Sol y Sombra, Broughty Ferry

Every time Lusa has been over from the States I have tried to take her to The Tapas Bar in Broughty Ferry but it has either been the wrong night to go, fully booked or unfortunately for us but not so for the owner and the chef, it was closed due to them being on honeymoon. So it was with a sigh of relief we eventually managed to book a table for Saturday lunch time.

When we arrived I realised they had been busy since my last visit as it had changed its name to Sol y Sombra; the downstairs, which used to be an auld man’s pub, now looked like it was a flamenco bar overlooking the Mediterranean and the stairs leading up to the restaurant had lost their dingy carpet and were now colourfully tiled.

We were seated by a smiley Spanish waiter who took our drinks order and returned with some olives and half a coconut shell containing an assortment of nuts. He then asked if we had been before. Lusa admitted she hadn’t and he immediately welcomed her warmly and explained that there was no menu just set dishes but he needed to know if she had any allergies, dietary requirements or anything she didn’t like. Now I know I have been describing Lusa as fussy but her list of things she didn’t like was remarkably short – no mussels, crab or nuts. With a concerned face ‘Manuel’ quickly checked out that Lusa wasn’t allergic to the nuts in front of her. Lusa assured him she wasn’t and he quickly left. However, it wasn’t long before him and his smile returned with a small dish of crisps just for her. He also told us of a special offer they had on that day. For an extra £4 we could have a plate of  the best ham in the world that had been cured for 4 years and tasted amazing. Well, of course, we just had to try the best ham in the world.  Come on, we’d have been mad not to!

The next time Manuel appeared he had some bread and butter, extra virgin olive oil, teeny bread sticks, red peppers stuffed with cream cheese, the best ham in the world, chorizo, strawberries with balsamic vinegar, homemade aioli, and manchego cheese with prosciutto and grapes (I may have missed out a dish here). He then taught us how to eat the best ham in the world. First of all we had to cleanse our palate by eating one of the teeny bread sticks. We then had to allow the meat to sit in our mouth almost allowing it to melt so that we could get the full taste of it and then we were to chew and get the second taste, which was the flavour of the fat (Manuel maintained it was a healthy fat – is there such a thing?) I have to admit it was full of flavour and I’m glad we tried it but I’m not entirely convinced it was the best in the world but maybe I need to do more research before I contradict Manuel.

The cold tapas selection was great and Lusa and I both loved the stuffed peppers and aioli the best.

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I forgot to take a pic of the cold tapas – sorry

We were still making our way through the dishes when Manual added even more plates to the table. Large shelled prawns, which were sitting in garlic oil that was still sizzling, skewers with chicken, chorizo, peppers, mushroom, Spanish black pudding and onions, hake (which had a longer description but I can’t remember it), paella, potatoes with aioli, goats cheese wrapped in courgette, and asparagus with prosciutto. Everything was delicious and Lusa ate it all – I can no longer call her fussy!! (she’s still high maintenance though ;p) Our favourites this time were the prawns and potatoes.

By the end of it all we were as stuffed as the peppers and although we asked what there was for dessert (just in case there was custard) we passed on the homemade cheesecake or sorbets that were on offer and settled for coffee, which incidentally was lovely.

I really can’t praise Sol y Sombra highly enough. I’ve often been to Spain and have tried various tapas but none of them have impressed in the way that Sol y Sombra has. By not giving you a menu it makes you try things that you probably wouldn’t normally order and as you have already told them what you don’t like you can relax in the knowledge that you’re not going to hate anything they bring you.

You really must visit for yourself but make sure you phone in advance as it’s often fully booked up.

2 cokes, 2 x set meal + the best ham in the world, 2 coffees = £41.90.

(Sol y Sombra don’t have a website but click this link for their Tripadvisor page and if you’re looking fr their phone number it is 01382 776 941)

Playfair’s Restaurant, St Andrews

Lusa (remember my fussy cuz/sis from the states?), MiniMe and I decided we would head to St Andrews for a little shopping and some food. It was a glorious day and it was great just wandering up and down the ancient streets.  The home of golf is home to a whole lot more nowadays as it now boasts modern shops like Superdry, Monsoon and H+M as well as unique gift shops, boutiques and deli’s. Definitely something for everyone.

