The Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant, Stonehaven

OH and I haven’t had a planned lunch out for a while so with an empty weekend on the horizon we decided to plan a trip to Stonehaven so we could visit The Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant and pop in to see our niece and her new fiancé who live in the area.

We set off up the A90 and then prior to heading into the coastal village we stopped off at 2016-08-27 12.05.11.jpgDunottar Castle for a wee daunder around the picturesque, cliff top fortress to work up an appetite.

It was just a short drive from there down to Stonehaven and to the harbour the restaurant looks over. 2016-08-27 12.26.09.jpgUp some stone stairs the restaurant sits on top of the Tolbooth Museum and is the oldest building in Stonehaven dating back to the 16th century.

Soon we were sitting down with menus in hand. There was a blackboard of daily specials, a set lunch menu (3 courses for £20) and a short à la carte menu.

Fresh langoustines, mussels and oysters were also all on offer However. the set menu was perfect for me as I easily chose the Cullen Skink followed by the sea bream. OH also went for the set menu choosing mackerel and then Thai prawn curry.

The Cullen Skink was served with chopped chives, croutons and herb oil and came in a IMAG4472beautiful bowl that I would have loved to take home with me.  The yellow smoked haddock was dominant within it as it should be but for me there was a lack of lumps of potato in it and the consistency was verging on splitting. Nevertheless it was a tasty starter.  IMAG4470

OH’s hot smoked local mackerel fillets, baby green salad, pickled red onions and orange dressing didn’t last long. He had been intrigued by the orange dressing and was perhaps a little disappointed that it was spotted around the dish rather than over the fish and salad but this was a very minor thing.

IMAG4475My grilled fillet of sea bream with crushed ratte potato, chargrilled courgette and spicy tomato sauce  was beautiful. The skin was crispy and the fish fell away from it in nice tasty chunks. I’m a big fan of courgettes and these were perfect. I also loved the potatoes having never knowingly tasted ratte ones before.

Surprisingly, OH had went for the Thai prawn curry, crunchy greens, IMAG4473black onion seed & coriander rice as his main. He isn’t a big fan of prawns so my eyebrows raised at his choice. However, I then realised that the other option left on the set menu was rib eye steak and he’d had one a couple of nights earlier so didn’t fancy another so soon. Plus when we go out we try (we don’t always succeed) to get different dishes. Therefore, he had decided to leave his comfort zone on this occasion.  I asked him how it was and he said just like mine when I cook Thai so maybe he wasn’t too far out his zone. His plate was wiped clean before mine so I’m guessing he enjoyed it – the prawns certainly looked like big, meaty ones.  IMAG4476

For desserts we had also chosen different dishes. He had dark chocolate mousse, honeycomb and salted peanut brittle. He IMAG4477loved his and liked the crunch of the brittle alongside the thick, rich mousse.  I had went for local Castleton Strawberries, vanilla meringue, chantilly cream and strawberry coulis.  This hit the spot and wasn’t too heavy or too much after the previous 2 courses – just a great ending to a great meal.

For me the set menu was really well thought out offering something for everyone. However, the waiter did say you could mix between the set and the à la carte and they would change the price accordingly, which is a good thing.

2 large glasses of Sauvignon Blanc, a Gran Marnier, a soda water and lime and 2 x 3 course set menu came to £58.85.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Grill House, St Andrews, Fife.

When I’m on-call I have to stay within an hours drive of central Fife and have a good phone signal. Therefore, OH and I drove around Fife trying to think of somewhere we could dine. We drove through Elie first only to find it was the Elie Fair day and the cars were parked nose to tail along the pavements so we quickly gave up on the small east neuk village. Crail was similar with tourists swarming the streets. Since we had spent the morning on the golf range (yes I am still hitting balls) we even tried Crail Golf Club but the elitist club only serve food to members or people who have golfed the course so we left those pompous gits behind. It was with no surprise to either of us that we ended up in St Andrews. Over the years we’ve ate here a lot but had never tried The Grill House so we made our way inside.

The music and decor are Mexican and the menu also reflected a Mexican theme as there were fajitas, chili and enchiladas on it as well as a burger and char-grill section. There was a lunch menu, which didn’t finish until 4pm and it offered 2 courses for £7.95. However, I found it to be quite uninspiring and for once I struggled to order from it. Incidentally the soup of the day was split pea and mint (I hate mint in my food).

