Diva does… Gardener’s Cottage

When the cupids at Match.com asked me to recommend an Edinburgh restaurant perfect for a romantic rendezvous, my mind immediately fluttered to Gardener’s Cottage.

Gardener’s Cottage opened in July 2012 and Owner Chefs Dale Mailley and Edward Murray have done a marvellous job of making Gardener’s Cottage a destination restaurant for those who know.

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Gardener’s Cottage, looks delicious from the outside too

Word about the Cottage has spread with virtually no advertising because Dale and Edward consistently deliver dinners that make you go mmmmmmmm.  It’s often fully booked even though it’s not yet well known across the piece. And it feels even more special to be indulging in a pleasure only a few have experienced.

Dale and Edward focus on using locally produced ingredients and pushing the envelope with unusual textures and flavours (more of which later) all sprinkled with the perfect amount of friendly service. Above all they’ve kept the rustic feel of the gardener’s cottage. Indeed they grow vegetables and herbs for the restaurant in the garden.

I thought I might look through the window at any moment and see Lady Chatterley’s lover chopping wood.

Find out more about the history of the building on the Gardener’s Cottage website.

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Our Menu at Gardener’s Cottage

There are two dining rooms at the Gardener’s Cottage, the main room from which you can see the kitchen and another room which, if I recall correctly, has one table for 10.

A little bit different…
The Cottage experience is not for everyone. You will be sitting on large tables, with other people. I enjoyed that aspect as it was a bit different, and totally in keeping with the ‘feel’ of the place. We exchange a few jokes with our ‘tablemates’ but other than that it was no different from being at a restaurant where the tables are close together.

And the menu is a set menu. This is a great chance to try different things and explore options you wouldn’t normally try. The Cottage ask about allergies and are happy to cater for ‘strong dislike’ too. Pete went for fish instead of deer for example.  Our waitress explained each course as she brought it. It felt more adventurous than your average restaurant experience.

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The bread – To. Die. For.

To get us started delicious freshly-baked bread. Fluffy, creamy and oh so moreish.  My mouth is watering with the memory.

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Look simple, tastes exquisite

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Because I like to spoil you, here’s another angle

The starter of asparagus, crab, cucumber hollandaise and radish was simple and tasty. The freshness of the ingredients and the perfect balance of flavours and textures, the crunch of the asparagus and the creaminess of the crab show  how much care goes into offering plates which are at the same time elegant, rustic and close your eyes divine.

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The sun goes down over Edinburgh

This is our view out across London Street. OK it’s still cold in Edinburgh. In May. Sigh. But it’s brighter. And when you’re an Edinburgher, you have to be grateful for small mercies!

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Artichoke and parsnip soup tasting better than it has any right to

Look at the tableware darlings! Vintage, quirky and showcasing a surprisingly good soup. Who knew artichoke and parsnip soup could taste so good?! It must be the lovage oil.

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The pièce de résistance – Roe Deer

For me the roe deer was the highlight. It was perfectly cooked, velvety in texture and utterly flavourful. As I chewed, I may have emitted the odd mmm, if not an aaah. I really shouldn’t be allowed out! But for you, I must subject people to me.

What made it really special were the details. The potatoes buttery, creamy and the dehydrated kale crispy and the roasted cauliflower crunchy. Oh. My. Goodness. It was pleasure overload. It really was.

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Fearn Abbey cheese with beetroot and cracker


Beetroot and cheese?! But again brilliantly executed and even a non-beetroot-liker ate the lot and declared he’d been ‘turned’. That’s Gardener Power.

On my earlier visit we were served a turnip sorbet. Four of were out on that occasion and 3 of us loved it. The other is remaining staunchly anti-turnip-sorbet. But what a talking point for a date. You’ll find out a lot about your potential partner at the Cottage.

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Sweet endings

Speaking of sweet endings. The lovely Calum from Crescent Supper Club is now working as a chef at Gardener’s Cottage. Well my goodness me, if I didn’t have enough reasons already for a return visit.

And and and, have I said? It’s incredibly good value. I really don’t know how they do all of this for £30 per head. But they do. And we can reap the benefits of their obvious love of food in a beautiful, relaxed, rustic setting and experience the pleasure and excitement of taste sensations with every one of the 6 (yes 6!) courses. Plus the bread, we can’t forget the bread.

There’s no need to wait for a special occasion to book at table at Gardener’s Cottage. But do me a favour, keep it to yourself. It’s hard enough to get a table as it is.

Let me know your thoughts below
Have you been to Gardener’s Cottage? Would you like to go? Do you think it’s a good restaurant for a date?
If you’ve written a review of Gardener’s Cottage, please leave a link to your review in comments below. I’d love to read it.


