Restaurant 85, Leslie, Fife.

I got home earlier than normal for a Friday and found OH sitting starving. He’d had a day off work and had been so busy enjoying himself he was obviously now too exhausted to lug himself to the fridge and make himself something to eat. Instead of waiting for me to cook something he suggested visiting Restaurant 85 in Leslie. The last time we had been there we were waiting for a table when the waitress informed us that the chef had suddenly taken ill and therefore they were unable to feed us. What had happened to the chef goodness only knows. This was roughly a year ago and it had been on the list ever since (obviously not top of the list but still on it).

When we arrived the place was empty so it wasn’t difficult to get a seat – remember it was early.

The menu was varied and interesting and there was a board that told you what the soup, pate, pie and burger of the day were. What I liked was that I struggled to decide what to have because there were a number of options that appealed.

Although OH opted to have a starter of Venison pate with oatcakes and marmalade, I’d had a large lunch so eventually settled on the 85 Signature’s dish of Scottish Mussels cooked to perfection with roasted garlic, smoked lardons in apple cider served with twice cooked skinny fries.2015-08-28 17.05.55

When OH’s starter arrived it was very well presented and looked fantastic. There was a quenelle of pate, 4 mini oatcakes and a ramekin of ‘marmalade’ all sat upon a balsamic squiggle. The marmalade was pickled peppers, cashew nuts and gherkins (I think). I sneaked a taste of the pate and it was strong tasting and had a coarse texture but OH said he liked it. I was glad I hadn’t chosen it as I’m not good with overly rich tasting food and to me this was definitely rich tasting.

When our mains arrived I was glad to see that the Game Pie that OH had ordered was actually a pie and not a dish with a pastry lid. He really enjoyed his meal and loved the root vegetables (parsnips and orange and purple carrots) and creamy mash with spring onions running through them.  2015-08-28 17.22.55

2015-08-28 17.23.01Unfortunately, although my plate of mussels looked great, I struggled to open a lot of them (they were already open but wouldn’t open any further) and some of the ones I could open seemed to be split and spread inside their shells. I tasted one and thought I’d be crazy to chance another. If you’re a lover of mussels you just know when to give up and give up I did.

Coincidentally, the chef had just left the kitchen when I looked for someone to call over. He assured me the mussels were fresh that day but didn’t hesitate to take them away and offer me an alternative dish. As I write this I’m still in 2 minds whether a chef should know when mussels aren’t right before he serves them or is it a dish you’d have to test everyone… Also – signature dish???

Anyway, I then opted for the burger of the day, Venison with brie and caramelised red onion.

As there was a bit of a wait before my burger arrived I managed to eat the majority of my skinny fries, which were amazing. However, this severely decreased my appetite and I then only managed to eat the burger that arrived and had to leave the roll and salad. This meant I couldn’t really appreciate my meal as a whole.

We passed on desserts without even looking at the menu and asked for the bill. When it arrived there was nothing taken off it. A free round of drinks or no charge for my burger would have been appreciated but apparently that wasn’t to be.

I’m disappointed that I couldn’t give Restaurant 85 a more positive review because on the surface it should have been great but as the chef’s signature dish is inedible I’m struggling to recommend it.

A starter, 2 mains, 2 glasses of wine and a blackcurrant and soda = £39.65

Home Farm View, Kirkcaldy, Fife.

Remember I was taking golf lessons? Well, today I was going out for my first ever game and OH was taking me. To make sure we weren’t hungry as we traipsed around the 9 hole course at Cluny Clays we decided to go for breakfast first at Home Farm View in Kirkcaldy, Fife, which is just up the road. It’s part of the Eating Inn chain and someplace we hadn’t visited for a long time, probably because we associate it with kids – it has a soft play area and caters mainly for families. Regardless of the fact we were child free, we went in for breakfast.

