Starbank Inn, Newhaven, Edinburgh

OH wanted to go to Edinburgh today to buy some fishing and camping gear so after visits to Go Outdoors and the Edinburgh Angling Centre in Granton and spending a small fortune, we needed to find somewhere near by to eat that was not going to break the bank any further.

The Starbank Inn was only a short drive away and there was a parking place right outside the door so that’s where we ended up.

The inn is a Belhaven pub so had  a large 3 folded menu offering all the normal kind of bar food – burgers, fish n chips, pies, pasta etc. On the black board was Cullen Skink soup and Scallops.

I was betwixt and between and wasn’t sure whether to order soup and a sandwich or one of the pies. After ordering our drinks I decided on the IMAG9957Haggis and Potato Pie – Spicy haggis, layered with neeps and tatties, topped with Cheddar cheese and served with a creamy whisky sauce. When it arrived it was nothing to look at. The vegetables, carrots and courgettes, were bland and tasteless. The whisky sauce was creamy but I’m not sure it had even sat next to a bottle of whisky. When I first cut into the pie there was only potato and turnip with no haggis in sight. It turned out I had started in the wrong corner as the opposite corner was all haggis and no turnip. Unfortunately, rather than there being layers, there were lumps. However, after finding the spicy haggis the pie did get better and I loved the lid of baked cheese even though I did have to chisel it off the plate.

IMAG9956OH had decided on the Chicken Tikka Skewers – Served with tikka masala sauce on a bed of rice, with naan bread, tomato & red onion salad and a yoghurt & mint dressing. I asked him what his thoughts were and he replied – alright, average, middle of the road, could have done with more sauce and it filled a hole. Definitely not high praise. Mind you, he loved the Trade Winds ale that he had 2 pints of.

As usual when pubs have large menus with deals like 2 meals for £11 (not on a Saturday though) you know what you’re getting. Don’t get me wrong. There was nothing wrong with the food it just wasn’t anything special. However, service was special and everyone was friendly, chatty and helpful, which made the Starbank Inn very cheap and cheerful.

2 mains, 2 pints and a diet coke £27.43

 

 

 

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Old Chain Pier, Newhaven, Edinburgh

Today OH and I decided to try the Old Chain Pier for a spot of lunch. The Old Chain Pier is possibly a pub you have driven past on numerous occasions but have never stopped at. It’s on the waterfront just along Lower Granton Road.

We didn’t have a reservation but the harrassed looking waitress managed to find us a table with a view of the water. The place was busy and I noticed it was child and dog friendly. Childen were allowed in the conservatory and the mezzanine level but it looks like dogs werre allowed anywhere.

Since the waitresses were run off their feet, I went and helped myself to menus. There was the usual type of pub grub but with a bit of a lean towards fish dishes. Fish and chips, Cullen Skink, fishcakes, mussels, crayfish and cod all got a mention. There was burgers, sharing platters, chili, stew and sausages but nothing really jumped out at me so I was thinking about having fish and chips again. There was two sizes to chose from – small at £8.95 or large at £11.95. Incidentally the fishcakes came in different size too – small was 1, medium 2 and 3 for the large helping.

As we made up our minds we ordered drinks. I had a mixed fruit cider and OH asked for a soda water and lime. When they arrived OH plumped for the Mexican 6oz Burger – chili beef, jalapenos, cheese, sour cream and guacomole at £10.95 . The waitress asked if he wanted chips with it – of co

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urse he did.

As you can see the burger looks great. However, OH found it to be a logistical nightmare. He couldn’t lift it whole and when he cut it in half the chili leaked out so it became messy. As you know, OH hates not getting a plate so the board annoyed him too. Saying all that, he really enjoyed it, even though he used his knife and fork throughout. He liked the mix of flavours and said it was a good, thick, meaty burger and chili wasn’t too hot, just spicy. The chip bucket seemed endless and he even left some as there were that many.

The description of my dish was (small) Beer Battered Angel Cut Welch’s Haddock with Mushy Peas, Tartare Sauce and Hand Cut Chips.

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I have to say the fish was fantastic (so much better than last weeks). The batter was crisp and lush, the fish was right out the fryer and was fresh, light, tasty and fell into large lovely flakes. The chips were good and the tartare sauce was okay but nothing special. Disappointingly, (again) the mushy peas weren’t mushy peas but mashed up garden peas. What’s happening? Is this a new trend? If it is I don’t like it – I want proper marrowfat mushy peas with my fish please!

