Tag Archives: Edinburgh

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.

Gardeners Cottage 140424 (2)

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.

Gardeners Cottage 140424 (3)

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.

Gardeners Cottage 140424 (7)

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.

Gardeners Cottage 140424 (8)

Look simple, tastes exquisite

Gardeners Cottage 140424 (9)

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.

Gardeners Cottage 140424 (10)

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!

Gardeners Cottage 140424 (16)

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.

Gardeners Cottage 140424 (17)

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.

Gardeners Cottage 140424 (21)

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.

Gardeners Cottage 140424 (32)

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 does… Dusit Thai

Dusit Thai is far and away the best Thai restaurant I’ve ever experienced. And I’ve been to Dusit too many times to count. Apart from the food which is first-class every aspect of the Dusit experience leaves you feeling warm and glowy.

The welcome from the mainly Thai staff is warm and smiley enough to leave you aglow on the coldest of Edinburgh evenings. Many of the waiters have been there for years and remember us each time we visit.

The restaurant is small and intimate. Some complain the tables are too close together but for me it is perfect. I love it just as it is – cosy, friendly and relaxed with food that makes you go mmmmmm.

On this occasion I visited with six super-fabulous girlfriends to celebrate Laura’s birthday. We decided to take the private room downstairs – a first for me as I’m normally there a deux – and I would certainly recommend it. Up to 8 people can dine there around a round table.

So to the food… After much deliberation, one of our number suggested we try a selection of starters. Dusit were happy to oblige. It was stupendous and came with all the complementary sauces which provided those mouth-watering finishes touches.

Starting platter at Dusit Thai


When you go to Dusit you will note the er…  imaginatively named starters. Lady in the Garden (king scallops) is one of my favourites. I’m also quite partial to Two Brothers (king prawns two ways) and A Loving Couple (king prawns and king scallops). If anyone knows of anywhere else with such items on the menu please do let me know.

For main I had Gaeng Massaman – a mild curry with potatoes, onion and crushed peanuts. Oooooh it’s the thing I like most on the menu having tried many dishes on the menu. Rich, creamy and exquisitely flavoursome it really is hard to beat. With this I order the sticky coconut rice. Again a real triumph in taste.

Sorry no pictures.

Both the Gaeng Massaman and the sticky coconut rice were introduced to me some years ago by my husband. He knows what he likes! I would tease him about always choosing the same starter (Run Away Fish aka fish cakes) and same main (Gaeng Massaman with sticky coconut rice) while I in my ‘wisdom’ worked my way through the Dusit menu and tried a variety of delicious dishes. I soon noticed on too many occasions that after I’d tasted his Gaeng Massaman my dish didn’t taste quite as good! I’m now a convert to the Massaman cause.

So a beautiful Thai meal with girls accompanied by lashings of wine. A very well spent £40 including tip. Split about £25 for food and £11 for wine.

If you haven’t been yet, you absolutely must go. And if you’ve already been, well you’ll want to go back.

Remember to book though, even during the week Dusit Thai is often fully booked. And there’s a good reason why it’s so popular: it’s simply the best.


Dusit on Urbanspoon

49a Thistle Street, Edinburgh  EH2 1DY

Tel: 0131 220 6846

Read more in the Diva does… series

And of course let me know what you think below
If you’ve written a review of Dusit Thai, please leave a link to your review in comments below.

Diva does… Ondine

Ondine seafood and fish restaurant has been causing a stir since in opened in September 2009.  This is the first restaurant from award-winning chef Roy Brett and on my hitlist for this year.

I went with my friend Ann who parties with Helen Mirren, travels the world, always looks fabulous and ought to write a book. Ann is a blogger, she writes Capital Adventures about her new life in Edinburgh.

Ondine is nestled between Missoni Hotel and Pizza Express on George IV Bridge. The ground floor entrance leads up to the restaurant which is on the first floor. We choose a table for two with views out to people hurrying by below. The restaurant has beautiful light as there are windows right round on two sides.

We had intended to order from the lunch menu – at £19.95 for 3 courses. However, after perusing the lunch menu we decided to share a the roasted seafood platter from the main menu (£38).

The platter was a seafood lover’s dream with crab, lobster, scallops, mussels, cockles and clams. The garlic butter was divine too. Seafood, bread and garlic butter, I get excited just thinking about it.

Seafood Platter at Ondine

Seafood lover's delight

 It was all beautifully cooked. Scallops are a particular favourite of mine and these served ‘in shell’ were superb. Good seafood is fresh seafood and you could taste the freshness. A real joy to eat. 

Seafood Platter at Ondine

The close up

Afterwards Ann went for a chocolate mousse served with alcohol-infused cherries and hazlenuts. As she says, she would have offered me a taste if only it hadn’t been so very, very, very good. This all said in breathy fashion. You can go off a person…

Chocolate mousse at Ondine

It was very, very, very good

Service was lovely, the restaurant itself is pleasing and the food was fantastic.

So what was the damage, you may be wondering? Those of a nervous disposition please look away now. We shared a bottle of wine, the seafood platter and Ann had a chocolate mousse. We paid £45 each including 10% tip.

Was it worth it? Yes, every penny.


Ondine on Urbanspoon

2 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1AD
0131 226 1888

Read more in the Diva does… series

Let me know your thoughts below
If you’ve written a review of Ondine, please leave a link to your review in comments below.

