Dublin = Guinness

Our Ryanair flight dumped us into Dublin after midday on Saturday 22nd March all set for a week in Ireland. 2 nights in Dublin, 2 in Cork, a night in Galway and another in Drogheda. In the past I’ve either grabbed a taxi into town (expensive – €20) or hopped on the airlink bus (reasonable – €6) but this time I’d done some research and the No.16 would get us into the city centre (cheap as chips – €2.60) and there’s free wifi on the double decker!

We got off the bus on McConnell Street and headed straight  over to the bridge to what I knew as Messers but is now called JW Sweetmans . With our luggage at our feet we ordered the first 2 Guinness’s of our Irish holiday. ImageEveryone says that Guinness in Ireland tastes totally different and I can testify this is most definitely the case. It’s creamier, has more body and goes down smoothly with no bitter aftertaste. ImageIt wasn’t long before my pint glass was empty and my smile was wide.
It would have been really easy staying put and having another but OH was keen to check into our hotel and get rid of our bags. Our hotel was The Camden Court Hotel which is about a 10 minute walk from St Stephen’s Green. The street the hotel is situated on is full of quirky shops and interesting looking restaurants. I’m guessing the normal Dublin tourist wouldn’t know about this street’s existence as it is a little off the beaten track but it deserves a wander up just to see the less touristy side of Dublin.

The hotel room was lovely and had everything that you’d expect but there was no free biccys. I do like a wee biscuit with a cup of  coffee from a sachet when I first arrive at a hotel but sadly complimentary biscuits seem to be a thing of the past nowadays.

Peckish and travel weary we decided not to go far but to try the pub next door for something to eat. The Bleeding Horse is a traditional Irish pub – lots of wood, levels and hidden cubby holes. We sat in the corner with a view of the footy and ordered lunch. Although I do, OH doesn’t like Italian’s  (the restaurants not the people – he likes them, especially Sophia Loren types) so I rarely get to eat pizza. Therefore, when I saw there was a choice of pizzas on offer and there was actually one that if I were to pick all my favourite toppings it would be it – I think it was called the Odds On – there was no further menu scrutiny required. OH chose a burger with smoked bacon and cheese which arrived on a block of wood with big fat chips, side salad and relish. OH rated it highly and the thought of it being made from a bleeding horse didn’t enter his mind at all. My pizza was great although I shouldn’t have chose the Oregano oil as unfortunately,  I was reminded of it for the rest of the night :S

Obviously, being in Dublin, the rest of the night pretty much consisted of drinking Guinness in different Irish bars. The next one was The Swan. The building is steeped in history and featured in the Rebellion as a signalling post, was centrally located in The War of Independence and was occupied during the Civil War. OH asked for dark rum in here and was given something that smelt like it should be rubbed on a bleeding horse. Bleurgh. The bar man saw my face when I sneaked a taste and told me the rum was called Sea Dog. I’m not joking; you’d have to be at sea for a lengthy period of time to think this minging, medicinal liquid was worth a swig.

Off on our travels again and we headed to The Hairy Lemon where many scenes from the film The Commitments were shot. Comfy, old leather chesterfield chairs were our home for the next couple of rounds before we decided to go to the The Old Storehouse in the Temple Bar area where we found a packed house and music on offer. The tourists were demanding the band sang Galway Girl and they weren’t disappointed when the singer broke into it almost immediately. I think it was really to get the girl with the black hair and blue eyes out of the way so they could proceed to sing what they really wanted to sing. In that situation, I ask you friend, what’s a fella to do?

 

The next morning the plan was to have brunch in Gallagher’s Boxty House. I’ve been a few times before and I’ve always had a great time so I wanted to make sure we could fit in a visit. I’ve found in Boxty’s that the waiters are charming (good looking and flirty – just what you want from young Irish guys), the food is lovely and the overall feeling of the place always seems to be warm, welcoming, friendly and that nothing is any trouble at all. You can tell I love this place huh?

Boxty’s opens at 11am on Sunday mornings and we were hovering outside waiting for the minutes to tick by. On this visit there was a lovely waitress who ushered us in and quickly made us feel at home.  We were looking over the menu and I was trying to decide if I should have wine with my meal as it was still early. I asked the waitress if I should or not and she pointed out that I was on my holidays and if you don’t have wine with every meal on your holiday then you’re not doing it right. That was it settled so she started writing down a glass of wine. No, I said, a bottle. The look on her face was brilliant.

