Fabric, Dunfermline

So yesterday OH and I dined with Mr and Mrs Hairy at Sol y Sombra in Broughty Ferry. It was a good time with great company and great food. However, I wrote about it in 2014 and when I reread my blog from back then I thought it was still as relevant today so I didn’t feel the need to write another. If you want to see it you can read it—> here

Instead, I am writing about Mini-me and I dining in Fabric in Dunfermline today. We had just walked around the fabulous Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries and when we came out we noticed Fabric diagonally opposite the library. The menu looked good so we went in.

Fabric is the epitome of a place for women who lunch. The white stylish chairs, the single red roses at each table, the mirrored tiles, the chandeliers and the huge vase of flowers on the bar said it all. We were seated among other women who were enjoying afternoon tea. The cake stands of scones, fancies and sandwiches looked fantastic. At another table a woman sat surrounded by glasses and Prosecco in an ice bucket obviously waiting for friends so they could celebrate a birthday.

We were given menus and brought glasses of water with ice, which was great. We oohed and aahed over the offer of a starter and a main for £11.95. However, as it was a Sunday and they were serving brunch all day, Mini-me fancied the full breakfast with sourdough toast so I thought I’d get a starter we could share as it was only a couple of pound extra and therefore decided on – Arancini – red pepper, watercress and tomato salsa – followed by Tiger prawn squid ink linguine in a creamy tomato sauce. When the waitress appeared we ordered. She said, “Are you ordering the starter and main combo?” Yes I am. “Sorry, the pasta isn’t a main meal, it’s just these ones here. The menu is a bit confusing.” I couldn’t agree more. “Just the pasta then thanks.”

Tiger Prawn pasta

We waited quite a while and discussed afternoon teas and coming back for one, we read the drinks menu and chatted about what cocktail we would order if we were going to have one and we listened to other people’s conversations about being at Ladies Day. Eventually, our meals arrived and they looked great although Mini-Me’s toast looked like the Guinness Book of Records could give it an award for the whitest toast in the world. We both thought it was bread.

toast (yes really)

My pasta was lovely, roasting hot and very messy. I had to tuck my napkin into my top to save it from the tomato sauce (thankfully Mini-me let me) but I loved it. As well as temp hot it also had a bit of a kick to it and the sauce was beautifully creamy. I would have liked more prawns but I’m not sure how much is too much when it comes to good prawns.

breakfast

Mini-me was enjoying her breakfast – the bacon, sausages and eggs were great but the buttered toast was fast becoming a problem. She said the butter tasted cheap and was leaving a bad taste. The haggis was tasty until she got to the bottom of it and she started to wonder if it had been fried in the same butter. When I had finished my pasta I asked Mini-me if she was going to finish her toast as I fancied a bit to wipe up the last of my sauce. I even went as far to pick up a bit but it was rock solid. Her reply was, “If you’ve got a nice taste in your mouth I wouldn’t.” I didn’t.

We asked for the dessert menu but nothing jumped out so we just got the bill.

As we didn’t have any drinks (we just stuck with the water) it was a bargain £16.90 for a breakfast and a main meal (which wasn’t really a main meal it was pasta).

With hindsight we totally should have had an afternoon tea.

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Fairmont, St Andrews

My mum treated OH and I to brunch at the Fairmont in St Andrews last Sunday. I hadn’t heard of this previously but apparently they have them on the first Sunday of each month – an all you can eat Sunday meal in plush surroundings at £32.50 per head.

Oddly, the International brunch is served between 1 and 4pm, which to me is more of a lunch time thing. This was also echoed in the food being served as there were no omelettes, no pancakes and maple syrup and no eggs Benedict, which I would have expected on a brunch menu (and would have loved). That aside however there was a myriad of other dishes on offer.

The waitress took our order of a bottle of white wine and explained how the buffet worked. We then wandered up and perused what was on offer.

The soup was Cullen Skink, which bizarrely I did not have.

At the starters section there was different kinds of slaws, pulses and nooddles (yummy). Some of the ingredients I had never heard of before and there was a lot I no longer remember but there was things like stuffed vine leaves (one of the favourites from my first trip out), brie, honey and walnuts, chicken terrine, blinis with cream cheese and caviar (I had a few of these), something like fera, beetroot and halloumi, quails eggs, a large variety of Italian cooked meats, smoked salmon, stuffed peppers, pickles, sauces and dips.