Lusa had booked us into Playfair’s Restaurant which is part of the Ardgowan Hotel on Playfair Terrace. According to the reviews on Tripadvisor we’d be in for a treat.

Having finished our shopping we decided to find somewhere in the sun to have   some light refreshment before our meal. Unfortunately the majority of places with seats outside were all full so we headed towards the restaurant to see if they had anything suitable. It was perfect. There were a number of available tables outside and it was a complete suntrap!

At our allotted time we headed indoors and enjoyed the much cooler interior. Mismatched chairs with coordinating fabric, doors on the roof and mirrors along the wall worked really well together and Darren was happy to introduce himself and escort us to our table.

When given the menus there were 2 options – the seasonal menu, which was 3 courses and tea/coffee for £27.95 or the a la carte. However there was nothing that really jumped out from the limited seasonal menu and it didn’t feel like much of an offer so we all went a la carte. Decisions made, Darren took our order.

As we waited with our drinks (a lovely bottle of sauvignon blanc and a fresh orange) we were offered a small slice of bread, which I thought was very tasty. The other two weren’t so keen but they did try to catch the waiter’s eye to see if they could mooch another slice. They didn’t succeed.

Soon our starters  arrived. Lusa and I had both went for the Organic Scottish Clava brie with toasted sourdough and wild mushroom fricassee to start with whilst MiniMe had the Soup du jour with focaccia, which was Lentil and Bacon.2014-07-24 18.26.38

Lusa and I both thought the name of our starters should have been more about the mushroom as it totally outweighed the Brie. I also felt there was a taste missing or another level that could have been reached with the dish as it just felt a little lacking. MiniMe loved her soup and wiped the bowl clean.

For mains I plumped for the Scottish fish stew with tomatoes, saffron aioli and crusty loaf and I wasn’t disappointed. It was delicious. 2014-07-24 18.47.22I was left a bit uncertain what to do with the saffron ailoli so MiniMe used it to dip her chips in.

Lusa wasn’t sure what to go for as there was poached fish on the menu as she believes the only thing that should be poached is eggs. However, Darren convinced her that the Poached Shetland haddock with Welsh rarebit, creamed potatoes and Arran mustard sauce was amazing.  Lusa didn’t quite find it amazing and although she said it exceeded expectations and almost melted in her mouth, it lacked flavour. 2014-07-24 18.45.33Fortunately the creamed potatoes and mustard sauce won her over and she pronounced it a good dish.

MiniMe who isn’t a regular restaurant diner, unless you count drive thru McDonalds, wasn’t too sure of anything on the menu as there was always something that would put her off. For instance the Stovies with beef short-rib, spiced tomato sauce and oatcakes sounded great to 2014-07-24 18.45.12her but when we explained they wouldn’t be made with cornbeef she was immediately put off and went for the Prime steak burger 170g topped with Welsh rarebit in a brioche bun, with tomato chutney and handcut chips. When Darren informed her it would come pink her face turned the same colour. “Eh no, can I get it cooked through please”.

It turned out that MiniMe isn’t keen on prime beef as it tastes too farmyardy and the brioche bun was too doughy. Thank goodness for the chips and aioli! You can take the girl out of McDonalds….

After we had finished it was decision time –  should we go for a dessert? I knew I wouldn’t be but Lusa and MiniMe were swithering.  Lusa scoured the menu but couldn’t find any mention of custard so thought she’d get Darren to ask the chef if there was any chance of a wee bit custard with today’s crumble (pear) but Darren was no longer giving us the time of day. We all agreed he delegated desserts to the lesser staff and probably ‘the bringer outer’ of meals wasn’t even allowed a pad and pen yet. We sat for a while until eventually we were asked by a lesser staff member if we wanted a dessert. Lusa asked if there was any chance of custard and she got a firm no in reply. We were pretty sure Darren would have at least asked the chef. Disappointed we handed back our menus and started discussing other restaurants we could head to for dessert that might have custard.

Possibly we were being left to let our meal digest but again we found it difficult to attract anyone’s attention to try and ask for the bill. Darren, the bringer outer and lesser staff all avoided our table. Maybe asking for custard is a huge taboo!

Eventually, like buses, we managed to get 2 waiters at once and they both went off to get our bill.

Dinner for 3 plus drinks and tip £80.

I enjoyed the evening, it was good food with great company and I might go back but I’d definitely leave MiniMe behind with a fiver for a happy meal.