I’ve waxed lyrical about their bacon and cabbage boxty to OH on numerous occasions (Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake) so he pretty much had to try it (there was no pressure really ;p)2014-03-23 11.42.16 and I plumped for the full Irish breakfast since it was my first opportunity to have one.

OH enjoyed his boxty and loved the flavour and texture mix. He did say it was a little bit too creamy for him but if there had been a pattern on the plate he scraped every sign of that off his plate too! My breakfast was spot on and everything you’d want from a breakfast the morning after a day on the Guinness. 2014-03-23 11.42.31 The wine went down a treat too.

As is my want, I tweeted about my meal telling the Twitter world how good it was. Not long after, I noticed that whoever was behind Gallacher’s Boxty House twitter account had favourited my tweet. As I was waiting for the waitress to appear so I could order some Irish coffees, I tweeted back saying “Never mind favouriting my tweet where’s my Irish Coffee?  We then had a bit of banter back and forth.  Ahh wait, I should say we had a bit of craic over the twitter airwaves. See, a week in the Emerald Isle and I’m almost fluent! This just added to my Boxty House experience. The Irish coffees were ordered, irish coffee they arrived and they were drank with relish. I was already sitting with a warm glow when the waiter arrived with the bill and explained that the owner had taken care of the coffees. I couldn’t believe it. What an absolutely lovely thing to do (it’s every Scot’s dream getting free drink ;p)  as if I didn’t already love the place! It also shows the power of Twitter.

So the moral of this story is that if you ever visit Dublin you have to make sure a visit to Boxty’s is on your list! (and yes it’s because I think I might get an Irish Coffee for every single one of you that visit Boxty’s on my recommendation ;p)

 

To be continued.

 

 

Ad Break

I’m currently in Ireland so when I return I will give you lots of Irish restaurant and hotel reviews. In the mean time you may be interested in a book I have written. Here’s an advert that may just entice you. Well, if you like my style of writing it might 😉

It’s an e-book available on Amazon to download to your kindle, ipad, iphone, laptop or pc. The Same Individuals

It’s called The Same Individuals. Basically it is a novel that pops briefly into the lives of 6 residents of Dunfermline, Fife that have all been affected by drugs in some way. As the different individuals retrace their lives through memories and explore their behaviour patterns in the normally secret and confidential world of the counselling room, readers are given the opportunity to change the already formed opinions they may have of ‘junkies’ or people who take drugs.
Throughout the book there is a positive message that with help, change is possible. At the same time however, it offers some understanding as to why, for some, it can be so hard to change and escape the drug using world

It’s had some good reviews – look, see for yourself and I didn’t even need to bribe anyone!

This is a compelling book, featuring three-dimensional characters who engaged this reader. For me this is a crucial factor in whether I finish or ‘get’ a book. Their lives are cleverly inter-linked, each with their own stories. The writer has taken a subject matter which is often given a bleak treatment, and offered the prospect of recovery and redemption for the key players. A gentle
wisdom shines from this book, from which I learned something and was sorry when it finished.”

The title of this review was Welsh with Compassion. Check me out being compared to Irvine! (I won’t mention that when I first read it I thought you just can’t compare Scottish writing with the Welsh ;p)

“I bought this to read during a snowbound flight back from Edinburgh, this is by a new author who captures the world of addicts beautifully, not in the sometimes prurient way of welsh, but with all the same observational brilliance, bringing
in a thread of redemption so often missing from books covering the vices of life.”

“The prose is energetic, contemporary and easy reading – as an exiled Scot it’s also delightfully peppered with local hints and aspects of home often in surprisingly humerous ways. The characterisations are strangely affectionate betraying, I suspect, a deep understanding of the subject matter by the author.”

“This would be ripe to turn into a play, or television adaptation. I hope it will get there…”

I won’t bore you with anymore reviews because they’re on the page if you want to read more.

