The Dory Bistro & Gallery, Pittenweem.

Looking for lunch not too faraway I opened up my laptop and did a search for nearby restaurants. A short browse led me to The Dory Bistro & Gallery in Pittenweem, a seafood restaurant in the East Neuk of Fife I had never visited before. I phoned up to book before we left as I wasn’t sure if it was a place you could just walk in. When we got there the room was full of empty tables but all with reserved signs on them so I was right to call.

Pittenweem is the most active harbour in the East Neuk and has a daily fish market a matter of metres from the bistro, which was obviously reflected in it’s menus. Along with the wine and lunch menu we were also given the specials menu, which the waitress read through. She was knowledgeable about where the fish was caught and had more detail about how the dishes came. Unlike last week’s menu in Room with a View there were a few meat dishes such as pheasant au vin and steak pie as well.

Initially, when we looked at the list of starters and mains we thought it would be an easy order but there was quite a bit of heeing and hawing around what starter would go with what main. I am a big fan of Cullen Skink but there was also a shellfish bouillabaisse as a main. Eventually we decided to share a starter of moules marinière with cream, shallots, white wine, parsley. We told the waitress we were sharing and she asked if we wanted them in 2 pots. Oh yes please.

The mussels were fantastic. Fat, big and juicy. There was no beards or barnacles and the creamy broth was fantastic – full of shallots and parsley and not salty. As well as the bread we were given at the start of the meal I used my spoon to try and get as much as possible – something I don’t always feel the need to do.

When OH was in Orkney he saw a family of locals ‘spooting’ – the art of catching razor clams, which spoot water up when you drizzle them with salt but didn’t get the chance to taste them even though they did offer him some still in their shells. Therefore, when he saw razor clams on the menu he decided he would have them. They were served with pancetta, cherry tomatoes, garlic, white wine and dill. It was an impressive dish when it arrived even if the clams did look like ridiculously large sperms (sorry mum but they did). I tried a bit of one and was glad I hadn’t ordered the dish. It was chewy and did not hold much taste. OH said he enjoyed the buttery sauce but felt the clams were a bit like squid. He struggled on. I could tell his heart wasn’t in it. This was not in any way a reflection on the chef but on the razor clam itself. OH said he was really glad he tried it but wished it had been a starter. I noticed he then turned into Mr Bean as he tried to hide his unfinished clams under the long thin shells.

I had decided on the pan-fried fillet of sea bass with smoked salmon risotto and pesto. This was a colourful dish with bright green pesto, saffron yellow rice and small green peas and at last I had found a crispy skin. I had been worried about the pesto being too strong but I needn’t have been. It was not like any other pesto I have had before (and disliked)…actually, now I am sitting writing I am wondering if maybe it was a wild garlic pesto? The tables all had wild garlic flowers in them but no leaves – could they have been in the kitchen in a pestle and mortar? Anyway, I loved my risotto. It wasn’t sticky, it had bags of flavour and the peas gave it another level. The fish with its crispy skin was spot on.

There were no desserts on the menu but there was a blackboard with a list of cakes. Almond and orange cake, Rhubarb drizzle, chocolate brownie, whisky and marmalade fruit loaf and scones. OH needed something to get rid of the memory of the razor clams so asked for the almond and orange cake. As the waitress warned it was not a sweet cake but tart and tangy. I’m guessing OH would have loved some custard or cream with it but enjoyed it nonetheless.

Service was great, the toilets spotless and the fish was excellent.

1 starter (£9.95), 2 mains, 1 cake, 2 bottles of craft lager and a coke £55.35

Incidentally, the Dory Bistro and Gallery is behind the white campervan in the top pic of Pittenweem.

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A Room with a View, Aberdour.

