I knew it was going to be sweet…

Walking around the Haymarket in Edinburgh, there was quite a wide choice of places to eat. My first choice was the Le Marche Francais, however that wasn’t open that evening.

There were quite a few Vietnamese places, but in the end I chose the HauHan.

“Serving up British style Chinese food inspired by the dishes of Hong Kong.”

There was a lovely warm welcome from the staff and as the place was quite empty I had the choice of tables where to sit. Inside is clean and tidy. I liked the Hong Kong style decor, it was elegant and simple. There was nothing pretentious about this place.

From Sunday to Thursday they do a meal for one deal, where you get a starter, a main and a side, served with prawn crackers.

I started with the Ja Ha Mian Bao, Sesame Prawn Toast with Sweet Chilli Dip.

Ja Ha Mian Bao, Sesame Prawn Toast with Sweet Chilli Dip.

These looked homemade and you could taste the prawns. They were for me slightly too oily and greasy, but even so I did eat all four slices. The sweet chilli dip was rather nice, I thought it might be sticky and sweet, but it wasn’t.

For my main, I chose the Go Lo Gai, Sweet & Sour Crispy Chicken in an Orange, Lemon, Ginger & Garlic Sauce with Green Peppers & Onions. I had it served with a portion of Jasmine Rice.

Go Lo Gai, Sweet & Sour Crispy Chicken in an Orange, Lemon, Ginger & Garlic Sauce with Green Peppers & Onions.

This was a good size portion of food and rice. There were no green peppers, but there were onions, red peppers and carrot. The chicken portions were crispy and tasty. I liked the scattering of sesame seeds. The sauce was sweet with only a hint of sourness. I kind of expected that with a sauce containing orange and lemon.

It reminded me of Chinese takeaway food, but without the excessive salt and grease that you sometimes have. The portions weren’t too small, nor were they excessive.

Service was excellent, with friendly staff, not over-bearing and efficient.

Overall it was a really nice meal and I enjoyed it.

It was a little disappointing…

With an overnight stay in Glasgow I needed somewhere to eat, and there was a lot of choice, both close by and not too far away. There are lots of choices and I did spend a little time looking over what was around on Google Maps, when noticed Smoke Barbecue. Well that was my choice made up for me.

One of my regular favourite places in Bristol is the Smoke Catering stall at the Temple Quay Market. They do a lovely piece of barbecued brisket and so was looking forward to having something similar up in Glasgow. As you can imagine having had some delicious barbecued food I had quite high expectations for Smoke Barbecue in Glasgow.

The venue is airy and somewhat industrial, lots of wood and metal. There are benches and tables and big windows.

They had a wide ranging menu with a lot of choices, but in the end I went with the Brisket plate. This is brisket, spiced & rubbed, then smoked for up to 18 hours. It comes with burnt ends, brisket hash and twice-cooked chips. I took my side order of choice of crispy onion strings. I added a portion of pit smoked chicken thighs as well.

When it arrived it was a big plate of food, well it wasn’t a plate it was a metal cooking tray of food. Yes I know it’s fashionable not to have plates, but okay serve it on a cooking tray, but provide a nice plate to eat it off.

brisket

It looked great and I really liked the look of it. The chips were nice, different, and then I tried some of the brisket…

Well…

It was okay, it certainly had a good bold flavour, but it wasn’t anything like the barbecued brisket I have had before, it was a bit dry and not as tender as I would have expected.

The Smoke Catering brisket, which I had eaten in Bristol, was tender, moist and melt in the mouth.

I had anticipated that the crispy onion strings would be nice and crispy, well some were, others weren’t. Good flavour though.

The pit smoked chicken thighs had been smoked previously and then finished off on the charcoal grill. I really liked the flavour of these, but like the brisket was a little dry.

There was a lot of food and I think upon reflection I wouldn’t have ordered the chicken as well as the brisket.

Overall it was okay, I think the challenge was I had really high expectations and I was expecting something amazing.

Babs: A little Mediterranean treasure in the heart of Glasgow

Occasionally I find myself in Glasgow with a 9pm flight home, most times I end up at the Airport wondering why I am eating there, as it is too often over-priced and not very good.

The last time this happened to me in Glasgow I decided that rather than do my usual, I would try and find something to eat in the centre of Glasgow. There are lots of choices and I did spend a little time wandering up and down West Nile Street. I did consider a few options, French, Mexican, but in the end the look of Babs intrigued me. A upmarket looking kebab place.

Founded and led by the hugely ambitious team behind award winning ‘Bread Meats Bread’, ‘Babs will strive to create great street food dishes that make the most of seasonal and ethical produce, while respecting kebab’s culinary Greek, Turkish and Levantine heritage. So please relax, enjoy and welcome to ‘Babs Family!

There was a warm friendly welcome as I entered and I was given a choice of where to sit, which was nice. The place reminded me of the restaurants I visited when on holiday on Greek islands in the early 2000s.

The menu looked great, but what had tempted me in over other places on the street, was the Lamb Shish Babs. Described as severed chunks of sumac-rubbed lamb grilled over coals. Served on a flatbread on a bed of a sweet pepper and carrot puree and tzatziki; topped with grilled peppers and house pickles.

Lamb Shish Babs

I went with a side order of skinny fries. I was introduced to these at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen and really like them as a side dish.

The lamb was perfectly cooked, beautifully tender, great smokey flavour. I really enjoyed the accompaniments that came with it. A real nice mix of things that didn’t overpower the lamb.

Whilst writing this article I noticed that the menu had changed since I visited, but even then the new one looks just as interesting.