Trump Macleod House & Lodge, Scotland

Now I know a lot of you would never dream of giving Trump your money so the thought of staying in one of his hotels would not be on your list of things to do. However, I’m guessing you have probably wondered what it would be like. Therefore, knowing this, I selflessly decided to take one for the team and spend my birthday in Trump’s Macleod House this weekend on a DBB deal just so I could tell you all about it. (and because I got a great deal I could not resist!)

When we arrived we were met by a charming man in the car park who led us to reception where we were checked in and then escorted to our room, which was massive. Two dark wood Queen size beds adorned in gold and plush cushions monopolised the room to the point you hardly noticed the large wooden sideboard that hid the mini bar, held the Nespresso machine and offered a basket full of nibbley treats. Entertainment came in the forms of a large screen tv with all the Sky packages and a Bose sound system. The bathroom boasted Italian marble, underfloor heating, a large roll top bath, huge walk in shower and a countryside view. The complimentary toiletries were in abundance and covered every eventuality of our stay and more. Everything screamed American grandeur. Helpfully, the receptionist talked us through all the gadgets and showed us where all the hidden bits and bobs were.

Not long after she left a charcuterie board and 2 glasses of fizz were delivered as part of the romance package I had booked. The plate was large and full of different meats, cheeses, pickles and bread and was one of the best sharing platters I have had.

Later, dinner was served downstairs and for sake of brevity you can hopefully zoom in and check the menu out yourself. From the wine menu I chose one of the cheaper options at £35 for a young Rioja steering clear of the ridiculously priced bottles.

Disappointingly, the soup was lentil so that was given a miss and to start OH had Kedgeree, smoked haddock and egg, which he enjoyed because it was something he would not normally order. The rice was done perfectly and just like the dating app, there was plenty of fish. I had the game terrine with prune ketchup. It wasn’t an overly strong terrine but was a bit heavy as a starter. The prune ketchup was thick and rich and didn’t taste of prunes.

I struggled picking a main as the fish dish didn’t appeal so eventually plumped for the beef cheek. Not being a big meat eater this was a completely new venture for me. The meat fell to bits, didn’t require much chewing and didn’t stick in my teeth, which gets extra bonus from me. However, the gravy, like the ketchup was rich and thick, and along with the buttery mash became too much and I could not finish the dish, already feeling (and looking) like a snake that had ate a pig.

OH had the venison stew and dumplings. He says it was exactly as described and tasty but nothing special. The fact the stew came in a bowl didn’t do itself any favours as OH hates that and believes forks and bowls don’t go together. Also, to be fair, the photo doesn’t do it justice and because of the lighting both our plates look like puddles of mud.

I couldn’t face a dessert but OH opted for the salted caramel apple crumble. A nice end to the meal he says unenthusiastically but probably because he would have preferred ice cream with the dish.

Delightfully, I was brought another glass of fizz as a birthday gift from the hotel, which was lovely. I have no idea what it was but it didn’t give me immediate heartburn so it was probably expensive.

Fast forward to the following morning and breakfast was served because obviously I was back to my snakelike self and needed feeding up again (yeah right!). As is the norm at good hotels the breakfast was lovely. A selection of fruit, yoghurt, meats, cheeses, salmon and pastries were on offer as well as cooked menu options. Just in case you are wondering, OH had Eggs Benedict and I had scrambled eggs and salmon.

As we had brought our golf clubs with us, after breakfast and checking out, we drove down to the Clubhouse to spend some time on the practice grounds. For £25 you can spend all day on the short course, putting green and driving range. It was bracing but dry so we managed to waste some time whacking balls and trying to stay out the bunkers. We then had a walk amongst the dunes and down on the beach where the surf roared and the sands were empty.

It was a fantastic birthday in plush surroundings with good food and phenomenal service. I am over the moon I got a great deal on our stay but I am not sure I would feel quite the same way if I had paid full price.

The Inn at Loch Tummel

My son and his partner gave me the present of an overnight stay in the beautiful Inn at Loch Tummel for my birthday and this weekend was the date they had booked for OH and I to visit.

As you can guess from the name the Inn overlooks Loch Tummel and enjoys some amazing views with the loch in front and the snow covered Munro, Schiehallion, to the right.

