Pig’Halle, Perth

Today OH and I headed to Perth. We’ve visited Pig’Halle  a few times before and have never been disappointed so when we were thinking of somewhere for lunch today it didn’t take us too long to decide on the French restaurant on South Street. It was busy when we arrived but they still managed to seat us without a reservation.

We were given menus which had both the a la carte and the set lunch menu inside. Unusually, the choices on the set menu also included that day’s specials, which the lovely French version of Will from The Inbetweeners described beautifully to us.

Breaking from the norm, OH and I both ordered the same starter. Personally, I blame him for rushing me into my decision. He had already jumped the gun when French Will poured our water and ordered his boring non-alcoholic beer before I had even had a chance to look at the wine menu. Panic set in and I requested a glass of house red (large obviously – I wasn’t that panicked). Then, as soon as French Will returned with our drinks, he said he was ready to order. That’s when I realised we were both ordering the Pressed Hock Ham Terrine, soused vegetables and toasted sourdough bread to begin with. I then ordered the Herb Crusted Baked Coley fillet with a seafood risotto and shellfish bisque and OH plumped for the Seared skirt steak, shallots confit, baked jumbo mushrooms, boulangeres potatoes, sauce aux 3 poivres.2015-01-24 13.16.09

Unfortunately the plate with the bread, caramalised onions and aioli arrived at the same times as our starters as I’m sure if it had arrived with the water OH wouldn’t have rushed the ordering because he was so hungry.

2015-01-24 13.16.04 Anyway, the terrine was good. Nothing overly special but it was done well and had a good texture and firm consistency. I ended up spreading the aioli on the sourdough bread, which was fantastic.

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OH’s skirt of steak only came medium rare, which was perfect for him as basically he likes his beef chased through a hot kitchen. He cleared his plate and the only issue he had with the dish was that it was bit too creamy for him. My fish dish came with eyes, tentacles, suckers and shells so not for everyone but I always try to order things I’d never make at home and this plate full of seafood certainly ticked that box, and what a plateful it was! I couldn’t finish it.The crust was the best bit, full of flavour and crunch. The clam was a bit disappointing and too chewy for me but the rest was lovely. I did have to ask for a bowl to put the shells in and I could have done with a finger bowl or wet wipe after peeling the king prawn but nonetheless it was a tasty bowl full of seafood loveliness.

Neither of us had room for a dessert so we passed when the waiter cleared our plates. However, since Oh was having a coffee I had another (small) glass of wine. Disappointingly there was no little bit of sweetness with OH’s coffee that I could steal so I ordered the bill.

2 set 2 course lunches, 1 large, 1 small glass of house red, 1 non-alcoholic beer and a coffee came to £39.30

(apologies for the pics in this blog – I think I need to give my phone lens a clean)

The Red Squirrel, Lothian Road, Edinburgh

Sunday’s are made for Bloody Marys and brunch. Or, if you’ve had a lie in and missed the cut off time, a gourmet burger and seasoned fries. And that is exactly the hangover cure I had today in The Red Squirrel in Edinburgh.

When I ordered the Bloody Mary the waitress gave me one of those looks so full of approval I felt like I’d passed some kind of test. The look also held a smidgen of jealousy and a dollop of pride because she looked sure in the knowledge that they serve a damn fine Bloody Mary in her workplace. She asked if I wanted it spicy. Oh yes please. Her smile told me I had answered correctly.    2015-01-18 12.50.27-1I wasn’t disappointed when it arrived. It looked great in a large glass and it was very hot but not overly spicy. It was heavy on Worcestershire sauce and not for the faint-hearted but it went down a treat and managed to melt all the frozen bits the walk down Lothian Road had left me with.

I was annoyed we couldn’t order brunch but it was my fault we didn’t arrive until after 12.30 (they stop serving it at 12) so I didn’t complain. Without the options of the breakfast menu you’re left with mainly burgers or lighter meals and snacks. So burger it was. I went for the The ‘Red Squirrel’ BBQ 6oz beef patty, smoked bacon, fried onions, peppers, smoked applewood cheddar, kc sauce burger and 2015-01-18 13.04.33 OH, who had been up early and had a bacon roll before we left, ordered the Beetroot Salad  – Salt baked beetroot, raw beetroot, green apple, crème fraiche, pickled shallot, vinaigrette.  2015-01-18 13.04.21  OH said his salad was crispy and tasty and the mix of ingredients went well together. My burger was good although, like most burgers, it fell to bits at the end. I’m not entirely sure if it was smoked bacon they used as the BBQ aspect of it didn’t really come across – it was really only the smoked cheese I could taste but my seasoned fries saved the day as they were amazing and worth popping in just for them.