However, I will share the first chapter with you 😉

LAWRENCE

Chapter One

Lawrence looked in the mirror and took note of the new red blemish that had broken out on his forehead. He felt rougher than usual that morning and his stomach was a little queasy. Absentmindedly he wiped at the pimple with his thumb in the hope that he could simply rub it out. His skin had been erupting more and more recently, burning the candle at both ends was not always as good a thing as it seemed. Running his hand along his chin and only feeling a slight roughness, he decided that he could probably get away with giving shaving a miss that morning. He then stuck his tongue out at the mirror and tried to remember if it had always had a greyish coating or if this was a new addition to his mouth.
Lawrence mussed up his curly brown hair, trying to give it some height; it was neither too short nor too long and was probably his best feature. Looking admiringly into the mirror he thought, on the surface, he looked pretty damn good, give or take a spot or two. Lawrence then picked up his toothbrush and with the other hand forced out a long snake of paste on to it from a tube of Colgate. As soon as he put the toothbrush into his mouth to start brushing, he gagged involuntarily and felt his stomach lurch. His mouth filled with saliva and he knew he was going to be sick. As he bent over the sink to spit out the excess saliva, he retched and threw up his stomach contents. Once more his stomach churned but nothing else was forthcoming, although his body kept trying to get rid of the poison it had been fed the night before. Lawrence felt as if his head was going to explode from the pressure of dry retching. He was unable to breathe and his eyes protruded madly from his face as he clung on to the white porcelain and endured the convulsions that racked his body.  Eventually he was able to straighten up and look back into the mirror. His eyes were watering and there was drool clinging to his chin. Lawrence turned on the tap and splashed water over his face. His head was pounding now with the act of being sick and he feared that there was yet more to come. Giving up on brushing his teeth, he wandered through to the living room and slumped on to the couch.
Trying to remember the night before, Lawrence attempted to work out if it had been worth it or not. He then smiled as the memories of a twenty-something flitted across his mind. Long blonde hair feathering across his chest as the young women expertly used her mouth to lick, nibble and suck. Then, her hands, complete with gold painted nails, grabbing at the pillows as her back arched, pushing her tight ass further towards him. He had taken great pleasure in watching himself thrusting into her from behind. The memories were punctuated with the two of them taking lines of coke at every opportunity. At one point he had demand that the girl be his table so he could snort a line from her navel downwards. Oh yes, it had been worth it all right.
He thought her name was Melanie and she had been at the party with her sister, but then where she had appeared from did not really matter to him, or if he would ever see her again. There were always other Melanies, or Cheryls or Susies to be had. After all, life was just one big party and Lawrence was the party king.
Lawrence decided that work was not worth thinking about at the moment. He still had time before he had to put further effort into brushing his teeth and making it into the office. Flexi-time was Lawrence’s great saviour. Without it there was a good chance that he would have been sacked by now. Too many late nights and no-shows on Monday mornings would have earned him his P45 with any other employer, but Lawrence actually gained from working into the early evening because he could go out straight from work and avoid a double commute. It was a situation that appeared to work well for him. As long as Lawrence managed to reduce the pile in his in-tray, answer all his emails and keep up to date with what was happening in the world of IT, he succeeded in working to live instead of vice versa.
Deciding he needed a little pick-me-up, Lawrence stood up slowly from the settee and, with a pneumatic drill piercing his head, walked over to his bookshelf. Instead of picking up some paracetamol he chose instead the Old English Testament from the second shelf. He flicked it open to reveal that the book contained a cut out section. The doctored book had required a Stanley knife, a lot of patience and an entire Saturday afternoon. For Lawrence it had been a labour of love, a labour that no one else knew about.  The bible was where he hid his personal stash of coke, which he kept separate from his other stockpile – the one he kept for friends and other good paying customers. This was the only kind of painkiller that Lawrence was interested in at that precise moment.
Lawrence lifted a nearby tray, something he had proudly christened his own personal lap-dancer and emptied out a small amount of white powder on to it. Taking his time, he carefully prepared two lines. The methodical chopping noise from the silver-plated razor blade, a gift from some forgotten female, made his body tingle with anticipation. He loved trying to get both lines as straight and as equal as possible and deliberately made himself keep dividing and chopping until he was completely satisfied with their symmetry.  Only now did he let himself lift the matching silver tooter and snort one line of coke up each nostril. With a large sniff he relaxed back into the settee and let his head roll back. The drug surged through his body and he sat still, simply allowing the rush to lift him.
With his heart pumping, and at last feeling vitalised and ready to face the world, Lawrence wandered back through to the bedroom and rifled through his wardrobe looking for a shirt to wear to work.

If you want to find out what happens to Lawrence next – click the link, download the book and read all about it

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006ZVN2CQ

and thanks for reading this far 🙂 xx

Livingston Designer Outlet and parking!

The weather today was awful. The rain was coming in sideways and the skies were a dank, murky grey. My daughter, Mini-me, and I had arranged to spend the day together so we needed to go somewhere undercover to find our fun. It wasn’t a hard decision. Livingston Designer Outlet (used to be McArthurGlen), which is right next to the Almondvale Shopping Centre, has every shop you’d ever need for a bit of retail therapy. Cheap designer gear coupled with all your normal high street stores with a couple of shops you’ve never heard of thrown in to the mix makes it the perfect place to shop til you drop!