When we checked in we were personally taken to our room and the girl explained that when my son booked he had insisted we were given the largest room in the Inn so we had the only room with a roll-top bath and a walk in shower. The room was beautiful with a very comfortable king-size bed and stunning views. The bathroom was huge with the large bath taking pride of place in the centre. There was also complimentary toiletries, still and sparkling water, home baking and whisky! In fact, the only thing the room lacked was a television and, as it turned out, there was no tv to be had anywhere in the Inn. OH was quick to point out I would now have to speak to him. As there was no wi-fi either he was right. Turns out he no longer works in Woolworths (I’m kidding!).

We booked our evening meal for 7 and were sat at a cosy candle lit table – hence why the pics are a bit dark. The menu was the perfect size with 5 choices of starter and 6 mains. OH started with Shetland steamed Mussels with garlic, white wine, cream sauce and homemade bread. The mussels were lovely and the sauce rich and creamy and not in the least bit salty as it often can be. I went for the Baba Ganoush (a smokey aubergine dip) as I had never tried it before. It arrived with homemade flatbread and a side salad of leaves and olives. It was an odd texture with (I think) a tomato and onion vinaigrette of on top. I ate it with the flatbread and it was okay but I’m not sure I need to have it again.

For my main I had Pan fried coley, risotto, pomodora salsa and crispy leek. The fish was good however the risotto was a little rubbery and although the crispy leek looked good it became a nuisance as it was inedible and just got in the way on the plate.

OH had the Game pie with roasted carrots, parsnips and tender stem broccoli. The pie came in a dish on it’s own resembling something that Fray Bentos would be proud of. OH said his pie was good and he enjoyed it but felt it was mainly a beef pie as he couldn’t really taste the promised pheasant or hare in it. He raved about the vegetables.

I decided against a dessert and stuck with the house white but OH chose the Plum and hazelnut crumble with homemade vanilla custard. He enjoyed it and felt it was a good portion size and the custard got a special mention for being nice and sweet.

On the whole, it was a good meal that could easily have been a great meal with just a few minor tweaks.

I won’t bore with you too many breakfast details, which was really good – as well as muesli and fruit compote, I had a bacon omelette and OH had pancakes, bacon, maple syrup and berries – but I can’t leave you without saying that the waitress asked us if we wanted tea, coffee OR orange juice. Hmm.

I can’t give you an exact price but it was roughly £190 for dinner, bed and breakfast with a bottle of wine and 2 aperitifs.

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.


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.


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.


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

Delivino, Auchterarder

Yesterday, as the start of me celebrating a big birthday, OH and I spent an entire day (along with MiniHim and TeenyMe) at Strathallan Skydiving Centre waiting for the clouds to clear. Unfortunately they didn’t and my birthday skydive has now been rescheduled for the 4th of November. To try to salvage something of the day we decided to visit Delivino in Auchterarder. I had visited the one in Crieff before and thought the Italian wine cafe was wonderful so when I found out there was one even nearer to us we just had to visit.

Thankfully they managed to squeeze us in, telling us what time they needed the table back by. Grateful for the table I didn’t mind sitting by the door. However, I did get a cold breeze every time someone came in but because I had my thermals on for the skydive I was actually quite glad of the occasional chill.

A bottle of water was immediately placed on the table along with the menu, which offered various pasta dishes in small and regular, pizzas, burgers and large sharing platters.

We ordered a carafe of wine and decided to share a small plate as a starter. davRoast Garlic and Chilli Prawns, which arrived sizzling and spitting and were fantastic; very hot, both in spice and temperature. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a pic at the start so you will just have to imagine another 5 of these fat, fabulous prawns along with some chunks of bread.

For my main I decided on Pancetta Carbonara – Crispy Smoked Pancetta, Parmesan & Creamy Carbonara Sauce. I chose to have a small plate rather than the regular size because I knew I would over eat if I did. OH had the special of Smoked haddock and Leek Risotto.

davMy pasta was everything I wanted it to be. Rich, creamy, hot and delicious. There wasn’t enough for me to get bored but the right amount to leave me completely satisfied although I was looking for some bread to mop up the remaining sauce with but that was just greed.