The breakfast menu is pretty basic. Either a Scottish breakfast (bacon, egg, sausage, haggis, black pudding, beans, potato scone, tomato and toast), a Big Breakfast, which is the same but with 2 of everything or the vegetarian option. You could also have a filled roll with one or two fillings. The only other options were porridge or beans on toast. Saying that, I was more than happy with the Scottish breakfast as was OH. When the waitress came to take our order OH said he didn’t want any black pudding and was offered an extra item instead so he went for another egg. I thought this was great as they didn’t need to offer an extra anything.

2015-08-23 11.12.05The breakfasts were just what you want on a Sunday morning and the exact amount not to be too filling (particularly if you’re playing golf afterwards). I had no complaints but I know some people who read this will be annoyed as the beans weren’t in a separate dish. To them I say get over yourself – it’s just a bit of bean juice leaking over your plate not poison ;p

The biggest bonus of the breakfast was the price.

2 Scottish breakfasts, a coffee and a tea = £9.99!!

Yes, you read that right. The breakfasts were only £3.99 each but when you order 2 and have 2 hot drinks alongside them the price is £9.99.

A total bargain so whether you have kids or not the next morning you can’t be bothered to cook or just want to treat yourself, get yourselves along to Home View Farm in Kirkcaldy. golf

In case you were wondering – I was cack at golf and lost count of my score once it got into triple figures. And yes, I did say it was a 9-hole course :s

The Edinburgh Fringe – Darren Walsh

The Edinburgh Festival is the world’s biggest arts festival where thousands of artists from all over the world perform on hundreds of stages across Edinburgh. OH and I always try to have at least one day in Edinburgh during the Festival as I love the free shows, which highlight new comedians and musicians.  I always keep an eye out on Twitter for recommpunderboltendations as I have discovered some wonderful acts this way. This year, prior to the Fringe, I had been bantering with a comedian on Twitter. Well, I say bantering, I think what I actually done was bully him into giving me a free ticket for his show, which is on most evenings at the Pleasance Courtyard at 8.30pm. Darren Walsh – Punderbolt (£9). Therefore, this year that became my focus and everything else had to fit around it.

OH and I set off nice and early to the train station and waited patiently for the train to arrive. We both had that sinking feeling as the train drew up next to the platform as we could see it was already packed. With standing room only we pushed ourselves on to the train and leaned against an out-of-order toilet for the hour-long journey. Normally the train ride up the Fife coast and over the Forth Rail Bridge is one of the most scenic and interesting rail routes to be had but today it was difficult to enjoy as, like animals being transported, we were penned in with all notion of maintaining personal space forgotten.

We spilled out on to the platform at Waverley glad to be out of the claustrophobic carriages. From there it obviously didn’t take us long to find out first pub.

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Matt in the Tron

2015-08-15 12.47.44As the day wore on we manged to see a few street performers and free acts, Freddy Quine and Benji Waterstones were 2 that stood out. Music in the Tron was also a hit and it was really interesting watching artist Louise Giblin make a plaster cast of a hand.  The bronze torso of Dame Kelly Holmes she has sculpted and is on show at Urbane Art Gallery is a must see!

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Bronze torso of Dame Kelly Holmes

Deciding we should add some food to our diet of cider and ale, OH and I started to argue about where we could eat. I wanted somewhere to sit down whilst OH preferred something from a stall. We then both had the idea of going to The Potting Shed. Unfortunately it was fully booked all evening, which although was disappointing is a good sign so it is still on the list. We then decided to go to Usher’s just round the corner. Although we hadn’t ate there before, it’s a favourite of ours for Craft Beers. We went in, ordered our drinks and sat down and perused the menu. Having made our decisions I ordered at the bar and sat back down. As we had both nearly finished our drinks and there was still no sign of our food I went up to the bar to query it. The barman said he’d check. He returned and asked if it was 2 burgers we had ordered. Nope, lamb curry and chicken with noodles. Oh. Who did you order from? I told him. His face said it all. He left and came back and said the chef hadn’t received the order but if we wanted to wait he would make it as there was no other food orders in. We told him to forget it, annoyed at the poor service. The barman then looked at our drinks and asked us what we had been drinking. I thought he was going to buy us a free round but no, he was asking if we had already paid for our drinks. Even more annoyed and now very hungry, we left Usher’s, which is no longer on the list.