Decision made we headed south. The drive was horrendous and the window wipers were on fast mode for the entire journey.

Mini me and I often drive through to Livingston to try and grab a bargain or 5 and we now think we have the ideal parking plan. Grab your anorak and seat belt yourself in!

We’ve tried all sort of stuff like parking at the Asda end, which is a maximum of 2 hours parking for a £1 but you get your money back if you buy something in Asda. The downside of this is having to go back to the car and put another ticket on it mid shop flow (and buying something in Asda to get your money back).  We’ve tried parking in the multi storey car park at the designer side but it’s £4 for more than 4 hours and we always end up in the opposite end of the centre in Asda thinking we can’t buy heavy things because we’ve loads of bags to haul back to the car.  So…what we’ve realised now is that you should park in the multi storey at midday and make sure you’re back putting all your bags back in the car before 4 (less than 4 hrs = £2.50). By this time we’ve usually got down as far almost as far as Primark so the key is not going in but turning round. Then you drive from the multi down to Asda as it’s free parking after 4pm. You can then head back to Primark (spend another fortune) and work your way back down to Asda not caring how many litre bottles of coke or more importantly how many wine bottles go into your trolley because your car is right there and not a 20 minute walk away!

The other thing you need to do to ensure you have a great shopping experience is to get some sustenance half way through. There are loads of options available to the discerning shopper but nothing really exciting or new. Wagamama is about as different as it gets. There’s load of fast food outlets, all you can eat buffets, coffee shops and pizza places but today we opted for Wetherspoons (there are 2). Mini-me wanted something light like a wrap or a paninni so the menu offered the option of swapping your accompanying chips for a plate of soup so that was the preferred option. Mini-me only likes her gran’s soup or something plain so when they said there was tomato Mini-me was delighted. However, when I went to the bar to place the order they weren’t sure if they had any tomato left – the alternative was Carrot and Coriander. However, the waitress went to check and returned saying there was enough left for 2 portions. Mini me smiled happily – so the order was 2 soups, a tuna mayo baguette, a bbq chicken and bacon Panini and 2 diet Pepsi’s which came to £15 something.

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10 minutes later a waitress appeared at our table saying there wasn’t enough tomato soup left for 2 so I agreed to have the carrot and coriander. A further 10 minutes and our soup arrived with 2 huge bits of bread and 2 portions of butter. The waitress asked if we wanted our sandwiches at the same time and I replied we did as I wasn’t expecting the bread and had assumed they would all come together (because of the ‘deli option’). 2 minutes later our sandwiches arrived accompanied with chips! What was a light lunch suddenly turned into a marathon! 😀

Unfortunately, the soup could have been hotter, which really let the meal down – saying that Mini-me said she really enjoyed it and her description of the soup was, “It’s like Heinz but they’ve added something, tomato puree and basil to it and then they’ve blitz it” – high praise indeed!.

One of the things that annoys me most about Wetherspoons is that the tables are never wiped properly. Even if the table is clear they are usually covered in salt and some indescribably stickiness. Today the table was clean, the queue at the bar wasn’t insurmountable but the soup temperature and the couple sat at the next table screwed up the lunch. Sitting next to 2 jakeys who burp their way through their bottles of Miller and knock their chairs over onto incoming pensioners kind of fecks up the ambiance – but hey, it is Wetherspoons.

Compared to other lunches it definitely wasn’t the worst. The chips were surprisingly good, the soup was good (but tepid) and the Panini’s and baguettes were exactly what you would expect.   For £15 it was a welcome chance to sit down, blether and re-fuel before hitting Primark with a teenage daughter 🙂

PS Mini-me took the bread and half the tuna baguette home with her because she couldn’t eat it all.

Craig Millar @ 16 West End

Last night I was out doing my daughterly duty and spending time with my mum and aged aunts. The chat was all about sick and dead people so it was a lot like Twitter. Anyway, I left OH with instructions to find somewhere to go for lunch today. When I arrived home, full of cake and tea (delivered as it should be – in a china cup with saucer from a teapot), OH had the restaurant picked.  Craig Millar @ 16 West End in St Monans. I was a bit reticent as I knew it was going to be pricey – after all it was just for lunch and not for a special occasion. However, come the morning, it looked like perfect weather for a restaurant with a sea view – bright and very breezy! Therefore, I phoned ahead and booked a table for 1.30pm. The restaurant is the long, white building with the orange roof on the right hand side of the photo.