From the sea and on ice, there were langoustines (long with googly eyes), oysters, mussels (fat and juicy), prawn cocktails, roll mop herring (lush), anchovies and salmon. Next to that there was crispy duck, pancakes and hoison sauce and a whole host of savoury bon-bons.

In the centre of the room there was a variety of International main meals made with lamb, chicken, salmon, beef and vegetarian dishes so there were curries, rissottos and ragouts.

At the carvery there was roast ham and turkey (but no beef), Yorkshire puddings, pigs in blankets and gravy. At the back of the room there were dishes of buttery mash, roast potatoes, roasted root vegetables and a wealth of (not soggy) broccoli.

At the dessert station, which was like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, there was an ice cream freezer where you could make your own cones, a chocolate fountain with strawberries, crispy cakes and sponge fingers (but no skewers or cocktail sticks to stab into the strawberries so you could hold it in the fountain – I dread to think how many dirty fingernails went into the chocolate). There were also doughnuts, individual cakes, muffins, crumble, profiteroles, chocolate sponge triangles, gateaux and pretty blackcurrant and chocolate smoothies.

Obviously, by the end of my multiple trips to the various stations, I was stuffed.

One of the main things I had been looking forward to was the Bloody Mary station. However, it turned out that there wasn’t one and you had to order them from Mathew at the bar. I checked with the waitress that they were included in the brunch and all 3 of us ordered one. I asked for extra spice. When they arrived they looked really boring – long tall glasses with brown liquid at the bottom and dark red at the top. There was no stirrer or straw but a small slither of celery sliced up the stalk and perched on the top of the glass.

My suspicions were confirmed when I tried the drink – it was heavy on Worcestershire sauce and lacking in any other taste. There was no cracked black pepper or celery salt or even any chilli flakes. I struggled through it and when the waitress asked how it was I told her my concerns. She said she’d tell Mathew how to make one to my specifications and I ordered another. It wasn’t quite as bad but as I had asked for a straw or a stirrer it arrived with 2 tiny black straws that would not even have reached half way down the glass. There was also a smattering of white and brown pepper on it, I’m guessing from the pepper shaker on the table.

Of course I soldiered through it (and my mum’s who couldn’t finish her own brown vinegary drink). With hindsight it would have been lovely drizzled over some toasted cheese.

After a coffee to finish off we asked for the bill. When it arrived it had 4 Bloody Mary’s on it at the cost of £11.50 each! An extra £46.

I queried the bill and the waitress took them off but honestly – £11.50 for the worst Bloody Mary I have ever had. I don’t think so!!!

The correct bill came to £130 for 3 Brunches and a bottle of wine.

Bloody Mary’s aside, the food was excellent and it was a fabulous way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Thanks Mum.

Cluny Clays, Cluny, Kirkcaldy.

Sunday morning and the fridge was akin to Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard so it wasn’t too hard a decision to head out for breakfast. Recently, as part of my job, I have been taking a teenager to the golf range at Cluny Clays to help build his self-esteem and confidence. Much to my surprise I’ve really started to enjoy it, although I do tend to completely miss the ball more often than I connect with it. In stark contrast the 15-year-old looks like a natural so my incompetence alone helps boost his self-esteem.

Anyhow, when trying to decide where we should head for brekkie we came up with the idea of going to Cluny Clays. The plan being breakfast followed by 100 balls in the golf range.

They serve breakfast until 11.30 and offer a full cooked,  a full veggie, eggs on toast, whatever you fancy on a roll and t2015-07-12 11.22.56heir own twist on a croque monsieur. OH went for full cooked no black pudding and I went for full cooked no mushrooms. When my plate arrived I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it. 2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, 2 sausages, haggis, black pudding, tomato, beans and toast. We also had a pot of tea for 2.  The breakfast was absolutely fantastic. The sausages weren’t too spicy, the black pudding was lovely, the egg yolks were runny, the bacon was thick and I had no complaints at all. OH managed to finish his and I gave mine a damn good go but had to leave some just so I would be able to get out of my chair.

When I paid the bill I also asked for the balls for the driving range. They give you a receipt with a 4 digit number, which you then take to the range, input the code into a machine and it spits out your balls into a basket.

2015-06-03 14.51.38Once you’ve picked your bay you pour your balls into the hopper and it automatically pops up your ball onto a tee. It’s all very fancy. At Cluny Clays there is a transit van parked in the middle of the range with a target on it as well as greens with holes and flags, and nets to chip into. Try as I might I couldn’t hit the van. Obviously OH managed to hit it 4 times in a row (show off) so with his advice I managed to start hitting the ball more often but got very frustrated when, after 40 balls, I started swiping through fresh air again so I went in a huff and gave up.

