonara with guancialle, garlic and a rich Parmesan creme with egg yolk which was delightful.

To finish, we enjoyed coffees accompanied by some stunning cakes – I especially loved the chocolate caramel parfait.

Narodni Kavarna is a truly special spot to treat yourself to a classy breakfast, lunch or dinner in the city centre or Prague – definitely one to add to your list if planning a visit to the Czech capital!

https://narodnikavarna.cz

A Loch Lomond Adventure

Last weekend I enjoyed a lovely night away at Lodge on the Loch – situated right by Loch Lomond at Luss with views overlooking one of Scotland’s most iconic lochs, this is a great place to go for a short break and get away from the bustling city.

Our room looked out onto the Loch itself and it was fantastic to be able to sit on the balcony and enjoy the surroundings. The bed was also super comfortable and, as if that wasn’t enough, our room had its very own private sauna attached to the bathroom!

During our stay we were also able to make use of the Amber Spa leisure facilities which include a swimming pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. Ideal for taking a breather and pampering yourself, I thoroughly enjoyed having some time to relax and familiarise myself with the place before our evening meal.

The Lodge on the Loch is home to its very own Colquhoun’s Restaurant where we dined – sadly as the winter nights begin to draw in the breathtaking view from the waterside restaurant disappears into the darkness but would still make a great spot for a romantic meal or special occasion.

For my starter I had the king prawn salad with avocado, sourdough crumb and Bloody Mary dressing, and Dhillon ordered the chicken liver pate. Both were ideal portion sizes and arrived in reasonable time.

For my main I chose the chicken rendang curry with coconut rice and cucumber which was very tasty and beautifully fragrant, despite perhaps slightly lacking in terms of presentation. I also tried a little of the battered haddock and chips which went down a treat.

Thankfully we managed to find some room to squeeze in a dessert, as for me this was the highlight of the meal. I went for the stunningly presented creamy vanilla cheesecake and also tried a little of the sticky toffee pudding which was utterly dreamy, smothered in the most perfect, indulgent butterscotch sauce and topped with fresh berries.

The next morning after a wonderfully refreshing night’s sleep we headed down to investigate the breakfast buffet: with traditional Scottish cooked breakfast items as well as a selection of continental offerings including the sweetest little miniature pastries. I particularly enjoyed the raspberry danish and you couldn’t ask for a better view of the Loch to look out at whilst fuelling up on your favourite breakfast treats.

A wonderful location offering iconic views of some of Scotland’s best scenery as well as good food, luxury rooms and excellent facilities, Lodge on the Loch certainly was a great little getaway.

https://www.loch-lomond.co.uk/

Umi – a Japanese Gem

I had the most wonderful meal at UMI in Stockbridge last month.

As a lover of Japanese cuisine – particularly ramen – I couldn’t wait to visit as I’d heard plenty of praise for the restaurant.

The interior had a really authentic and classy feel to it, with traditional Japanese sliding doors and floor seating grabbing my attention.

Served by a clearly interested, knowledgeable and passionate member of staff who put us right at ease, I couldn’t wait to try out the food, which helpfully is pictured alongside the names on the menu.

I first tried chicken karaage (essentially Japanese style fried chicken) only a few months ago, but it’s safe to say I’m hooked! Full of flavour, beautifully crisp yet succulent on the inside, there’s nothing to dislike about this simple and delicious classic. UMI serves theirs with lemon and mayonnaise which compliments both the taste and texture of the chicken wonderfully.

I also tried the chicken and vegetable gyoza dumplings which were presented in the most stunning way and tasted just as good as they look!

UMI’s menu also includes a variety of sushi and fresh fish dishes. I ordered the Hamachi carpaccio: thinly sliced yellowtail with ponzu sauce and grape purée. The sweetness of the fruit really enhanced the delicate slices of fish and again; presentation was spot on.

Now on to ramen: I had the Shoyu ramen, consisting of a soy sauce noodle broth topped with Chashu pork belly, a soft boiled egg, leeks and seaweed. The broth was fantastically tasty yet light enough not to overpower the other flavours. I sampled a little of the pork bone broth to compare, which was also wonderful but much richer. I’ll definitely have to return to try out some more of UMI’s ramen as they all sounded brilliant.