My cousin from LA has been over recently (my mum and her mum are sisters) so we decided we would all go out for lunch. After many discussions and not being organised enough to book an afternoon tea we eventually decided on A Room with a View. This was for a couple of reasons 1. Lusa is pescatarian and the seafood menu at Room with a View means she wouldn’t be a PESTatairan and 2. It has been on my list for years but the myth of it being hard to get to had put me off. However, when I phoned up to book, I was asked if I needed a lift down to the restaurant that overlooks the Forth and is right on the edge of the coast, as they offer free transport from anywhere in Aberdour.

OH very kindly offered to run us there and took us right to the door in his 4×4. We were all very grateful as my initial plan had been to park in the car park at the top of the hill and walk down but it soon became evident the road is not for the faint-hearted so if you go (and you should) take them up on their offer of a free lift.

The restaurant is part of The Forth View Hotel and has a very homely feel to it. When we arrived we had a seat in the lounge and were offered drinks. Shinty Awards covered the shelves and old black and white photos adorned the walls. We could easily have been sat in someone’s front room. When we were taken through to the restaurant the decor was similar with views over the Forth. Unfortunately it was a dreich day so the views, which would normally be stunning, were grey and faded.

We were given the lunch and wine menus and our water glasses were filled up. All four of us love seafood and we had a genuine difficulty in picking what we would have as everything sounded great.

We eventually all manged to decide on something. Lusa had Sweet Potato Fritters with Harissa Salsa. Maxi-me had Room with a View Scotch Egg, Scottish salmon & Dunbar Quails Egg on a green Lentil & Asparagus Salad. AA and I both plumped for Smoked Mackerel. smoked salmon & radish pate with Arran Oaties.

As we waited on our orders we were given bread rolls, which were warm and moreish. One of the other tables were delivered a hamper, which was full with tasters of all the starter options and I think we maybe mucked up by not ordering that.

Our starters soon arrived and MM’s scotch egg was the winner and we all had dish envy when it arrived. MM said it was just as good as it looked and the salad was exceptional, which annoyed Lusa who said she was a bit disappointed in her salad and would have preferred MM’s. Her harissa salsa was very sweet and not as hot as I thought it would be. She enjoyed her dish but said she wouldn’t order it again and wished she had ordered the soup (leek, potato and watercress topped with prawns). My pate was very fishy and I loved it. As ever there is never enough oatcakes but an hour later I was really glad there weren’t more.

For main MM chose Pan fried sea bass fillet served on apple, bacon & celery risotto, Lusa had Halibut & herbs served en-croute, potato wedges, baby carrots & onion veloute and AA and I both went for Sole fillets stuffed with fresh mackerel, scallop roe bisque, mangetout and hand cut chips.

MM enjoyed her sea bass and said the risotto worked well, especially with the bacon, which added an extra layer. Lusa’s dish looked like a pasty and was jam packed with halibut. She said the highlight of the dish was the onion veloute as without it the dish would be dry but this made the meal and there was enough to keep pouring over as she cut her way through it. Lusa was disappointed with her potato wedges and thought they could have done something a bit more adventurous with the potato. My stuffed sole was lovely and the accompanying bisque was fantastic, which was rich, creamy and not at all salty. The mangetout was still crunchy and my chips were good but I had to agree with Lusa that the chips didn’t go with the dish but then the plate did need the texture.

To dessert or not to dessert, that was the next question. The sisters decided they were fine with coffee and Lusa and I debated what sweet we would share. We eventually went for the Rhubarb Crumble as it came with custard and the states don’t do custard. The crumble was good and just as you would want with not too thick nor too thin sweet custard to compliment the tart rhubarb. I have to apologise as I didn’t take a pic of the dessert menu so you’ll have to visit A Room with a View yourself to find out what else was on the sweet menu.

Crumble

We all enjoyed Room with a View, we loved the menu and it ticked loads of boxes. There were a number of compliments for the plates the dishes were served on, throughout our meal the service was excellent and our wine glasses were rarely empty. When you go (and you definitely should) don’t go and expect stylish decor or highfalutin toilets as all the attention has been placed on the food, which is as it should be.