After that OH got a hog roast roll (£4.50) from a stall and I sat at a picnic table in the Pleasance Gardens and ate Pad Thai (£6).   2015-08-15 18.39.47Both filled a hole. Enough said.

Shortly after that we headed to the Pleasance Courtyard and picked up the tickets for Darren Walsh. The courtyard was buzzing and within 5 minutes of arriving we saw John Hannah, Hal Cruttenden and Carl Donnelly (go on, google them then).

The queue to see Punderbolt was a good laugh as we chatted to others also waiting for the show. It was funnier than some of the shows we had seen earlier! Eventually the doors opened and in we went. The show was puntastic! Darren obviously has a quick wit and had put a lot of effort into the show – preparing photographs, drawing pics, making videos and recording voices.  There were visual jokes, audience participation and obviously, puns galore. OH and I laughed (and groaned) from start to finish. One example was when he gave a large photo of an elevator to a woman in the front row because he thought she could do with a lift.  OH said it was the best show of the day and he’s hard to please when it comes to comedy.

If plays on words and puns are your thing, then Darren is your man. Be sure to check him out if you’re at the Fringe or if you see him advertised elsewhere for that matter.

Obviously we couldn’t end on a high…the train on the way home was just as packed so, yet again, it was standing room only. It’s a pity that the train operators can’t get their acts together for the month of August. It’s not like they’re taken by surprise with the festival now being in its 68th year.

The Explorer’s Garden and The Old Mill, Pitlochry

OH and I found ourselves in Pitlochry at the weekend. We had decided to park at the Festival Theatre and I noticed there were gardens to the side of it. Apparently OH had known there were gardens there as he had built the fence around them in a previous life (OH can turn his hands to anything, dontchaknow?). He said there were supposed to be stage productions put on in the gardens as, when they were planning the gardens, they wanted it to be an extension of the theatre.

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George Forrest Pavilion

It was called The Explorers Garden and from what I could see before we went in was to do with Scottish plant hunters who had traveled the globe looking for new plants and trees to bring back to Scotland.  We decided to pay the £4 entrance fee and have a wander around.

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The Douglas Pavilion

I’m told (by OH obviously) that August isn’t a great month for gardens. Flowers have either already flowered and are past their best or they are just getting read for Autumn. Therefore, we probably weren’t seeing them at their best. The gardens are laid out in segments each depicting different areas (S.America, Australia, New Zealand, N. America The Himalayas, and Japan) and there are boards explaining what explorers had been where and what plants they had brought back. Due to the season (I hope) I didn’t really see many of the outlined plants  but I did enjoy the short traipse around the paths and through the woods.

DSCN3764Throughout the gardens there were paved circles, a couple of pavilions and an amphitheater. OH had asked the woman at the ticket desk if there were concerts etc put on in the garden and she looked at him blankly. If there isn’t (and that does seem the case) it’s a bloody shame as they could put on an excellent production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream there.

I’m sure in other months it will be worth the entrance fee but not in August so pick your time to visit carefully. (£2 each would have been a fairer fee in August I think)

After working up an appetite it was only a short walk across the suspension bridge and into town to find The Old Mill. It’s an impressive building with an old water wheel attached.  We gave the menu a cursory glance (should have paid more attention) as we entered and were seated by a polite South African cross between Derren Brown and Rylan.

Talk about a whirlwind experience. We went in, we ordered and before we knew it we were stuffed and back on the street again.

The menu was pretty uninteresting and uninspiring so OH had a burger (YES! That uninteresting) and I had the beer battered haddock.

