The Dory Bistro & Gallery, Pittenweem.

Looking for lunch not too faraway I opened up my laptop and did a search for nearby restaurants. A short browse led me to The Dory Bistro & Gallery in Pittenweem, a seafood restaurant in the East Neuk of Fife I had never visited before. I phoned up to book before we left as I wasn’t sure if it was a place you could just walk in. When we got there the room was full of empty tables but all with reserved signs on them so I was right to call.

Pittenweem is the most active harbour in the East Neuk and has a daily fish market a matter of metres from the bistro, which was obviously reflected in it’s menus. Along with the wine and lunch menu we were also given the specials menu, which the waitress read through. She was knowledgeable about where the fish was caught and had more detail about how the dishes came. Unlike last week’s menu in Room with a View there were a few meat dishes such as pheasant au vin and steak pie as well.

Initially, when we looked at the list of starters and mains we thought it would be an easy order but there was quite a bit of heeing and hawing around what starter would go with what main. I am a big fan of Cullen Skink but there was also a shellfish bouillabaisse as a main. Eventually we decided to share a starter of moules marinière with cream, shallots, white wine, parsley. We told the waitress we were sharing and she asked if we wanted them in 2 pots. Oh yes please.

The mussels were fantastic. Fat, big and juicy. There was no beards or barnacles and the creamy broth was fantastic – full of shallots and parsley and not salty. As well as the bread we were given at the start of the meal I used my spoon to try and get as much as possible – something I don’t always feel the need to do.

When OH was in Orkney he saw a family of locals ‘spooting’ – the art of catching razor clams, which spoot water up when you drizzle them with salt but didn’t get the chance to taste them even though they did offer him some still in their shells. Therefore, when he saw razor clams on the menu he decided he would have them. They were served with pancetta, cherry tomatoes, garlic, white wine and dill. It was an impressive dish when it arrived even if the clams did look like ridiculously large sperms (sorry mum but they did). I tried a bit of one and was glad I hadn’t ordered the dish. It was chewy and did not hold much taste. OH said he enjoyed the buttery sauce but felt the clams were a bit like squid. He struggled on. I could tell his heart wasn’t in it. This was not in any way a reflection on the chef but on the razor clam itself. OH said he was really glad he tried it but wished it had been a starter. I noticed he then turned into Mr Bean as he tried to hide his unfinished clams under the long thin shells.

I had decided on the pan-fried fillet of sea bass with smoked salmon risotto and pesto. This was a colourful dish with bright green pesto, saffron yellow rice and small green peas and at last I had found a crispy skin. I had been worried about the pesto being too strong but I needn’t have been. It was not like any other pesto I have had before (and disliked)…actually, now I am sitting writing I am wondering if maybe it was a wild garlic pesto? The tables all had wild garlic flowers in them but no leaves – could they have been in the kitchen in a pestle and mortar? Anyway, I loved my risotto. It wasn’t sticky, it had bags of flavour and the peas gave it another level. The fish with its crispy skin was spot on.

There were no desserts on the menu but there was a blackboard with a list of cakes. Almond and orange cake, Rhubarb drizzle, chocolate brownie, whisky and marmalade fruit loaf and scones. OH needed something to get rid of the memory of the razor clams so asked for the almond and orange cake. As the waitress warned it was not a sweet cake but tart and tangy. I’m guessing OH would have loved some custard or cream with it but enjoyed it nonetheless.

Service was great, the toilets spotless and the fish was excellent.

1 starter (£9.95), 2 mains, 1 cake, 2 bottles of craft lager and a coke £55.35

Incidentally, the Dory Bistro and Gallery is behind the white campervan in the top pic of Pittenweem.

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A Room with a View, Aberdour.

My cousin from LA has been over recently (my mum and her mum are sisters) so we decided we would all go out for lunch. After many discussions and not being organised enough to book an afternoon tea we eventually decided on A Room with a View. This was for a couple of reasons 1. Lusa is pescatarian and the seafood menu at Room with a View means she wouldn’t be a PESTatairan and 2. It has been on my list for years but the myth of it being hard to get to had put me off. However, when I phoned up to book, I was asked if I needed a lift down to the restaurant that overlooks the Forth and is right on the edge of the coast, as they offer free transport from anywhere in Aberdour.

