The Tavern at Strathkinness, Fife.

Today OH and I decided to visit the The Tavern at Strathkinness. It’s been on our list of places to visit for a while now and today turned out to be the day. We didn’t book but that didn’t seem to be a problem as we were given a seat in the restaurant although, we were also offered a table in the bar.

When we were given the menu my first thought was akin to the couple who dined in The Rook Restaurant in The Two Ronnies sketch. There was haddock pot – done in a cheese sauce, haddock coated in coconut, haddock in batter and haddock risotto. There was also salmon in Cajun spices, which makes me wonder why the haddock couldn’t have been done like this…and if you didn’t fancy haddock there was also steaks, steak pie, pork belly and mushroom stroganoff.

Thankfully, there was no haddock starters so we decided to share the ‘Crispy Breaded Brie – slices of french of brie coated and fried, served with sticky onion chutney’. When the one slice of brie arrived (note not plural as advertised) there was no onion chutney. It did however, have a very nice beetroot salad and the slice was a large one. We both enjoyed it and it didn’t feel like a frozen bought in starter due to it’s size.

brie

For main, I decided to go for ‘Pork Belly – a generous slice of slow cooked premium pork belly, slathered in creamy apple cider sauce. Decadent with potatoes and veg.’ I was asked what kind of potato I wanted – chips, mash or roasted. I went for roasted and got a “Good choice” from the waitress.

pork belly

When the dish arrived I was more than happy with it although I did give OH my green beans as I am not a fan. Everything else though was lovely and the pork really did melt in my mouth. The potatoes, cauliflower and carrots were all spot on. (Yes, I know it looks like an under-cooked scotch pie but it really was pork) OH went for ‘Smoked Haddock Pot – smoked Scottish haddock baked in a copiously creamy sauce and topped with our homemade scone crumb crust’. OH was also asked what kind of potatoes and he copied me – possibly because of the ‘good choice’ commendation I got.

haddock pot

OH’s haddock pot arrived in it’s own little dish and I soon realised that ‘copiously creamy sauce’ meant you needed to ask for a spoon. OH said he enjoyed his dish but thought he had maybe ate too much as by the end of it he said it was a bit salty and the scone crumb seemed a little too sweet. Oddly, he says he would order it again even though he didn’t finish it. Hmmm. I thought that my green beans looked good on his plate and that he maybe should have had some green veg with it too.

At this point another couple arrived and I overheard them giving their order. The woman, when asked what kind of potatoes she wanted, asked for chips. “Oh good choice.” the waitress replied. Eh?!?!?!? What a floozy!

By the end of our mains I was done but OH thought a desert wouldn’t go a miss so I ordered another wine (as you do). And after looking at the blackboard of sweets OH decided on the Mango Mojito Sorbet, which arrived with 2 spoons (love it – even though the waitress is obviously a player ;p). The sorbet was really well balanced with mango and mint so that the mint was not overpowering and the pomegranate seeds made a nice contrast in both colour and texture.

sorbet

OH then decided he wanted a coffee so there was nothing else for it but to order another Rioja.

Overall, the food was good, the ambience and view were great, the service was excellent and the menu needed some work – especially their over use of haddock and their dodgy adverbs.

1 starter, 2 mains, 1 dessert, a coffee, an orange and soda water, 1 large and 2 small glasses of wine – £50.80

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The Explorer’s Garden and The Old Mill, Pitlochry

OH and I found ourselves in Pitlochry at the weekend. We had decided to park at the Festival Theatre and I noticed there were gardens to the side of it. Apparently OH had known there were gardens there as he had built the fence around them in a previous life (OH can turn his hands to anything, dontchaknow?). He said there were supposed to be stage productions put on in the gardens as, when they were planning the gardens, they wanted it to be an extension of the theatre.

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George Forrest Pavilion

It was called The Explorers Garden and from what I could see before we went in was to do with Scottish plant hunters who had traveled the globe looking for new plants and trees to bring back to Scotland.  We decided to pay the £4 entrance fee and have a wander around.

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The Douglas Pavilion

I’m told (by OH obviously) that August isn’t a great month for gardens. Flowers have either already flowered and are past their best or they are just getting read for Autumn. Therefore, we probably weren’t seeing them at their best. The gardens are laid out in segments each depicting different areas (S.America, Australia, New Zealand, N. America The Himalayas, and Japan) and there are boards explaining what explorers had been where and what plants they had brought back. Due to the season (I hope) I didn’t really see many of the outlined plants  but I did enjoy the short traipse around the paths and through the woods.

DSCN3764Throughout the gardens there were paved circles, a couple of pavilions and an amphitheater. OH had asked the woman at the ticket desk if there were concerts etc put on in the garden and she looked at him blankly. If there isn’t (and that does seem the case) it’s a bloody shame as they could put on an excellent production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream there.

