Whisky Forager, Stockbridge
Every time I write a review, I ask myself if I am being completely honest or being swayed favourably because of an incentive. In the case of my recent visit to Whisky Forager, whilst gifted, every word of praise I can express is unbiased, unfiltered and absolutely deserved.
The brain child of Kilted Lobster masterchef Colin Hinds, Whisky Forager is a much-needed, if not all too temporary, addition to the Edinburgh scene. A pop up specialising in the finest of whisky paired delicacies, it offers a five-course tasting menu with a twist.
Many of you will have tried a tasting menu and some will have been recently introduced to the concept via Six by Nico; this is Nico standards on speed. The quality of the food and exquisite matching whiskies (or gins) are unlike anything I have ever tasted before. It turns out I do love whisky; all this time I have just been trying average types.
We began our evening with a warm welcome from Colin and his team. He explained how the evening would work, invited us all to give feedback (he is keen to continually improve his offering) and allowed us all to relax into his easy-going humour and approach to entertaining.
The evening started with much needed Ardbeg Beastie Highball; a delicious Islay smoke-packed dram with a kick to it. It was gingery and refreshing, muddled with mint and ginger and was very quickly followed by sumptuous Duck Leg Confit with Pineapple and Star Anise Glaze, Rosemary and Sweet Potato Scone.
The beautiful blend of flavour and texture set the scene for the courses that followed. It was simply superb.
Colin impresses that food must be as beautifully cooked as it is presented. The meal became fun as we drank out of an array of carefully selected glasses and ate courses with. more than a hint of magic.
The Beetroot Cured Scottish Smoked Salmon paired with Beetroot Aioli and pickled Cucumber became an instant hit, even more so when it arrived in a beautiful dome with smoke emerging.
To complement the salmon, we enjoyed Talisker Distillery Edition Double Matured, another exceptional whisky, this time from Skye.
Two courses in and I was incredibly excited to see what was to come - I was not disappointed.
The star of the show, for me, was the Fillet of Beer with Tiger Nut Crumb (oo-er), Girolle Ragu, Organic Pearl Barley with a Red Wine Syrup paired with a Glenfiddich Age of Discovery 19 Year Old Red Wine Cask. I have been dreaming about this element of the meal since; from the rich flavours to the soft, creaminess of the barley - if I am on death row, this is my food of choice.
We sadly headed towards the end of the evening, with a Raspberry Cranachan Creme Brulee, matched with a Glemorangie Signet. Now for someone who doesn't drink a lot of whisky, the Signet packed a punch but, with the warm flapjack accompanying the brulee warmed my insides beautifully. Phil's comment that the pudding wasn't too sweet rang true and blended expertly with the soft spices of the dram.
But of course, it is hard not to love a whisky when it looks like this, right? (Yep thats a "flavoured" bubble).
It wasn't quite over yet, thankfully. The final course was a much-anticipated Whipped Blue Murder Cheese with Frozen Grapes, Honey and Oatcakes. For those of you who haven't tried honey with blue cheese, it is incredible and probably the best trick my good friend Adele taught me. This was beautifully accompanied by a Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve; a toffee-like treat for your tastebuds.
When asked what my favourite part of the evening was, I am very quick to pick the food, one course in particular. Then I consider the quality of the whisky, company and service and it is impossible to decide what made it so special. Whilst the restaurant is temporary, expect magical things from Chef Hinds in the future. A talent like his can't be kept quiet for long.
[DISCLAIMER] With thanks to the Whisky Forager team for a meal for two with accompanying whiskies. As always, opinions are all my own.