1 Royal Terrace Gardens, London Road, Edinburgh EH7 5DX

0131 558 1221

Read more in the Diva does… series



Diva Forever by Nadia Lazizi

I am beside myself with excitement. You see I’ve been immortalised on canvas. Darlings I’ll be more unbearable than ever.

It’s all down to the Super Fine Artist Miss Nadia Lazizi.
And facebook.


Nadia Lazizi

Last year while looking for my old friend Nadia Lazazi on facebook, I found Nadia Lazizi. Easy mistake to make you might say. And it’s a mistake I’m so glad I did make. You see Miss Lazizi is an artist and cutting a long story short, she has painted me.

In March I cycled to Nadia’s studio in Bathgate in stormy conditions and Nadia took the photographs from which she did the painting. She took a wide range of shots from head and shoulder to full length and I’ve no idea which she has painted. All were Nadia’s trademark woman-and-silk.

You’ve seen her plastered. Now see her painted
is the sort of comment I’ve had from friends.  Rather funny I think you’ll agree. I have such amusing friends. Thank you Mr McWilliam for that one. [Read: he’s been crossed off the Christmas card list.]


This is one of the photographs which Nadia took to do the painting

I’ve been snapped up already
It was inevitable I suppose. One of my paintings has sold even before the exhibition has started as a result of pre-show gallery emails. What can I say? Popular you see!

I invite you to join us for the Private View of Linger by Nadia Lazizi
I will of course, be going Wild West side for the private view. A Diva worth her champagne would not pass up such an opportunity to pose and preen in front of her paintings of herself. My dears it’s almost too much!

The exhibition is aptly named as I think you’ll want to.

Friday 9 November
Art Exposure Gallery
19 Parnie Street
G1 5RJ

Linger Longer with Nadia Lazizi
Visit Nadia Lazizi’s website

Post a note in the comments below if you’re coming to the Private View

A sweet week – it started with cheesecake and got better

After a gloriously sunny weekend climbing Ben Nevis and Buachaille Etive Mor, I spent Monday moving as little as possible. Even walking on the flat hurt. And walking upstairs was agony!

By Tuesday, with legs fully functional again, I ventured out for lunch with my favourite pilot. We ate Alfresco at Indigo Yard, basking in the sunshine. Honestly, I’m so getting used to this sunshine Summer! So much to love about Indigo, I’m especially keen on the outdoor area. I really shouldn’t tell you this as too many people know about it as it is. For West Enders is the perfect place to soak up the sun.

And is if that wasn’t temptation enough, Indigo has great offers on for both lunch (2 mains for £10) and dinner (2 courses for £10). My go-to dinner choices are duck pancakes with hoisin sauce followed by king prawn nicoise. A delicious bargain. Anyway, back to our lunch, I have photographed the delicious key lime cheesecake. Divine!


On Tuesday evening I went to see Niki King. She was incredible! Niki is a sparkling ball of energy with a rich and powerful voice that moves you. I was most impressed by the way in which she set Queen’s Hall alight and got the audience on their feet dancing. No mean feat! And her band was electric. So much energy. The drummer caught my eye in particular, so much talent, enthusiasm and energy he was almost floating above the stage. If you want a piece of Niki. And you do, even if you don’t know it yet, she and her band The Elements are playing in Aberdeen on 13 August and her new CD It’s all good is out now. Find out more on Niki King’s website.


For more pictures check out Niki’s website

On Thursday I was at a Sunday Brunch Club event at SKYbar at the Point Hotel. What a great night! Over 50 us of went along and enjoyed a fun evening. The venue which opens to the public on the last Thursday of each month has amazing views (see below). It also has an ace team. Jason’s Singapore slings were super and I’m looking forward to working my way through the rest of the cocktail list when we go back on 25 August details here.

There’s a lovely outdoor patio area where we can soak up the sun, if it makes in appearance next time! SKYbar also has a barbecue with several delicious choices so if you come straight from work you won’t starve.

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On Saturday I went for a bike ride in the sunshine in Fife. It was an eventful day. A lovely ride in spite of the various er… adventures en route. I have to say Fife was beautiful but too hilly and I’m still traumatised by the appearance of Christmas trees in July!


Christmas comes early in Fife

You can read more about that eventful bike ride here


Has Christmas come early near you? Can anyone top July for seeing a tree up?

An eventful bike ride in Fife

I love cycling. But since doing the Etape Caledonia in May I’ve only managed two 50+ mile rides and I’ve barely been out on my bike at all. I need to get back in the saddle in a serious way with the Pedal for Scotland 100miler coming up on the 11 September! So with another gorgeous day in prospect Bill, Malcolm, Raymond and I set out to do a 50mile loop of Fife along the Kingdom Cycle Route.

We caught the train out to North Queensferry just after 11am and the plan was to take the Kingdom Route out past Dunfermline, through Blairadam Forest, up past Kinross and Loch Leven, past the Lomond Hills and then along the A912 for a stop at The Pillars of Hercules (a gorgeous cafe and shop and small farm) before getting back onto the Kingdom Route and coastal path back to North Queensferry.