I’m sure in other months it will be worth the entrance fee but not in August so pick your time to visit carefully. (£2 each would have been a fairer fee in August I think)

After working up an appetite it was only a short walk across the suspension bridge and into town to find The Old Mill. It’s an impressive building with an old water wheel attached.  We gave the menu a cursory glance (should have paid more attention) as we entered and were seated by a polite South African cross between Derren Brown and Rylan.

Talk about a whirlwind experience. We went in, we ordered and before we knew it we were stuffed and back on the street again.

The menu was pretty uninteresting and uninspiring so OH had a burger (YES! That uninteresting) and I had the beer battered haddock.

4 minutes after the order was put in, it arrived. As the waitress set down my haddock she told me the plate was hot – she wasn’t joking. I spent the rest of the meal feeling like I was sitting in front of the coals in a sauna. The fish was a tad greasy but that was probably because it continued to cook on the plate and the deep frying oils continued to seep out of it. 2015-08-09 16.34.16The 2015-08-09 16.34.05skinny chips were fab though. OH said the best bit of his burger was the roll. Don’t get me wrong he did enjoy it, it was just the bun stuck out because it didn’t fall to bits as they often do.

My fish was filling but evidently OH needed more. So dessert menu it was – obviously it appeared promptly. It didn’t take OH long to decide on the Iced Cranachan Parfait with Raspberry Sauce, which was good as the waitress suddenly appeared from nowhere to take his order. I reckon it was less than 2 minutes before Derrin Rylan had the dessert on the table in front of him. Sweetly, he asked me if I wanted another spoon – I declined of course.

2015-08-09 17.00.12OH loved his Cranachan as it was like a surprisingly good cross between rice pudding and porridge. However, he says he would have preferred a smaller helping. This is because he eats anything that is put in front of him just like a labrador. Therefore, we were both stuffed as we left the restaurant just a few minutes later.

2 mains, 1 dessert, a soda water and lime and a mixed fruit Kopparberg = £39.05

It’s a lovely place, it was fast service, which wasn’t as bad as it sounds but the food was expensive for what is basically pub grub. There are loads of other places to eat in Pitlochry that I would maybe try first.

Anstruther Fish Bar

Visited on Tuesday 25th February, 2014

As I drove home from work tonight I realised it was still light and for once, I wasn’t on call. It was such a good feeling the last thing I wanted to do was go home and sit in the house in front of the box all night. After discussing decent places to eat in Fife recently one of my friends mentioned the Anstruther Fish Bar and ever since it’s been on my mind – yes Lock, I’m looking at you. So obviously there was only one thing I could do tonight. Yup – visit Anstruther with the sole intention of having fish and chips at that very plaice ;p.

OH didn’t take much talking round so we headed straight out. The journey to the East Neuk is always a joy no matter what the weather. Tonight it was dry and slowly turning to dusk and we decided to drive towards St Andrews so we could come back the coastal road. Just outside Cupar we spotted a few roe deer happily munching away on hmmm I’m not sure spring barley? rapeseed?  some poor unsuspecting farmer’s crop anyway. As we drove through the home of golf the St Andrews skyline looked great as the cathedral stood proud against a sapphire blue background. We also passed the sign that points you to the precise position of the Scotland’s Secret Bunker, which always amuses me. Eventually we arrived in Anstruther and parked facing the harbour.

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Anstruther Harbour

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As you enter the Anstruther Fish Bar you can tell it is used to being busy as there are shiny brass crowd control barriers in place which make you wind your way up to the counter but tonight there was only a couple in front of me. Normally you get the chance to read lots of paper clippings telling tales of all the famous people who have visited before you as you wait patiently in the queue. Then, when you climb the stairs you can see a blackboard telling you the name of the boat that landed the catch of the day. Today it was Ocean Venture. Although there is a vast menu the most popular order is haddock and chips, which I ordered 2 of. It’s £5.90 for a supper (that’s fish and chips to those of you scratching your head) or £8.25 if you want to sit inside. For the extra £2.35 you get a seat, some sauce, bread, butter and a hot drink. Unfortunately, you can’t see the waves from every seat indoors but you can from a car parked in front of the harbour 😉

I did take a photo of my fish supper but it really didn’t do it justice so I haven’t put it up here as I don’t want to do it a disservice. The haddock was amazing, fresh and succulent; the batter crisp and tasty; the chips, well the chips were better than any chips you’ve ever tasted from any other chip shop. Seriously, you really need to visit the Anstruther Fish Bar to taste them for yourself.

You should also drive back along the coast road and go through Elie to witness some wonderful sea views. Come to think of it, what you really need to do if you have plenty of time and fancy a bit of a walk (especially if it’s a nice day) is to park at St Monans and walk along the Fife Coastal path to Anstruther and reward yourself at the chippy. St Monans to Anstruther route 

I promise you won’t regret it. 7/10

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btw I tried to take a pic of the outside of the chippy but someone parked their big stoopid people carrier in front of it 😦