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.

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Edinburgh – Craft beer crawl

Usually when OH and I go out we eat and I drink. Therefore, this weekend OH stated, with a toddler like determination, that he wanted to try some real ales and he wasn’t too fussed about food. Who was I to argue? So off we went and were publicly transported to Edinburgh, solely with beer in mind.

Our first port of call was The Advocate just off the Royal Mile (7 Hunter Square). It was relatively empty so we managed to get a seat without any difficulty and it wasn’t too hard to notice the rest of the clientele were tourists. Posters screaming out how good their haggis was adorned the walls so this confirmed their customer base . OH started off with a pint of Old Speckled Hen as he thought “Woo hoo, Old Speckled Hen on draught!”. Apparently it’s one of his favourites. I started slow and had half a cider because it was still early and I’m a lady (if you just spat on to your screen you know me too well!). OH told me the round was £7 something so not the cheapest of rounds #touristtrap.Ushers

From there we wandered up South Bridge and turned right on to West Nicholson Street where Usher’s of Edinburgh is to be found. The decor in Ushers is heavy on wood and as you descend down the stairs into the bar you get whiffs of creosote. The aroma is even stronger in the toilets but as OH pointed out, it’s better than 2015-05-16 13.56.09the smell of piss.

We’ve visited Usher’s before and already knew it had an onsite microbrewery and therefore lots of choice. Again we weren’t disappointed. There was 20 pumps to choose from as well as a vast array of bottled ales. After sampling a few of the beers, OH chose one of their own, Smokey and the Bandit.2015-05-16 13.57.28 I had a taste of it and it was like the last mouthful of cocoa that you forgot to drink earlier. Cold, chocolaty and a little bitter. OH, however, says it was nice and light, not a heavy potent beer that makes your mouth look like a cat’s ass but smooth and light and tasty – so there you have it. I had a pilsner called Sunburst from the Inveralmond Brewery (4.3%). It was so light and crisp it was like drinking water straight from a Scottish spring that had ran over some hops.

Leaving Usher’s behind (as it would have been too easy to rise to the challenge of trying every pump) we went outside and found it to be a bit dreich so ended up going straight into the next door bar, The Blind Poet. This bar had literary quotes on it’s walls and was full of leather couches and chairs. OH quickly decided on a pint of Broughton’s Dark Dunter (4.8%) Dark dunterand announced it was smokey and chocolaty and had more body than his last pint and went down a treat. (you will notice Smokey and the Bandit wasn’t described as smokey). I had Camden’s Gentleman’s Wit a 4.3%  Belgium Witbier, which had a lovely refreshing lemony tang to it. Unfortunately we also decided to eat in this bar as there was a basket menu and I thought it would be a good idea to get something in our stomachs before we continued our ale quest. Big mistake. It was a basket menu and I thought cheap and cheerful but no – just cheap and even then really bad value. Enough said.

You know when you have went for a run in the car to have a picnic and can’t find some place lovely to stop so end up parking somewhere that’s just okay so you can eat – you then finish your picnic and drive off around the corner only to find a spot with the most amazing view in the world? Well that’s exactly what happened to us as we left The Blind Poet and happened upon The Potting Shed on Potterrow. It was fabulous. The decor was just as if you had wandered into a potting shed. The light fittings were pots, buckets or sieves, there were plants, chicken wire and spades everywhere and the food was served on terracotta saucers (I’m going back so will tell you if the food is any good later). There was also a blackboard with all the on-tap drinks they had on offer.   Again, after a few samples, OH settled on a pint of Le Chien Noir (5.5%) from Carbon Smith Brewing – apparently a rich and darkly roasted stout but on asking OH just now he can’t remember much about it….and there was me laughing at OH and now I discover I can’t remember what I had – I know it had either white or lie in the title and was supposed to have a hint of banana to it but it was rank – the bananas must have been old and brown. It looked like dirty dishwater after you’ve had a curry and was heavy going. I couldn’t finish it. Next time I’m having samples first too!

…to be continued but ***spoiler alert**** we went on to cocktails next.