The Kirklands Hotel and Restaurant, Kinross

For Sunday lunch we were out and about near Kinross and decided to visit the restaurant in The Kirklands Hotel. When we arrived we were given a table in the front of the building next to the bar but later realised we had entered a TARDIS as there was also a large restaurant through the back.

We were given menus and told the soup of the day was Red lentil and tomato and the 2 Sunday roasts were beef and pork. Our drinks order was taken and we were given water for the table.

The menu was full of things I liked so it was a hard choice. Even the macaroni cheese came with options of ‘with haddock’, ‘with ham hock’ or ‘with pulled beef brisket’. Different things that stood out were pumpkin and coconut curry, Tacos and there was small and large options of all of the mains.

I decided I was going to start with French Onion soup with Gruyere cheese crouton, which arrived with a warm Mediterranean brown roll and butter.

Often French onion soup can be hazardous and leave your tongue and chin burnt with long stringy cheese and rodent onions but the temperature of this soup didn’t need a health warning. It was delicious and tasty but if I had to make a complaint it was that the croutons weren’t crunchy and the plate wasn’t deep enough. If I’m paying £6.50 for a plate of soup I want it leaving me wishing I hadn’t ordered a main dish instead of wanting more.

OH had forgone a starter and went for a large plate of Katsu Chicken Curry – breaded chicken fillets & katsu curry sauce served with egg fried rice.

This isn’t a dish OH would normally choose as he isn’t a fan of breaded food but he loved all the tastes on his plate and said the fresh coriander, spring onion and side salad made the dish zing for him and he’d happily order it again.

Following my soup, I went for a small bowl of Moules Frites – steamed mussels with bacon, pine nuts and Parmesan sauce, skinny fries and crusty bread. Prior to my meal arriving I was given a finger bowl and dish for the shells so the restaurant was already given brownie points for the their fore thought.

The bowl was the same size as the plate of soup so wasn’t big at all but it was full of a thick creamy sauce and heaped with both red and spring onions. The mussels were fresh and all of them had burst open. The bacon bits were thin on the ground but there were plenty pine nuts and the crusty bread was soft and perfect to soak up the cream sauce. To begin with I had thought the onions were overkill but I managed to eat them all and was not complaining about them at the end. Often I can leave the broth in mussels because I am either bored or it’s too salty – not the case here, if there had been a pattern on the plate there was no evidence of it by the time I had finished wiping it clean. The skinny fries also managed to disappear without trace.

OH finished with a flat white so I ordered a small glass of wine to keep him company.

As were sat next to the bar I could watch the young waiter making up other’s drink orders and I could tell he took pride in what he was doing whether it was chilling a glass prior to pouring wine into it or putting a feather pattern on top of a coffee cup. Like the finger bowl it’s the small things that make a big difference.

A starter, 1 large main, 1 small main, 1 coffee, 1 non-alcohol beer, 1 large and 1 small glass of wine – £43. 90

The Ship Inn, Elie, Fife

As it was a horrible, wet and windy day OH and I decided to visit the Ship Inn in Elie for lunch as it isn’t too far from home and would have some fantastic views of any white horses in the Forth. Although we have had numerous drinks at the Ship before we have never ate there since it was done up a few years ago. We have however, dined at their sister restaurant in Ratho, The Bridge Inn, which you can read about if you click their name.

When we arrived we were seated in the corner of the room where OH could look out over the harbour and watch the water splash up over the deserted beer garden. Menus had been left on our table but there was no sign of any specials or a board. It did have catch of the day on the menu with the POA acronym next to it so I did ask and it was Sole and was £23.95. I also had to ask for a wine menu.

For starter OH decided on Beetroot Pesto vegetable crudites, heritage beetroot and toasted seeds. We did think about sharing it but I really wanted to try the Cauliflower Fritters harissa, crème fraiche and coriander, which came under the heading of Nibbles.

When it arrived it was nothing like I had expected as you couldn’t lift up any individual vegetable. That didn’t stop me trying it though and it tasted wonderful. The colours were vibrant and the tastes were fresh. OH said it was a large helping and filling. He also said he felt very healthy after it.

My cauliflower fritters were like little clouds of heaven. I loved them. The balance of deep fried batter with the crème fraiche along with the kick from the harissa worked so well I could have just kept eating.