OH enjoyed his risotto, which was full of large lumps of haddock. I sneaked a taste and it was thick, cheesy with a nice salty fish taste. Both our dishes arrived in deep bowls, which I think really helped keep our meals warm throughout. Nothing worse than cold pasta mid-meal!mde

AS I finished the wine OH asked for Affogato for dessert. It came dismembered. Yes I know it’s supposed to be deconstructed but there’s something murderous about having to pay to make your own dessert. OH ‘drowned’ his ice cream with the espresso (affogato is italian for drowned – see you actually learned something from this blog) and crumbled the amaretto biscuits in as well. He then devoured it, whilst complaining it was just coffee and ice cream. mdeThis was solely because it was on the blackboard he was facing and he could see the price for a change. Regardless, he enjoyed it and as he would often have coffee and a dessert it was actually cheaper ;p.

I decided to visit the loos before we left and crammed myself into the one ladies toilet. Bizarrely, one of the tiled walls hadn’t been grouted so I’m guessing they are half way through doing them up? In the tiny toilet there was also a sink, which I had to go on my tiptoes to get my hands into only to discover it was so teeny I had to wash one hand at a time. To be honest, I’m not sure if they have sacrificed toilet space to enable more room in the restaurant but I did leave wishing they had put in as much effort to their toilet design as they have to their food.

Loos aside, service was great from a very smiley, happy-to-help waitress and food was fantastic. I definitely will be back but unfortunately it won’t be after my skydive as it isn’t open on Sundays. (it is in Crieff though)

One small plate, one small pasta, one main, one dessert, one carafe of wine £41.50.

From East to West

I’m hoping the embedded map above is showing you the route OH and I drove yesterday. In case it doesn’t – we went from Fife to Oban and home again via Glencoe.  The scenery was amazing. The many lochs en route were made of glass, which showed the snow capped mountain reflections perfectly. If I had made OH stop to let me take photographs you could have framed them, hung them upside down on your living room wall and your visitors would not have noticed the difference.

OH wanted to stop before our final destination to allow the dog to stretch it’s legs (that’s code for pee and poo) so it wouldn’t be stressed on the pavements of Oban (that’s code for KayakersOH not wanting to carry a bag of poo around the streets of Oban). Therefore, we stopped at the Connel Bridge and watched on whilst brave and mad kayakers played in the eddies and tidal rapids rushing under the ugly metal structure.

Dog business done we made our way to Oban, which, as is the norm, was bustling. Huge ferries shuttled in and out the harbour taking visitors and workers to and from the various islands scattered around the west coast of Scotland. 2016-04-09 15.53.25.jpgThe Seafood Hut next to the ferry  port was surrounded by happy fish eating people and the Wetherspoons next to that was the biggest one I’ve seen (and yes I’ve seen a few). We sat at table number 204 for a quick drink – that’s how big it was. From Oban we then headed towards Glencoe but again, to let the dog stretch (and to take pics) we made a temporary stop at Castle Stalker in Appin. 2016-04-09 16.47.43.jpgI’m pretty sure Game of Thrones could use this site in their next series and allow it to keep it’s own name.
Dog walked, pics taken it was then dinner time. OH has climbed the majority of Munros in Glencoe so he is au fait with where to eat and drink so suggested the Clachaig Inn. I would have driven right past it but apparently if you’re a climber/walker you will know where it is. When we arrived it was fairly quiet and we therefore managed to get a seat easily. However, by the time we left people were vying for seats and the place was full of people who buy their clothes from Trespass. I felt positively unfit and, pork-and-chorizo-chilli.jpgafter a tortilla bowl full of diced shoulder of pork, chorizo, chargrilled peppers and smoked paprika with sour cream, positively fat too! OH had Clachaig Chicken, which was pan fried chicken in breadcrumbs with a honey and mustard sauce served with chips and salad – it definitely didn’t look as awesome as mine. view.jpgHowever, what was also awesome was the view. For 2 enjoyable main meals, a pint of Elderflower Cider and a soda water and lime it was £27.00.
I overheard there was a spit and sawdust bar next door, which is where the majority of climbers chill but the main lounge we were in was warm, relaxed and very well decorated without a bit of sawdust in sight.