Tune in next time to find out where to get desserts with custard in Fife….


Ladies that Lunch

My cuz is over from the States just now. I say cuz but she feels more like a sister. Actually, I say sister but we’re nothing like one another – we’re polar opposites. She’s tall and blonde, I’m short and brunette. I’d describe myself as low maintenance (i.e. easy pleased) and I’m sure she wouldn’t disagree when I describe her as high maintenance. In fact, when (drunkenly on the way back from Edinburgh) we put our preference for Heroes’ in order they were exactly the reverse. I mean who the hell puts chocolate éclairs first and fudge last???
Anyway, we decided to have a day out in Edinburgh to have a day Shrinking, which, for the uninitiated, is a day out drinking loosely disguised as shopping. On previous shrinking trips we have managed at least 2 shops before hitting the bars and getting the last bus home.

So, knowing that we were off to the capital to be ‘ladies that lunch’, I asked Lusa (L-USA) what she fancied. Her criteria came back in quick fired messages as follows:
Lusa Cell: You can pick
Lusa Cell: Something nice
Lusa Cell: Nice rather than cheap (smiley)
Lusa Cell: No chinese
Lusa Cell: No seafood only
Lusa Cell: French sounds good
Lusa Cell: If you like it there
Lusa Cell: Or something new

So no pressure there then ;p.

I gave her 2 options La Garrigue, a French restaurant OH and I had visited before and enjoyed, or Twenty, a grill and smokehouse on Princes Street I hadn’t been to before but was on my list. She checked the menus and went for Twenty. I booked the table before she could change her mind.
On arrival at Twenty we were delighted with the beautifully elegant and spacious dining room, which had impressive views up The Bridges and over Princes Mall. It wasn’t overly busy but then it was 1pm on a Wednesday. The tables that were taken were all ‘ladies that lunch’ so, although we may not have liked it, we fitted in perfectly with the usual clientele.
We were seated and given the choice of 2 menus, an a la carte one and a Twenty Twenty one. The latter being one that offered 2 mains and 2 drinks for £20. To be honest, there were loads of dishes I could have chosen from the 20/20 menu so I was happy to stick to it and after asking the waitress a number of questions around the steak, Lusa was also able to chose from it.
I went for the 2014-07-09 13.25.43Togarashi marinated salmon fillet with enoki & shimeji mushrooms, seaweed, udon noodles & chilli broth and Lusa went for the 2014-07-09 13.25.58Josper grilled fillet steak sandwich with chimichurri mayonnaise and triple cooked chips.

Lusa is born and bred Scots but when asked how she wanted her steak done she replied Mead.Ee.Um and not how I would ask for it Meejum so now I know how Will.I.Am got his name ;).

We both decided to wash our dishes down with a bottle of Peroni (the house beer – yes really!)  Therefore, for £20 there were definitely no complaints and the service was impeccable. In comparison, and slightly disappointingly to the magnificent decor within the dining room and adjacent Juniper bar, the toilets were a bit plain and nothing special but they were clean, which is really what matters.

After lunch we wandered down to the Grassmarket and making the most of the Scottish sunshine we enjoyed a couple of drinks sitting in the sun at Biddy Mulligans and The Beehive. From there we ventured along the Cowgate to the The Three Sisters. Still wanting to bask in the unusual Edinburgh warmth we tried to find a bar on the Royal Mile to continue our sunny sesh but there were no free seats outside any of the bars on the Mile. Then we spotted that Gordon’s Trattoria had a couple of empty tables and with new found confidence (found in the bottom of a bottle) we ventured forth and asked one of the waiters if we could just have drinks. The cute silver haired waiter was very welcoming and beckoned us in. Although we only stayed for one drink it was a good laugh and I’m pretty sure we managed to turn the edges of the silver fox a little red before we left.2014-07-09 17.48.44-1

Just as a point of interest there is a plaque dedicated to Stephen Fry’s ancestors on the wall ;p

After the Italian’s we headed to George Street knowing that we were going to be getting a bus home soon. Again there were no free seats outside so we found ourselves inside All Bar One. Cocktails for £5? Oh ok, a Cosmopolitan and a Long Island Ice tea it is then….
….it wasn’t long until we were on a bus putting our preferences for Heroes’ in order.