OH and I could have probably left at this point as we already felt like we’d had a lovely meal but our main orders had been taken and it would have been rude not to stay.

To be honest, I was disappointed in the main choices considering the restaurant is right on the water as the only fish dishes were fish and chips or fish pie (obviously apart from the sole) so I opted for a small fish and chips and OH went for the fish pie. Other options were Bangers and mash, Butternut Squash Risotto and the Ship Inn beef burger.

The fish pie arrived in what OH called a meals on wheels container with the vegetables on top. He had trouble cutting his carrots and beans and complained (as usual) about food not on flat plates and the problems it causes. However, getting over that he said the pie had big chunks of fish, the vegetables had a bite and the sauce was really creamy. The piped potatoes on top were also thick and creamy. He says he would have it again but needs to remember and order it on a flat plate. I have been writing these blogs and going with OH to restaurants for about 6 years and he still forgets to bring his glasses to read the menu so I am guessing it will be at least another 6 years before he remembers to ask for a flat plate.

My fish and chips were good, if a little boring. The batter at the tail end was a bit soggy but the further up the fish I worked the crisper it got. The crushed peas were exceptional compared to other bashed up peas I have had recently but I would still prefer mushy ones. The tartare sauce was unique with an ingredient I couldn’t quite make up mind what it was – maybe just the gherkin was pickled in something different but whatever it was, it was good. (Edit: my mum has text me to say it would be capers not gherkins) The chips were also good but I had to stop myself eating them all as I was fuller than the moon that was making the tide outside so high.

2 starters, 2 mains, 1 x 250ml of Argentinian Malbec, 2 x 125ml of house wine and a lager. £54.95

The Boat House, South Queensferry

After a visit to Port Edgar Marina, and finding there was an hour and a half wait for food at Scotts, we decided to head into South Queensferry and try The Boat House . We had seen the doorway often but had never ventured down to the restaurant at the bottom of the stairs before. Incidentally, on the window on the way in we saw a sign saying the restaurant was shutting at 4pm for the staff’s Christmas night out, which I thought was great. For a boss to close his business so the entire workforce can celebrate together says a lot about an owner and I really appreciated that.

When you enter the dining area the first thing to hit you is the panoramic view of the Forth (Rail) Bridge. Even though I live in Fife and frequently see it, the sight of it up close still catches my breath so it was great when we were offered a window seat.

We were given the chef’s specials and the daily menu and our drinks orders were taken. I decided on one of the specials, the prawn and salmon linguine with parmesan and garlic bread. I can’t remember what sauce it was in but I have a feeling it was lobster and prosecco but I might have made that up. Regardless, the dish was fantastic. The prawns were bigger than the garlic bread and reminded me of a Dr Who episode The Green Death (I shall let you google that if you can be bothered). However, these little monsters did not give me nightmares. They were thick, meaty and juicy. The salmon was smoked and abundantly scattered throughout the pasta dish. If I had any complaint at all it would the food was too hot – burny burny not nippy.

OH decided on the Seafood Curry – Chunks of fresh fish in a Malaysian style Coconut and Coriander curried sauce blend served with steamed Basmati rice and warm naan bread. When it arrived there was immediate disappointment as it arrived in a bowl with a knife and fork. If you’re a regular reader you will know OH hates this. There was also a small bowl of mango chutney in the bowl, which added to OH’s annoyance but that’s just him – it seems nowadays no-one wants their food touching. That aside though, it did not take him long to work his way through it. He thinks, as well as mussels, there was also salmon and haddock in the dish but he could be wrong. The sauce was mild and maybe not as spicy as it could have been but it did prompt him to ask if I could make the dish at home, which is a big compliment from him.

The dessert menu was a bit unexciting for me (sticky toffee pudding, profiteroles, panacotta) but the Chocolate and Orange Tart with Crème Fraiche appealed to OH. As I watched him chisel his way into it I could visualise it coating his arteries. He enjoyed it and used words such as heavy and sticky and tart but tasty. I also noticed it was on a bed of raspberry coulis, which would have balanced the tastes. OH then finished off with a lovely coffee and piece of tablet, which he offered to me but I declined and sipped at my large glass of sauvignon blanc instead.

Additional notes: Service was great, toilets were immaculate and although we both had seafood dishes there were a number of other meat and vegetarian options on offer.

2 mains, 1 dessert, 1 coke, 1 large glass of wine, 1 coffee = £50.15