19th Hole, Earlsferry, Fife.

Yesterday OH and I went for a walk along the beach next to Elie Golf Course, it was a fabulous day and there were a number of golfers making the most of the links course. Of course, after a walk in the summer sun, the next sensible thing to do is go for a pint and it just so happened that next to the golf course is The 19th Hole.

We went in just for a drink but once in, we checked out the menu, the decor, the clientelle and decided to stay for something to eat.  The menu had the normal kind of bar food options such as burgers, steak pie, mac and cheese but with more local fish dishes than your average pub. However, what made it stand out were words like freshly delivered, made to order, artisan and East Neuk, which is the local area just in case you didn’t know.

OH decided on a Crab Salad and I asked for a starter size of mussels. As we waited, I looked around and noticed the coat rack was made out of golf clubs and the leg of the table was hidden in an old leather golf bag. There was tennis on the large tvs and also a fireplace to relax in front of. I nipped to the loo and the sign on the door was a lady putting, the door handle was a putter, there was another door with turf on it. Inside there was a display of golf balls under the sink. Yes they have taken the golfing theme to the nth degree but actually, it works.

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By the time I returned from the loo my mussels were already on the table and OH was tucking into his crab salad. Now, normally I’d be annoyed that someone had delivered my food when I wasn’t at the table but we were sitting in the bar rather than the restaurant as we had the dog with us. In the restaurant you are able to see the chef at work as it’s open plan and I’d like to think if he could see our table he would have held it back until I was there.

The crab was abundant on OH’s salad, which was good to see. He enjoyed it immensely describing it as light and fresh. Even the potatoes got a special mention.

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Along with my plate of mussels was a finger bowl and empty plate for the shells. My mussels were plump and very hot. The sauce wasn’t salty or gritty as can often happen. Instead it was creamy and the onions had a nice crunch. There was a couple that weren’t open and one had a beard but overall I enjoyed them. The accompaning bread was chargrilled and dunking it into the sauce was lush. I even asked for a spoon so I could sup the rest up.

Whilst we were eating it was the chef that popped out to ask if our food was okay, which meant so much more than one of the bar staff asking.

The 19th Hole is a place you need to seek out as it’s well off the beaten path but I would definitely recommend it.

2 pints, a starter size of mussels and a crab salad = £24.40

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Café Montmartre, Cupar, Fife

As usual OH and I were wondering where we could for go Saturday lunch. A friend had recently recommended a couple of restaurants in Fife so we thought we’d try one of them out.  After a quick look online I knew the one we had decided on wasn’t a large place so I phoned up and booked a table at Cafe Montmartre in Cupar for 1pm.

When we arrived there was only one other table that was occupied so I did wonder if I had needed to book. An elderly French gentleman welcomed us in and showed us to a corner table. It was easily the best table in the room, with a great view of the restaurant. The walls were covered in black and white photographs of famous French people and the music was a lovely mix of Mediterranean cafe songs. As I looked around I recognised an old work colleague siting at the other table – a good sign that it was indeed a good recommendation – after all, 2 friends of mine can’t be wrong ;p.

We were given menus and our drinks order was taken. There was a table d’hote menu – 2 courses for £15.95, 3 for £17.95 and a light lunch menu. The soup of the day was vegetable and the salad of the day was hot salmon and prawn.

I adored the  menu and struggled to chose what to have as I liked the majority of the dishes.

One of the starters was Moules Marinières au vin blanc – rope grown Shetland mussels, cooked with white wine, leeks and carrots.  If you are a regular reader you will know I had a bad experience with mussels the last time I was out. Since then I have learned you should only eat mussels when there is an R in the month i.e. mussels aren’t a good choice in the summer! Who knew?

2015-09-05 13.13.26 As it is now September I thought I’d get back in the saddle and give them a try. I was glad I did. They were delicious,  plump and juicy just as they should be. The liquor wasn’t too salty as is often the case and I loved dunking my bread in it. OH decided2015-09-05 13.12.50 on the Terrine de Canard – Duck and fig terrine, pistachio nuts wrapped in Parma Ham. OH said he really enjoyed it. I tasted his fig chutney and it was beautifully rich and tangy.

For my main meal I eventually settled on Jarret de Porc aux Pruneaux – Slow cooked pork shank with marinated prunes in cream sauce. I don’t often chose pork when I am out but the sound of this dish called out to me and it was just as delicious as it sounded. The meat fell from the bone in large tasty chunks. The rich creamy sauce and prunes complimented the pork perfectly and I would definitely opt for this dish again. 2015-09-05 13.37.45OH, true to form, had the Pavé de Boeuf Grillée aux Echalotes – char-grilled pave beef steak served with fine green beans, shallots and pomme frites with garlic butter. OH said his steak was nice and juicy but was a bit chewy compared to other steaks he has had recently. He added that the garlic butter over the green beans and shallots went well with the steak.

Normally I decline the dessert menu when offered but I have recently realised that when I have had 2 great courses I get greedy so I just had to have a pudding. 2015-09-05 14.21.37There was a choice of tarts – pear and almond, tarte tatin and cherry, there was also ice creams, and cheese but I went for the Coupe de fraises & pistache créme anglaise – strawberries topped with pistachio créme anglaise coulis.2015-09-05 14.23.35 It was perfect and I was glad I decided on having a dessert. Surprisingly OH just had an espresso and then insisted I take a pic of his giant hand with it.

When we first arrived in the restaurant I questioned the need to book a table but as we dined the place filled up around us, which created a lovely atmosphere. The service was great, the food was fantastic and what we found in Montmartre was a petite piece of France in Fife. Whether you like French food or not I’d recommend you make your way to Cupar soon and try for yourself the amazing Café Montmartre.