After OH had distributed the remaining balls over the range, we wandered into the shop and started chatting with (what turned out to be) one of the PGA professionals that give tuition. Long story short. I’ve now signed up for lessons!!! Yes, I know. Me neither. This can only end in one of 2 ways. I either become a golf bore and my blog start to show a reducing handicap or I wrap a club around OH’s neck.

You’re just going to have to watch this space to find out which it is.

2 breakfasts, a pot of tea for 2 and 100 balls for the golf range – £20.70

The Red Squirrel, Lothian Road, Edinburgh

Sunday’s are made for Bloody Marys and brunch. Or, if you’ve had a lie in and missed the cut off time, a gourmet burger and seasoned fries. And that is exactly the hangover cure I had today in The Red Squirrel in Edinburgh.

When I ordered the Bloody Mary the waitress gave me one of those looks so full of approval I felt like I’d passed some kind of test. The look also held a smidgen of jealousy and a dollop of pride because she looked sure in the knowledge that they serve a damn fine Bloody Mary in her workplace. She asked if I wanted it spicy. Oh yes please. Her smile told me I had answered correctly.    2015-01-18 12.50.27-1I wasn’t disappointed when it arrived. It looked great in a large glass and it was very hot but not overly spicy. It was heavy on Worcestershire sauce and not for the faint-hearted but it went down a treat and managed to melt all the frozen bits the walk down Lothian Road had left me with.

I was annoyed we couldn’t order brunch but it was my fault we didn’t arrive until after 12.30 (they stop serving it at 12) so I didn’t complain. Without the options of the breakfast menu you’re left with mainly burgers or lighter meals and snacks. So burger it was. I went for the The ‘Red Squirrel’ BBQ 6oz beef patty, smoked bacon, fried onions, peppers, smoked applewood cheddar, kc sauce burger and 2015-01-18 13.04.33 OH, who had been up early and had a bacon roll before we left, ordered the Beetroot Salad  – Salt baked beetroot, raw beetroot, green apple, crème fraiche, pickled shallot, vinaigrette.  2015-01-18 13.04.21  OH said his salad was crispy and tasty and the mix of ingredients went well together. My burger was good although, like most burgers, it fell to bits at the end. I’m not entirely sure if it was smoked bacon they used as the BBQ aspect of it didn’t really come across – it was really only the smoked cheese I could taste but my seasoned fries saved the day as they were amazing and worth popping in just for them.

Service was really good and the bill for a Bloody Mary, a non-alcoholic beer, a salad and a burger came to £24.00.

P.S, If you’re into craft beers you really should check out their extensive drinks menu <<< click there

Dublin = Guinness

Our Ryanair flight dumped us into Dublin after midday on Saturday 22nd March all set for a week in Ireland. 2 nights in Dublin, 2 in Cork, a night in Galway and another in Drogheda. In the past I’ve either grabbed a taxi into town (expensive – €20) or hopped on the airlink bus (reasonable – €6) but this time I’d done some research and the No.16 would get us into the city centre (cheap as chips – €2.60) and there’s free wifi on the double decker!

We got off the bus on McConnell Street and headed straight  over to the bridge to what I knew as Messers but is now called JW Sweetmans . With our luggage at our feet we ordered the first 2 Guinness’s of our Irish holiday. ImageEveryone says that Guinness in Ireland tastes totally different and I can testify this is most definitely the case. It’s creamier, has more body and goes down smoothly with no bitter aftertaste. ImageIt wasn’t long before my pint glass was empty and my smile was wide.
It would have been really easy staying put and having another but OH was keen to check into our hotel and get rid of our bags. Our hotel was The Camden Court Hotel which is about a 10 minute walk from St Stephen’s Green. The street the hotel is situated on is full of quirky shops and interesting looking restaurants. I’m guessing the normal Dublin tourist wouldn’t know about this street’s existence as it is a little off the beaten track but it deserves a wander up just to see the less touristy side of Dublin.

The hotel room was lovely and had everything that you’d expect but there was no free biccys. I do like a wee biscuit with a cup of  coffee from a sachet when I first arrive at a hotel but sadly complimentary biscuits seem to be a thing of the past nowadays.