Neither of us fancied a dessert so we just asked for the bill, which never appeared so I went up to the bar to pay the bill. This was when I realised that the chips were an extra £3.50. This annoyed me, not because of the cost but because I felt conned. Come on, burgers should come with chips. Obviously, I have since checked the menu and the burger descriptions don’t mention chips and it does say to add a side but still……

If you have driven past The Old Chain Pier before and never ventured in I’d recommend stopping for a change.

2 mains, a side of chips, a bottle of flavoured cider and a soda water and lime – £29.15

Isle of Mull

OH has been at me to go to the Isle of Mull for eons. To be honest it’s not really my thing. Usually when OH wants to do something outdoorsy I will volunteer to sit in the car and read my book or sit in the hotel lobby and write. The promise of scenery doesn’t hold me as much as a good atmosphere in a pub does. So, on the promise of wine and much merriment, I eventually relented and looked up dog friendly hotels and ferry times.

2016-06-17 12.37.27The dog appeared to love the ferry – sticking her muzzle between the bars and sniffing the sea air as we made our way from Oban to Craignure. OH had planned a route beforehand that would take us down the island to Fionnphort – the very edge of the island where you can catch another ferry over to Iona – a small and beautiful island with a population of only 120 people. Our trip down made me realise the difficulties of travelling lengthy distances on a one-track road. Passing places became friendly places to stop and wave to other drivers. However, the novelty soon wears off and quickly you learn to drive as if some idiot is going to speed round the next corner at you. I’ve decided I’m going to invent a plastic hand that attaches to your car and waves for you whenever your car comes to a passing place. I’d soon be a millionaire. Well, maybe I’d make a few quid at least.

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Fionnphort

When we arrived a Fionnphort we (me really) decided not to catch another ferry but to allow the dog to have a walk and perhaps leave Iona Abbey for another visit. I have to admit the scenery was amazing. With the colour of the sand and sea you could have been anywhere in the world.

From Fionnphort we headed north towards Tobermory, where we were staying that night. O2016-06-17 16.59.43n the way back up we just had to stop for a Kodak moment outside Salen where 2 boats sat looking completely abandoned and unloved but extremely picturesque.

After taking a multitude of snaps we took to the road again until we reached Tobermory, where we were staying for the night. Our hotel turned out to be quite fabulous.

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Room with a view

Well the view from The Western Isles Hotel certainly was. The hotel itself was a little tired but it was dog friendly, had great staff/service, tasty food in the restaurant/breakfast room and everything you could need in a hotel room – not to mention again the view, which was phenomenal.

During our stay we literally travelled the length and breadth of the island. To my surprise I was impressed with the scenery, this was helped with the fantastic weather we had, which unfortunately you can’t rely on. Well, it is Scotland afterall. During our visit we didn’t see any otters but we did see some red deer, a Golden Eagle in the distance and I’m sure I saw the red feathers of a crossbill. There were also numerous ravens, grey backed crows and hunners of Highland Coos too amongst the other more regular wildlife on the island.

OH stuck to his promise and we enjoyed ourselves in the few pubs there are in Tobermory. The atmosphere was lively and we had a laugh with both locals and visitors alike. I managed to beat a Canadian at pool but was then thrashed by a local (boo). We met a couple from Motherwell who got us totally trashed and unable to make breakfast on Sunday morning – so that was definitely a good news – bad news moment.

All in all it was a top weekend and I won’t bore you with anymore details but I will leave you with just a few of the many pics I took and a recommendation you should go too.

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Tobermory

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View from Art in Nature, Calgary

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Beach at Calgary

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Tobermory

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Western Isles Hotel

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Anchors at the harbour in Tobermory

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Traffic jam in Mull

Bridge Inn, Ratho

 

OH and I had arranged to pick my brother and his wife up from Edinburgh Airport on Friday night so instead of hanging around at home waiting for the clock to edge ever forward we decided to head to Edinburgh to get something to eat. I did a quick google on restaurants near Edinburgh Airport and the Bridge Inn in Ratho jumped out as somewhere close, different and exactly what we were looking for.

