Christmas party bites put to the test

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Each week, one of The Extra’s intrepid reporters heads out in search of the newest and best restaurants, cafes and delis in the southside and beyond. It’s a tough job, but someone has to d it, etc.

But let’s face it, come Christmas week, there’s enough going on in your house (and perhaps your wallet) to think about paying through the nose for a meal out.

Instead, we thought it was time that the Extra Review came home with you, and so I visited Waitrose Mearns for a festive sampling session, putting their nibbles and and cheeseboards to the test.

I sampled a delicious mini beef wellington; the ideal bite­sized treat, and a step up from the usual sausage roll with flavours of earthy mushroom and toasted poppy seed.

Mini meatloaves were great; moist to the point of sticky slow­-cooked meat, topped with a crumbed mash — ­ man food in miniature —­ and barbecue chicken lollipops and cheese bites were also good, as was a festive figgy pudding stuffing (expect dessert sweetness followed by a hint of sausagemeat ­ an unexpected but pleasant mix).

But the stars of the party food table, for fish lovers at least, were mini coquilles St Jacques; tiny scallops served in their shells and topped with cream and the crunch of cheese and parsley crumb. You may need to provide a spoon or two (going against the old party food adage that everything should be pick-up­able and eat­able in one bite) but guests will be impressed.

On then to the cheeseboard, which cheese specialist Claire Galbraith and team are happy to make up according to individual tastes.

I sampled an excellent blue Montagnolo ­ — perfect for brie fans too shy for the traditional stilton —­ as well as gorgeous Old Amsterdam, stilton with apricot, and a beautifully crunchy Cornish quartz cheddar.

The store also has limited edition bries piped with a layer of festive filling — the cranberry mousse version, while too sweet for some palates, will delight those who like their cheese as a full-on dessert.

With freezable mini bites and enough cheese to feed an army, the store is packed with produce you’ll want to stock up on — go on, it’s Christmas after all.