OH very kindly offered to run us there and took us right to the door in his 4×4. We were all very grateful as my initial plan had been to park in the car park at the top of the hill and walk down but it soon became evident the road is not for the faint-hearted so if you go (and you should) take them up on their offer of a free lift.

The restaurant is part of The Forth View Hotel and has a very homely feel to it. When we arrived we had a seat in the lounge and were offered drinks. Shinty Awards covered the shelves and old black and white photos adorned the walls. We could easily have been sat in someone’s front room. When we were taken through to the restaurant the decor was similar with views over the Forth. Unfortunately it was a dreich day so the views, which would normally be stunning, were grey and faded.

We were given the lunch and wine menus and our water glasses were filled up. All four of us love seafood and we had a genuine difficulty in picking what we would have as everything sounded great.

We eventually all manged to decide on something. Lusa had Sweet Potato Fritters with Harissa Salsa. Maxi-me had Room with a View Scotch Egg, Scottish salmon & Dunbar Quails Egg on a green Lentil & Asparagus Salad. AA and I both plumped for Smoked Mackerel. smoked salmon & radish pate with Arran Oaties.

As we waited on our orders we were given bread rolls, which were warm and moreish. One of the other tables were delivered a hamper, which was full with tasters of all the starter options and I think we maybe mucked up by not ordering that.

Our starters soon arrived and MM’s scotch egg was the winner and we all had dish envy when it arrived. MM said it was just as good as it looked and the salad was exceptional, which annoyed Lusa who said she was a bit disappointed in her salad and would have preferred MM’s. Her harissa salsa was very sweet and not as hot as I thought it would be. She enjoyed her dish but said she wouldn’t order it again and wished she had ordered the soup (leek, potato and watercress topped with prawns). My pate was very fishy and I loved it. As ever there is never enough oatcakes but an hour later I was really glad there weren’t more.

For main MM chose Pan fried sea bass fillet served on apple, bacon & celery risotto, Lusa had Halibut & herbs served en-croute, potato wedges, baby carrots & onion veloute and AA and I both went for Sole fillets stuffed with fresh mackerel, scallop roe bisque, mangetout and hand cut chips.

MM enjoyed her sea bass and said the risotto worked well, especially with the bacon, which added an extra layer. Lusa’s dish looked like a pasty and was jam packed with halibut. She said the highlight of the dish was the onion veloute as without it the dish would be dry but this made the meal and there was enough to keep pouring over as she cut her way through it. Lusa was disappointed with her potato wedges and thought they could have done something a bit more adventurous with the potato. My stuffed sole was lovely and the accompanying bisque was fantastic, which was rich, creamy and not at all salty. The mangetout was still crunchy and my chips were good but I had to agree with Lusa that the chips didn’t go with the dish but then the plate did need the texture.

To dessert or not to dessert, that was the next question. The sisters decided they were fine with coffee and Lusa and I debated what sweet we would share. We eventually went for the Rhubarb Crumble as it came with custard and the states don’t do custard. The crumble was good and just as you would want with not too thick nor too thin sweet custard to compliment the tart rhubarb. I have to apologise as I didn’t take a pic of the dessert menu so you’ll have to visit A Room with a View yourself to find out what else was on the sweet menu.

Crumble

We all enjoyed Room with a View, we loved the menu and it ticked loads of boxes. There were a number of compliments for the plates the dishes were served on, throughout our meal the service was excellent and our wine glasses were rarely empty. When you go (and you definitely should) don’t go and expect stylish decor or highfalutin toilets as all the attention has been placed on the food, which is as it should be.

4 starters, 4 mains, 1 dessert, 2 coffees and 2 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc = £153.30

The Bank, Anstruther, Fife

IMAG9861A few months ago I was at a meeting in the Dreel Hall in Anstruther. As usual, I was far too early and went for a walk around the graveyard. Sitting on a bench, overlooking the Dreel Burn merging with the Firth of Forth, I noticed a conservatory sticking awkwardly out from the back of where I knew to be a bar. However, in my mind I thought it was an auld man’s kind of pub. It got me wondering and therefore it went on to my list of places for OH and I to visit (btw I’m always looking for recommendations).