We then headed home through picturesque Glencoe but unfortunately my phone had run out of battery so you will just have to imagine the magnificent Buichille (that’s a Munro btw), the herd of red deer, the pheasants wandering among the newborn lambs and the unbelievable sunset that set the sky on fire.

Yeah I know you – you’ve every right to be jealous 😉

Restaurant 85, Leslie, Fife.

I got home earlier than normal for a Friday and found OH sitting starving. He’d had a day off work and had been so busy enjoying himself he was obviously now too exhausted to lug himself to the fridge and make himself something to eat. Instead of waiting for me to cook something he suggested visiting Restaurant 85 in Leslie. The last time we had been there we were waiting for a table when the waitress informed us that the chef had suddenly taken ill and therefore they were unable to feed us. What had happened to the chef goodness only knows. This was roughly a year ago and it had been on the list ever since (obviously not top of the list but still on it).

When we arrived the place was empty so it wasn’t difficult to get a seat – remember it was early.

The menu was varied and interesting and there was a board that told you what the soup, pate, pie and burger of the day were. What I liked was that I struggled to decide what to have because there were a number of options that appealed.

Although OH opted to have a starter of Venison pate with oatcakes and marmalade, I’d had a large lunch so eventually settled on the 85 Signature’s dish of Scottish Mussels cooked to perfection with roasted garlic, smoked lardons in apple cider served with twice cooked skinny fries.2015-08-28 17.05.55

When OH’s starter arrived it was very well presented and looked fantastic. There was a quenelle of pate, 4 mini oatcakes and a ramekin of ‘marmalade’ all sat upon a balsamic squiggle. The marmalade was pickled peppers, cashew nuts and gherkins (I think). I sneaked a taste of the pate and it was strong tasting and had a coarse texture but OH said he liked it. I was glad I hadn’t chosen it as I’m not good with overly rich tasting food and to me this was definitely rich tasting.

When our mains arrived I was glad to see that the Game Pie that OH had ordered was actually a pie and not a dish with a pastry lid. He really enjoyed his meal and loved the root vegetables (parsnips and orange and purple carrots) and creamy mash with spring onions running through them.  2015-08-28 17.22.55

2015-08-28 17.23.01Unfortunately, although my plate of mussels looked great, I struggled to open a lot of them (they were already open but wouldn’t open any further) and some of the ones I could open seemed to be split and spread inside their shells. I tasted one and thought I’d be crazy to chance another. If you’re a lover of mussels you just know when to give up and give up I did.

Coincidentally, the chef had just left the kitchen when I looked for someone to call over. He assured me the mussels were fresh that day but didn’t hesitate to take them away and offer me an alternative dish. As I write this I’m still in 2 minds whether a chef should know when mussels aren’t right before he serves them or is it a dish you’d have to test everyone… Also – signature dish???

Anyway, I then opted for the burger of the day, Venison with brie and caramelised red onion.

As there was a bit of a wait before my burger arrived I managed to eat the majority of my skinny fries, which were amazing. However, this severely decreased my appetite and I then only managed to eat the burger that arrived and had to leave the roll and salad. This meant I couldn’t really appreciate my meal as a whole.

We passed on desserts without even looking at the menu and asked for the bill. When it arrived there was nothing taken off it. A free round of drinks or no charge for my burger would have been appreciated but apparently that wasn’t to be.

I’m disappointed that I couldn’t give Restaurant 85 a more positive review because on the surface it should have been great but as the chef’s signature dish is inedible I’m struggling to recommend it.

A starter, 2 mains, 2 glasses of wine and a blackcurrant and soda = £39.65

The Bothy, Glasgow

Lusa, my Scottish born cousin that now lives in LA, is over visiting just now so we decided to head to Glasgow for a night out. (you may remember her from my review of  Sol y Sombra in Broughty Ferry).

We spent some time shopping but soon caught the subway to the West End. I had booked a table in The Bothy at 4 o’clock as a middle of the road kind of time. I knew we wouldn’t get there much earlier but I also knew we wouldn’t have had lunch and would need something inside us before we started drinking in Ashton Lane, the short cobbled backstreet just off the Byres Road, which is crammed with bars and restaurants. It’s a hidden gem so if you’ve never been before put it on your list!

