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Fresh, simple, autumnal

October 31, 2012

This month, we’re looking at the ingredients our two restaurants have in common in their November menus. As we both love fresh and simple, we’re using what’s seasonal, and what’s local, but with the particular twists that meet our restaurants’ characters.

With Hallowe’en only just gone by, it would be a shame to let all the pumpkins go just for carving… Pumpkin is a great autumnal flavour, and we’re using it to add a twist to some of our favourite dishes.

So at Centotre, pumpkin is adding its sweetness to our gnocchi, while at The Scottish Cafe, pumpkin complements the Lanark Blue cheese as one of the flavourings for our popular butteries.

We’re enjoying other wintery veg, both root and shoot.  Leeks, beetroot, celeriac… Here’s another we both chose: cauliflower. It’s capable of taking on robust flavours and adding an earthiness to dishes.

The Scottish Cafe uses it alongside duck, as a set menu main course; Centotre takes it in directions both familiar (as a warming soup) and more Italianate (as a deep-fried vegetable side dish).

November is a time to look for comfort food.  At Centotre, Italy offers the creaminess of polenta, whether as a foil for roasted vegetables, or joining the richer tastes of pheasant.  At The Scottish Cafe, it’s time for steak… and puff pastry, with a rich and meaty pie that promises to reward (and not just for reverends!).

At the same time, there are great ingredients in season that offer us a different take on autumn.  Cuttlefish is in use in both restaurants this month.

Centotre uses lemon and herbs to complement cuttlefish as a salad starter; The Scottish Cafe balances tradition (a parsley sauce) with seasonality (spiced beetroot) for its dish.

For those enjoying heritage ingredients, Tamworth pork is a wonderful product. We source ours from our friends at Peelham Farm. The Scottish Cafe puts it through its paces as a terrine, complemented with mustard and onion tastes. Centotre responds by featuring the pork in escalopes, a traditional Milanese main course.

Both sets of chefs know the benefit of a little shot of something to keep out the cold.  At Centotre, Marsala makes its way into an ice cream to accompany an Italian pear crumble – and Campari is lifted to new heights in this month’s cocktail, using the citrus of oranges to boost our immune systems again as winter approaches.

At The Scottish Cafe, Highland Park whisky has been used to soak the sultanas in a companion crumble dish – alongside a classic pairing of apple and cinnamon.

Both our restaurants are passionate about our suppliers, and this month, we want to mention the magnificent Hoods Honey.

Another wonderful supplier from East Lothian, Hoods dates back to the 1950s as a business.  A little (autumnal) digging revealed that its beeswax has been used to seal every act of the Scottish Parliament since its inception!

At The Scottish Cafe, that special honey flavours a fool made from pear and toasted almond.  At Centotre, it mingles with a chestnut honey distillate, to accompany a rich vanilla pudding.

You may need to sample it in both our restaurants to make your own ruling on the matter.  Come and tell us your response to our ingredient choices – and how we’ve put them to work.

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