We parked the car just dIMG_20180721_175027_504own the side of the Dreel Halls and crossed the Dreel Burn using the large square stepping-stones that take you on to the beach next to the end of Shore Street. From there we followed the Fife Coastal Path up to the back of The Bank and through their beer garden. Following our noses we climbed some stairs and ended up in the bar where we were taken into the conservatory and given a table with a lovely view of rooftops and the Forth and given a lunch menu along with a leather-bound one. When I opened the bigger menu the first page was a list of drinks so I closed it again and looked at the lunch menu. 2 courses for £12.00. There was fish and chips, burgers, mac n cheese etc, which was fine but nothing really jumped out. Bored I opened the leather menu again and discovered a page of starters, a page of chefs specials, a page of burgers and  a whole page of seafood. Ignoring my normal annoyance at it now being too big a menu, I was back in a good mood and made my decision as did OH. However, no-one appeared to take our order so we sat in a hot conservatory without a drink for far too long. Eventually a different waitress appeared and was about to disappear again when I called her over and told her we were ready to order.

I asked for the ‘Haddock Timbale – Smoked ourselves with oak shavings, poached with prawns and saffron cream, finished with chef’s vegetables and buttered baby potatoes’. When it arrived I was surprised to see the haddock was white and not the usual smokey yellow. However, IMAG9855the sauce was electric yellow and I immediately worried for my white top. The fish was good but white and not smoked, the sauce was a bit salty, the vegetables were good, crunchy and not over done but the best bit was the prawns that were hidden in the drum of haddock. They were large and succulent.

OH ordered the ‘Roasted Sea bass, Crispy skin sea bass fillets, tomato, chorizo, cashews, rocket & new potato salad. It looked fantastic and I was immediately jealous. IMAG9853

It’s not often that OH wins at the food ordering competition we have but he definitely hit the jackpot with the Sea bass. He could not talk more highly about it. The textures, taste and amount were all perfect and created a memorable dish. The cashews and thinly cut chorizo were a big hit as were the fresh tomatoes and crispy skin.

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Leaving a empty plate OH then ordered a pudding from the full-page of desserts. ‘Dutch Apple Flan – Dutch apple pie filled with apple, raisins and cinnamon topped with a glazed lattice pastry, served hot or cold with cream, ice cream or crème anglaise.’ He decided on it hot with ice cream. He was disappointed to find it must have been heated in a microwave as the pastry was soggy but still enjoyed it and managed to leave another empty plate.

Overall, it was a good lunch and we will probably go back just so I can have the Sea bass.

2 mains, 1 dessert, 2 pints of ale and a pint of coke = £40.05

The Fishmarket, Newhaven, Edinburgh

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During the week I saw on my Twitter feed someone raving about the new restaurant that had opened in Newhaven Harbour, The Fishmarket. (next to the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar in Edinburgh) I looked up the website  and had a look at their menu, which looked great. There was crab, lobster, langoustine as well as haddock, cod and lemon sole.   The main hook for me on the website was ‘From the Boat Straight to your Table’. What’s not to like?

I, therefore, suggested to OH that we could lunch there on Sunday. I felt it was prudent to phone ahead and book and I was glad I did as when I asked for a table at 1.30pm I was told I could either have 1.15 or 1.45.

We arrived promptly and were given a table in the window with a good view of the harbour. The restaurant was busy with family groups and other couples. There was also people sat at the bar who I am guessing maybe hadn’t phoned ahead.

The decor was clean with white tiles and contrasting dark green ones. The staff uniforms were nautical, white and blue striped tops so be pre-warned and don’t be like the woman who didn’t know and was sitting dining with friends and family but equally could have been clearing tables.

The menus were already on the table. However, a waitress walked past me holding heaped plates of mussels, which looked amazing but there was no mention of mussels on the menu. I looked around for a specials board but to no avail. When the waitress appeared to take our drinks order I asked about the mussels and was told the other table had phoned and requested them in advance. Oh. My first disappointment. A different waitress then appeared to tell us that the only draught lager, which had been recommended, had run out. Oh.

My next one was when a couple that came in after us but got their food order taken before us and received their food before us too. I realise all food is cooked to order but that was bad service and it was a full 40 minutes from entering the restaurant to getting our food.