One 3 course meal, one 2 course meal, a coffee, 2 bottles of beer and a diet coke – £47.25

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

Dublin and on to Cork

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So having just been at Boxty’s and enjoying a lovely brunch with lush Irish Coffees we headed towards Merrion Square to see all the paintings that artists hang on the railings every Sunday from 10am til 6.30pm. It’s a great way to pass some time on a Sunday – especially when you need to walk off a full Irish breakfast! However, before we managed to get to the square, OH needed the loo so we had to find a pub quite quickly. Funny how he never needs the loo when there aren’t any pubs in sight. Oh wait a minute. He does. I take that back – I just remembered how many country lanes I’ve had to find at short notice when I’m driving! Anyway, on the same side of the road as we were walking I could see a pub called Foley’s. Another traditional Irish bar I thought. Perfect I thought. Disappointed I was.

We were greeted at the door by a Chinese waitress. I said we were just in for drinks and she pointed towards high stools at the window. The place was deserted other than a family in the corner having lunch. OH went to the loo and I ordered drinks from a different Chinese woman (perhaps her sister). Thankfully it was just a loo stop as I didn’t want to stay any longer in the unwelcoming pub.  I have to say, it was the worst one we were in during our entire trip (and we were in some weird and wonderful ones!) so we hurried our drinks, made our excuses and left. 2014-03-23 15.02.13-1

From there we wandered around the square enjoying the artist’s work and commenting all the different multi-coloured doorways that surround the square. After admiring the art we retraced our steps and found O’Donoghues which, considering it was right across the road from Foley’s, was jumping!  Apparently The Dubliners used to play here (their pics were everywhere).  We struggled to get a seat as they had live music on but managed eventually. From what I could see it was a number of different people that had just turned up with their instrument or voice for a bit of a jam session. They all politely took turns. Sometimes someone would join in and accompany the singer; at other times it was just one beautiful voice that could be heard. The atmosphere was everything you wanted in an Irish bar.

2014-03-23 15.03.26After a while we decided to head back to the hotel to put our feet up for a wee while. Now I’m not sure if OH really
does always need a loo stop or if it’s just an excuse for another pint but regardless, we soon found ourselves in Flannery’s of Camden Street…

…eventually back at the hotel I was allowed to put my feet up but then it was time to freshen up as OH wanted to go back out again. We made it as far as the The Bleeding Horse (yes the pub next door if you remember yesterday’s adventures). The bar was full of good looking Spanish people watching the Real Madrid v Barcelona match so again the bar had a great atmosphere. We also met a wee Irish man who chatted away grand style and gave us tips where to stop off for something to eat on our way to Cork. It wasn’t until we looked at the map the following morning that we realised where he was recommending was heading west on the2014-03-23 14.58.50-1 way to Galway!  Not sure if he was being stereo-typically Irish or thinking we were daft Scots that would just follow his directions 🙂

Obviously we didn’t follow his route but picked up the hire car and headed south towards the 2nd biggest city in the state instead. We arrived in Cork and without too many wrong turns found the Clarion Hotel and parked beneath it.   As we made our way to our room we were astounded by the large golden balls 2014-03-24 15.29.27hanging from the ceiling over the foyer which looked amazing. However, when we got to our room we soon realised that our view was of the balls rather than a view of the river. It’s funny how quickly you miss seeing what the weather is like when you don’t have an outside view. The room was air conditioned but I also  know now that I’d rather be able to open a window than twist a knob or press a button.  Apart from that the room was great – it even had free biscuits!!

It wasn’t long before we were out and exploring the city centre, which is located between two channels of the River Lee, which kind of means it’s on an island. The 2 busy streets were St Patricks Street, which is the main shopping thoroughfare and Oliver Plunkett Street, which is full of places to eat as well as shops.

Before arriving in Cork I had looked up different pubs and restaurants in the area and one that had caught my eye was Arthur Maynes because it looked so intriguing. The building is a 120 year old pharmacy turned into a wine bar.  I hadn’t noted down the address but we managed to find it before we enjoyed too many other Cork bars ;p 2014-03-24 17.06.33

When we walked in through the front door we couldn’t believe it. It was like walking into a chemist’s shop rather than a restaurant or bar. Saying that, we were greeted warmly and asked if we wanted a table. We were offered the chance to chose our seats so opted for a candle lit room with only a few other tables. The menu was rich and varied and offered a list of dishes a2014-03-24 17.18.03s well as risotto and mussels of the day. OH decided to go for the king prawn risotto (he checked to make sure they were already shelled before ordering) and I went fo2014-03-24 17.18.17r fresh market mussels in a black pudding broth served with soda bread.

The surroundings, the atmosphere, the candle light, the service and the wine were all perfect. There were 2 woman sitting at a nearby table speaking French which also added to the unique ambiance. OH says the risotto he had was the best risotto he had ever had and now wants to eat more risotto. My mussels were good – 3 or 4 I couldn’t open so left and there was no doubting that it was in a black pudding broth. However, it was too rich for me and although I really enjoyed it, the broth didn’t like me so much.

2014-03-24 18.08.39 2014-03-24 18.08.59This is probably the wrong time to mention it but the toilets were amazing! I just had to take pics to show you the display cabinet and sink. It was like going back in time. Or going for a wazz in a museum exhibit by mistake ;p Gawd I hope they were usable toilets!

Even the outside bit was great. Smokers get treated so well in Ireland! Between Mayne’s  and the pub next door was a heated seating area where all the addicted people sat. Honestly, it makes you want to join them. There was even an old fashioned photo booth. No gimmicky pics taken with One Direction or crap like that. Just black and white pics like the good old days.2014-03-24 17.08.572014-03-24 17.08.45

OH and I had to get our photos  taken and when we showed mini-me she said, “Awww you look like 2 teenagers in love”.