4 minutes after the order was put in, it arrived. As the waitress set down my haddock she told me the plate was hot – she wasn’t joking. I spent the rest of the meal feeling like I was sitting in front of the coals in a sauna. The fish was a tad greasy but that was probably because it continued to cook on the plate and the deep frying oils continued to seep out of it. 2015-08-09 16.34.16The 2015-08-09 16.34.05skinny chips were fab though. OH said the best bit of his burger was the roll. Don’t get me wrong he did enjoy it, it was just the bun stuck out because it didn’t fall to bits as they often do.

My fish was filling but evidently OH needed more. So dessert menu it was – obviously it appeared promptly. It didn’t take OH long to decide on the Iced Cranachan Parfait with Raspberry Sauce, which was good as the waitress suddenly appeared from nowhere to take his order. I reckon it was less than 2 minutes before Derrin Rylan had the dessert on the table in front of him. Sweetly, he asked me if I wanted another spoon – I declined of course.

2015-08-09 17.00.12OH loved his Cranachan as it was like a surprisingly good cross between rice pudding and porridge. However, he says he would have preferred a smaller helping. This is because he eats anything that is put in front of him just like a labrador. Therefore, we were both stuffed as we left the restaurant just a few minutes later.

2 mains, 1 dessert, a soda water and lime and a mixed fruit Kopparberg = £39.05

It’s a lovely place, it was fast service, which wasn’t as bad as it sounds but the food was expensive for what is basically pub grub. There are loads of other places to eat in Pitlochry that I would maybe try first.

but I digress

Normally, I wax lyrical about restaurants but in this post I want to tell you about an evening I had in a pub. I didn’t eat and I barely drank but the evening had such an effect I want to share. I’m deliberately not going to tell you what pub it was in, which is a shame as I’d highly recommend it.

pho_belhaven_best_smSo, anyway, yesterday evening OH fancied a pint. Just the one. We had been out walking for most of the afternoon and it was after 5 when he made his request. I was driving and didn’t mind so we popped into the pub with the intention of staying for one. With a pint of Best and a diet coke we sat on stools at a large, high table in the corner of the pub between the bar and the window. Not long after, a woman with a dog came in. She ordered a gin and tonic and sat at the end of the same table we were at. She had bought some prints locally and was telling the barman about her purchases. I noticed she highlighted to Drew the barman that she had been out walking her dog and was, like us, just in for the one.

I love art and was intrigued to see what she had bought so leaned over and asked. She was more than happy to show me and quite naturally we started to chat about paintings and the local area. I soon became aware that a man, who had just walked into the pub and was standing at the bar, started to butt into our conversation. I assumed him and the woman knew each other as they seemed to talk with a shared understanding of the pub, barman and local area. I was a bit irritated by the man. He was mid 50s, bald, short and sported a lavender coloured top tucked into his jeans. What annoyed me was that all his stories had an underlying theme – money. He’d drank 3 bottles of £80 champagne at the Open. He was a member at Crail and St Andrews Golf Clubs – both of which he drove to with the roof down in his Mercedes. He had 2 properties for sale – 1 of which had 10 windows that viewed on to the Forth. The other had a walk in shower big enough for 4 people to stand in.

One of his lengthier stories came about when we were all discussing another local pub, which had recently been done up. Michelle (art buying dog lady) told us she was disappointed with the refurbishment as it now lacked character. Baldy man Ian told us he hadn’t been back since he left the staff a £80 tip. He had been there for a meal with friends and family and only had £100 notes. The meal had come to £820 and as he was paying for everyone he paid the bill with 9 £100 notes and told them to keep the change. He had then asked for 6 tins of coke to take away. He only had a couple of quid change in his pocket and was 20p short. Apparently the barmaid refused to let him off with the 20p and even when he pointed out the size of tip he had left she still wouldn’t budge. This meant he had to break another £100 note for the sake of 20p. Hence why he hadn’t been back.