Finding the Inn wasn’t difficult as it is right on the Union Canal and the only place that jumps out at you in Ratho.

The menu was large and highlighted they must be one of the only pub restaurant in Scotland to employ a full-time gardener, working in their walled garden further up the canal towpath. They also have their own pigs, chickens and ducks – a reason to return for their breakfast menu. During the shooting season they obviously have a word with their local game keeper too.  All these good things added up to various offerings on the menu such as their own sausages, venison, duck and a roast vegetable and puy wellington. With that in mind, I was boring and went for Haddock and chips, from Scottish day boats, lemon, chunky chips, mushy peas. 2016-03-11 19.13.58There was a choice of small or large so I sensibly (with hindsight) went small. OH plumped for the Roast duck breast, pak choi, tomato bulgar, baby courgette honey glaze, jus.

My fish was excellent. The batter spot on, light crisp and not greasy. The mushy peas came in a separate jar in case you’re  the fussy sort (like some people I know – yes I’m looking at you Claire) and don’t like their foodstuffs touching.  I was also given some tartare sauce, which was homemade and I loved.

2016-03-11 19.13.24OH raved about his duck, which was done to perfection. It wasn’t the slightest bit chewy and the perfect shade of pink. He wasn’t so sure about the tomato bulgar and would probably have preferred some roast potatoes but that’s only a slight thing.

As I had went small earlier I had room for a dessert, which when I looked at the menu quickly became cheese. AND (I’m blaming the menu here) because the list of dessert wines and ports were also shown, I decided to be decadent and have a glass of port with it too.

OH chose the Frangipani sponge, vanilla pear, blackberry gel, roast almonds. I didn’t taste it but it looked lovely and OH cleared the plate. 2016-03-11 19.48.54My cheese came with a variety of biscuits, some celery, grapes and a fabulous homemade chutney. I’m guessing here but I think there was grapes and cherries, which had been soaked in booze before being added to the onions. It was lush!  As was the accompanying port.2016-03-11 19.49.02

OH finished his meal with an double espresso (remember he still had to drive to the airport) and I finished my second glass of red.

The service was fantastic – waitresses and waiters alike were friendly, welcoming and helpful.

The bill came to £56.00 (2 mains, 2 desserts, lots of drinks).

The area the Bridge Inn is in looked lovely in the dark and OH and I have decided to return in the summer to check out their decking area, which looks over the canal. This restaurant is off the beaten path but definitely worth a visit – especially if you are picking up someone from the airport.

but I digress

Normally, I wax lyrical about restaurants but in this post I want to tell you about an evening I had in a pub. I didn’t eat and I barely drank but the evening had such an effect I want to share. I’m deliberately not going to tell you what pub it was in, which is a shame as I’d highly recommend it.

pho_belhaven_best_smSo, anyway, yesterday evening OH fancied a pint. Just the one. We had been out walking for most of the afternoon and it was after 5 when he made his request. I was driving and didn’t mind so we popped into the pub with the intention of staying for one. With a pint of Best and a diet coke we sat on stools at a large, high table in the corner of the pub between the bar and the window. Not long after, a woman with a dog came in. She ordered a gin and tonic and sat at the end of the same table we were at. She had bought some prints locally and was telling the barman about her purchases. I noticed she highlighted to Drew the barman that she had been out walking her dog and was, like us, just in for the one.

I love art and was intrigued to see what she had bought so leaned over and asked. She was more than happy to show me and quite naturally we started to chat about paintings and the local area. I soon became aware that a man, who had just walked into the pub and was standing at the bar, started to butt into our conversation. I assumed him and the woman knew each other as they seemed to talk with a shared understanding of the pub, barman and local area. I was a bit irritated by the man. He was mid 50s, bald, short and sported a lavender coloured top tucked into his jeans. What annoyed me was that all his stories had an underlying theme – money. He’d drank 3 bottles of £80 champagne at the Open. He was a member at Crail and St Andrews Golf Clubs – both of which he drove to with the roof down in his Mercedes. He had 2 properties for sale – 1 of which had 10 windows that viewed on to the Forth. The other had a walk in shower big enough for 4 people to stand in.

