The Grill House, St Andrews, Fife.

When I’m on-call I have to stay within an hours drive of central Fife and have a good phone signal. Therefore, OH and I drove around Fife trying to think of somewhere we could dine. We drove through Elie first only to find it was the Elie Fair day and the cars were parked nose to tail along the pavements so we quickly gave up on the small east neuk village. Crail was similar with tourists swarming the streets. Since we had spent the morning on the golf range (yes I am still hitting balls) we even tried Crail Golf Club but the elitist club only serve food to members or people who have golfed the course so we left those pompous gits behind. It was with no surprise to either of us that we ended up in St Andrews. Over the years we’ve ate here a lot but had never tried The Grill House so we made our way inside.

The music and decor are Mexican and the menu also reflected a Mexican theme as there were fajitas, chili and enchiladas on it as well as a burger and char-grill section. There was a lunch menu, which didn’t finish until 4pm and it offered 2 courses for £7.95. However, I found it to be quite uninspiring and for once I struggled to order from it. Incidentally the soup of the day was split pea and mint (I hate mint in my food).

OH looked at both menus and couldn’t decide what to have. He then decided he was going for the Flat Iron steak on the à la carte menu. Well, he was until I pointed out to him that it was also on the set menu with a £4.95 supplement and even with the add-on it would still be cheaper and he’d get a ‘free’ starter with it.  One decision made he then struggled with what starter to go for as, like me, he found it difficult to chose between the soup, haggis fritter, Caesar salad and salmon goujons (also with a supplement). Eventually he settled on the haggis fritter, which came with onion chutney and salad..  2015-07-25 15.51.56  When it arrived it was a slice of haggis, which had been battered and deep fried. The haggis was greasy and not spicy enough. The salad was undressed and the chutney cold, which in turn made the haggis cold too.

For my main course I had plumped for Grill House Pulled Pork Chicken, which was char-grilled chicken breast topped with pulled pork, melted smoked cheese and hickory BBQ sauce. It came with the option of fries or chili fries.2015-07-25 16.12.27 It arrived covered in leaves with no other vegetables. I enjoyed it and ended up eating far too much of it. The sauce wasn’t too strong which can often be the case with BBQ sauce and there was heaps of melted cheese.

Just in case you don’t already know (I didn’t), Flat Iron Steak is cut with the grain from the leg. Apparently it produces a more flavoursome steak but can often be tougher than a rib-eye or sirloin. This is because it would normally then be sliced in half along an internal membrane to produce 2 thinner cuts instead of the thicker, Flat Iron steak that could still contain the gristly membrane (thanks wiki).

OH’s asked for his steak rare as usual and it arrived with a with a red wine and thyme sauce and a pile of rocket leaves.The sauce came in a cute, little saucepan on the side and I was shocked when, half way through, I saw him pouring it over his steak (OH hates it when the sauce is all over his steak). 2015-07-25 16.12.19When I queried this I was told it was really nice with a lovely hint of the wine and thyme and it went great over his mediocre steak. “Mediocre?”  “Yes, it’s alright but I’ve had better.”  Of course this has to be true, with no disrespect to this steak, as he has had many fantastic steaks over the years.

OH had 2 ales from the St Andrews Brewing Co. to wash down his meal – considering our earlier drive I’m not sure if it was coincidence or not that one was called Neuk and the other Crail.  2015-07-25 16.39.17Overall, The Grill House was enjoyable. They have very reasonable priced cocktails, the service was good and  the toilets clean and although the starter wasn’t great, if you like your food sizzling or deep fried then this is the place for you.

One set 2 course meal with a £4.95 supplement, one main, 2 ales and 2 diet cokes = £40.55.

The Bothy, Glasgow

Lusa, my Scottish born cousin that now lives in LA, is over visiting just now so we decided to head to Glasgow for a night out. (you may remember her from my review of  Sol y Sombra in Broughty Ferry).

We spent some time shopping but soon caught the subway to the West End. I had booked a table in The Bothy at 4 o’clock as a middle of the road kind of time. I knew we wouldn’t get there much earlier but I also knew we wouldn’t have had lunch and would need something inside us before we started drinking in Ashton Lane, the short cobbled backstreet just off the Byres Road, which is crammed with bars and restaurants. It’s a hidden gem so if you’ve never been before put it on your list!

We arrived promptly and were immediately seated in the corner of the restaurant. The decor is very Scottish with thistle covered wallpaper, pheasants, stone walls, solid wooden tables and (the best bit) kilted waiters!  Lusa loved the table and said if she had been allowed to pick anywhere to sit she would have chosen that one. She quickly slipped off her boots and sat cross-legged on the comfy leather chair.

We ordered drinks and were given the choice of 2 menus. The Braw Menu which was 2 courses for £12.95, 3 for £14.95 or the A La Carte one. I cheekily asked the waiter if there was anywhere I could charge my phone and he was happy to oblige, taking it from me and plugging it in within view. It’s these positive little things that make a huge difference.

