Following a sold out run last year, Dram & Smoke has returned to Edinburgh for a second year as part of the Edinburgh festivals. The one-off restaurant was one of my favourite festivals experiences in 2016, so I was buzzing to see the team return to the city.
Running from 3 – 27 August, the team has again set up shop in The Biscuit Factory, just off Bonnington Road. Talisker is this year’s drinks partner and there are two ticketed experiences on offer: The Campfire Cocktail Experience with Talisker on the ground floor and The Campfire Feasts dining event on the top-floor. I headed along to the latter to see if this years’ experience matched up to last year’s debut.
Prior to arrival, we were promised a meal which would draw on the “nostalgia, flavours and ambience of an adventure by the campfire”, inspired by the remote and rugged island of Skye, which Talisker calls home. And the Biscuit Factor provides a fitting environment in which to transport diners to a woodland hideaway.
We were welcomed with a cocktail comprising Talisker 10, spent-citrus pearl barley cordial and soda, which was light enough to kick off the night, whilst also offering a sign of what was to come. We headed to the upstairs dining area with our drinks, where the communal dining ethos from last year has been replicated.
Dishes arrived from the theatre of an open kitchen and the playfulness continued when they arrived at the table. First up was Dram & Smoke’s take on a Ploughman’s Picnic, which comprised cauliflower cheese soup, beers onions and a charcoal loaf; delivered in communal baskets and Themos flasks. The soup was rich and velvety, without being sickly, and the charcoal loaf was perfect for dipping.
The main provided a feast fit for hikers – shame that I’d spent the day at my desk! The tender carve-at-the-table pork ribeye roast and venison Cumberland were accompanied by hearty campfire beans, fluffy rosemary polenta chips and chargrilled baby gem lettuce.
Dessert was probably the highlight of the night for me, with its nod to roasting marshmallows over an open fire. The fluffy, home-made marshmallows provided a massive sugar rush, and were followed by a canteen tin brimming with juicy barbecued pineapple, s’mores ice cream sandwich, trail mix brittle, raspberry & Talisker whisky syrup.
The only slight misstep was the second course of smoked chicken. Although the whole dish was delicious, it didn’t arrive with the flair and theatre of the others, which was further compounded by generally uninspiring appearance which smoked chicken tends to have.
Alongside the welcome cocktail, the experience offers a range of wines, beers and whisky cocktails to wash your meal down. With Talisker as the drinks partner, I was extremely impressed with the array of whisky cocktails on offer and the bar team’s willingness to experiment with the single malt.
I paired dessert with a Harder, Better, Faster, Talisker which was made up of Talisker Storm, Cross Brew Coffee, Ribena and Irn-Bru. Which all sounds like it shouldn’t work…but it does! The Ribena and Irn-Bru bring a sugary, sweetness, whilst the earthiness of the coffee and smokiness of the Talisker ensure the drink remains grounded.
A triumphant return for the guys from Dram & Smoke! If you are looking for a foodie treat during the Edinburgh Festivals, then be sure to set up camp at The Biscuit Factory this August.
You can find out more about Dram & Smoke over on the pop-ups website.
My tickets for the event were provided by the organisers.