Small plates and a glass of inspiration

This week as The Student’s Chef, I left the kitchen in search of some inspiration. Edinburgh is blessed with a really exciting restaurant scene, and Slighhouse on George IV Bridge fits right in, sporting bare brick walls, a great cocktail bar and an open kitchen. Slighhouse’s menu is a ‘small plates’ idea where, instead of ordering starters, mains and deserts, you order a whole selection of plates and eat them as they arrive. It is an idea that has a lot of popularity at the moment, yet has polarised opinions. I feel that if it is done well, they can work excellently as you get to taste a whole selection of the chef’s talents.

As I said, Slighhouse has the deco perfected. It is a beautiful, unique setting to eat in. The cocktails are also fantastic and boast a large selection. We settled on a ‘Tanq Girl’ (gin and vermouth) which was great, and an ‘OG Spritz’ (aperol and ginger). You could definitely visit Slighhouse for an evening of cocktails and be very satisfied.

But what about the food itself? My meal of confit duck leg, celeriac and apple slaw and black pudding was delicious.

While the duck meat fell off the bone in satisfying shards of fatty meat, it lacked the crispiness which is desired in the confit cooking method. The black pudding was deep fried in batter and added that offal-earthiness to the dish which worked really well.

The slaw was also satisfactory and the chargrilled vegetables were even better. The aubergine and sweet peppers had lots of flavour and the goat’s cheese’s saltiness complemented the natural sweetness of the peppers. The capers in the salsa verde also added a salty acidity which was fantastic.

Better still was the Cajun Spring Chicken with cucumber, chilli and yoghurt. This was a small whole roast chicken, smothered in cajun spices and cooked to perfection. The pomegranate seeds added a sweet crunch, and the yoghurt formed a sauce at the bottom of the plate. A real joy to eat.

Where the food became truly memorable though, was the fish section. Sea Bass ceviche with chilli, sweet potato and red onion was a triumph of flavour and texture. The sea bass was lightly cooked in the lime juice and the little salad on top had crunchy sweet potato, bitter endive and a great dressing.

The highlight of the evening, however, was the Seared Ginger and Balsamic Salmon. This was perfectly cooked; the flaky salmon had a great caramelised crust, and the hot and sour slaw was full of sharp, aniseed fennel and cooling cucumber.

Each dish at Slighhouse cost between £3.50-£12, with most at £8: definitely not cheap. It might be somewhere to persuade your parents to take you! However, in terms of inspiration, it is great fodder. Here are some tips I have picked up for coming recipes:

•Simplicity is key. Most of these dishes only had two or three elements to them, but done well, they really worked. This is great as it reduces costs and keeps preparation time to a minimum.

•Daring is good. Who would have thought pomegranate and chicken would have worked so well?

•Presentation makes food taste nicer. You might not realise it, but you eat with your eyes first!

•Food should be fun. It’s easy when you’re cooking at the end of a long day to find food a means to an end, but we will come up with recipes to make you smile!

And finally, a new addition to these articles is a my top tip of the week! So here it is…

A sharp knife is the best cooking tool you can invest in! It will enable you to chop neater and it is safer, as a sharp blade is less likely to slip. A decent chef’s knife and a knife sharpener are a winning combination!

Image: Flickr: <Alpha>

 

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