I really couldn’t fault this restaurant – every little touch from graceful decor to music choice and, of course, the food itself was absolutely perfect. Possibly my favourite Japanese restaurant I’ve eaten at so far, I’d highly recommend paying UMI a visit.

https://umiedinburgh.com

The Durty Vegan Burger Club

The Durty Vegan Burger Club

I checked out Glasgow’s ever-growing vegan scene last week with a visit to the pop-up Durty Vegan Burger Club at the Cran in Finnieston.

The Cran

The space was relatively small but had a good vibe going on: the guys running the burger club were super friendly and clearly having a great time working on DJ sets together.

Low Jack Burger

I tried two burgers: my favourite was the Low Jack – slow cooked barbecue pulled jackfruit with hickory glaze, shredded cabbage, pickles and burger sauce on a vegan brioche bun. The second burger was the Ringer – a crispy coated “Daring Foods” plant-based patty with lettuce, pickles, slaw and burger relish, also served on the brioche.

The Ringer Burger

I was really impressed with how tasty the vegan chicken nuggets were – the texture was surprisingly very similar to regular chicken!

Vegan Golden Chicken Nuggets

The crispy fries with vegan “V Mac” cheese sauce, pickles, shredded cabbage and chives were good too but if I’m completely honest the sauce was more sour than cheesy and by this point I couldn’t take much more pickle!

V Mac Fries

However the folk running this pop-up clearly love what they do and the atmosphere they created with both the food and music was fantastic. Definitely one to keep an eye on and I’d certainly recommend the Durty Vegan Burgers to anyone looking to find some dirty plant-based scran in G-Town!

A Night at the Elphinstone Hotel

I was recently invited to stay a night at the Elphinstone Hotel in Biggar: unfamiliar with the small South Lanarkshire town, this felt like a great opportunity for my boyfriend and I to take some time out to relax and enjoy new surroundings. Admittedly I’m much more of a “city person” in general, but this humble coaching inn was not without its own unique charm.

The Elphinstone Hotel, Biggar

Our en-suite room was comfortable and cosy, if a tad retro.

The Elphinstone serves a wide variety of pub grub and I must say we were both impressed with how good the food was. I had the hot smoked salmon and prawn salad and Dhillon ordered the beef burger with haggis. We shared a side of some of the biggest, juiciest onion rings I’ve ever seen, and from having tried a mouthful of the burger, it was obviously made using proper quality locally sourced ingredients. Same goes for the generous flakes of smoked salmon atop my tasty salad – moist, full of flavour and all in all, truly excellent stuff!

Hot smoked salmon and prawn salad

Sadly we were too full for desserts but service was friendly and attentive and although the decor was perhaps not exactly the most modern or aesthetically pleasing, we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner.

Dinner at the Elphinstone

After a pleasant night’s sleep it was time to see what the Elphinstone had to offer in terms of breakfast! My one criticism of this B and B experience would be that breakfast was only served between 7.30-9am which felt – for us at least – a tad on the early side, especially for those on their holidays. (Check out was 10.30am for context).

However, in the end we just about managed to stumble, bleary-eyed, downstairs to a surprisingly deserted dining room…perhaps the typical holidaymakers visiting Biggar are rather more up-and-at-em than me?

Full Scottish Breakfast

A slightly cold reception from our seemingly peeved waiter didn’t stop us from ordering a couple of full Scottish breakfasts:

So often I find processed meat products rather unappealing, but once again the ingredients used here tasted like proper local produce and a far cry from the mass-produced, greasy, bland, barely-pork products lining supermarket shelves and clogged arteries of many Scots!

My fry-up included pork sausage, lorne sausage, bacon, black pudding, haggis, baked beans and fried egg, complete with a tattie scone. The works! Just right in terms of portion size too.

It’d been years since I last had a traditional meaty fry up and I’m pleased to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thanks to everyone at the Elphinstone for a lovely stay.

Full Scottish Breakfast