We both decided to stick to the Braw Menu and both went for the unusual starter of Haggis Pakora with spiced yoghurt. IMG_4163 (2)When the starter arrived we were both surprised at the size of it as we could easily have shared it.  The pakora had a nice hotness to them without being too spicy or overpowering. The yoghurt was a bit thin but done the job of being a cooling balance to the heat.

For main I went for the Catch of the Day which was Sea Bass with sautéed potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and a beurre blanc sauce. My dish was beautifully presented and I loved it. IMG_4166 (2)The white wine sauce had a fantastic sheen to it and had a decadent creamy, buttery taste, which went well with the fish dish. I have to admit I didn’t have too many of the olives as I’m not a big fan. The potatoes were cooked to perfection and I was annoyed I had to leave one of them as it would have put me over the edge if I had tried to force it in.

Lusa went for the Chicken stuffed with haggis, clapshot potatoes, carrots and a whisky cream IMG_4165 (2)sauce. She was disappointed in her dish as she said it just tasted of gravy, without any hint of whisky. The clapshot potatoes, which would normally be tatties, neeps and chives with butter looked just like normal mashed potatoes. Lusa said there might have been turnips in the potatoes but she couldn’t really tell but did say they were bland and  needed salt.In contrast, she loved her dessert of Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream. IMG_4168 (2)Yes she would have preferred custard but she is getting used to not having that option withher pudding (remember Playfair’s Restaurant in St Andrews?) but did say that the ice cream was almost as good as a custard.

Although Lusa wasn’t too impressed with her main meal the whole experience was enjoyable and if you’re looking for a traditional Scottish restaurant with a twist you won’t go far wrong with The Bothy. By the way, It also has a private dinning room up the stairs which looked fantastic (we sneaked a look on the way to the loo).

A set 2 course meal, a set 3 course meal plus a bottle of Magners and half a lager = £33.50

Edit: I have just made my own clapshot potatoes and I wouldn’t have known there was turnip in it if I hadn’t have put it in myself.

The Red Lion, Culross, Fife.

I write this blog as a hobby. Finding different places to eat in and write about is something OH and I both enjoy as it gives as something to do at the weekend. However, last night I was out for dinner on a works night out (we had a visitor from the states that we wanted to entertain) and I now feel compelled to write about our experience. Normally I wouldn’t bother, which is why there are no photographs as I had no intention of reviewing The Red Lion in Culross, where we had booked a table for 8 people at 6 o’clock.

As 1 person had backed out and 1 was joining us late, 6 of as turned up at 6pm and were seated. Soon our drinks order was taken and a jug of water appeared on the table. All was looking good as we poured over the menu. There was a specials board that added 2 different starters and 4 extra main courses. The menu we had in our hands was lengthy and offered everything from  fish cakes to steaks. There was quite a few veggie options as well as light bites, salads and side orders – prices were on average £12 for a main meal.

After a short wait, all our drinks arrived apart from one person’s but when prompted it was quickly brought through from the bar. When our late one arrived (just after 6) and had her drink, everyone gave their food order. As it turned out everyone ordered something different. Our visitor from the states asked for the lamb from the specials board. 2 had ordered starters of haggis creggans, which was obviously something that was regularly ordered as it was on the set 3 course special menu. By approximately 6.45 pm we still didn’t have any haggis starters so someone went to ask. This prompted a waitress to go to the kitchen and then return saying the starters were right on their way but they had just ran out of lamb and could our guy from the states order something else. He then plumped for the steak and haggis pie. The starters arrived and were devoured by the already hungry mob who couldn’t sit and watch the others eating.

Then the waitress appeared, again full of apologies to our guy from the states. They had run out of pastry tops and could he order something else. He eventually went for the Cumberland sausage, onion gravy and mash. Then the waitress realised someone else had also ordered a pie and asked them to reorder as well. Now I’m no great chef but even I could rattle up some pastry at short notice.  The waitress offered us a round of drinks on the house to make up for the lack of lamb and pastry. She explained that they’d had a lot of unexpected ‘walk-ins’ and were struggling to cope. Again, I’m no business owner but I think I would be concentrating on the people who had pre-booked and had been sitting waiting for an hour. Of course that’s if they knew we were sitting waiting or had the waitress only given our order to the chef when we asked for our starters??

Eventually, after another lengthy wait, our main meals arrived and the food was good. It was really good. No-one had any complaints about the quality or amount of food on their plates. It was so good people even ordered desserts.

By 9.15 everyone was finished so we asked for the bill. We were assured it would be straight with us. By 9.30 pm we were still waiting for the bill. We had to go up and interrupt the chatting waitresses to ask for it. They hadn’t even rung it up. When it arrived we checked it out so we could split the bill and noticed that all the drinks were on it. A bit embarrassed, we had to call the waitress over and say. She assured us she had taken off the round of drinks personally.  She took the bill away and returned apologising yet again. She wasn’t sure what had happened but gave us the revised bill with the round of drinks now off it.

It was a long night. Thank goodness for the good company and good food as it made up for the horrendous amount of time we spent in the restaurant.

