Parenting, it’s a funny thing, you spend eleven years looking after your baby day in day out with the odd night off thrown in, and then one day you wake up and you’re waving them off on a five day camp with school. The P7 camp that signals the beginning of the slow goodbye from primary school and hello to the whole new world of high school – from a parents point of view, a new more independent world, and one that I’m going to be a little less a part of. And that’s ok, because if you’ve done your job right, that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.
That’s where we are this week. We waved her off with no tears on either side, and just a sense of pride at how independent she is becoming.
We had planned to go away for a city break, then we realised we didn’t need to go anywhere. Everything we were looking for was right here on our doorstep, so we’re having what is now fashionably known as a ‘Staycation’. We have a full five days of activities, shopping, eating and drinking planned. A camp for us parents who have worked for 11 years for this!
We kicked off our staycation with a cooked breakfast at home, before I headed into town to meet my friend at The Refinery for a delicious three course dinner.
I ordered myself an Edinburgh Gin and Naturally Light Fever-Tree Tonic – until recently I have been unfussy about what gin and tonic I drink but I have developed a few favourites since the gin tasting at Heads and Tales. My favoured gins are either Daffy’s or Edinburgh Gin served with the Mediterranean Fever-Tree tonic which has less quinine for a cleaner flavour. I also like flavoured gins, the Elderflower Gin by Edinburgh Gin is lovely, and if you fancy something a little more unusual Zymurgorium: The Brewing Emporium do a Sweet Violet Gin – think alcoholic parma violet in gin form.
My friend usually has something like a Schiehallion, they were all out of that so I encouraged her to try an Icelandic beer – Einstök. It turned out to be a very tasty alternative.
I ordered us a couple of starters from the sharing section of the menu. Prawn Lollipops with Sweet Chilli & Soy were probably the highlight of the meal for me, freshly cooked, crispy and fresh. I could have happily eaten several portions to myself.
The Chicken Satay had all the potential but could have done with slightly less cooking as they were a little dry, which is a shame because it looked like they’d used thigh meat for the additional flavour and moisture it offers. I would have preferred a punchier sauce – those that like less spice will enjoy the sauce.
Despite being in the mood for steak I was keen to try something from the ‘favourites’ section of the menu. My friend has taken to allowing me to order for her so I selected the Lemon Chicken served with Sweet Potato and Caramelised Onions for her. It was nice to see that the chicken was served on the bone and had maintained the moisture that the Chicken Satay had lacked. The whole dish was really tasty with a good lemony aftertaste.
I had the Braised Beef Shin with Polenta. The beef was stewed down properly, so none of that chewiness which can be a feature of these tougher cuts if you don’t cook them properly. It was more delicate in flavour than some of the other versions I’ve had of this dish. The polenta makes for an interesting alternative, it would have been nice to have some flavour injected into it – I’ve had cheesy polenta before and I think that would have been lovely with this dish. The onion rings we had on the side offered a bit of crunch and were the perfect accompaniment.
We ended up with three desserts as the manager insisted we try the Chocolate Brownie as it’s a real favourite. I can see why, it was a very good example of this dish, one of the best I’ve had.
The Chocolate Jaffa Cake caught my eye as something a bit different. Despite the alternative recommendations of the waitress I stuck with it, but I should have listened to her, it fell a bit short. Too much sponge and not enough tangy flavour in the jelly meant that it wasn’t as good as the real thing.
The Pecan Tart however was a hit and the one I would order again. Excellent pastry and plenty of nutty filling. It was perfect. Shame I didn’t get much of a look in as my friend snaffled most of it, oh well, what’s a Pecan Tart between friends eh. And that brings me nicely onto my conclusion about The Refinery. I like it as a place to meet friends, it has a nice vibe and some of the food really hits the spot. It’s early days as they only opened in November, so once they’ve ‘refined’ the menu a bit, I think it will be a great place to revisit for all your favourites. I’ll be back for those Prawn Lollipops followed by a slice of that Pecan Tart…I might go on my own next time!
Location: 5 St Andrew Square
Price: Sharing dishes and boards £6.95-£11.95, Main courses featured £12.95
Good for: Drinks and food with friends, Hygge vibes