OH looked at both menus and couldn’t decide what to have. He then decided he was going for the Flat Iron steak on the à la carte menu. Well, he was until I pointed out to him that it was also on the set menu with a £4.95 supplement and even with the add-on it would still be cheaper and he’d get a ‘free’ starter with it.  One decision made he then struggled with what starter to go for as, like me, he found it difficult to chose between the soup, haggis fritter, Caesar salad and salmon goujons (also with a supplement). Eventually he settled on the haggis fritter, which came with onion chutney and salad..  2015-07-25 15.51.56  When it arrived it was a slice of haggis, which had been battered and deep fried. The haggis was greasy and not spicy enough. The salad was undressed and the chutney cold, which in turn made the haggis cold too.

For my main course I had plumped for Grill House Pulled Pork Chicken, which was char-grilled chicken breast topped with pulled pork, melted smoked cheese and hickory BBQ sauce. It came with the option of fries or chili fries.2015-07-25 16.12.27 It arrived covered in leaves with no other vegetables. I enjoyed it and ended up eating far too much of it. The sauce wasn’t too strong which can often be the case with BBQ sauce and there was heaps of melted cheese.

Just in case you don’t already know (I didn’t), Flat Iron Steak is cut with the grain from the leg. Apparently it produces a more flavoursome steak but can often be tougher than a rib-eye or sirloin. This is because it would normally then be sliced in half along an internal membrane to produce 2 thinner cuts instead of the thicker, Flat Iron steak that could still contain the gristly membrane (thanks wiki).

OH’s asked for his steak rare as usual and it arrived with a with a red wine and thyme sauce and a pile of rocket leaves.The sauce came in a cute, little saucepan on the side and I was shocked when, half way through, I saw him pouring it over his steak (OH hates it when the sauce is all over his steak). 2015-07-25 16.12.19When I queried this I was told it was really nice with a lovely hint of the wine and thyme and it went great over his mediocre steak. “Mediocre?”  “Yes, it’s alright but I’ve had better.”  Of course this has to be true, with no disrespect to this steak, as he has had many fantastic steaks over the years.

OH had 2 ales from the St Andrews Brewing Co. to wash down his meal – considering our earlier drive I’m not sure if it was coincidence or not that one was called Neuk and the other Crail.  2015-07-25 16.39.17Overall, The Grill House was enjoyable. They have very reasonable priced cocktails, the service was good and  the toilets clean and although the starter wasn’t great, if you like your food sizzling or deep fried then this is the place for you.

One set 2 course meal with a £4.95 supplement, one main, 2 ales and 2 diet cokes = £40.55.

Ducks Kilspindie House, Aberlady

If your name is Duck then you either change it by deed poll as soon as you can or you embrace it wholeheartedly and open a hotel called Ducks with a bistro called Donald’s and you fill the place with ducks at every point whether it is ornaments, pictures or shower curtains.

As tacky as that may sound it really isn’t. Duck’s was a lovely last minute find.

2015-05-03 16.44.14

As soon as I knew I wasn’t on-call and off on Bank Holiday Monday I checked the weather forecast and then did a search for dog friendly hotels down the east coast where it was going to be sunny and breezy and bright. And that’s how I happened upon Duck’s Kildpindie House in Aberlady.

We booked in for bed and breakfast and then when we go there we decided to dine there too.

The room was basic but comfortable and had everything you would need for an overnight stay. We had been given a room at the back of the hotel, which took a bit of getting to as the hotel surrounds a courtyard. However, this worked out to be ideal for us as there was a back entrance that allowed us straight in and out with the dog and saved us having to trail the dog through the hotel. 2015-05-03 17.53.17

After a fantastic walk around the bay we had a quick drink in the bar before dinner. As Aberlady (just like a lot of the villages on the east coast of Scotland) is a golfing village it was no surprise that the bar had a golfing theme. Golf pin flags festooned the roof and other golfing memorabilia decorated the walls.

With a healthy appetite we wandered through to Donald’s Bistro, named after the owner’s father. 2015-05-03 18.16.07As soon as I was told the soup of the day was French onion I didn’t pay too much attention to the rest of the starters. 2015-05-03 18.28.13OH decided on ‘Sauteed mushrooms on toast, highland blue cheese, poached egg’ as he thought it was a great combination that he hadn’t thought of putting together before. It was an inspired choice as he loved it and is now going to try and make them himself for a breakfast some weekend. (I won’t hold my breath though). I was a tad disappointed when my soup arrived and looked like no French onion soup I had ever seen before. It was butternut squash! 2015-05-03 18.28.46 I would have complained and sent it back but fortunately my second favourite soup is spicy butternut squash. It was good. Nice and thick with a little bit of heat about it.