By this time the ‘just one’ was but a forgotten dream. OH was half way down his 3rd pint and Michelle had got herself another G&T. I had given up on the diet coke after my 2nd. coke

When Ian had mentioned the properties he had to sell, Michelle told us about the accommodation she was renting out. It turned out she was just in the area for the weekend to change the sheets prior to the next house full of tourists turning up. Like Ian, she was also an incomer.

Every time someone left or walked into the bar Ian would say hi or bye to them. He rarely gave them eye contact but he’d always acknowledge them and then turn to us and tell us who they were. For instance, one woman was ‘off the drink’. Normally he’d buy her maybe 5 vodkas of a night but she’d recently turned yellow so now she was on J2O. He was full of little bits and pieces like that.

It became obvious Drew the barman knew both Michelle and Ian. However, after Michelle started asking Ian some more questions I realised that, although they were both regulars, this was the first time they had actually met. We were an odd mismatched bunch as we sat and chatted the night away. We plied the duke box with money and criticised one another’s song choices even though we knew and sang all the words.

What often happens when strangers starts prattling in a pub everyone starts buying one another a drink. However, in this instance, it was Ian that was buying and way more than his fair share too. He was insistent and would get a round in before anyone else had the chance too. I was happy sitting back watching and for once I was pretty quiet. I lost count of OH’s pints and I could tell Michelle was feeling the effects of all the gin she was throwing back. Ian told us this was the second time that day he had been drunk as he’d been in the pub at 11.30 that morning for a sesh and had gone home to eat his hot smoked salmon and fillet steak and had now returned for round 2.

You may be wondering where this story is going and why we sat in one another’s company all evening instead of having just one and leaving. Well, the surprising twist to this tale was the sad story attached to Ian’s anecdotes of wealth. His wife had a stroke 15 months ago and she hasn’t spoken since. She has been in every hospital in the area and is having to be fed by a tube to her stomach. It didn’t sound like there was much hope for her but Ian was continuing to visit and make sure she had the best care available. Consequently, she is now going into a nursing home and Ian is having to sell his houses to pay for her care.

The £80 tip story had been his wedding day. The champagne – his wife’s birthday.

He was so lonely he was spending all his time in the pub and you could see he was really struggling with coming to terms with the fact that no longer did money equal power. It didn’t matter how much money he had, it meant nothing. He just wanted his wife back.

I had been quick to judge Ian earlier in the night but as OH and I left the pub together I knew I was richer than him.

Banner’s House Hotel, Markinch, Fife.

OH and I were babysitting for our granddaughter today (Yeah I know – I don’t know how I can be a gran either ;p). As a way of blackmailing my son to come out and meet with us in public I told him if he wanted us to babysit he’d have to meet us in Banner’s House Hotel in Markinch with his toddling bundle of fun. Of course, you can’t treat one without treating the other so MiniMe was invited too.

Therefore, I pre-booked lunch for 4 and a child. When MiniMe and I entered Banner’s (OH had to go pick up MiniHim and TeenyMe) they immediately asked what age the child was and then completely re-arranged the table accordingly. They couldn’t have been more friendly or helpful. We were given menus and asked for our drinks order. With a quick look at the lengthy drinks menu MiniMe asked what their fruit smoothie was and after a quick dash to the kitchen and back was offered strawberry, banana and pineapple. She plumped for strawberry and banana and was happy with her choice. I wasn’t driving or on call so had a glass of red :D. We were eventually joined by OH, MiniHim and TeenyMe who gave their drinks order and we all perused the food menus. There was a set menu – 2 course for £12.95/3 for £14.95 or a brunch/lunch menu which offered sandwiches, burgers and baked potatoes as well as a few other main meals.

Whilst we waited TeenyMe was offered some crayons and paper. The waitress then returned with a child’s welly boot with crayons and some old set menus in it. Bonus points for some great recycling!

