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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Venachar Lochside, Nr. Callander

Every autumn OH and I visit The Trossachs just so we can see the amazing colour palette that adorns the trees before winter hits. The oranges, reds and yellows are an amazing sight and offer some wonderful photograph taking opportunities. Unfortunately today the weather decided to put a halt to any photo taking as I refused to get out the car in the rain to snap some landscapes. However, I did leave the warmth of the car to run into Venachar Lochside, a favourite restaurant of ours and one which I have written about many times before. Previously, my reviews have all been about the amazing food and IMAG0372abysmal service but today I had no complaints about the service but this could be because we were the first ones to arrive for lunch. Considering Venachar Lochside is pretty much in the middle of nowhere and there were no prior lunch bookings the place filled up quickly with hungry diners who had obviously heard of the restaurants good reputation.

We received water for the table and menus and I immediately noticed there was an increase in prices from our last visit. Cullen skink was now £10 and the main dishes were priced between £13 and £16. Soup of the day was Celeriac and thyme.

For my main I had difficulty trying to choose between the Ayrshire pork belly, butternut fondant, summer greens, black pudding and apple sauce or the Cod loin with cockles, summer greens, potatoes and pea puree. I eventually plumped for the Cod.

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Before

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After

The dish arrived in a bowl and then the waited poured over the pea puree.

The fish was beautiful and the cockles delightful. The potatoes were a little charred at the edges but this added a needed crunch as the vegetables were a little soggy. Overall the meal was gorgeous but I would have much rather have had it on a flat plate as it was difficult using a fork and knife in a bowl.

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OH had the Gressingham duck with bacon, baby gem, peas, potato rosti, red onion and cherry reduction. He loved his meal and although he said it was a little chewy he liked it and thought the bacon, peas and greens were excellent. The cherry reduction was not strong and there was not enough to really add to the dish.

After our dishes had been cleared I asked for the dessert menu and was told there wasn’t one but I could choose from the range of cakes on offer. There was berry and pistachio, chocolate porter, mocha cake, carrot cake, victoria sponge and coffee and walnut cake. I decided on the berry and pistachio and OH had another pint. IMAG0381The homemade cake was thick, heavy and yum. Of course OH helped me with the huge slice.

2 mains, 2 pints, a slice of cake = £44.85 (yes it was expensive)

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

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.