The V&A and The Wine Press, Dundee

On Saturday I was spending the day with my mum so we decided it was about time we visited the V&A in Dundee. I was also keen to visit The Wine Press as I had seen friends of ours checking into it and from their pics and the website it looked like a place I wanted to visit. And for this reason I asked OH if he wanted to be the chauffeur for the day. (I’m not daft)

The V&A, which sits right next to The Discovery on the banks of the River Tay is a building that makes you take far too many photos as there are so many great angles and views. It’s free to get in although there is a cost if you want to see any private exhibitions that may be on. The public exhibition of Scottish Design was interesting and they have managed to incorporate a vast amount of drawings, samples, models and videos all depicting Scottish designs. The outdoor balconies offer amazing views over the Tay and as well as a shop, there is also a restaurant and cafe inside. However, we were on a mission to visit The Wine Press so we didn’t hang around for a coffee.

The wine bar was just a short walk from the V&A. However, it is across a number of busy roads and I have to say the crossing weren’t the best. For some reason there is no loud beeping noise to let you know it’s the green man and the signs that show the green men aren’t facing you – they’re attached to the posts just above where you press the button so you have to stay alert.

The Wine Press don’t take reservations on Saturdays so it’s first come first served, which was great for us arriving just after midday but not so much for the people who got there after 1 and had to sit at the bar until a table became free.

The food menu is fairly limited as the focus is more on the wine, of which there are loads to choose from. One of the quirks of TWP is that you can buy a card at the bar and help yourself to wine from a machine, which keeps the more eclectic or higher end wines in a perfect condition.

The food menu has 4 different sharing boards. Cheese, charcuterie, antipasti and camembert. There was also soup, bar snacks and a list of small plates, which you could order like tapas. On the specials board there were some pies. We decided to have the Tomato and red pepper soup along with the charcuterie board – 4 cured continental meats, artisan bread, khobez flatbread, beetroot and spring onion salad, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, fig, plum and apple chutney.

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The soup was delicious and although we had ordered a small bowl it was more than enough. The accompanying bread was soft and very fresh. The sharing board (meant for 2) was enough for the 3 of us along with the soup and nothing went to waste. The meat wasn’t too dry or too strong and the figs were lovely.

The service was impeccable, there was a good atmosphere and the decor was tasteful. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a wine bar and a small bite to eat.

3 small soups, a sharing board, a bottle of white and a non-alcoholic beer for the chauffeur = £47

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Osso, Peebles

On Valentine’s Day I managed to grab a last minute bargain at The Park hotel in Peebles (B+B for £48) so as I had made such a saving on the accommodation I booked a table at Osso’s just across the road for an evening meal.

After a beautiful walk along the Tweed in the afternoon, working up an appetite, we went into Osso’s for our dinner.

We were immediately greeted at the door and shown to our table. With wine chosen and menus in hand we were given an amuse bouche and some popcorn but because I was taken by surprise I can’t remember what they were – I seem to remember one being a smoked fish and the other being a haggis bonbon but I may be wrong, regardless, they were both delightful. OH dived right in hence why one is missing from the pic.

For a starter OH went for Warm crab vol ou vent, fennel, pickled kohl rabi & sea herbs. OH loved it – he hadn’t had crab for a long time and said it reminded him of being in Rhodes drinking ouzo and eating seafood.

I chose the Scottish hand dived scallop, celeriac broth, apple and celery. Since a camping holiday in Tayvallich I have refused to pay good money for scallops as the group I was with dived for them and they were plentiful, free and fabulous so this was an unusual choice for me. However, they were absolutely amazing and I can safely say this is the best starter I have had for a long time. Everything about it was amazing. The texture, the flavours the portion size. Just lush.

For mains OH went for Feather blade of beef, roasted root vegetables, watercress and mash. The beef fell apart beautifully and was very rich tasting. The vegetables were done to perfection and as well as having mash he also ordered a side of Parmesan and truffle chips, which arrived with a garlic butter dip that was really garlicky. I had the Grilled plaice fillet, mussels, fennel, dashi potatoes, seaweed and mussel sauce. It was always going to be hard to compete with my starter but this gave it a good go. The plaice was tasty and the mussels small. There was some similarities with my starter as the textures and flavours were akin but not quite, which just highlighted again how good the starter was.

We did ask for dessert menus and we did get them but we waited and waited for someone to ask OH what he wanted – he had decided on the Poached pear, dark chocolate mousse, warm almond sponge. Unfortunately, although service had been excellent up to this point no-one appeared and as the wine was finished we decided to just ask for the bill instead.

A bottle of white, 2 starters , 2 mains and 1 side = £67.50 for a very, very wonderful meal…

…and in case you are wondering the bed was comfy and the breakfast spot-on at The Park.

The Inn at Loch Tummel

My son and his partner gave me the present of an overnight stay in the beautiful Inn at Loch Tummel for my birthday and this weekend was the date they had booked for OH and I to visit.

As you can guess from the name the Inn overlooks Loch Tummel and enjoys some amazing views with the loch in front and the snow covered Munro, Schiehallion, to the right.

When we checked in we were personally taken to our room and the girl explained that when my son booked he had insisted we were given the largest room in the Inn so we had the only room with a roll-top bath and a walk in shower. The room was beautiful with a very comfortable king-size bed and stunning views. The bathroom was huge with the large bath taking pride of place in the centre. There was also complimentary toiletries, still and sparkling water, home baking and whisky! In fact, the only thing the room lacked was a television and, as it turned out, there was no tv to be had anywhere in the Inn. OH was quick to point out I would now have to speak to him. As there was no wi-fi either he was right. Turns out he no longer works in Woolworths (I’m kidding!).

We booked our evening meal for 7 and were sat at a cosy candle lit table – hence why the pics are a bit dark. The menu was the perfect size with 5 choices of starter and 6 mains. OH started with Shetland steamed Mussels with garlic, white wine, cream sauce and homemade bread. The mussels were lovely and the sauce rich and creamy and not in the least bit salty as it often can be. I went for the Baba Ganoush (a smokey aubergine dip) as I had never tried it before. It arrived with homemade flatbread and a side salad of leaves and olives. It was an odd texture with (I think) a tomato and onion vinaigrette of on top. I ate it with the flatbread and it was okay but I’m not sure I need to have it again.

For my main I had Pan fried coley, risotto, pomodora salsa and crispy leek. The fish was good however the risotto was a little rubbery and although the crispy leek looked good it became a nuisance as it was inedible and just got in the way on the plate.

OH had the Game pie with roasted carrots, parsnips and tender stem broccoli. The pie came in a dish on it’s own resembling something that Fray Bentos would be proud of. OH said his pie was good and he enjoyed it but felt it was mainly a beef pie as he couldn’t really taste the promised pheasant or hare in it. He raved about the vegetables.

I decided against a dessert and stuck with the house white but OH chose the Plum and hazelnut crumble with homemade vanilla custard. He enjoyed it and felt it was a good portion size and the custard got a special mention for being nice and sweet.

On the whole, it was a good meal that could easily have been a great meal with just a few minor tweaks.

I won’t bore with you too many breakfast details, which was really good – as well as muesli and fruit compote, I had a bacon omelette and OH had pancakes, bacon, maple syrup and berries – but I can’t leave you without saying that the waitress asked us if we wanted tea, coffee OR orange juice. Hmm.

I can’t give you an exact price but it was roughly £190 for dinner, bed and breakfast with a bottle of wine and 2 aperitifs.