The set menu was a little odd as it offered slightly surprising dishes rather than the norm. The mains were smoked haddock omelette, jerk pulled pork baguette, Mediterranean vegetable spaghetti and fillet of coley. The kids struggled with it (I say kids, they’re both in their early 20s) so I was the only one that went for the set menu. I had Cauliflower Soup to start with and TeenyMe got a children’s meal of chicken strips and chips brought at the same time (this was the waitresses suggestion and it was a good one!) I liked the soup – it was nothing amazing but a thick and creamy dish. It came with a small doughy roll (no butter?!?) which tasted homemade. 2015-08-01 12.53.42-1

MiniMe ordered a BLT baguette and a portion of chips, OH went for the 8oz Chargrilled Ribeye steak with pepper corn sauce, homemade onion rings, chips and salad and MiniHim went for Jamican Jerk chicken burger – grilled spiced chicken breast, homemade bun, chips and salad.

I followed my soup with fillet of coley with herb crusted potatoes and a mussel and brown shrimp sauce. I don’t normally eat the skin on fish but this was amazing and I ate every last lovely drop of the dish2015-08-01 13.08.42-1. The mussels were consistently fat and fresh and although MiniMe was trying to get me to help her with her chips I couldn’t as my fish dish was satisfyingly filling.

MiniMe’s only complaint was that her plate wasn’t big enough as every time she cut into her baguette her bacon went flying.2015-08-01 13.07.47-1 2015-08-01 13.07.39-1MiniHim said his burger ‘wiz gid like’. Although he left some chips and salad there was no sign of the chicken breast or homemade roll so it must have been gid. OH said his steak was good but he thinks he’s starting to favour the Flat Iron cut as it’s a thicker more juicier steak. (As usual) OH was glad the peppercorn sauce came in a little jug which he didn’t pour over his steak.2015-08-01 13.10.07-1

Dessert time – MiniMe went for the Double Belgian Chocolate Brownie served warm with vanilla Ice Cream, which she said 2015-08-01 13.58.28was really chocolaty and she highlighted the fact that she couldn’t have ate it if it didn’t have the ice cream with it. OH fancied the Orange & Vanilla Rice Pudding with Dark Chocolate which was on the set menu so I ordered it for him and MiniHim was already starting to wain so I gave him permission to leg it. He didn’t need offered twice. As is my norm, instead of pudding I ordered another glass of red.

OH didn’t finish his pudding and disappointingly said it was really only rice pudding with orange zest on the top with a sprinkling of dark chocolate and he really wanted more chocolate and orange in the dish.2015-08-01 13.58.34

TeenyMe was given vanilla ice cream as part of her child’s menu – thoughtfully given in a dish with the cone separate. It got puddled about with. Not being used to taking a toddler for lunch, and with hindsight, I should have asked for an even smaller dish for TeenyMe or for an empty plate so she could get a bit  from all of our plates as she is at that awkward age between jars of food and kid’s menus. I will know the next time 🙂 Saying that, the chicken strips she got tasted great.

OH took TeenyMe out for a walk and I asked for the bill. It arrived in half a coconut with some jellybeans – the kid in me loves that! Unfortunately, when I checked the bill my set menu had been rung up separately so I went to the bar to get it sorted out. The good looking waiter apologised immediately saying it was his error and changed the bill for me. I then gave him my card to pay and punched in my pin code. I’m not quite sure what happened next but very quickly it resulted in my card getting blocked and me having to get OH to pay for the meal. I’m guessing it was a combination of him giving me the machine without pressing a button first and me putting in my number and hitting enter without reading the screen. Oh well, at least he had the beauty…..

Anyway, a quick visit to the bank and being told all I had to do was put my card in the hole in the wall, put in my pin, select other services, then pin services followed by unlock pin rectified the muck up. (that’s a top tip btw).

One set 3 course meal, 1 child’s meal, 1 steak, 1 burger, 1 baguette, 1 dessert, 2 glasses of wine, an Irn Bru and a soda water and lime (in other words a lunch for 4 and a toddler)  = £77.85