DBB at The Old Course Hotel, St Andrews

Just before Christmas I received an email from The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews offering dinner, bed and breakfast for £199. Now, considering to stay overnight is usually around £185, this was a bargain I could not ignore so I quickly booked a room for in between Christmas and New Year.

So off we popped to St Andrews. Prior to check in we decided we would try out their golf academy and whacked 100 balls on to the practice range. The experience was made more interesting with the little screens next to the tees that showed exactly how far the ball was hit as well as it’s trajectory and speed. I’m no Jack Nicklaus but I was pleased I managed 142 yards straight down the fairway.

We then drove down to the hotel to check in. The hotel’s Christmas decorations were beautiful and I was glad I had booked within the festive season. Our room was on the second floor and was large, spacious and very comfortable with the deepest bath ever – ideal for testing out all the complimentary toiletries and large fluffy towels. Unfortunately, the view was of the car park but it being winter (and me being Scottish) I wasn’t paying an extra £30 to see a golf course in the dark.

Dressed for dinner we paid The Jigger Inn a visit for a couple of aperitifs before heading back in to the hotel and up to the Road House Restaurant on the fourth floor. We were given a window seat but as we already knew, it was dark outside so unsurprisingly all we could see was the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse, which was lit up at the end of the 18th. Unfortunately, it also meant our table was a little dark as there were no lights above us. Hence my rubbish pics – sorry.

As we were on the DBB deal we were given the set winter menu with 3 options for each course and I ordered a bottle of NZ Sauvignon Blanc from the sommelier. It was not long before he was back allowing us a taste and chatting away about wine. As he blethered he continued to hold our bottle of wine in his hands. I started worrying about his hot hands heating up my cold wine especially as there was no wine cooler in sight. What was even more bizarre was that when our starters arrived he continued to chat away. Thankfully our starters were both cold…unlike our quickly warming wine. Eventually we were allowed to start our meal when the sommelier wandered off still holding our bottle.

For starter OH ordered the Sweet potato croquet, truffled goats cheese, pecan and apple. OH enjoyed it and it was gone before I remembered to take a pic and now it appears it didn’t make much of a mark on his memory either.

I had Duck presse, foie gras, smoked duck and clementines, which was lighter than expected with the orange segments giving it a refreshing tang.

For my main I had Red mullet, shellfish, pancetta broth, cocotte potatoes samphire and saffron nage. This dish was beautiful. The shellfish was plump, juicy mussels and hidden under the mullet, which was a lovely shade of red (not shown at it’s best in the pic). The potatoes were good but nothing special and the samphire could have had more bite but overall it was a lovely dish.

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What I am now starting to discover, since actively reducing my salt intake, is restaurant meals are starting to taste too salty to me so I did find it heavy on the salt but that might just be fish dishes and me nowadays.

OH had Pork belly, red onion marmalade, blackcurrant jus, baby carrots and haggis bon bons. OH felt the pork belly was too dry and chewy. There was only 1 carrot and the blackcurrant jus was just a smear on the plate which by the time OH got the plate it was baked on so there was no taste. Yes, OH was more than a little disappointed in this course.

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Throughout the meal different waiters topped up our glasses so I can only imagine a host of different bottles being kept in fridges and someone co-ordinating how they get back to the right diners. No easy feat but it appeared to work as we were never left dry.

For dessert OH went for the Chocolate and orange deluce, orange segments, caramel crumble and frangelico ice cream. OH says this was the best part of his meal and was just the right taste and amounts to finish off with.

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I went for the selection of artisan cheeses, truffle honey and black grapes. The cheeseboard was lush and I loved it and ordered a port (and extra crackers) to go with it. 4 good sized pieces of cheese all of which were tasty, plenty grapes and I love a cheeseboard with honey, which goes amazing on blue cheese. The truffle honey smelt and tasted highly of garlic but the sommelier (who popped over as he had noticed I had ordered port but not from him) assured us it was truffle oil. I honestly would have argued against this as it was very garlicky but still lovely with the blue cheese.

Breakfast the following morning was busy and often there were people having to wait for a table. They were asked to sit in the bar with complimentary tea and coffee whilst they watched over the links. Our timing must have been spot on though as we were immediately shown to a table.

