The Kinneuchar Inn, Kilconqhuar, Fife.

Last week after visiting Bowhouse Market we went for a drive and noticed that the Kinneuchar Inn in Kilconqhuar was open again (after being shut for 2 years) so we popped in. We chatted with Aletha Palmer who told us her and her partner, renowned chef, James Ferguson had come up from London to open the restaurant. After having a couple of drinks and a nosey at the menu we booked a table for lunch the following Saturday. And of course yesterday was that day.

When we arrived we were seated and given menus and the specials board was read out to us. The menu was confidently simple (thanks to my SiL for that description) but also a little disappointing. I had already known there would only be a meat dish, a fish one and a veggie option but the main meat was mince and tatties! And that was the exact description. I don’t think I am alone in making mince and tatties regularly at home so I was surprised to see it on a relatively fine dining menu as the only meat dish on offer. The fish dish was Shetland Mussels and Nduja (spicy pork paste) and the vegetarian option was Crown Prince Squash, White beans, Goats Curd & Gremolata. The only main on the specials board was a Chicken, Ham and Chanterelle pie, which was for 2 to share.

This made the menu difficult for OH who isn’t keen on mussels and (understandably) had ate mince and tatties midweek and didn’t want to pay £12 for it now.

After deciding on our mains we then worked backwards and chose our starters. On offer there was soup, brawn and red cabbage, a leek gribiche and on the specials board there was a squid dish and Smoked Trout, beetroot sauerkraut and horseradish, which I decided to have and OH went for the Spinach and Potato soup. When they arrived the colours were spectacular. OH’s soup was a vibrant green and my trout was bright orange, which contrasted with the purple beetroot sauerkraut. There was no bread with the soup and we realised too late that we should have ordered it as a side from the menu. OH enjoyed his soup, which was thick, heart warming and perfect for the breezy autumn day.

My trout was very smoked, the sauerkraut was a little acidic and the horseradish cleared my sinuses even though they hadn’t been blocked. It was a plate I wanted to finish even though it was challenging me and I had to take several breaks and breathe through the horseradish.

With just the right amount of time between courses our mains arrived. OH had eventually decided on the veggie option and unfortunately it came in a bowl (OH hates food in bowls unless it’s soup). Sounding quite surprised, OH said his meal was tasty, everything worked well together and it wasn’t a dry boring dish (how he usually views veggie dishes). However, he couldn’t finish it and felt there were too many beans, which had bloated him. He also said he was all cheesed out by the end.

I had went for the mussels. They arrived with a piece of toasted sourdough bread precariously balanced on the side. The mussels were huge, fat and orange. The broth wasn’t too salty and the Nduja tasted a little like chorizo. There was nothing wrong with the meal but I could have done with a spoon, a side plate and a larger bowl for the shells as I had to start carefully positioning them like backwards Jenga, constantly in fear they would topple. The accompanying bread was spread with loads of garlicky butter and I loved it but it kept falling into the broth and by the end of my meal my fingers were a sticky, fishy mess and there as no finger bowl.

OH, who usually never passes up the chance of a dessert, declined to look at the menu as he was too full of beans and cheese. However, I know you really want to know what the options were so I took note – there was a treacle and walnut tart with creme fraiche, blackcurrant ice cream with a golden syrup biscuit or Hebridean Blue Cheese.

As I waited on OH finishing his pint I noticed a couple of elderly diners at another table had ordered the pie to share. It arrived in a large dish with 2 plates and a spoon. The pie wouldn’t have disappointed Desperate Dan it was so big and hearty. I watched on as the female of the couple then tried to cut into the pie whilst trying not to burn herself on the dish. The spoon was far too small and the operation looked like a disaster in the making. The male obviously loved the pastry and spent quite a bit of time chiselling down the sides of the dish to try and get to the crust and he did burn his finger. I just felt that initially one of the waiting staff could have helped serve the dish rather than just plonking it down and leaving.

I also noticed another diner got a piece of lemon with their smoked trout. Where was mine? Another colour on my plate would have looked awesome.

Overall, the food was beautiful with a locally sourced menu that tries to use every bit of the animal but there could be more thought put into how the dishes are served to make it a bit easier for the diner.

2 pints of Czech lager, an apple juice, 2 starters and 2 mains – £50.30

Cafe Circa, Abernyte, Perthshire

There’s an antique and arts centre in Abernyte, which is on the road between Perth and Dundee that OH and I often visit on wet weekend days. It’s a big building full of different antique dealers, new furniture, clothes and a kitchen/deli section. Yesterday, after checking the weather forecast, we decided it was one of those days to visit.

As we wandered around we were stopped in our tracks when we spotted a beautiful chaise longue that would go really well in our living room. It was a good price and it’s a piece of furniture I have always wanted but did I really need one and did I really need it right now? We decided to have something to eat at Cafe Circa the restaurant in The Scottish Antiques and Arts Centre to discuss and mull it over.

The menu was in sections Breakfast, Light Lunch, Mains, Cakes and Bakes. There was also a special boards. In the mains sections it was listed as a set 2 or 3 course meal and didn’t have individual prices so a set 2 course lunch it was. Smoked Haddock Chowder with baked seeded crusty brown bread and butter jumped out from the list of starters, which included tomato, mozzarella and parma ham, salmon bon bons and salad.

The chowder was far too hot but tasted fabulous. It was so thick and creamy you could stand your spoon up in it. It was jam packed full of fish, peppers, potatoes and sweetcorn and the smoked haddock pieces were so big I think I had a whole fillet in my bowl. The bread was also far too tasty and I really wanted to eat both slices but I knew I was already going to struggle with my next course as the chowder was so filling but ever helpful OH didn’t see it go to waste.

For my main I had Tempura Battered Sea Bass and King Prawns
on a rocket and pea shoot salad with lemon and thyme potatoes. The plate arrived with half a field of potatoes and a jungle of green.

The batter was light and crisp and the sea bass and prawns were obviously straight from the fryer. The accompanying soy sauce dip was the coldest thing on the plate so it immediately cooled the king prawns, which were chunky and tailless (that’s a good thing btw, the contrasting cold dip not so much). Unfortunately, the abundance of potatoes were on the hard side and the jungle was in such a tangle there was no delicate way of eating it so both were left on the plate. This was not really an issue though as I was needing an excuse not to eat anymore.

OH had Pulled Beef and Wild Mushroom Wellington
with port gravy, roast potato, green beans and mashed turnip. The pastry was golden and crisp (he says there was no soggy bit, which is my favourite bit ) the mushrooms were under the pastry and around the pulled beef, which melted in the mouth. He had no complaints about his potatoes, which were roast and the veg went well with the dish. He too was struggling to finish (and remember he’d also had a piece of my bread) but to his credit (and thickening waist line) he managed.

There was a dessert menu but for once OH didn’t even want to look at it. However, what jumped out was a Chocolate and Cherry Tartlet with creme fraiche sorbet, which sounds divine.

I would definitely go back but next time I would only have the chowder….and maybe a sandwich.

Two 2 course set lunches, a bottle of locally brewed Abernyte Festbier and a Ginger beer – £40.80.

And in case you are wondering. We didn’t buy the chaise longue.