The Allanpark Hotel, Stirling

Having bought tickets for Bloody Scotland, yesterday OH and I headed to Stirling to see crime writers Denise Mina and Louise Welsh chat with Janice Forsyth and then Mark Billingham chew the fat with Richard Osman in the Albert Halls.

A friend at work had advised us to park at the Vue Cinema and walk over the bridge into the middle of town, which turned out to be a great idea rather than driving around trying to find a place to park in the busy city centre. She also suggested the Allanpark Hotel for somewhere to eat, which also turned out to be a great piece of advice.

The Allanpark Hotel is off the beaten track and hidden at the end of a street not far from the Albert Halls. When we went in we were seated in an already busy room. I could tell by looking around that other diners were also there for Bloody Scotland as I spotted a number of programmes being read.

Soup of the day was Potato and garlic, which meant OH had already chosen his starter. The menu offered a lot of light bites, sandwiches and soup, sharing platters, pizzas and afternoon tea. The mains were things like fish and chips, burgers, stuffed chicken and macaroni cheese, which does sound a bit dull but I could see the dishes being taken to other tables and they looked good.

OH’s soup arrived quickly and was accompanied with some home made bread from the Bavarian Bakehouse. The soup was the perfect temperature and meant all the different flavours could be tasted. It was smooth with a little kick to it and went down a treat.

For main, I decided to go for the Seafood Tagliatelle w/ Tomato, Basil & Mascarpone – King prawns, squid, clams, chorizo, samphire, tagliatelle, Parmesan, garlic ciabatta. The prawns were huge and firm and the sauce was perfectly balanced. The samphire gave it a crunch and the chorizo was well cooked and not over powering. Overall the dish was great, just the right amount of pasta and all the ingredients complemented one another. Looking back though, I can’t remember tasting any squid or seeing any clams in the dish.

OH had a Super Food Bowl w/ roasted Chicken breast – wholemeal cous cous, lentils, kale, sun-dried tomato, roasted beetroot, artichokes, pesto, micro-herbs. OH enjoyed it but said there was too much and by the time he ploughed through it the dressing became too acidic as it had all pooled in the bottom of the bowl. The bowl also annoyed him and he would have preferred a plate but then they would have to change the description.

When we were asked if we wanted dessert, I stuck with the Pinot Grigio and OH decided to have the Classic Crème Brûlée – set vanilla custard, brown sugar, home-made shortbread, which I thought was a boring choice but when it arrived it looked amazing. The whole dish was sweetness in different forms. The caramlised brown sugar snapped into brittle shards and clashed delightfully with the soft creamy custard and OH loved every single calorie of the dish.

The service was exemplary. Everyone was cheerful and friendly, the food arrived quickly but with just the right amount of time between courses and when the bill arrived in a little Wind in the Willows book the waitress immediately brought the card machine.

1 starter, 2 mains, 1 dessert and a bottle of wine = £57

The Roost

Visited 8th March, 2014

Today we decided to visit The Roost in Bridge of Earn, Perthshire. Well, I say today but we actually booked the table midweek having thought through what we wanted to do this weekend. As it’s another weekend of not being on call I wanted to head out of Fife again – as is often my want. Anyway, we started thinking of places we had been before and meals we had enjoyed. Suddenly we remembered The Roost. We first enjoyed eating at The Roost maybe about 6 years ago. Way back then it wasn’t licensed and it had a rustic decor – looking at the website it had matured over the years so we decided to pay it another visit.

The Roost

The Roost

When we arrived at The Roost we were welcomed in and offered the choice of 3 different tables for 2. Taking our seats we noticed quickly that the furnishings had indeed changed over the years and now it was more geared towards fine dining with white tablecloths and brown leather chairs compared to the rustic wooden tables we remembered from before. We also noticed we were the youngest in the place – easily by 30 years – and we had forgotten to put marbles in our mouths.

Listening into their conversations I could hear rhubarb, rhubarb, World War 1, rhubarb, rhubarb, Queen Victoria.

We were given 3 different menus. A wine one (yes it’s now licensed – what a relief!), an a la carte one and the set lunch menu.  The set lunch was very set and only offered only one choice for each course at £17.50 for 2 courses and £21 for 3, whereas the a la carte one offered 7 different options for starters and mains. The options were varied and deliciously different from the usual run of the mill options.

OH chose Perthshire rabbit rillettes with pickled vegetables and crostini at £6.95 from the a la carte and I had Butternut Squash soup garnished with smoked paprika aioli and croutons from the set menu.   I have to say the soup was absolutely gorgeous. The ‘garnish’ really added to the soup and gave it an amazing depth which meant that every spoonful was tasty and the soup tantalized the taste buds with every mouthful.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

OH asked the waitress what rillettes were and she was able to give an excellent description of the process which involves cooking the rabbit really slowly until it falls to bits. It’s then shredded and formed into a course pate which is then shaped with double spoons. See – everyday is a school day! Apparently and gladly, the rabbit wasn’t as strong as OH had feared since it was a taste he hadn’t experienced since childhood and his Gran had cooked it for him.  OH loved the balance of the dish and raved about his good choice.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit

Rhubarb, rhubarb, Claire plays bridge, rhubarb, rhubarb, first to water sky on Lochearnhead, rhubarb, rhubarb, port.

For his main course OH chose the Confit of Barbary duck leg with braised red cabbage, potato rosti, Chantenay carrots and thyme jus at £14.50. I had Pan fried coley fillet, saffron risotto, tomato, olives and capers with lemon butter.

Yet again I was a little disappointed with my choice and OH trumped me (the bugger!). Unfortunately the coley was a bit bland and the saffron risotto although lovely, didn’t lift the dish enough and to be honest the black olives were the highlight of the course – something I never thought I’d say! In comparison OH’s duck was perfectly cooked, fell of the bone and worked really well with the

Holy Coley

Holy Coley

red cabbage. Honestly I’m getting fed up with OH trouncing me on his menu choice. I will have to rectify this soon!

Rhubarb, rhubarb, Kaiser Wilhelm, rhubarb, rhubarb, Tony Blair, rhubarb, rhubarb, cigar.

I’m really not a dessert person so I opted for another glass of pinot (yeah I know this is becoming a theme;)) and ignored the option of white chocolate, honeycomb and stem ginger cheesecake with poached Yorkshire rhubarb from the set menu (btw why Yorkshire rhubarb – specially when all I’ve been hearing is posh Scots rhubarb???).

OH, who is a pudding person, chose Plum frangipane tart served warm with orange crème anglaise. He then boasted that his choice was perfect as he still had the taste of duck in his mouth and therefore the orange crème anglaise complemented it beautifully and at the same time cut through the almonds and the plums flawlessly.  Really, I think he was just bragging because he had selected (in his eyes) the perfect menu.

When OH ordered a coffee I was also (annoyingly) jealous of the piece of tablet that accompanied it but thankfully the waitress noticed my dissatisfaction and brought me a piece too. (yuss!)

All in all, the bill came to £58.10 which included £13.20 for drinks.

Rhubarb, rhubarb, golf in the wind, rhubarb, rhubarb, swinging party keys in the ashtray.

Good food, friendly service, pricey lunch menu =  7/10