We arrived promptly and were immediately seated in the corner of the restaurant. The decor is very Scottish with thistle covered wallpaper, pheasants, stone walls, solid wooden tables and (the best bit) kilted waiters!  Lusa loved the table and said if she had been allowed to pick anywhere to sit she would have chosen that one. She quickly slipped off her boots and sat cross-legged on the comfy leather chair.

We ordered drinks and were given the choice of 2 menus. The Braw Menu which was 2 courses for £12.95, 3 for £14.95 or the A La Carte one. I cheekily asked the waiter if there was anywhere I could charge my phone and he was happy to oblige, taking it from me and plugging it in within view. It’s these positive little things that make a huge difference.

We both decided to stick to the Braw Menu and both went for the unusual starter of Haggis Pakora with spiced yoghurt. IMG_4163 (2)When the starter arrived we were both surprised at the size of it as we could easily have shared it.  The pakora had a nice hotness to them without being too spicy or overpowering. The yoghurt was a bit thin but done the job of being a cooling balance to the heat.

For main I went for the Catch of the Day which was Sea Bass with sautéed potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and a beurre blanc sauce. My dish was beautifully presented and I loved it. IMG_4166 (2)The white wine sauce had a fantastic sheen to it and had a decadent creamy, buttery taste, which went well with the fish dish. I have to admit I didn’t have too many of the olives as I’m not a big fan. The potatoes were cooked to perfection and I was annoyed I had to leave one of them as it would have put me over the edge if I had tried to force it in.

Lusa went for the Chicken stuffed with haggis, clapshot potatoes, carrots and a whisky cream IMG_4165 (2)sauce. She was disappointed in her dish as she said it just tasted of gravy, without any hint of whisky. The clapshot potatoes, which would normally be tatties, neeps and chives with butter looked just like normal mashed potatoes. Lusa said there might have been turnips in the potatoes but she couldn’t really tell but did say they were bland and  needed salt.In contrast, she loved her dessert of Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream. IMG_4168 (2)Yes she would have preferred custard but she is getting used to not having that option withher pudding (remember Playfair’s Restaurant in St Andrews?) but did say that the ice cream was almost as good as a custard.

Although Lusa wasn’t too impressed with her main meal the whole experience was enjoyable and if you’re looking for a traditional Scottish restaurant with a twist you won’t go far wrong with The Bothy. By the way, It also has a private dinning room up the stairs which looked fantastic (we sneaked a look on the way to the loo).

A set 2 course meal, a set 3 course meal plus a bottle of Magners and half a lager = £33.50

Edit: I have just made my own clapshot potatoes and I wouldn’t have known there was turnip in it if I hadn’t have put it in myself.

The Red Lion, Culross, Fife.

I write this blog as a hobby. Finding different places to eat in and write about is something OH and I both enjoy as it gives as something to do at the weekend. However, last night I was out for dinner on a works night out (we had a visitor from the states that we wanted to entertain) and I now feel compelled to write about our experience. Normally I wouldn’t bother, which is why there are no photographs as I had no intention of reviewing The Red Lion in Culross, where we had booked a table for 8 people at 6 o’clock.

As 1 person had backed out and 1 was joining us late, 6 of as turned up at 6pm and were seated. Soon our drinks order was taken and a jug of water appeared on the table. All was looking good as we poured over the menu. There was a specials board that added 2 different starters and 4 extra main courses. The menu we had in our hands was lengthy and offered everything from  fish cakes to steaks. There was quite a few veggie options as well as light bites, salads and side orders – prices were on average £12 for a main meal.

After a short wait, all our drinks arrived apart from one person’s but when prompted it was quickly brought through from the bar. When our late one arrived (just after 6) and had her drink, everyone gave their food order. As it turned out everyone ordered something different. Our visitor from the states asked for the lamb from the specials board. 2 had ordered starters of haggis creggans, which was obviously something that was regularly ordered as it was on the set 3 course special menu. By approximately 6.45 pm we still didn’t have any haggis starters so someone went to ask. This prompted a waitress to go to the kitchen and then return saying the starters were right on their way but they had just ran out of lamb and could our guy from the states order something else. He then plumped for the steak and haggis pie. The starters arrived and were devoured by the already hungry mob who couldn’t sit and watch the others eating.