One of his lengthier stories came about when we were all discussing another local pub, which had recently been done up. Michelle (art buying dog lady) told us she was disappointed with the refurbishment as it now lacked character. Baldy man Ian told us he hadn’t been back since he left the staff a £80 tip. He had been there for a meal with friends and family and only had £100 notes. The meal had come to £820 and as he was paying for everyone he paid the bill with 9 £100 notes and told them to keep the change. He had then asked for 6 tins of coke to take away. He only had a couple of quid change in his pocket and was 20p short. Apparently the barmaid refused to let him off with the 20p and even when he pointed out the size of tip he had left she still wouldn’t budge. This meant he had to break another £100 note for the sake of 20p. Hence why he hadn’t been back.

By this time the ‘just one’ was but a forgotten dream. OH was half way down his 3rd pint and Michelle had got herself another G&T. I had given up on the diet coke after my 2nd. coke

When Ian had mentioned the properties he had to sell, Michelle told us about the accommodation she was renting out. It turned out she was just in the area for the weekend to change the sheets prior to the next house full of tourists turning up. Like Ian, she was also an incomer.

Every time someone left or walked into the bar Ian would say hi or bye to them. He rarely gave them eye contact but he’d always acknowledge them and then turn to us and tell us who they were. For instance, one woman was ‘off the drink’. Normally he’d buy her maybe 5 vodkas of a night but she’d recently turned yellow so now she was on J2O. He was full of little bits and pieces like that.

It became obvious Drew the barman knew both Michelle and Ian. However, after Michelle started asking Ian some more questions I realised that, although they were both regulars, this was the first time they had actually met. We were an odd mismatched bunch as we sat and chatted the night away. We plied the duke box with money and criticised one another’s song choices even though we knew and sang all the words.

What often happens when strangers starts prattling in a pub everyone starts buying one another a drink. However, in this instance, it was Ian that was buying and way more than his fair share too. He was insistent and would get a round in before anyone else had the chance too. I was happy sitting back watching and for once I was pretty quiet. I lost count of OH’s pints and I could tell Michelle was feeling the effects of all the gin she was throwing back. Ian told us this was the second time that day he had been drunk as he’d been in the pub at 11.30 that morning for a sesh and had gone home to eat his hot smoked salmon and fillet steak and had now returned for round 2.

You may be wondering where this story is going and why we sat in one another’s company all evening instead of having just one and leaving. Well, the surprising twist to this tale was the sad story attached to Ian’s anecdotes of wealth. His wife had a stroke 15 months ago and she hasn’t spoken since. She has been in every hospital in the area and is having to be fed by a tube to her stomach. It didn’t sound like there was much hope for her but Ian was continuing to visit and make sure she had the best care available. Consequently, she is now going into a nursing home and Ian is having to sell his houses to pay for her care.

The £80 tip story had been his wedding day. The champagne – his wife’s birthday.

He was so lonely he was spending all his time in the pub and you could see he was really struggling with coming to terms with the fact that no longer did money equal power. It didn’t matter how much money he had, it meant nothing. He just wanted his wife back.

I had been quick to judge Ian earlier in the night but as OH and I left the pub together I knew I was richer than him.

Edinburgh – Craft beer crawl

Usually when OH and I go out we eat and I drink. Therefore, this weekend OH stated, with a toddler like determination, that he wanted to try some real ales and he wasn’t too fussed about food. Who was I to argue? So off we went and were publicly transported to Edinburgh, solely with beer in mind.

Our first port of call was The Advocate just off the Royal Mile (7 Hunter Square). It was relatively empty so we managed to get a seat without any difficulty and it wasn’t too hard to notice the rest of the clientele were tourists. Posters screaming out how good their haggis was adorned the walls so this confirmed their customer base . OH started off with a pint of Old Speckled Hen as he thought “Woo hoo, Old Speckled Hen on draught!”. Apparently it’s one of his favourites. I started slow and had half a cider because it was still early and I’m a lady (if you just spat on to your screen you know me too well!). OH told me the round was £7 something so not the cheapest of rounds #touristtrap.Ushers

From there we wandered up South Bridge and turned right on to West Nicholson Street where Usher’s of Edinburgh is to be found. The decor in Ushers is heavy on wood and as you descend down the stairs into the bar you get whiffs of creosote. The aroma is even stronger in the toilets but as OH pointed out, it’s better than 2015-05-16 13.56.09the smell of piss.