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When we arrived, we were asked if we wanted a drink in the bar first and ushered through to the cosy, dark bar in back. There was a coal fire burning (it may have been gas) and the walls, which looked like they were covered in original thickly embossed wallpaper were adorned with old black and white photographs of St Monans. Once we had ordered our drinks we were given the lunch menu. There was a (very) set lunch menu of Onion and Cheese Tart, Hake and Puy Lentils with mushrooms and Pannacotta with mango sorbet for £18 or the other menu, which offered 3 choices for each course at £22 for 2 courses and £26 for 3.

Soon we were taken back through to the restaurant, which in stark contrast to the bar was light, airy and had a spectacular view of the Forth. The waves were crashing around us as the waitress brought us some bread, a small round parmesan roll and a slice of foccaccia with rosemary.

When our starters arrived OHs looked very pretty and the photo of his Pea Mousse, pickled mushroom, pea cream and  toasted foccaccia really doesn’t do it justice. ImageHe gave me a wee taste (and then blamed me for the rest of the meal for the green stain he left on the pristine white tablecloth!). I thought the mousse was a bit dull but with the tang from the vinegary mushrooms and the crispy bite of the foccaccia it all came together. OH raved about it saying it was just like posh mushy peas, which he loves. I had opted for the Pig’s Cheek and Puy Lentil, carrot, honey and ginger puree. The presentation was lovely but I felt the addition of a small oatcake wouldn’t have went amiss as the mix of cheek and lentils had the consistency of pate. However, that aside it tasted gorgeous and we were both happy with our starters. Image   OH had to ask the waitress the name of the Japanese mushrooms that had been pickled but she couldn’t tell us at that point but the ensuing conversation led her to say that “Craig doesn’t really do vegetables – he does things with vegetables”, which I thought was the perfect way of describing his cooking. (by the way, it turns out they were shimeji mushrooms.)

For our main courses I opted for Cod with Thai Coconut and Mussel Chowder and OH had Braised Ox Cheek, Truffle Gnocchi and Root Vegetables. My meal was perfectly balanced – the coconut was very subtle, which isn’t a bad thing when you’ve had a nasty one night stand with a bottle of Malibu in 1984. The cod was firm and broke into large flakes that mixed well with the potato mash it sat on and the mussel chowder complimented it all beautifully.Image

OH’s Ox cheek fell apart under his fork and he says he enjoyed every minute of the rich meat. The gnocchi weren’t too heavy or doughy and were a welcome accompaniment to the cheek instead of boring old potatoes. He also says it was the perfect portion size. I sneaked another wee taste and although I could appreciate it was cooked to perfection it was too strong a taste for me so I was glad I had went for the cod.

Just in case you are wondering the other option was Sea Bass, Israeli cous cous and satay sauce.

I’ve probably already mentioned I’m not a pudding person and if I hadn’t of been on call (which means no wine for me) I would have ordered the cheese board that I could see others ordering as it looked like a great mix of cheeses with biscuits and quince. OH, on the other hand, always needs something sweet to finish off his meal so he opted for Mint Chocolate Cremeux  and Malt Ice Cream. (Chocolate Cremeux is something between a chocolate sauce and chocolate mousse and pretty much means ‘just chocolate creamy’). Again OH raved about it (I’ve asked him to describe it and he says yes it was really nice I enjoyed it :S).  Image

He then ordered coffee and it came with 2 decent sized pieces of fudge and 2 little discs of shortbread. I love it when I don’t order coffee or tea but still get the fudge – restaurants should get another award for that added attention to detail, something like The Bean awarded to restaurants that remember not everyone is a coffee drinker.

Of course I had to visit the toilets. Interestingly, there is a well next to the restrooms and if you peer over the edge you can see water far below. I’m sorry to say the loos were a tad disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, they were spotlessly clean and perfectly adequate just not up to the high standards of the restaurant. A spot of hand cream and some small cloth towels would have made all the difference.

The bill came to £60.75 (not incl tip)

Lunch  – £48,  Drinks –  £12.75

All in all, Craig Millar is definitely worth a visit. The service was faultless, the food fantastic, fresh and fishy and the views spectacular. However, I’d keep it for a special occasion, on a day when the sea is at it’s best.  7 ½/10

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Knockhill and Aikman’s Bar

Well today was a bit different, to say the least!

It was my birthday last November and OH bought me a Rally Car Experience at Knockhill and today was the day we were heading to Scotland’s National Motorsport Centre so I could become the Stig!

