Banner’s House Hotel, Markinch, Fife.

OH and I were babysitting for our granddaughter today (Yeah I know – I don’t know how I can be a gran either ;p). As a way of blackmailing my son to come out and meet with us in public I told him if he wanted us to babysit he’d have to meet us in Banner’s House Hotel in Markinch with his toddling bundle of fun. Of course, you can’t treat one without treating the other so MiniMe was invited too.

Therefore, I pre-booked lunch for 4 and a child. When MiniMe and I entered Banner’s (OH had to go pick up MiniHim and TeenyMe) they immediately asked what age the child was and then completely re-arranged the table accordingly. They couldn’t have been more friendly or helpful. We were given menus and asked for our drinks order. With a quick look at the lengthy drinks menu MiniMe asked what their fruit smoothie was and after a quick dash to the kitchen and back was offered strawberry, banana and pineapple. She plumped for strawberry and banana and was happy with her choice. I wasn’t driving or on call so had a glass of red :D. We were eventually joined by OH, MiniHim and TeenyMe who gave their drinks order and we all perused the food menus. There was a set menu – 2 course for £12.95/3 for £14.95 or a brunch/lunch menu which offered sandwiches, burgers and baked potatoes as well as a few other main meals.

Whilst we waited TeenyMe was offered some crayons and paper. The waitress then returned with a child’s welly boot with crayons and some old set menus in it. Bonus points for some great recycling!

The set menu was a little odd as it offered slightly surprising dishes rather than the norm. The mains were smoked haddock omelette, jerk pulled pork baguette, Mediterranean vegetable spaghetti and fillet of coley. The kids struggled with it (I say kids, they’re both in their early 20s) so I was the only one that went for the set menu. I had Cauliflower Soup to start with and TeenyMe got a children’s meal of chicken strips and chips brought at the same time (this was the waitresses suggestion and it was a good one!) I liked the soup – it was nothing amazing but a thick and creamy dish. It came with a small doughy roll (no butter?!?) which tasted homemade. 2015-08-01 12.53.42-1

MiniMe ordered a BLT baguette and a portion of chips, OH went for the 8oz Chargrilled Ribeye steak with pepper corn sauce, homemade onion rings, chips and salad and MiniHim went for Jamican Jerk chicken burger – grilled spiced chicken breast, homemade bun, chips and salad.

I followed my soup with fillet of coley with herb crusted potatoes and a mussel and brown shrimp sauce. I don’t normally eat the skin on fish but this was amazing and I ate every last lovely drop of the dish2015-08-01 13.08.42-1. The mussels were consistently fat and fresh and although MiniMe was trying to get me to help her with her chips I couldn’t as my fish dish was satisfyingly filling.

MiniMe’s only complaint was that her plate wasn’t big enough as every time she cut into her baguette her bacon went flying.2015-08-01 13.07.47-1 2015-08-01 13.07.39-1MiniHim said his burger ‘wiz gid like’. Although he left some chips and salad there was no sign of the chicken breast or homemade roll so it must have been gid. OH said his steak was good but he thinks he’s starting to favour the Flat Iron cut as it’s a thicker more juicier steak. (As usual) OH was glad the peppercorn sauce came in a little jug which he didn’t pour over his steak.2015-08-01 13.10.07-1

Dessert time – MiniMe went for the Double Belgian Chocolate Brownie served warm with vanilla Ice Cream, which she said 2015-08-01 13.58.28was really chocolaty and she highlighted the fact that she couldn’t have ate it if it didn’t have the ice cream with it. OH fancied the Orange & Vanilla Rice Pudding with Dark Chocolate which was on the set menu so I ordered it for him and MiniHim was already starting to wain so I gave him permission to leg it. He didn’t need offered twice. As is my norm, instead of pudding I ordered another glass of red.