We’ve visited Usher’s before and already knew it had an onsite microbrewery and therefore lots of choice. Again we weren’t disappointed. There was 20 pumps to choose from as well as a vast array of bottled ales. After sampling a few of the beers, OH chose one of their own, Smokey and the Bandit.2015-05-16 13.57.28 I had a taste of it and it was like the last mouthful of cocoa that you forgot to drink earlier. Cold, chocolaty and a little bitter. OH, however, says it was nice and light, not a heavy potent beer that makes your mouth look like a cat’s ass but smooth and light and tasty – so there you have it. I had a pilsner called Sunburst from the Inveralmond Brewery (4.3%). It was so light and crisp it was like drinking water straight from a Scottish spring that had ran over some hops.

Leaving Usher’s behind (as it would have been too easy to rise to the challenge of trying every pump) we went outside and found it to be a bit dreich so ended up going straight into the next door bar, The Blind Poet. This bar had literary quotes on it’s walls and was full of leather couches and chairs. OH quickly decided on a pint of Broughton’s Dark Dunter (4.8%) Dark dunterand announced it was smokey and chocolaty and had more body than his last pint and went down a treat. (you will notice Smokey and the Bandit wasn’t described as smokey). I had Camden’s Gentleman’s Wit a 4.3%  Belgium Witbier, which had a lovely refreshing lemony tang to it. Unfortunately we also decided to eat in this bar as there was a basket menu and I thought it would be a good idea to get something in our stomachs before we continued our ale quest. Big mistake. It was a basket menu and I thought cheap and cheerful but no – just cheap and even then really bad value. Enough said.

You know when you have went for a run in the car to have a picnic and can’t find some place lovely to stop so end up parking somewhere that’s just okay so you can eat – you then finish your picnic and drive off around the corner only to find a spot with the most amazing view in the world? Well that’s exactly what happened to us as we left The Blind Poet and happened upon The Potting Shed on Potterrow. It was fabulous. The decor was just as if you had wandered into a potting shed. The light fittings were pots, buckets or sieves, there were plants, chicken wire and spades everywhere and the food was served on terracotta saucers (I’m going back so will tell you if the food is any good later). There was also a blackboard with all the on-tap drinks they had on offer.   Again, after a few samples, OH settled on a pint of Le Chien Noir (5.5%) from Carbon Smith Brewing – apparently a rich and darkly roasted stout but on asking OH just now he can’t remember much about it….and there was me laughing at OH and now I discover I can’t remember what I had – I know it had either white or lie in the title and was supposed to have a hint of banana to it but it was rank – the bananas must have been old and brown. It looked like dirty dishwater after you’ve had a curry and was heavy going. I couldn’t finish it. Next time I’m having samples first too!

…to be continued but ***spoiler alert**** we went on to cocktails next.

The Riverside Inn, Dundee

Last weekend I was off call for work but on call for babysitting duties. The baby in question is our beautiful 1 year old granddaughter (yes, I know you didn’t think I was old enough ;p)

As it was a rotten day on Saturday we tried to think of somewhere indoors that would suit a nosey wee one but also keep our interest too. Therefore, we decided to head north to The Scottish Antiques and Arts Centre at Abernyte in Perthshire, which if you like wandering around old bits and pieces, perusing chic modern furniture, accessories and clothes and finally pick up some fancy cheese in a deli then it is the place to go when it’s raining. There really is something for everyone whether it’s an antique figurine, a brand new footstool or a cup of tea and slice of cake. The down side is that the restaurant area is a bit too upmarket to sit with a toddler. We, therefore, headed along the River Tay to The Riverside Inn in Dundee.

I had thought it was still called The Marmalade Pot but we discovered it had been refurbished and boasted a tv screen at every table and a free soft play area. Yes, I did say a TV SCREEN at every table. It’s anti-social dinning at it’s best. I guess you do have the choice of switching it off but as the waitress led us to our table I didn’t see any blank screens.