Although the weather was awful and the track looked more like a scene from Wuthering Heights than some place you wanted to speed in a Subaru, we were all assured that it was the perfect weather for throwing a car around a hill side. With hindsight, I can confirm they were exactly right.

Helmet on and belted in, I was talked through a couple of laps by Sasha, my instructor. She told me my lines (where to head the car on each corner)  and when to slow and when to add more power. I was then left to my own devices and allowed to throw it about the track myself. Talk about a buzz! I couldn’t believe it – the steering wheel was rapidly being twisted left and right – my feet were accelerating and braking like I was doing the hokey cokey on speed and the smile on my face was as manic as Jack Nicholson’s in The Shinning.

Amazing does not cover it!.

After the first 5 laps Sacha’s feedback was mostly positive but I did think I must have been a bit slow when she said, “Well at least you didn’t get overtaken, which was good.” Hmmm.

I was then given a 15 minute break before doing it again but this time clockwise around the track. Sasha talked me through the lap a couple of times and then told me she wasn’t going to teach me anymore but would be my rally partner and navigator. Therefore, she was just going to use rallying terms and went on to explain them. I promise I did listen but when she was saying things like 90° right tight open to chicane, in my head I was still doing the hokey cokey. http://youtu.be/1e3-k3PPtqc

The last lap was being assessed so I thought I’d try to floor it. All was going well and I was braking and wellying it like a good un right up until I noticed the black car behind me. My only thought was – he is not going to overtake me! It was about approximately 10 seconds later I hit the cones and started to spin. Sasha grabbed my steering wheel and yanked it round. To be honest, I’m not sure what else she said but I did whatever she told me and soon we were back over the blind crest and it was power on again. She then happened to mention that she was glad she got to the steering wheel or we would have been on our side in a ditch. What?? Apparently its a bad bit of the course and notorious. I’m pretty sure she hadn’t mentioned this already.

Anyway, with another short break to allow your heart to stop racing and your blood pressure to drop it was then on to the demo lap. Thank goodness Sasha hadn’t shown me how it should have been done first or there’s no doubt we would have been in a ditch. She didn’t waste any time in getting around the track. The handbrake was never out of her hand as she flung the Subaru from corner to corner. At one point she casually mentioned I had gone quiet – really? She wanted me to chat as my entire life flashed in front of my eyes??

Honestly, she was amazing and I couldn’t believe the control she had as we hit corners side on and she then whipped the back end round to skid into the next one. It was an experience I will never forget!

Back in the clubhouse we had a couple of minutes to relax before there was a presentation to reward all the competitive drivers but I wasn’t really interested in that bit as really it’s the taking part that counts, isn’t it?

½ a fecking point off bronze and a point off of silver!!!! I was robbed, I tell you! I bet it was that sodding cone that lost me points.

I could have been a contender!

Anyway, did I mention it was cold and wet at Knockhill? Long story short, we needed to head to St Andrews after my adrenalin rush so once again we found ourselves in the home of golf but this time cold, damp and yearning for sustenance.

For the last wee while my mum has gone on and on about Aikman’s Bar in St Andrews and it’s amazing Cullen Skink. Now I do love a bit of Cullen Skink but I’ve looked at this cellar bar before and thought “this cannot be the bar my mum means”. It’s a typical student bar with hard seats and wooden floors. There is also a smell of bleach permeating the entrance from the toilets secreted down below.

Menu

We ventured in and saw the blackboard.


OH has since reported the pint was good and reminded him of Prague.
Cullen Skink was indeed top of the menu so I reckoned this must be the place. We also noticed the bar had Kozel on draught (Czech beer you have to try!) so that was it settled. 2 Soups with rolls, 1 pint of Kozel and a diet coke. £11 odds. (OH can’t remember the exact price but joked it was about the same as the price of his starter yesterday).

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The soup really hit the spot and was thick, creamy and fishy. The roll was warm and satisfying.

For £6.70 I couldn’t fault the food. The decor is auld, faded and a bit stoorie. The toilets are basic and smell of bleach, the toilet paper comes off in inch sections and the hand dryer hardly puffs on you but there is some very intellectual graffiti on the back of the toilet door you might like.