Peckish and travel weary we decided not to go far but to try the pub next door for something to eat. The Bleeding Horse is a traditional Irish pub – lots of wood, levels and hidden cubby holes. We sat in the corner with a view of the footy and ordered lunch. Although I do, OH doesn’t like Italian’s  (the restaurants not the people – he likes them, especially Sophia Loren types) so I rarely get to eat pizza. Therefore, when I saw there was a choice of pizzas on offer and there was actually one that if I were to pick all my favourite toppings it would be it – I think it was called the Odds On – there was no further menu scrutiny required. OH chose a burger with smoked bacon and cheese which arrived on a block of wood with big fat chips, side salad and relish. OH rated it highly and the thought of it being made from a bleeding horse didn’t enter his mind at all. My pizza was great although I shouldn’t have chose the Oregano oil as unfortunately,  I was reminded of it for the rest of the night :S

Obviously, being in Dublin, the rest of the night pretty much consisted of drinking Guinness in different Irish bars. The next one was The Swan. The building is steeped in history and featured in the Rebellion as a signalling post, was centrally located in The War of Independence and was occupied during the Civil War. OH asked for dark rum in here and was given something that smelt like it should be rubbed on a bleeding horse. Bleurgh. The bar man saw my face when I sneaked a taste and told me the rum was called Sea Dog. I’m not joking; you’d have to be at sea for a lengthy period of time to think this minging, medicinal liquid was worth a swig.

Off on our travels again and we headed to The Hairy Lemon where many scenes from the film The Commitments were shot. Comfy, old leather chesterfield chairs were our home for the next couple of rounds before we decided to go to the The Old Storehouse in the Temple Bar area where we found a packed house and music on offer. The tourists were demanding the band sang Galway Girl and they weren’t disappointed when the singer broke into it almost immediately. I think it was really to get the girl with the black hair and blue eyes out of the way so they could proceed to sing what they really wanted to sing. In that situation, I ask you friend, what’s a fella to do?

 

The next morning the plan was to have brunch in Gallagher’s Boxty House. I’ve been a few times before and I’ve always had a great time so I wanted to make sure we could fit in a visit. I’ve found in Boxty’s that the waiters are charming (good looking and flirty – just what you want from young Irish guys), the food is lovely and the overall feeling of the place always seems to be warm, welcoming, friendly and that nothing is any trouble at all. You can tell I love this place huh?

Boxty’s opens at 11am on Sunday mornings and we were hovering outside waiting for the minutes to tick by. On this visit there was a lovely waitress who ushered us in and quickly made us feel at home.  We were looking over the menu and I was trying to decide if I should have wine with my meal as it was still early. I asked the waitress if I should or not and she pointed out that I was on my holidays and if you don’t have wine with every meal on your holiday then you’re not doing it right. That was it settled so she started writing down a glass of wine. No, I said, a bottle. The look on her face was brilliant.

I’ve waxed lyrical about their bacon and cabbage boxty to OH on numerous occasions (Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake) so he pretty much had to try it (there was no pressure really ;p)2014-03-23 11.42.16 and I plumped for the full Irish breakfast since it was my first opportunity to have one.

OH enjoyed his boxty and loved the flavour and texture mix. He did say it was a little bit too creamy for him but if there had been a pattern on the plate he scraped every sign of that off his plate too! My breakfast was spot on and everything you’d want from a breakfast the morning after a day on the Guinness. 2014-03-23 11.42.31 The wine went down a treat too.

As is my want, I tweeted about my meal telling the Twitter world how good it was. Not long after, I noticed that whoever was behind Gallacher’s Boxty House twitter account had favourited my tweet. As I was waiting for the waitress to appear so I could order some Irish coffees, I tweeted back saying “Never mind favouriting my tweet where’s my Irish Coffee?  We then had a bit of banter back and forth.  Ahh wait, I should say we had a bit of craic over the twitter airwaves. See, a week in the Emerald Isle and I’m almost fluent! This just added to my Boxty House experience. The Irish coffees were ordered, irish coffee they arrived and they were drank with relish. I was already sitting with a warm glow when the waiter arrived with the bill and explained that the owner had taken care of the coffees. I couldn’t believe it. What an absolutely lovely thing to do (it’s every Scot’s dream getting free drink ;p)  as if I didn’t already love the place! It also shows the power of Twitter.

So the moral of this story is that if you ever visit Dublin you have to make sure a visit to Boxty’s is on your list! (and yes it’s because I think I might get an Irish Coffee for every single one of you that visit Boxty’s on my recommendation ;p)

 

To be continued.