What I did like though, was that the table we were shown to had already been set for us with a babyseat and children’s menu. I had brought some food for the wee one so it was just OH and I that needed to decide. As we looked over the menu the waitress brought over some plastic cutlery and chatted with the wee one, which was nice. The menu was the usual pub grub but also advertised hanging skewers and a Build Your Own Burger section. Thinking the DIY burger was too much hassle OH decided to go for a 28 day aged 8oz Rump Steak with seasoned chips, petits pois, mushrooms, onion rings and roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine. I went for the Chicken fajitas with pan-fried peppers, red onions, tortillas, jalapeños, grated Cheddar and Mozzarella cheese, sour cream and salsa.

Whilst we waited I tried to feed our granddaughter but she was far too interested in everything that was happening around us. Other children running around, large groups arriving with presents and balloons and the waitresses passing by with platefuls. However, we soon had her full attention when our food arrived. 2015-02-21 14.26.41My fajitas were sizzling hot and made quite a racket when the dishes were placed in front of me. OH’s steak, although looking good just didn’t have the same pizzazz.    2015-02-21 14.26.48   When I saw the amount of spicy chicken and peppers there were I didn’t think I would be able to finish it all but oh boy did I manage, and enjoyed every drop.

OH made short work of his steak too and managed to lose a few chips to the wee one who preferred them loads more than the food I had provided. I’ve just asked OH to pass comment on his meal and he’s said “You can’t really go wrong with a steak – it was a good bit of beef done the way I asked without any sauce on it.”  So there you have it. 2015-02-21 14.26.34

After we’d scrapped our plates clean, I toddled after the wee one through to the busy soft play area where she spent 20 minutes trying to get everyone’s attention and I spent 20 minutes trying to get her attention to capture a colourful happy pic. We both failed but both had fun.

It’s not a place I’d go for a romantic meal or even a meal with another couple but with kids that arent teens yet (let’s face it teens wouldn’t want to be seen with you out anway)  it’s an ideal place to go and have good food whilst they watch tv and run around in their socks.

One pint of lager and a tin of juice – £4.93 (bought at the bar as we waited on our table) and 2 main meals – £18.98 = a total  of £23.91.

The Red Squirrel, Lothian Road, Edinburgh

Sunday’s are made for Bloody Marys and brunch. Or, if you’ve had a lie in and missed the cut off time, a gourmet burger and seasoned fries. And that is exactly the hangover cure I had today in The Red Squirrel in Edinburgh.

When I ordered the Bloody Mary the waitress gave me one of those looks so full of approval I felt like I’d passed some kind of test. The look also held a smidgen of jealousy and a dollop of pride because she looked sure in the knowledge that they serve a damn fine Bloody Mary in her workplace. She asked if I wanted it spicy. Oh yes please. Her smile told me I had answered correctly.    2015-01-18 12.50.27-1I wasn’t disappointed when it arrived. It looked great in a large glass and it was very hot but not overly spicy. It was heavy on Worcestershire sauce and not for the faint-hearted but it went down a treat and managed to melt all the frozen bits the walk down Lothian Road had left me with.

I was annoyed we couldn’t order brunch but it was my fault we didn’t arrive until after 12.30 (they stop serving it at 12) so I didn’t complain. Without the options of the breakfast menu you’re left with mainly burgers or lighter meals and snacks. So burger it was. I went for the The ‘Red Squirrel’ BBQ 6oz beef patty, smoked bacon, fried onions, peppers, smoked applewood cheddar, kc sauce burger and 2015-01-18 13.04.33 OH, who had been up early and had a bacon roll before we left, ordered the Beetroot Salad  – Salt baked beetroot, raw beetroot, green apple, crème fraiche, pickled shallot, vinaigrette.  2015-01-18 13.04.21  OH said his salad was crispy and tasty and the mix of ingredients went well together. My burger was good although, like most burgers, it fell to bits at the end. I’m not entirely sure if it was smoked bacon they used as the BBQ aspect of it didn’t really come across – it was really only the smoked cheese I could taste but my seasoned fries saved the day as they were amazing and worth popping in just for them.

Service was really good and the bill for a Bloody Mary, a non-alcoholic beer, a salad and a burger came to £24.00.