For main I had ‘Twice cooked pork belly, Stornoway black pudding, apple fritter, Belhaven Best Yorkshire pudding, cider jus. OH chose ‘Roast saddle of lamb with confit shoulder, Belhaven Best Yorkshire pudding, mash, Stornoway haggis’.

2015-05-03 18.40.58We both enjoyed our courses. The pork belly melted in my mouth and the black pudding complimented it beautifully and OH loved the confit shoulder. However, neither of us managed to clear our plates. Whether we had pigged out on our starters or it was just too big a portion we’re not sure but our loss was the dog’s gain 😉 2015-05-03 18.40.35-1

Of course OH still had room for a dessert. He maintains that ice cream settles his stomach but I’m not sure if this is just a ploy to get a pudding when he hasn’t ate all his meat. Saying that, he did go for the ‘Vanilla ice cream with marinated berries, honey & whisky.’
2015-05-03 19.13.02

Dinner, bed and breakfast for 2 and a bottle of wine = £113.50. It was great value for money and worth a visit if you are in the area and looking for cheap and cheerful. The staff were very friendly and welcoming, especially the owner Malcolm, his son, Malcolm, and the barman, Jamie who unfortunately is set to leave and I bet, will be a sad lost to the Ducks.

The Crusoe Hotel, Lower Largo (an evening visit)

Last September I wrote a blog after having a bar lunch at The Crusoe Hotel in Lower Largo. (you can read it here if you want) Having just reread it, we obviously weren’t overly impressed with our meal. However, I’m delighted to say that wasn’t the case when we went there last night for a meal with OH’s sister-in-law. Now to be known as Silc.

Like our last visit, I was on-call so one of the reasons we chose The Crusoe was I knew I could get a phone signal there. Sure as fate, just as we drove up and maneuvered into the tight car park, my phone started to ring so as I dealt with the call, OH and Silc went in a managed to get us a table in the lounge, even although we hadn’t booked.

When I eventually managed to get into the lounge Silc and OH were patiently sitting looking over the menus with drinks already by their place settings and diet coke next to mine (damn this blessed on-call!). The evening menu looked really interesting and I struggled a little to decide what I would have as there was such a good choice. Eventually I decided on the 2015-04-03 19.37.29Confit of Pork Belly, caramelised apple puree, Pomme anna and salt baked winter vegetables. And what a great choice it was! The pork belly melted in the mouth, the salt baked vegetables were phenomenal and the layers of potatoes were amazing. OH turned to me whilst I was eating and said, “I thought you didn’t like parsnips?” I replied that I didn’t but because of the way they were cooked they were just too good not to eat. He said he was disappointed as he thought he would have been able to steal mine. He had no chance!

Both Silc and OH went for the Pan Roast breast of duck, fondant potato, sticky red cabbage and griottine cherries. 2015-04-03 19.36.28

OH raved about his duck saying it was excellent. He tells me that he hasn’t had duck for ages and when he has had it, it’s usually from the Chinese and it’s dry, crusty and overdone but this was succulent and cooked to perfection. He added that the sauce wasn’t too sweet and the cherries burst in the mouth with a lovely surprising tang.  When I asked if there was anything else I got, “It was all good and the tatties were done in the duck fat to give them a nice crispy texture.”

As you know I don’t usually have a dessert but as the main courses were so good I decided I’d have Rice pudding, apricot compote and walnut crumble. It was nice and warm when it arrived but just as I 2015-04-03 20.26.09had started to eat it my phone rang and when I returned I found it to be just a little bit chewy. I still managed to eat it all though.

OH went for the Sticky toffee pudding, butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream. 2015-04-03 20.26.02He said it had been heated up in the microwave and was hard and tough on the outside and just ‘alright’ in the inside.

Silc had Ice caramel parfait – poached pear and dark chocolate sauce. When it arrived it looked great as it was presented beautifully (as was everything to be fair). Silc had no complaints and scrapped her plate clean.2015-04-03 20.24.39

We had a fabulous time – the atmosphere was great, the service was fantastic and our main meals were out of this world. We will be back.

As Silc paid for the meal (thank you so much)  I don’t know how much the bill came to but if you look on the website you can see the prices on the Dining page.

Yann’s At Glenearn House

Visited 1st March 2014

Today we had planned to head south towards Musselburgh but our plans were thrown into disarray early doors when a car garage let us down so suddenly, on a beautiful blue sky morning, we had an empty day and no plans.