4 starters, 4 mains, 1 dessert, 2 coffees and 2 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc = £153.30

The Courtyard, Cupar

One of our favourite restaurants in Cupar was Cafe Montmarte but disappointingly, it moved to Dundee a while ago. However, now in it’s place, is The Courtyard, which is exactly the same inside as Montmarte but they’ve swapped the black and white photos of famous French people with black and white photos of fishermen and as the chef/owner is Bavarian, the menu now has Bavarian influences.

We were given the lunch menu and there were specials on the board. The menu offered starters and light lunches and a few out of the ordinary main meals such as mussels and fries and Venison and mushroom lasagne. The specials board offered other dishes like Fresh Crab bisque, Jager Schnitzel and Mediterranean strudel.

Eventually we decided to share a starter of Baked Coconut Prawns – jumbo prawns baked in a creamy coconut, roast pepper & chilli sauce with crusty bread (which also came as a light lunch option). They were amazing! The prawns were big and fat and there were plenty of them, the sauce was thick and creamy and the flavours were balanced perfectly. There was heat but not too much and there was coconut but it was not overwhelming. I can not rave about it enough and I’d go back for this dish alone.

For main meals OH decided on the Pork Schnitzel – breaded pan fried pork escalope with fried potatoes, mixed salad & coleslaw from the lunch menu and I had the Baked Hake Fillet with King Prawns served with a tomato, fennel and garlic sauce from the specials board.

My hake was a little mushy but it tasted lovely. The vegetables were perfectly crunchy and the potatoes were a great accompaniment. The fennel in the sauce was delicate and thankfully, did not overpower the dish. OH enjoyed his schnitzel but said it started to get a bit boring by the end. The photo of his coleslaw doesn’t do it justice as it was a lot more colourful than the white blob in the pic and was obviously homemade.

Next to our table there was a black board with ‘Chocolate pot with caramelised almonds and cream’ written on it so instead of asking for the dessert menu OH pointed and said, “I want that one.”

Chocolate pot

It felt like Christmas when it arrived. It was fabulously decadent and came with its own little jug of cream. The caramalised almonds set off the rich chocolate giving it a sweet crunch. If he could have OH would have licked the bowl. Out of interest, when we got home, I checked the online menu to see what other desserts there were and I would definitely have had the Apfelkuechle – fried apples in a crispy batter, rolled in cinnamon sugar, served with vanilla ice-cream.

I went with low expectations thinking it would not be better than Montmarte but it was every bit as good. We will definitely be back.

1 starter, 2 mains, 1 dessert, 1 bottle of Fürstenberg lager and a diet coke £42.45

Ham’s Hame Pub and Grill, St Andrews

A lovely, sunny (but cold) Sunday afternoon saw OH, Mini-me and I venturing to St Andrews for something to eat. After walking along the side of the golf course we found ourselves in the very dog friendly Ham’s Hame, which sits right on the corner of The Scores and Golf Place.

The bar is a large, wooden floored room with lots of televisions showing sports. We were shown to a window seat and given menus for bar snacks and lunches. The soup of the day was Caramelised White Onion, which I immediately wanted as did OH. Also on the menu was Lentil and ham soup so Mini-me decided she’d prefer that. The soups arrived steaming hot and in lovely pottery bowls. My caramelised soup tasted charred, which initially was odd but the more I ate, the more I liked it. By the end of it I felt like I had been sitting in front of a very smokey fire. I tasted Mini-me’s soup and I thought it was missing a layer. Mini-me reckoned it lacked lentils and tasted more like barley.

For mains I ordered Beef Rigatoni – Steak mince bound in a rich tomato sauce, rigatoni pasta, fresh micro basil, Parmesan cheese & garlic bread. It could have been hotter when it arrived and unfortunately, I felt it was a bland meal with no intensity of flavour. I got bored halfway through and I’m pretty sure I’ve made better at home.