P.S, If you’re into craft beers you really should check out their extensive drinks menu <<< click there

Le Filochard, Toulouse

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Start of the night – looking totally unassuming

Wandering the streets of Toulouse one warm evening OH and I couldn’t help but notice a bar that was spilling out on to the streets. Boho chic and young at heart seemed to be the dress code. Dreds, bare feet, colourful stripey low slung trousers (or should I say pantaloons?) and bare brown shoulders were in. Me with my boring attire and sensible walking shoes were out. Or so I thought until we happened to be going past it again the following evening. It was a lot quieter then and we were able to get a seat at the bar. I watched on as the bar man made up a couple of mojitos for 2 guys sitting in the corner. They looked so good that when it was my time to order I couldn’t help myself. “Deux mojitos, s’il vous plait”. The barman said something about 4 and I nodded blankly. He explained in English that it was happy hour and 2 for 1. Woohoo!IMAG3224

A sudden clang beside me made me turn and watch as 6 empty kegs were rolled out from under a nearby bench. Then a large hinged piece of wood appeared. Before my eyes a stage was being built and just as suddenly a band started to set up and the bar started to fill. IMAG3237

The heady mix of the bar, the cocktails, the friendly staff and chic clientele added in with our unique Scottishness made OH and feel very special and welcome. Before long we were chatting to lots of different and interesting people – they were buying us drink, we were buying them drink, the band played, strangers asked me to dance, I whirled, I drank and I spun from partner to partner. It was a great night.

You know those evenings when you think you’re just having a quiet night but end up having the best night ever – well that’s what happened the night OH and I visited Le Filochard.

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End of the night – no longer quiet at all!

I entered the bar feeling like an outsider but left it feeling younger, a bit boho and a lot sozzled.

Teuchter’s Landing and Roseleaf Bar Cafe

One of my favourite places to visit is Leith in Edinburgh, especially when there’s sunshine on it. Our nephew and niece were visiting a couple of weeks ago so we decided to take a trip to Leith to show them some of the sights. In particular Teuchters’s Landing and Roseleaf Bar Cafe.

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Guinness

It was late Saturday afternoon and OH and our nephew were going climbing in Alien Rock (an indoor wall climbing centre built inside a former church) I’m not into any form of exercise so I talked my niece into coming along for the journey but to check out how good the Guinness was in Teuchter’s Landing rather than getting sweaty and sore.

It was a lovely evening and there was a relaxed atmosphere in the bar. A mixture of couples and small groups were enjoying the views out on to the water in the back conservatory. There was also a family playing cards in the corner as their daughter, safely and well within sight, amused herself outside. We ordered a couple of pints and plonked ourselves on comfy brown leather chairs and chatted. The Guinness was good – maybe not as good as I enjoyed in Dublin but still good.

The time sped by so it wasn’t too long before we were joined by the two climbers and due to a small need to eat we ordered from the bar’s mug menu. The mug menu is a great idea as you can have chips, haggis stovies, mac ‘n’ cheese, cullen skink, chicken wings, stew, soup, curry or risotto all served in either a small or a large mug depending on your appetite.

I ordered the stovies which were tasty but they had put carrots in it!!!! It’s not that I don’t like carrots, I just don’t think they have a place in stovies – it’s just not right (yes I know other’s will argue otherwise).

OH had the Cullen skink, nephew the chicken wings and niece the cheese n mac. We also had a couple of mugs of chips. All the mugs came with oatcakes too and nothing went to waste.

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Mugs of food

Within easy walking distance (basically walk out the front of Teuchter’s and keep walking – across the road and up past the bins) you will find the Roseleaf Bar Cafe – a bar that manages to mess with your senses. Once through the door you can see women pouring from fancy teapots into china cups surrounded by plates of cakes and scones but the aroma isn’t of tea or coffee, what your nostrils pick up is definitely a pub smell, not a cafe. With a drinks menu thrust into your hand you quickly realise that it is actually cocktails that are in the china teapots or more precisely Pot-tails. Although you can get a great cup of coffee or tea in the Roseleaf Bar Cafe their pot-tails are something you need to try. With a huge juicer behind the bar every cocktail is made with fresh fruit pulped in front of your eyes and served in a teapot with an accompanying teacup and saucer (btw individual cocktails are also available and their Bloody Mary’s are great on a Sunday morning). We didn’t dine this time but they do great food and you can also book to have a Mad Hatter’s Tea-party using some of the many hats that decorate the walls.

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Pot-tails

Another quirky aspect is the chalk and blackboards in the toilets so make sure you leave a message for your mate…

 

 

…oh and the chips in Roseleaf are the most amazing chips ever!