Well that was the plan!

In my defence, the Kingdom Route was not very well signposted. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Within the first hour we realised we were ‘off piste’. With the assistance of the map we managed to get back onto the route. Eventually.

So things weren’t off to a flying start. Then Malcolm got a puncture. Not a simple puncture though. Luckily there was a bike shop half a mile away (dontcha just love that iphone maps magic!).  it was on Malcolm Street which seemed fitting.

Malcolm posing with the street named after him

It turned out Malcolm needed a new tyre, such was the damage.


Malcolm looking distinctly unimpressed with proceedings

Some while later we got back on the road. I have to tell you Fife is hilly. Very hilly. We managed to keep ourselves mainly on the right route, though we did have to turn around a few times. We spent almost as much time perusing the map as we did on our bikes! Fife Council your Kingdom Route signposting is lacking!

At 3pm we arrived at Kinross and decided that lunch was in order. A lucky break saw us directed to The Boathouse Bistro overlooking Loch Leven. It was fantastic, and just what we needed.

P1060228The guys chillaxing on the decking at The Boathouse Bistro

We sat basking in the sunshine, enjoying the view and tucked into huge portions of great food. Lunch always tastes good after a long cycle!

Bill’s monster sized fish and chips


My antipasti

Lovely view

There are no pictures of the cakes and scones we ordered but rest assured they were ordered and enjoyed.

Christmas comes early in Fife. The Boathouse already has a Christmas tree up! To remind people to book their Christmas events.
Boathouse you were doing so well. But a Christmas tree in July?! Too much.


With all the delays we hadn’t made as much progress as anticipated so we decided to return via a shorter route of around 24miles. I won’t bore you with the many twists and turns in navigation! We aimed for Cowdenbeath and ended up in Auchtertool.

We eventually arrived in Aberdour at 7.10pm and found the next train wasn’t until 7.50pm. Being keen, or mad we decided to cycle on to Inverkeithing and ended up catching the same train by the skin of our teeth.

It was a lovely day out. And I managed to make my dinner date with Mr Mac just an hour-and-a-half later than planned!

Verdict: some way to go in building up my fitness for the Pedal for Scotland Sportive!

Diva’s week of deliciousness and peaks – Part II

Last week was a delicious cocktail of cake, Martin Wishart, prosecco, beautiful peaks and lots of glorious sunshine. It was so big I decided to spread it over several posts. You can read Part I here. It’s all about the cake!

So on to Part II in which I meet Martin Wishart and climb Ben Nevis and Buachaille Etive Mor.

On Wednesday 25 of us went on a Sunday Brunch Club dinner at the new Martin Wishart brasserie, The Honours. You must go. We went for the Prix Fixe menu which was a real treat and amazing value at just £19.50 for 3 courses. Steve and his team looked after us brilliantly.


The highlight for me was the bavette of beef and of course meeting Martin. Both very tasty.
You can read the full post over on the Sunday Brunch Club blog here

Last weekend was an absolute corker. It was our Sunday Brunch Club weekend staying in Bridge of Orchy to climb Ben Nevis and Buachaille Etive Mor.

They are such iconic walks and we were incredibly lucky to have two days of glorious sunshine for our trip.

Here I am at the top of Ben Nevis.


Gorgeous views as we begin our descent of Ben Nevis


Buachaille Etive Mor – steeper than it looks!


Here we are at the summit of Buachaille Etive More but it was the descent that was the tricky bit!


You can see more pictures on the SBC blog or on the SBC facebook page.

It was a great weekend. Now looking forward the next SBC weekend in Speyside in September.

Share the love. Leave me a comment. Go on, you know you want to!

Diva’s week of deliciousness and peaks – Part I

Last week was the type of week I love – a delicious cocktail of cake, Martin Wishart, prosecco, beautiful peaks and lots of glorious sunshine. The kind of week when you really believe that the words Scottish and Summer were meant to be together and are not some kind of cruel joke.

So first up, a taste of sweet, sweet heaven at the Clandestine Cake Club set up by the very wonderful Lynn Hill. The Clandestine Cake Club meets in homes across the country for people who love cake. This particular Edinburgh event was organised by Edinburgh Cake Queen Alison who LOVES cake. Alison has a facebook and twitter account for fellow devotees. She has also written the definitive Edinburgh Cake Trail. I have to warn you though that following either account could have you drooling into your keyboard at 11am on a Monday morning.

The Clandestine Cake Club is responsible for my recent foray into baking. I now adore it. Delia and I have become very close. Following a very shaky start I whipped up some lovely wee numbers…


Yes that’s two Victoria sponges, no mirrors were involved in the making of this photo. Well, why bake one when you can bake two.

