Dine at Home



We know the drill by now; this is the third lockdown ‘restaurant meal in your own home’ we’ve had, so we’re feeling like old hands. This one has a lot of heavy lifting to do though: it’s my birthday treat.

It’s not actually my birthday until Tuesday but, like most of the fine dining establishments offering takeaways for the first time, Dine are limiting themselves to Fridays and Saturdays, which is probably a sensible move. And I’m more than happy to stretch out even weird, isolated celebrations over a few days.

The food arrives at 1pm in a socially-distanced drop-off. It’s in two neat boxes, and there’s a bottle of Prosecco too (did I mention it’s my birthday?). For £49 we’re getting three courses for two people and a bottle of wine, although there is a £2.75 delivery charge, and the upgrade to Prosecco costs us another £7.50. Still, for just under £60, this is a nicely indulgent meal, and it’s well thought out in terms of the amount (and complexity) of cooking we’re required to do.

There are some olives to nibble, which is a nice touch, and then we kick off with our starters. These are both cold, and just require assembling on the plate. Philip has smoked salmon and cream cheese, which is served with a beetroot and charred shallot salad and a slice of Pumpernickel. It’s delicious, very rich and creamy, but there’s not enough Pumpernickel for the generous portion of salmon pâté, so he adds a couple of crackers to his plate (the salmon is too tasty to leave, but definitely needs some kind of base to carry it). My cured ham, melon and mozzarella is the prettiest dish of the night, and again the portions are far from meagre. There are two slices of ham, a big piece of mozzarella, and a scrumptious caper and white sultana purée. Weirdly, the biggest revelation is the grissini, which are the only bread sticks I’ve ever had that have tasted of anything. We’re off to a cracking start.

My main is a seafood, chorizo and summer vegetable stew served with a lemon and herb rice. It tastes fresh and clean, and is liberally stuffed with clams, prawns and squid. Philip’s Asian style sticky pork belly comes with pak choi and sweet potato, and is bursting with flavour. Both can be microwaved, but we choose to cook them in the oven. The menu has clearly been designed carefully to minimise our workload: both meals require 20 minutes at 170°. Easy!

Puddings are also cold, so we only need deal with presentation (and, having finished off the Prosecco by this stage, we’re honestly not too concerned about what they look like). Philip’s cranachan comes with candied hazelnuts and a satisfying raspberry sauce; my carrot cake has frosted icing, and a side helping of orange and praline cream. I’m sure they’re both perfectly fine individually, but that’s not what happens here. We split them in half and make a hybrid dessert that tastes utterly divine. Well, we are in our own home; we can do what we like, right?

All in all, this is the best of the ‘at home’ meals we’ve had so far, with every course a hit.

Hurrah. And happy birthday to me.

4.6 stars

Susan Singfield



Traverse Theatre, Cambridge Street, Edinburgh

We’re meeting up with some old friends and we’ve been meaning to try Dine for a while now, so it seems like the ideal time to give the place a whirl. Since we’re eating fairly early, we have the opportunity to select from the market menu, which comes in at a very reasonable £19.50 for three courses. Michelin-starred chef Stuart Muir claims to have created a series of contemporary twists on classic dishes and our expectations are high.

The room above the Traverse theatre is a delightful setting for a meal: it’s spacious and circular with dark wooden flooring, giving a surprisingly intimate feel; the tables are arranged around a central and remarkably realistic apple tree. The staff are friendly and chatty – attentive without being obtrusive. Drinks are duly ordered and the starters arrive promptly.

I opt for the cured sea trout, which, though not the most photogenic thing on the menu, is really quite delicious, served with pickled green apple, burnt cucumber, yoghurt and dill. Susan has the heritage tomatoes, which are bursting with flavour, nestling on goats cheese, black olive crumb, filo and basil. Our companions go for the smoked Ayrshire ham hock terrine with carrot chutney, pickled heritage carrots, watercress and sourdough. It looks splendid but I’m not offered a taste, no matter how many hints I drop!

The main courses are equally assured. Susan’s Perthshire chicken is agreeably moist and succulent, served with sweetcorn puree, burnt sweetcorn, baby gem and pickled trompettes. I sample the (very alliterative) braised brisket of borders beef (try saying that with a mouthful of garden peas!), served with truffle polenta cake, burnt onion puree and tender steam broccoli. Brisket is notoriously hard to get right, but this is as tender as you’d want, and coated with a sticky, piquant sauce. A slice of this meat nestled on a chunk of polenta cake makes for a very pleasing contrast. Excellent.

Puddings? Well, Susan orders the Blacketyside farm strawberries – these come with mascarpone, meringue, 12-year-old balsamic, basil and a scoop of strawberry sorbet. It’s a pretty spectacular concoction, hitting all the sweet notes in perfect harmony. I go for the selection of British cheese, with crackers and a rich, fruity chutney. Since cutting down on dairy products in my everyday diet, this is a chance to be a bit decadent and the three cheeses I’m served are generously proportioned and lip-smackingly good. (Had I been a bit more organised I’d have made a note of their names, but I was too busy devouring them to take time out to do that, so suffice to say that Dine does excellent cheese.)

This was fine dining prepared to a very high standard, offered at a very reasonable price in a charming location. Any way you look at it, it ticks all the boxes. With the madness of the fringe only days away, make sure you book early to avoid disappointment.

4.6 stars

Philip Caveney