Service was really good and the bill for a Bloody Mary, a non-alcoholic beer, a salad and a burger came to £24.00.

P.S, If you’re into craft beers you really should check out their extensive drinks menu <<< click there

Cromlix, Kinbuck (near Dunblane)

Cromlix isn’t the type of place you pass and think “let’s go in there for lunch”. It’s the type of place you save for a special occasion, book in advance and then search for it on google maps to make sure you know how to get there.

Cromlix was an elegant Victorian Perthshire mansion, which has been refurbished recently by Andy Murray (yes, the serious looking tennis player who has a post box in nearby Dunblane painted gold in his honour) and transformed into a luxury five-star destination. There is a long drive up through woods to get to the old mansion and then you are signposted to a car park which could easily be mistaken for a car show as there were numerous Mercedes and BMWs, a lotus, a Porsche and a Morgan Plus 4 in it. 2015-01-03 14.17.51

When OH and I arrived we were greeted with a welcoming smile and shown through to the bar where we were offered seats next to an open wood fire, which was perfect as it was a crisp cold day with blue skies and little warmth. Soon our drinks orders were taken and we had olives and beetroot humus with baked flat breads in front of us. We were also given menus. The set menu, 3 courses for £26, or the a la carte but we were also told we could mix and match if we wanted to and that the roast of the day was pork and the game of the day was venison.

Decisions made and proffered to the waitress we managed to finish most of the humus before we were shown through to our table in Chez Roux. The dining room is in a conservatory and therefore very bright and airy and in contrast to the rest of the hotel has a much more contemporary feel. The kitchen is open to the dining room and therefore offers the opportunity to watch all the food being prepared.

Before our starters arrived we were served canapés.2015-01-03 12.53.27It’s a game for you to guess what they are (I can’t remember!).

OH had ordered2015-01-03 13.00.56 Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Chive Crème Fraiche to start with. When his soup plate arrived it had the crème fraiche in the bottom with some, what looked to me like, white onions which had been caramelised (I could be totally wrong). The soup was then poured into the plate around the crème fraiche. OH said the soup was really rich, thick and creamy and was just enough not to be to be too much.

I had ordered Pig Head Croquette, apple and beetroot salad as a starter. 2015-01-03 13.01.04 The meat was shredded inside the croquette and it sat upon an apple sauce surrounded with batons of apple and squares of white beetroot. The meat, although stronger tasting than pork, wasn’t too strong and I loved it.

For main course OH had Crusted Cod with Harissa Couscous. 2015-01-03 13.15.21He says the cod was cooked to perfection, fresh as a daisy and as white as snow with it falling into massive big chunks. The couscous popped in the mouth and had raisins and all sorts in it. (do you think he’s been storing up similes knowing I was going to ask him?)

I had the roast of the day, which was pork. It was carved from the trolley and it came with creamed vegetables (a beautiful mix of sprouts, carrots, cabbage and perhaps some horseradish – again I’m guessing!)  a honey glazed parsnip, mashed potatoes and I think fennel in the gravy. The pork just melted in the mouth. 2015-01-03 13.15.30

Throughout the meal the staff had been extremely attentive ensuring we were happy and had our water glasses topped up. However, my glass of Eradus, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc failed to arrive and we had to chase it up. My pork was almost finished by the time it arrived but it is a very small complaint.

For dessert OH ordered the 2015-01-03 13.36.15Diplomat Pudding with Chantilly Cream (diplomat pudding is like bread and butter pudding but made with croissants instead of bread) and I had  Apple Tart Fine with Spiced Pear Sorbet.2015-01-03 13.36.25

Both desserts were of course lovely but OH and I were starting to struggle with them as we were already full up, the portions certainly hadn’t been skimped on. We battled on regardless and ensured our plates were clean. The spiced pear sorbet is worthy of a separate mention as was the gooseberry jam in the little pot on OH’s plate.

Thinking we had done well to finish off our desserts OH sat back and ordered a coffee. To my stomach’s horror and my eye’s delight the ever attentive waiter placed some petit fours in front of us along with OH’s coffee. I’m ashamed to say we left one of the macarons behind. 2015-01-03 13.47.21The staff, the food and the building were all fantastic. If you have a special occasion coming up you will not be disappointed if you choose Cromlix to celebrate it in.

A gin and tonic, a soda water and lime, a glass of wine, low alcohol beer, 2 set menus at £26, a pot of coffee and discretionary service charge came to £85.85.