If you go and expect the worse you will enjoy some lovely, cheap and hearty soup and feel young again for a wee while AND who knows, you might even be sitting on the same seat that Prince William once sat on 😉

  

The Roost

Visited 8th March, 2014

Today we decided to visit The Roost in Bridge of Earn, Perthshire. Well, I say today but we actually booked the table midweek having thought through what we wanted to do this weekend. As it’s another weekend of not being on call I wanted to head out of Fife again – as is often my want. Anyway, we started thinking of places we had been before and meals we had enjoyed. Suddenly we remembered The Roost. We first enjoyed eating at The Roost maybe about 6 years ago. Way back then it wasn’t licensed and it had a rustic decor – looking at the website it had matured over the years so we decided to pay it another visit.

The Roost

The Roost

When we arrived at The Roost we were welcomed in and offered the choice of 3 different tables for 2. Taking our seats we noticed quickly that the furnishings had indeed changed over the years and now it was more geared towards fine dining with white tablecloths and brown leather chairs compared to the rustic wooden tables we remembered from before. We also noticed we were the youngest in the place – easily by 30 years – and we had forgotten to put marbles in our mouths.

Listening into their conversations I could hear rhubarb, rhubarb, World War 1, rhubarb, rhubarb, Queen Victoria.

We were given 3 different menus. A wine one (yes it’s now licensed – what a relief!), an a la carte one and the set lunch menu.  The set lunch was very set and only offered only one choice for each course at £17.50 for 2 courses and £21 for 3, whereas the a la carte one offered 7 different options for starters and mains. The options were varied and deliciously different from the usual run of the mill options.

OH chose Perthshire rabbit rillettes with pickled vegetables and crostini at £6.95 from the a la carte and I had Butternut Squash soup garnished with smoked paprika aioli and croutons from the set menu.   I have to say the soup was absolutely gorgeous. The ‘garnish’ really added to the soup and gave it an amazing depth which meant that every spoonful was tasty and the soup tantalized the taste buds with every mouthful.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

OH asked the waitress what rillettes were and she was able to give an excellent description of the process which involves cooking the rabbit really slowly until it falls to bits. It’s then shredded and formed into a course pate which is then shaped with double spoons. See – everyday is a school day! Apparently and gladly, the rabbit wasn’t as strong as OH had feared since it was a taste he hadn’t experienced since childhood and his Gran had cooked it for him.  OH loved the balance of the dish and raved about his good choice.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit

Rhubarb, rhubarb, Claire plays bridge, rhubarb, rhubarb, first to water sky on Lochearnhead, rhubarb, rhubarb, port.

For his main course OH chose the Confit of Barbary duck leg with braised red cabbage, potato rosti, Chantenay carrots and thyme jus at £14.50. I had Pan fried coley fillet, saffron risotto, tomato, olives and capers with lemon butter.

Yet again I was a little disappointed with my choice and OH trumped me (the bugger!). Unfortunately the coley was a bit bland and the saffron risotto although lovely, didn’t lift the dish enough and to be honest the black olives were the highlight of the course – something I never thought I’d say! In comparison OH’s duck was perfectly cooked, fell of the bone and worked really well with the

Holy Coley

Holy Coley

red cabbage. Honestly I’m getting fed up with OH trouncing me on his menu choice. I will have to rectify this soon!

Rhubarb, rhubarb, Kaiser Wilhelm, rhubarb, rhubarb, Tony Blair, rhubarb, rhubarb, cigar.

I’m really not a dessert person so I opted for another glass of pinot (yeah I know this is becoming a theme;)) and ignored the option of white chocolate, honeycomb and stem ginger cheesecake with poached Yorkshire rhubarb from the set menu (btw why Yorkshire rhubarb – specially when all I’ve been hearing is posh Scots rhubarb???).

OH, who is a pudding person, chose Plum frangipane tart served warm with orange crème anglaise. He then boasted that his choice was perfect as he still had the taste of duck in his mouth and therefore the orange crème anglaise complemented it beautifully and at the same time cut through the almonds and the plums flawlessly.  Really, I think he was just bragging because he had selected (in his eyes) the perfect menu.

When OH ordered a coffee I was also (annoyingly) jealous of the piece of tablet that accompanied it but thankfully the waitress noticed my dissatisfaction and brought me a piece too. (yuss!)

All in all, the bill came to £58.10 which included £13.20 for drinks.

Rhubarb, rhubarb, golf in the wind, rhubarb, rhubarb, swinging party keys in the ashtray.

Good food, friendly service, pricey lunch menu =  7/10

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Yann’s At Glenearn House

Visited 1st March 2014

Today we had planned to head south towards Musselburgh but our plans were thrown into disarray early doors when a car garage let us down so suddenly, on a beautiful blue sky morning, we had an empty day and no plans.