And another Delia cake – the uber creamy passionfruit cake, with a filling of mascarpone cheese, fromage frais and passionfruit. Mmmmmm


Therefore I was somewhat dismayed when I fluffed it. The Vic sponge I presented a Clandestine Cake did not look like the ones above. I was so agitated by this that it seems I don’t have a picture of it on its own! Here are just some of the cakes. Mine is second right next to the chocolate cake.


There were so many highlights that I don’t have space for them all. My faves (and even I couldn’t taste all of the cakes!) were Lea’s fantabulous cake top (the white one), Lisa’s carrot cake the size of a pillow which was iced with the words C’mon Girls Dive In! As though we needed any encouragement.

And the rainbow cake made by Aoife – 7 layers! Legend. Aoife also runs My Home Supper Club where we had the most amazing tower of profiteroles. You too could enjoy dinner with Aoife, there are a few places left for her August events. Get in quick!


The altar of cake. Worship daily at Fredericks Cafe. Clandestine Cake Club’s Edinburgh venue and a lovely wee cafe on Frederick Street.


Cake Queen Alison set a new record for Clandestine Cake Club. 12 slices at one event. Now that is commitment! If you want to reacquaint yourself with your baking genius or unleash the cake fiend within you, keep your eye on the Clandestine Cake Club and for Edinburghers, Edinburgh Cake Ladies.

Part II involving Martin Wishart, prosecco, beautiful peaks and lots of glorious sunshine will be posted very soon. Watch this space.

Clandestine Cake Club website
Clandestine Cake Club on facebook
Clandestine Cake on twitter

Edinburgh Cake Ladies on facebook
Edinburgh Cake on twitter

Fredericks Coffee House on facebook
Fredericks Coffee House on twitter

My Home Supper Club blog
My Home Supper Club on facebook

The Diva lives on!

Yes she’s been away. Or rather she hasn’t been writing. And now she’s writing about herself in the third person. Well she is a diva!

I can hardly cover in one post all that has happened since my last post on er [mumbles] 26 April. I’ll do that over the next few weeks as there have been many wonderful things

I’ve been to two secret supper club – Kitchen Porters and My Home Supper Club
Cycled around Arran and eaten Arran cheese
Attended Clandestine Cake meetings and eaten lots of cake
Completed the Etape Caledonia without even a hint of sweeper van!
Lunched and dined at The Spice Pavilion, Iris, Hamiltons, The Living Room, Edinburgh Larder, Le Marche Francais, The Pillars of Hercules, Mark Greenaway, La Garrigue, Indigo Yard and others
Spent all afternoon in a vodka bar on the Isle of Bute
Danced to Europop in Spain
Seen Ben Jovi at Murrayfield
Climbed Ben Lawers and Ben Ghlass
Rocked to the Lift Shaft Incident at Whistlebinkies
Drunk bubbly at Ladies Day at Musselburgh
Cycled from Edinburgh to St Andrews. And back
Cryed at Stuart & Vivienne’s most magnificent wedding
Paintballed (yes it does hurt!) and driven in a tank
Drunk lots of Pommery at the launch of the Signet Library’s new popup champagne bar
Been to barbecues
Visited my wonderful sister in London
Tried on armwarmers
Eaten curry goat and spit roast deer on the Isle of Cara while dressed as a pirate

But more on all that later. For now I’ll stick to last week:

Lovely lunch at La Garrigue with Ann. A super menu of three courses for less than £20, I had squid to start, rabbit salad for main and cheesecake to finish. Excellent. And to whet your tastebuds…


The highlight of last week was our Sunday Brunch Club dinner at My Home Supper Club. One of the wonderful new supper clubs in people’s homes. We enjoyed a delicious evening a la Francais. I am still salivating, indeed dreaming about, the croqenbouche. The mountain of profiteroles in all their creamy, chocolately glory. Mmmmm….

Read more about this on the SBC blog here
To book your date with My Home Supper Club check their events page Don’t wait too long though, these dinners sellout quickly.


The croqenbouche and I, it was love at first sight

On Sunday I was out with the Sunday Brunch Club again to visit Jupiter Artland. The contemporary sculpture garden in the grounds of Bonnington House, just 30 minutes drive west of Edinburgh. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Read more about this on the SBC blog here.
It’s well worth a visit.

The 20 metre high Love Bomb Sculpture at Jupiter Artland

Some things to try:
La Garrigue
14 Eyre Place, Edinburgh, EH3 5EP
0131 558 1608
La Garrigue on twitter

My Home Supper Club
A Secret Edinburgh location
My Home Supper Club on facebook and twitter

Jupiter Artland
Bonnington House, Kirknewton, City of Edinburgh EH27 8BB
01506 889900
Jupiter Artland on facebook and twitter

More soon dear readers. I’ve missed you.