As we waited, I noticed the two women sitting next to us orders arrived. One had fish and chips and the other 4 hand dived scallops, which all arrived on separate shells and took over the table. I checked the menu. The 4 scallops, each no bigger than a marshmallow, would cost her £24.

Anyway, I had decided on the lemon sole as I had realised on further scrutiny of the menu and checking other people’s plates that everything was deep-fried and I wanted something that wasn’t. OH knew before we got there that he was having dressed crab. So when the waitress eventually appeared we gave our food orders. Her first question to me was “do you want it battered or breaded?” Oh. Battered I replied disappointed. Her second question to OH was “do you want chips with that? It’s not that big.” OH agreed to have chips. My question is – If a waitress is suggesting you get chips with something why doesn’t it already come with chips?

The next disappointment was when OH’s dressed brown crab arrived with no shell in sight. It came on a plate in a circle with some sauce and chivIMAG9674es on top. As my mum pointed out when I told her, “it could have been tinned if there was no shell.” Saying that, OH did enjoy it but also said he was glad of the bread that came with it. OH also suggested that some side salad with some spring onions or strong herbs would have added to the dish. If OH is making serving suggestion then I know the dish is lacking.

IMAG9673My lemon sole was good. The texture, unlike haddock and cod that easily flakes, was mushy but it didn’t taste muddy as some bottom feeders can do. The chips were chip shop chips (there’s a take away chip shop attached to the restaurant, which is where the deep-fried dishes are cooked).

If getting shit-faced on Prosecco or Pinot Grigio is the acceptable face of afternoon drinking then The Fishmarket is the place for middle class people to go and eat unhealthy, deep-fried food without the same guilt.

Normally, I would have another glass of wine and OH would have a dessert but we decided we would just ask for the bill. When we got it, there was no drinks on it and the waitress had to ask what we had to drink.

Overall, the food was good. Fresh, tasty and very fishy (there was nothing on the menu that wasn’t fish) However, I had been expecting a classy seafood restaurant but instead I got a posh fish and chip shop so I won’t be needing to go back.

A pint, a small glass of wine, 2 mains = £38.80

The Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant, Stonehaven

OH and I haven’t had a planned lunch out for a while so with an empty weekend on the horizon we decided to plan a trip to Stonehaven so we could visit The Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant and pop in to see our niece and her new fiancé who live in the area.

We set off up the A90 and then prior to heading into the coastal village we stopped off at 2016-08-27 12.05.11.jpgDunottar Castle for a wee daunder around the picturesque, cliff top fortress to work up an appetite.

It was just a short drive from there down to Stonehaven and to the harbour the restaurant looks over. 2016-08-27 12.26.09.jpgUp some stone stairs the restaurant sits on top of the Tolbooth Museum and is the oldest building in Stonehaven dating back to the 16th century.

Soon we were sitting down with menus in hand. There was a blackboard of daily specials, a set lunch menu (3 courses for £20) and a short à la carte menu.

Fresh langoustines, mussels and oysters were also all on offer However. the set menu was perfect for me as I easily chose the Cullen Skink followed by the sea bream. OH also went for the set menu choosing mackerel and then Thai prawn curry.

The Cullen Skink was served with chopped chives, croutons and herb oil and came in a IMAG4472beautiful bowl that I would have loved to take home with me.  The yellow smoked haddock was dominant within it as it should be but for me there was a lack of lumps of potato in it and the consistency was verging on splitting. Nevertheless it was a tasty starter.  IMAG4470

OH’s hot smoked local mackerel fillets, baby green salad, pickled red onions and orange dressing didn’t last long. He had been intrigued by the orange dressing and was perhaps a little disappointed that it was spotted around the dish rather than over the fish and salad but this was a very minor thing.

IMAG4475My grilled fillet of sea bream with crushed ratte potato, chargrilled courgette and spicy tomato sauce  was beautiful. The skin was crispy and the fish fell away from it in nice tasty chunks. I’m a big fan of courgettes and these were perfect. I also loved the potatoes having never knowingly tasted ratte ones before.