It’s just not fair on the chef when he/she is producing excellent food for it to be so overshadowed by such piss-poor service. Unfortunately, after our experience, I won’t be rushing back.

Cluny Clays, Cluny, Kirkcaldy.

Sunday morning and the fridge was akin to Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard so it wasn’t too hard a decision to head out for breakfast. Recently, as part of my job, I have been taking a teenager to the golf range at Cluny Clays to help build his self-esteem and confidence. Much to my surprise I’ve really started to enjoy it, although I do tend to completely miss the ball more often than I connect with it. In stark contrast the 15-year-old looks like a natural so my incompetence alone helps boost his self-esteem.

Anyhow, when trying to decide where we should head for brekkie we came up with the idea of going to Cluny Clays. The plan being breakfast followed by 100 balls in the golf range.

They serve breakfast until 11.30 and offer a full cooked,  a full veggie, eggs on toast, whatever you fancy on a roll and t2015-07-12 11.22.56heir own twist on a croque monsieur. OH went for full cooked no black pudding and I went for full cooked no mushrooms. When my plate arrived I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it. 2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, 2 sausages, haggis, black pudding, tomato, beans and toast. We also had a pot of tea for 2.  The breakfast was absolutely fantastic. The sausages weren’t too spicy, the black pudding was lovely, the egg yolks were runny, the bacon was thick and I had no complaints at all. OH managed to finish his and I gave mine a damn good go but had to leave some just so I would be able to get out of my chair.

When I paid the bill I also asked for the balls for the driving range. They give you a receipt with a 4 digit number, which you then take to the range, input the code into a machine and it spits out your balls into a basket.

2015-06-03 14.51.38Once you’ve picked your bay you pour your balls into the hopper and it automatically pops up your ball onto a tee. It’s all very fancy. At Cluny Clays there is a transit van parked in the middle of the range with a target on it as well as greens with holes and flags, and nets to chip into. Try as I might I couldn’t hit the van. Obviously OH managed to hit it 4 times in a row (show off) so with his advice I managed to start hitting the ball more often but got very frustrated when, after 40 balls, I started swiping through fresh air again so I went in a huff and gave up.

After OH had distributed the remaining balls over the range, we wandered into the shop and started chatting with (what turned out to be) one of the PGA professionals that give tuition. Long story short. I’ve now signed up for lessons!!! Yes, I know. Me neither. This can only end in one of 2 ways. I either become a golf bore and my blog start to show a reducing handicap or I wrap a club around OH’s neck.

You’re just going to have to watch this space to find out which it is.

2 breakfasts, a pot of tea for 2 and 100 balls for the golf range – £20.70

Cargills Restaurant & Bistro, Blairgowrie

Today OH and I decided to head North for lunch and ended up in Blairgowrie. After wandering around the shops we walked down towards the River Ericht in the hope there would be someplace 2015-07-11 15.45.06overlooking it we could eat. That’s where we found Cargills Restaurant & Bistro. It was set back off the road so no river view but it looked lovely with tables outside and then inside a large airy room decorated in red and green.

We were greeted warmly by the waitress and offered to take a seat. There was a board with specials aswell as an extensive lunch menu with a variety of options. The made to order quiches sounded great – you had to pick 3 ingredients – but I didn’t fancy waiting for it to cook so decided to go for the Venison Pie with Mash and Beetroot from the specials board. OH plumped for a small Arbroath Haddock, Chips and Peas as opposed to the large one, which was almost twice the price. Quite a few of the dishes offered a smaller version which I liked. We waited quite awhile on our meals arriving, which I don’t mind really as it means you’re getting your food freshly made but it did make me think I should have went for the quiche after all.

When I saw the venison pie on the board I had pictured maybe getting a segment from a large, round game pie with a nice thick, short crust pastry, possibly some beetroot salad on the side with a lovely creamy mash.What arrived disappointed me. A tin dish with a puff pastry lid, a beetroot cut in half and some mashed potato.2015-07-11 14.34.42

Earlier I had decided against having the chicken fillet with tomato and mozzarella sauce because it’s something I would throw together in the kitchen myself but the pie that arrived looked more like something I would throw in the oven when I couldn’t be bothered cooking at all. Pleasingly, it was full of meat and it melted in the mouth. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough pastry to go with it. I also felt they had forgotten to salt the mash as it was a bit tasteless but OH argued that it would be a different type of potato than I’m used to. Regardless of the potato I felt the mash was bland.

OH enjoyed his small fish and for once wasn’t ‘stappit fu’ after his meal. I’ve just asked him what he thought of it and he said “it was just exactly as the menu said, a battered fish. You can’t go wrong with battered fish.” So there you have it.  2015-07-11 14.34.28

I nipped to the ladies before getting the bill only to find there was no loo roll in the first toilet. 2015-07-11 15.46.03Thankfully there was some in the next one but it’s little things like this that added to the disappointing experience.

Cargills had loads of potential – it had a lovely atmosphere, good service, nice decor and it’s on a good wee spot along the river – if only they had just used short crust pastry…..

A Magners, blackcurrant and soda, venison pie and a small battered fish – £24.60