OH decided on Slow Roasted Pork Sandwich – Maple and Dijon mustard glazed, slow roasted stuffed pork shoulder, served on a focaccia bun, pork crackling, red cabbage & apple slaw, apple purée, mixed leaf salad & steak cut chips. I misread the menu and thought it was going to be pulled pork – it wasn’t, it was a thick slice of pork on a roll. He said he liked it but when I asked if he would order it again he hesitated and started to chose his words really carefully knowing I was going to quote him in this blog. Eventually he said he got exactly what was written on the tin.

Mini-me got adventurous and went for Haggis Scotch Egg – Lothian Haggis, soft boiled egg, bacon, roasted tomatoes, rocket salad & a whisky, mustard dressing. It looked lovely when it arrived and even better when she cut the egg in half as it was a runny, rich orange yolk. I tried a bit of the ham that was strewn through the salad and it was very dry. Thankfully I had wine to wash it down. Mini-me said the haggis was tasty and not too spicy and overall enjoyed her meal but said she would have preferred more iceberg lettuce rather than rocket. She also raved about the whisky and mustard dressing.

The toilets were clean with Molton Brown toiletries, service was spot on and it was good to find someplace to eat that is dog friendly.

3 soups, 3 mains, 2 pints of lager, a bottle of wine and a coke £85. 60

Fisherman’s Tavern, Broughty Ferry

This weekend we had Mini-me and Teeny-him staying so we decided to head to Broughty Ferry knowing Teeny-him would love the beach and park. Therefore, after Mini-me and I had worked up an appetite shopping and OH and Teeny-him were tired out after the park we went to the Fisherman’s Tavern for something to eat.

Teeny-him

We chose The Fisherman’s Tavern as it’s a Bellhaven pub and would be a bit more child friendly than some of the other pubs in the area. As expected it had one of those large set menu’s with pictures of food and offers all the normal kind of pub grub – burgers, pasta, steak pie etc. OH immediately plumped for Gammon Steak with Eggs – a 10oz gammon steak served with 2 friend eggs, chips and garden peas. Mini-me and I both decided to have the normal size Fish & Chips – Chunky beer-battered haddock fillet, served with chips, garden peas and tartare sauce (I had mushy peas) .

There was a chilren’s menu which offered a pic’n’mix selection of burger, fish fingers, sausages, chicken nuggets or fillet and then add a side and a veg. Teeny-him wanted cheese burger, chips and garlic bread but was told he wasn’t allowed that as it had to be a veg and they couldn’t swap items so his mum ordered him the cucumber and carrot sticks (which she ate herself) . We were also told we had to pay extra for the cheese, which we said was fine.

When Teeny-him’s meal arrived there was no cheese on it so we all had our meals and he didn’t, which devastated the tired 3 year old. Cue 4 minutes of hysterical tears as the waiter dashed off to find some cheese and we all tried to pass the toddler chips to appease him without success.

Our meals were all good. OH got runny eggs, which was great although he did mention his gammon steak was a little salty. Mini-me and I both enjoyed our fish and chips and were glad we didn’t go large as our fish was already big enough. The tartare sauce was a bit boring so it probably came out of a jar. The batter was spot on and the fish was fresh. I loved that I got proper mushy peas and none of those crushed peas people keep trying to fob off on me.

Like a typical toddler, Teeny-him ate the majority of his burger, most of his garlic bread and all the chips we put on to his plate so from that I am saying he really enjoyed his food.


My only complaint was the strict children’s menu. Kids are picky, it’s hard enough getting them to eat in the first place never mind putting up barriers by telling them they can’t have something. Surely it’s not that difficult to offer garlic bread and chips? And don’t get me started on the 50p for cheese that didn’t turn up at the start…

3 main meals, 1 kids meal, 1 non-alcohol lager, 1 large glass of white, 1 diet coke and a slice of cheese (50p) = £43. 14