When I’m not on-call, and don’t need to stay in Fife for the weekend, I always like to head out of the Kingdom and make the most of my freedom. So with escape in mind I remember that years ago someone mentioned – possibly on Twitter – that they’d had the most amazing mussel soup at Yann’s in Crieff. Ever since then it’s been on my radar as some place to visit. One of the reasons we hadn’t already dined there was that it was a restaurant that only did Sunday lunch or evening meals. As Crieff isn’t on the doorstep of the majority of people it’s not someplace you would necessarily plan to go for an evening meal unless you were staying the night. Fortunately though, today when I checked the website, I discovered they are now doing Saturday lunches.  Woohoo! We phoned up and booked a table but as they have only started opening the kitchen early on a Saturday we needn’t have bothered but I’m guessing when word gets out you will have to book well in advance to secure a table.

First off – if you are driving there and can drive through Glen Devon then do. The scenery is amazing and as there’s no good radio signal you should prepare in advance and make a cd of your favourite music. Either go for classical and pretend you’re Morse as you drive through the winding roads or if you’re more like Jeremy Clarkson put on The Who.

When we arrived at Yann’s we were greeted warmly at the door and offered the opportunity to enjoy a drink in the lounge or to go straight to the table. We opted for the table and were offered the choice of two. We sat down and admired the decor. It was beautiful; very French and very striking.  The dining room walls are covered in French pictures and photographs. There are wine and champagne bottles scattered everywhere and although it has that boho cluttered feel to it, it also looks very organised and dust free.

Yann's

Yann’s

We ordered drinks and the waitress brought as water, bread and butter and pointed out they didn’t do side plates as they were tres French but she could bring one if we needed it. She then told us the specials and wandered off to fold linen napkins with such precision I felt guilty at unravelling mine and placing it on my lap.

When it came to menu choice it wasn’t too hard as Gratinated French Onion Soup was an option. The waitress had mentioned there was garlic snails on the menu and it did make me hesitate but come on, French Onion Soup in a French restaurant?? OH opted for poached pear, gorgonzola and smoked pancetta salad with hazelnut dressing.

poached pear, gorgonzola and smoked pancetta salad with hazelnut dressing

Starter

With just the right amount of waiting time our starters arrived. OH’s salad was well displayed on a piece of slate. He mentioned it was a bit vinegary but it balanced out well with the cheese and hazelnuts.  My soup was lush – not as hot as lava which is often a real hazard when it comes to French Onion Soup but full of flavour with stringy roasted cheese on top. At this stage I’d like to point out to lovers and people on first dates that they shouldn’t choose French Onion Soup if they are trying to impress their partners as it isn’t the most delicate of eating experiences ;p.

Normally OH is jealous of my food choices and looks on with green eyes at my plate but today he played a blinder by choosing the Chef’s special of

Pork Belly

Pork Belly

Rolled Roast Pork Belly on a cassoulet of beans and peppers (btw Im not sure if that is the exact description but it’s close enough). I made him let me try some and it was definitely me that was envious today.

In complete contrast, I had chosen smoked salmon and crème fraîche with potato rösti.

Salmon

Salmon

The salmon slices weren’t too thick so it had a good texture and it wasn’t overly smoked, which can sometimes be off putting so overall it was an ideal light lunch but I’m still gutted I didn’t have the pork belly.

For afters OH went for crêpes au chocolat seved with vanilla ice cream while I stuck with the Pinot Grigio. He tells me the crepes didn’t taste floury, were the right consistency and the ice cream was thick and delicious.

After dessert we retired to the lounge. Gorgeous brown leather couches, big bay window, solid wooden furniture and an open fire. Sitting in front of that fire on a chilly evening would be just the place to enjoy a Cognac. (btw I’m adding that to my things to do list) As OH enjoyed his coffee I sought out the ‘toilettes’. Of course there were clean and beautifully decorated. Maybe a downside is that there was only one so you may have to queue but today it certainly wasn’t a problem.

Our bill came to £60.30 (2 starters @ £5; Chef’s special £14.50, light lunch £8.00; Dessert £5; Drinks £22.80)

After our visit to Yann’s I’m now going back to change the scoring on my previous posts as I’ve now realised I’ve been rating too high because Yann’s has just pushed the bar up!  8/10

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OH has just told me to add the 2 female staff were just as tasty as the food and to be fair they were great. Very welcoming, friendly and made the whole visit extremely pleasurable – I’m sure that’s what he meant ;p.