OH didn’t finish his pudding and disappointingly said it was really only rice pudding with orange zest on the top with a sprinkling of dark chocolate and he really wanted more chocolate and orange in the dish.2015-08-01 13.58.34

TeenyMe was given vanilla ice cream as part of her child’s menu – thoughtfully given in a dish with the cone separate. It got puddled about with. Not being used to taking a toddler for lunch, and with hindsight, I should have asked for an even smaller dish for TeenyMe or for an empty plate so she could get a bit  from all of our plates as she is at that awkward age between jars of food and kid’s menus. I will know the next time 🙂 Saying that, the chicken strips she got tasted great.

OH took TeenyMe out for a walk and I asked for the bill. It arrived in half a coconut with some jellybeans – the kid in me loves that! Unfortunately, when I checked the bill my set menu had been rung up separately so I went to the bar to get it sorted out. The good looking waiter apologised immediately saying it was his error and changed the bill for me. I then gave him my card to pay and punched in my pin code. I’m not quite sure what happened next but very quickly it resulted in my card getting blocked and me having to get OH to pay for the meal. I’m guessing it was a combination of him giving me the machine without pressing a button first and me putting in my number and hitting enter without reading the screen. Oh well, at least he had the beauty…..

Anyway, a quick visit to the bank and being told all I had to do was put my card in the hole in the wall, put in my pin, select other services, then pin services followed by unlock pin rectified the muck up. (that’s a top tip btw).

One set 3 course meal, 1 child’s meal, 1 steak, 1 burger, 1 baguette, 1 dessert, 2 glasses of wine, an Irn Bru and a soda water and lime (in other words a lunch for 4 and a toddler)  = £77.85

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The Riverside Inn, Dundee

Last weekend I was off call for work but on call for babysitting duties. The baby in question is our beautiful 1 year old granddaughter (yes, I know you didn’t think I was old enough ;p)

As it was a rotten day on Saturday we tried to think of somewhere indoors that would suit a nosey wee one but also keep our interest too. Therefore, we decided to head north to The Scottish Antiques and Arts Centre at Abernyte in Perthshire, which if you like wandering around old bits and pieces, perusing chic modern furniture, accessories and clothes and finally pick up some fancy cheese in a deli then it is the place to go when it’s raining. There really is something for everyone whether it’s an antique figurine, a brand new footstool or a cup of tea and slice of cake. The down side is that the restaurant area is a bit too upmarket to sit with a toddler. We, therefore, headed along the River Tay to The Riverside Inn in Dundee.

I had thought it was still called The Marmalade Pot but we discovered it had been refurbished and boasted a tv screen at every table and a free soft play area. Yes, I did say a TV SCREEN at every table. It’s anti-social dinning at it’s best. I guess you do have the choice of switching it off but as the waitress led us to our table I didn’t see any blank screens.

What I did like though, was that the table we were shown to had already been set for us with a babyseat and children’s menu. I had brought some food for the wee one so it was just OH and I that needed to decide. As we looked over the menu the waitress brought over some plastic cutlery and chatted with the wee one, which was nice. The menu was the usual pub grub but also advertised hanging skewers and a Build Your Own Burger section. Thinking the DIY burger was too much hassle OH decided to go for a 28 day aged 8oz Rump Steak with seasoned chips, petits pois, mushrooms, onion rings and roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine. I went for the Chicken fajitas with pan-fried peppers, red onions, tortillas, jalapeños, grated Cheddar and Mozzarella cheese, sour cream and salsa.

Whilst we waited I tried to feed our granddaughter but she was far too interested in everything that was happening around us. Other children running around, large groups arriving with presents and balloons and the waitresses passing by with platefuls. However, we soon had her full attention when our food arrived. 2015-02-21 14.26.41My fajitas were sizzling hot and made quite a racket when the dishes were placed in front of me. OH’s steak, although looking good just didn’t have the same pizzazz.    2015-02-21 14.26.48   When I saw the amount of spicy chicken and peppers there were I didn’t think I would be able to finish it all but oh boy did I manage, and enjoyed every drop.