Surprisingly, OH had went for the Thai prawn curry, crunchy greens, IMAG4473black onion seed & coriander rice as his main. He isn’t a big fan of prawns so my eyebrows raised at his choice. However, I then realised that the other option left on the set menu was rib eye steak and he’d had one a couple of nights earlier so didn’t fancy another so soon. Plus when we go out we try (we don’t always succeed) to get different dishes. Therefore, he had decided to leave his comfort zone on this occasion.  I asked him how it was and he said just like mine when I cook Thai so maybe he wasn’t too far out his zone. His plate was wiped clean before mine so I’m guessing he enjoyed it – the prawns certainly looked like big, meaty ones.  IMAG4476

For desserts we had also chosen different dishes. He had dark chocolate mousse, honeycomb and salted peanut brittle. He IMAG4477loved his and liked the crunch of the brittle alongside the thick, rich mousse.  I had went for local Castleton Strawberries, vanilla meringue, chantilly cream and strawberry coulis.  This hit the spot and wasn’t too heavy or too much after the previous 2 courses – just a great ending to a great meal.

For me the set menu was really well thought out offering something for everyone. However, the waiter did say you could mix between the set and the à la carte and they would change the price accordingly, which is a good thing.

2 large glasses of Sauvignon Blanc, a Gran Marnier, a soda water and lime and 2 x 3 course set menu came to £58.85.

 

 

 

 

 

Ship Tavern, Kinghorn, Fife

We had visitors from Papa Westray in Orkney this weekend, OH’s sister (OaSis) and her gentleman friend (Bfg – big friendly gentleman). Therefore, we spent a lovely Saturday entertaining them. We were also babysitting for Teeny Mini-me. Therefore, after a morning of shooting and golfing we needed something to eat. In case you are interested Teeny Mini-me preferred the golfing. 2015-09-26 13.00.44As Oasis and Bfg were heading off across the Forth next we decided to eat at the Ship Tavern, Kinghorn. OH and I have been before so we knew it wouldn’t disappoint. And it didn’t.

I phoned ahead just to make sure our spur of the moment decision to dine there would be okay and they were more than happy to feed 4 and a baby. When we arrived they already had a high chair waiting for us.

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Teeny Mini-me’s pasta

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My Seafood pasta

Without realising it we all ordered a fish dish – well Teeny Mini-me didn’t as I asked for a small plate of veggie pasta for her. OH had scampi, Bfg had smoked haddock and Oasis and I went for the seafood pasta. When the plates arrived we were overwhelmed with the size of the dishes. Teeny Mini-me’s plate would have been enough for me and it was half the size of mine (obviously the chef doesn’t have a toddler) . My seafood pasta was laden with chunks of fish and the creamy sauce coated the tagliatelle beautifully. I managed to finish mine but Oasis had to leave some of her pasta as she was just too full.

OH’s scampi was good although it doesn’t look as impressive as the rest of the dishes but then you can’t really do a lot to make scampi look fancy. OH says it was nice and crispy without any sign of grease. I noticed he sneaked a couple of chips to Teeny Mini-me who wolfed them down with big smiles. 2015-09-26 14.12.482015-09-26 14.13.32

Bfg’s smoked haddock looked amazing and, if I understood his Orcadian accent correctly, he said it was lovely. Certainly his plate was wiped clean. The smoked haddock sat atop some creamy mash and a poached egg sat like a king on top of the fish. OH and him discussed where the fish would have been caught as OH reckoned they would have past the boat on the way down but when they asked delightfully it turned out it had been caught locally by a boat from Burntisland. Teeny Mini-me’s pasta hardly looked touched but she did eat quite a bit and considering if she doesn’t like anything she shakes her head and says Noooooooo she obviously gave hers the thumbs up.

Neither Oasis and I could manage a pudding but 2015-09-26 14.50.24OH went for ice cream filled choux pastry with chocolate sauce and Bfg had the sticky toffee pudding.  They didn’t say much as the desserts slowly disappeared but there was definite smacking of lips at the end. 2015-09-26 14.50.30

The meal was fantastic and just what we all needed. When I asked for the bill I was told they didn’t charge for the wee one’s pasta, which was damn decent of them.

If you need some place to impress that doesn’t break the bank with very friendly staff and lovely food then the Ship Tavern in Kinghorn is definitely where you need to take them!

4 main meals, 2 desserts, 3 soft drinks and 2 pints of lager = £62.80