Breakfast was good with a vast selection of items on offer. Everything from cooked meats, salmon and cheese to cereals, fresh and dried fruit and pastries. The hot plates offered bacon, sausage, lorne sausage, haggis, black pudding, scrambled egg, tomatoes, beans, potato scones and hash browns and on top of this you could order freshly prepared dishes such as eggs benedict, kippers and omlettes etc.

When we checked out our bill for the wine and port came to £42.50 (I had already paid the DBB rate of £199).

Overall, it was a fabulous night away and a great way to set myself up for a good start to the New Year.

And hopefully you are all ready for the new year too so with that in mind I wish you all the best for 2019 and thanks for taking the time to read my blogs over the years x

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Café Montmartre, Dundee

One of our favourite places to go for an authentic taste of France locally used to be in Cupar, Fife. However, Café Montmarte had the audacity to move to Dundee so unfortunately was no longer on our beaten track. However, it did go on our list of places to go when we want to travel further afield (and OH doesn’t mind not getting any wine).

So today was the day we ventured over the Tay Bridge. imag5568I called the night before to book a table and I’m glad I did as although there were only 3 people in the restaurant when we arrived by 1.25pm the room was full and there were no spare tables for anyone walking in off the street.

We ordered from the Set Lunch menu (a la carte and snack menus also available). When we go out we always try to order something different and usually this isn’t a problem as we have very different tastes. However, today we both wanted to have the Duck rillettes pate but since OH was driving I let him  win. imag5570They arrived served on crusty bread garnished with apple and plum relish. Initially OH raved about his choice and  I had to agree when I tasted the pate. It had a great texture and a nice but not over powering gamey taste. However, by the end of it OH needed a mouthful of my wine to help the pate down as it’s richness  became too much. There was nothing wrong with it just too big a portion.

imag5569For my starter I had Calamar & prawns in tempura with garlic & dill aioli. The squid was lovely. Not chewy at all and when covered in the aioli just wonderful. The prawns were also done to perfection. I couldn’t leave any aioli so finished it off with some bread.

Sticking with game, OH plumped for Guinea Fowl, which was on the special’s board. I don’t have the exact description but the French owner reported it as being with beans and sausage. You can see for yourself from the pic. I haven’t had Guinea Fowl for over 26 years since the first and only time I have had the bird I thought I was licking the cobblestones in a farmyard. Yuck. It obviously put me off. However, when I tasted OH’s it was nothing like that at all. It was a cross between chicken and pheasant and therefore, not too gamey. OH enjoyed it and said all the ingredients worked well together. Himag5571e loved the potato and leek mash and the bean cassoulet but again his only complaint was that the portion was too big. He hates waste and was brought up to clear his plate so having to leave food upsets him.

For my main I opted for the Oven roasted salmon steak, set on spinach, ginger and beurre blanc sauce. The salmon was perfect and the sauce glossy and thick. I wasn’t keen on the tomimag5572atoes, which looked roasted but tasted uncooked. It was the same mash as OH’s which stayed hot right to last bite and was lush. Overall I loved it.

Remember how OH was complaining about the portion size being too big? Well, of course he still managed to enjoy a dessert.imag5575 La Boulanerie Opera – fine layers of almond sponge with coffee cream & chocolate ganache, served with espresso ice cream. I just asked OH if he had anything to say about his dessert and he just went “Mmmmm. The coffee ice cream wasn’t too strong, the cake was just slivers of loveliness and it rounded off my meal perfectly”.

IMAG5576.jpgNot having a sweet tooth and taking advantage of the fact there was no supplement, I went for the cheese board.  For once there was more crackers/bread than there was cheese, which was great. I could have done with a little chutney but other than that the cheese was great and the perfect portion size (yes, I know when to leave the bread alone).

Since moving to Dundee, Café Montmarte has lost none of it’s previous ambience and charm. The menus and food are still great and the décor very similar only now our  favourite little bit of Scottish France is now in Dundee but really you should go see for yourself, you won’t regret it.

2 x 3 course set menu lunches, a pineapple juice, 500ml of house wine and a double espresso = £55.20