Then the waitress appeared, again full of apologies to our guy from the states. They had run out of pastry tops and could he order something else. He eventually went for the Cumberland sausage, onion gravy and mash. Then the waitress realised someone else had also ordered a pie and asked them to reorder as well. Now I’m no great chef but even I could rattle up some pastry at short notice.  The waitress offered us a round of drinks on the house to make up for the lack of lamb and pastry. She explained that they’d had a lot of unexpected ‘walk-ins’ and were struggling to cope. Again, I’m no business owner but I think I would be concentrating on the people who had pre-booked and had been sitting waiting for an hour. Of course that’s if they knew we were sitting waiting or had the waitress only given our order to the chef when we asked for our starters??

Eventually, after another lengthy wait, our main meals arrived and the food was good. It was really good. No-one had any complaints about the quality or amount of food on their plates. It was so good people even ordered desserts.

By 9.15 everyone was finished so we asked for the bill. We were assured it would be straight with us. By 9.30 pm we were still waiting for the bill. We had to go up and interrupt the chatting waitresses to ask for it. They hadn’t even rung it up. When it arrived we checked it out so we could split the bill and noticed that all the drinks were on it. A bit embarrassed, we had to call the waitress over and say. She assured us she had taken off the round of drinks personally.  She took the bill away and returned apologising yet again. She wasn’t sure what had happened but gave us the revised bill with the round of drinks now off it.

It was a long night. Thank goodness for the good company and good food as it made up for the horrendous amount of time we spent in the restaurant.

It’s just not fair on the chef when he/she is producing excellent food for it to be so overshadowed by such piss-poor service. Unfortunately, after our experience, I won’t be rushing back.

Chez Acchiardo, Nice, France

On holiday on the Côte d’Azur, OH and I had been wandering around Nice taking in the sights and smells of the old town, which are dramatically better than some old towns in Scotland. It was too early for us to eat but I happened to look through the window of a restaurant and decided straight away that was where we were going to dine that night. The interior just looked like a good French restaurant – lots of dark wooden tables, white walls, stone arches and bottles of wine everywhere.2015-06-18 19.16.05

It didn’t open until 7pm and when we returned I was surprised to see there was a queue to get in. Fortunately, they could  squeeze us in – when I checked Tripadvisor later every reviewer stated that you had to book so we were lucky, not only to have happened upon it but also to get a seat.

Service was fantastic with good looking waiters and waitresses eager to please and with better English than most tourists. However, that didn’t stop me practicing my French and they very patiently tried to interpret all the French nouns I attempted. The policeman from ‘Ello ‘Ello comes to mind.

We passed on starters today and went straight for the mains. OH had a steak with basil butter (I won’t try to show off with writing everything in French just trust my translation). There was a choice of accompanying side dishes – salad, green beans, chips or a chickpea thing. 2015-06-18 19.25.542015-06-18 19.25.41OH decided on the green beans and I had chips with my duck and fig sauce. I tried some of OH’s rare steak and it did indeed melt in the mouth as he promised. I’m not a big fan of steak but I enjoyed the bite I had. My duck was delicious and the sauce was rich and glossy and didn’t over power the tender meat. The chips were incredible but I passed on OH’s green beans because I hate when they squeak against your teeth. He assures me they were great though. 2015-06-18 19.16.16We washed it all down with a bottle of red and when offered the dessert menu we couldn’t resist. OH had 2015-06-18 20.21.50chocolate mouse with cream and I had vanilla, meringue and hazelnut ice cream, which was bliss. OH finished off his meal with a coffee as I of course, finished the wine.

It was a lovely dining experience – very French, very friendly and very affordable.

2 mains, 2 desserts, a bottle of wine and a coffee came to a very reasonable €65.

Chez Acchiardo, 38 Rue Droite , 06300 Nice , France.  33 4 93 85 51 16

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.