Diva does… Zanzero

I ought really to have called this post The Diva and The Pilot because I lunched at Zanzero with my favourite pilot.  She’s just about to go off for jet training so was fantastic to see her and catch up on all her news. She’s tall and Danish and beautiful with blonde hair down to her waist. She’s amazing. Oh and have I mentioned she flies planes for a living?! I love her.

My relationship with Zanzero is a little more complicated. We have a love-hate relationship. I love, love, love sitting outside in Summer and enjoying a vino and a bite to eat. I love the simple food beautifully prepared. What can sometimes let Zanzero down though is The Attitude Factor.

Darlings I could give you examples of Staff with Attitude but it feels so petty to write a list of past grievances. Suffice it to say that Staff with Attitude at Zanzero have spoiled some of my previous visits and I haven’t been for a little while.

But when my favourite pilot suggested it, I thought why not give it another go. And I’m so pleased we did. Our waiter couldn’t have been lovelier and we had a super time. So here for your delectation a few pictures…

To start antipasti

Antipasti at Zanzero

Rich flavours

The intensity of the flavours took me back to our holiday in Sienna devouring antipasti and a carafe of wine in glorious sunshine overlooking the beautiful piazza and people-watching.  A very, very good start. Zanzero’s overtures were winning me over.

For main, my friend went for the sea bass (if I recall correctly).

Sea bass at Zanzero

A delicious choice

I went for the burger. In my defence, we were choosing from a limited menu and I didn’t fancy pasta (so why go Italian, I hear you cry!). The burger was OK, not bad but not brilliant, perhaps a bit over-cooked.

Burger at Zanzero

A reasonable burger

We were won over with cakes. I asked for cream and our lovely waiter brought us berry topped cream. Little gestures make a big difference.  

My friend went for the chocolate cake

Chocolate cake at Zanzero

Chocolate heaven

And I went for a lemon fairy cake.

Lemon fairy cake at Zanzero

Moist and sweet with lovely lemony goo

It was particularly good value as my friend had a Groupon voucher for our meal. We enjoyed lunch with prosecco, the perfect accompaniment to a girlie lunch.

So we’re back on Zanzero and I. All is forgiven. We’ve kissed and made up.
Lovely lunch with super service.


Zanzero on Urbanspoon

14-16 North West Circus Place, Edinburgh EH3 6SX
0131 220 0333
You can find out more about Zanzero on their blog, on facebook and on twitter

Read more in the Diva does… series

Let me know your thoughts below
If you’ve written a review of Zanzerro, please leave a link to your review in comments below.

Diva does… Sygn Bar

Sygn Bar is a local and a favourite with Mr Mac and I for long brunches.

I love the the floor-to-ceiling windows which give great light and allow you to people-watch.  In the Summer these glass doors are opened for a lovely alfresco feel.

Recently we popped in for a bite to eat and got a real treat. Mr Mac went for a steak and cheese burger. It was beautifully cooked, juicy and tender on the inside with unmistakable taste of char-grilling on the outside. It was served with chunky chips that were just SO good. I obviously helped out with these!

Sygn Bar Burger

Mr Mac's beautiful burger

I ordered roast root vegetables. Mouth-wateringly scrummy root chunks roasted with garlic and rosemary served with hummus. I also ordered chicken goujons (not pictured) which were great too.

Roasted root vegetables

Crunchy and delicious

The service is good, the staff are beautiful and the setting feels fresh and contemporary after a recent refit. I love it for lunching and early dining. There is a private dining room for up to 30 diners too.

Evenings at weekends are busy and buzzy, great for cocktails and meeting with friends.

The menu is good value. Mr M’s magnificent burger and chips was £8.50 and my roasted vegetables £4.50.


Sygn on Urbanspoon

15 Charlotte Lane Edinburgh EH2 4QZ
0131 225 6060

Read more in the Diva does… series

I’d love to hear your comments below
If you’ve written a review of Sygn Bar, please leave a link to your review in comments below.

Diva does… The Spice Pavillion

On Tuesday I spent a hilarity filled evening at The Spice Pavillion with eight witty, wonderful, and decidedly mad friends. Well, you know what they say about birds of a feather!

The Spice Pavillion

Image from thespicepavillion.co.uk

The Spice Pavillion has sleek contemporary decor, great service and superb food. My prawn puri starter was very good. And the lamb main was out of this world; succulent, spicy and full of flavour.

The ambiance is relaxed and service is efficient and friendly. The owner Christina has created a wee gem of a place.

The Spice Pavillion has been open since May 2010 and has had rave reviews. I endorse them. Really loved it.

This post is without mouth-watering pictures as I decided to give my camera the night off. The food is fantastic though and for me, The Spice Pavillion is the best Indian Restaurant in Edinburgh.

31A Dundas Street
0131 467 5506


The Spice Pavilion on Urbanspoon

Read more in the Diva does… series

I’d love to hear your comments below
If you’ve written a review of The Spice Pavillion, please leave a link to your review in comments below.

Spectacles: frumpy or sexy?

Actually I don’t need to wear glasses. But I wouldn’t mind if I did.

Diva Specs

Jeepers creepers

During an evening at The Cumberland Bar last week a debate started about the attractiveness of glasses. Many people choose to wear contacts rather than glasses. And I know there are many reasons people choose contact lenses, it’s not just about how they look. However, I was surprised to hear people say they don’t like wearing glasses because they’re frumpy.

My darlings I beg to differ. Specs are sexy! In support of my case may I enter these pieces of evidence before the court…

Continue reading