When I’m not on-call, and don’t need to stay in Fife for the weekend, I always like to head out of the Kingdom and make the most of my freedom. So with escape in mind I remember that years ago someone mentioned – possibly on Twitter – that they’d had the most amazing mussel soup at Yann’s in Crieff. Ever since then it’s been on my radar as some place to visit. One of the reasons we hadn’t already dined there was that it was a restaurant that only did Sunday lunch or evening meals. As Crieff isn’t on the doorstep of the majority of people it’s not someplace you would necessarily plan to go for an evening meal unless you were staying the night. Fortunately though, today when I checked the website, I discovered they are now doing Saturday lunches.  Woohoo! We phoned up and booked a table but as they have only started opening the kitchen early on a Saturday we needn’t have bothered but I’m guessing when word gets out you will have to book well in advance to secure a table.

First off – if you are driving there and can drive through Glen Devon then do. The scenery is amazing and as there’s no good radio signal you should prepare in advance and make a cd of your favourite music. Either go for classical and pretend you’re Morse as you drive through the winding roads or if you’re more like Jeremy Clarkson put on The Who.

When we arrived at Yann’s we were greeted warmly at the door and offered the opportunity to enjoy a drink in the lounge or to go straight to the table. We opted for the table and were offered the choice of two. We sat down and admired the decor. It was beautiful; very French and very striking.  The dining room walls are covered in French pictures and photographs. There are wine and champagne bottles scattered everywhere and although it has that boho cluttered feel to it, it also looks very organised and dust free.

Yann's

Yann’s

We ordered drinks and the waitress brought as water, bread and butter and pointed out they didn’t do side plates as they were tres French but she could bring one if we needed it. She then told us the specials and wandered off to fold linen napkins with such precision I felt guilty at unravelling mine and placing it on my lap.

When it came to menu choice it wasn’t too hard as Gratinated French Onion Soup was an option. The waitress had mentioned there was garlic snails on the menu and it did make me hesitate but come on, French Onion Soup in a French restaurant?? OH opted for poached pear, gorgonzola and smoked pancetta salad with hazelnut dressing.

poached pear, gorgonzola and smoked pancetta salad with hazelnut dressing

Starter

With just the right amount of waiting time our starters arrived. OH’s salad was well displayed on a piece of slate. He mentioned it was a bit vinegary but it balanced out well with the cheese and hazelnuts.  My soup was lush – not as hot as lava which is often a real hazard when it comes to French Onion Soup but full of flavour with stringy roasted cheese on top. At this stage I’d like to point out to lovers and people on first dates that they shouldn’t choose French Onion Soup if they are trying to impress their partners as it isn’t the most delicate of eating experiences ;p.

Normally OH is jealous of my food choices and looks on with green eyes at my plate but today he played a blinder by choosing the Chef’s special of

Pork Belly

Pork Belly

Rolled Roast Pork Belly on a cassoulet of beans and peppers (btw Im not sure if that is the exact description but it’s close enough). I made him let me try some and it was definitely me that was envious today.

In complete contrast, I had chosen smoked salmon and crème fraîche with potato rösti.

Salmon

Salmon

The salmon slices weren’t too thick so it had a good texture and it wasn’t overly smoked, which can sometimes be off putting so overall it was an ideal light lunch but I’m still gutted I didn’t have the pork belly.

For afters OH went for crêpes au chocolat seved with vanilla ice cream while I stuck with the Pinot Grigio. He tells me the crepes didn’t taste floury, were the right consistency and the ice cream was thick and delicious.

After dessert we retired to the lounge. Gorgeous brown leather couches, big bay window, solid wooden furniture and an open fire. Sitting in front of that fire on a chilly evening would be just the place to enjoy a Cognac. (btw I’m adding that to my things to do list) As OH enjoyed his coffee I sought out the ‘toilettes’. Of course there were clean and beautifully decorated. Maybe a downside is that there was only one so you may have to queue but today it certainly wasn’t a problem.

Our bill came to £60.30 (2 starters @ £5; Chef’s special £14.50, light lunch £8.00; Dessert £5; Drinks £22.80)

After our visit to Yann’s I’m now going back to change the scoring on my previous posts as I’ve now realised I’ve been rating too high because Yann’s has just pushed the bar up!  8/10

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

OH has just told me to add the 2 female staff were just as tasty as the food and to be fair they were great. Very welcoming, friendly and made the whole visit extremely pleasurable – I’m sure that’s what he meant ;p.