OH made short work of his steak too and managed to lose a few chips to the wee one who preferred them loads more than the food I had provided. I’ve just asked OH to pass comment on his meal and he’s said “You can’t really go wrong with a steak – it was a good bit of beef done the way I asked without any sauce on it.”  So there you have it. 2015-02-21 14.26.34

After we’d scrapped our plates clean, I toddled after the wee one through to the busy soft play area where she spent 20 minutes trying to get everyone’s attention and I spent 20 minutes trying to get her attention to capture a colourful happy pic. We both failed but both had fun.

It’s not a place I’d go for a romantic meal or even a meal with another couple but with kids that arent teens yet (let’s face it teens wouldn’t want to be seen with you out anway)  it’s an ideal place to go and have good food whilst they watch tv and run around in their socks.

One pint of lager and a tin of juice – £4.93 (bought at the bar as we waited on our table) and 2 main meals – £18.98 = a total  of £23.91.

The Espy – Portobello

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Yesterday when OH and I were out with the dog in Elie we had a clear view of the 2 Cockenzie Power Station chimneys across the Forth from us, which made us start talking about heading out that way for Saturday lunch. I had looked up The Espy in Portobello a while ago and knew it was dog friendly so we decided we’d take Amber for a walk along the beach and give it a try.

Although it was a bit of a grey day the beach area was busy and you could just imagine it heaving in the summer. Seaside towns always look a little sad when it isn’t sunny but Portobello was a happy smiley place – nearly everyone we passed on the esplanade acknowledged us with a friendly nod.

After working up an appetite we ventured into The Espy and found it very busy. I hadn’t bothered booking a table so I was a little anxious that we wouldn’t get a table.  I looked to one of the barmaids and pointed out our dog she smiled broadly and motioned for us to go through to the back where there was couch table just being cleared  (we realised later that the back of the bar is the dog friendly bit).

The leather couch was covered in cushions and comfy. It sat next to a low wooden table already set with a water jug, glasses and cutlery. Amber lay under the table wondering what the hell was going on – visiting a restaurant was a completely new experience for her but she behaved really well. The waiter handed us menus and told us the soup was Butternut Squash with fennel and ginger.

I have to admit I hate sitting at low tables to eat – it gives me indigestion and I did say to OH that we could ask to be moved but he said he had settled in by this point.

The Espy is a cluttered, homely, child and dog friendly bar. Every space on the walls is covered with photos, album covers and movie posters. Nothing else could have been squeezed above the bar as it already had a giant pint of Guinness, an inflatable alligator, a skeleton, a treasure chest, a ….honestly I could go on and on with all the clutter. It would take a good few visits before you had seen everything that was on show in the bar. If you did get bored admiring the decor there was also games and newspapers to keep you entertained.

From the menu we were given, I ordered Trout but as it came with minted potatoes I asked if I could have them without mint or chips if the potatoes had already been minted. The waiter insisted that he went to check and would be right back to let me know. I told them there was no need as I’d be happy with either but he was determined to keep me well informed. True to his word he returned with news from the chef. The news was that he had given us the wrong menu and there was no trout with or without minted potatoes. The waiter could not have been more apologetic.2014-05-03 14.03.14  On second look I chose the Pan fried chicken supreme with prosciutto and sage with a cracked pepper sauce, green beans and gnocchi. OH had Baked hake with chorizo and smoke red peppers – the menu description was loads better but neither of us can remember what it was – mind you, maybe if OH had paid more attention he would have realised that his dish was going to have a Spanish feel (not a favourite taste of his) and he should have probably chosen the Lamb instead.  My dish was really tasty but I just don’t get gnocchi – it’s got an odd texture which sticks to the top of your mouth and you can feel it coating your ribs on the way down.  I must remember not to order it in future.

During our time in The Espy numerous dogs came and went. Some barked, some sniffed. Numerous children came and went. Some screamed, some ran about. There was never a dull moment.

My overall view of The Espy is positive and if you’ve got kids and a dog I’d definitely recommend it – if you have neither Id wait until you do.

2 mains plus drinks came to £30.50 2014-05-03 14.35.02