Ham’s Hame Pub and Grill, St Andrews

A lovely, sunny (but cold) Sunday afternoon saw OH, Mini-me and I venturing to St Andrews for something to eat. After walking along the side of the golf course we found ourselves in the very dog friendly Ham’s Hame, which sits right on the corner of The Scores and Golf Place.

The bar is a large, wooden floored room with lots of televisions showing sports. We were shown to a window seat and given menus for bar snacks and lunches. The soup of the day was Caramelised White Onion, which I immediately wanted as did OH. Also on the menu was Lentil and ham soup so Mini-me decided she’d prefer that. The soups arrived steaming hot and in lovely pottery bowls. My caramelised soup tasted charred, which initially was odd but the more I ate, the more I liked it. By the end of it I felt like I had been sitting in front of a very smokey fire. I tasted Mini-me’s soup and I thought it was missing a layer. Mini-me reckoned it lacked lentils and tasted more like barley.

For mains I ordered Beef Rigatoni – Steak mince bound in a rich tomato sauce, rigatoni pasta, fresh micro basil, Parmesan cheese & garlic bread. It could have been hotter when it arrived and unfortunately, I felt it was a bland meal with no intensity of flavour. I got bored halfway through and I’m pretty sure I’ve made better at home.

OH decided on Slow Roasted Pork Sandwich – Maple and Dijon mustard glazed, slow roasted stuffed pork shoulder, served on a focaccia bun, pork crackling, red cabbage & apple slaw, apple purée, mixed leaf salad & steak cut chips. I misread the menu and thought it was going to be pulled pork – it wasn’t, it was a thick slice of pork on a roll. He said he liked it but when I asked if he would order it again he hesitated and started to chose his words really carefully knowing I was going to quote him in this blog. Eventually he said he got exactly what was written on the tin.

Mini-me got adventurous and went for Haggis Scotch Egg – Lothian Haggis, soft boiled egg, bacon, roasted tomatoes, rocket salad & a whisky, mustard dressing. It looked lovely when it arrived and even better when she cut the egg in half as it was a runny, rich orange yolk. I tried a bit of the ham that was strewn through the salad and it was very dry. Thankfully I had wine to wash it down. Mini-me said the haggis was tasty and not too spicy and overall enjoyed her meal but said she would have preferred more iceberg lettuce rather than rocket. She also raved about the whisky and mustard dressing.

The toilets were clean with Molton Brown toiletries, service was spot on and it was good to find someplace to eat that is dog friendly.

3 soups, 3 mains, 2 pints of lager, a bottle of wine and a coke £85. 60

Advertisements

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.

mde

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.

mde

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.

mde

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

Fairmont, St Andrews

My mum treated OH and I to brunch at the Fairmont in St Andrews last Sunday. I hadn’t heard of this previously but apparently they have them on the first Sunday of each month – an all you can eat Sunday meal in plush surroundings at £32.50 per head.

Oddly, the International brunch is served between 1 and 4pm, which to me is more of a lunch time thing. This was also echoed in the food being served as there were no omelettes, no pancakes and maple syrup and no eggs Benedict, which I would have expected on a brunch menu (and would have loved). That aside however there was a myriad of other dishes on offer.

The waitress took our order of a bottle of white wine and explained how the buffet worked. We then wandered up and perused what was on offer.

The soup was Cullen Skink, which bizarrely I did not have.

At the starters section there was different kinds of slaws, pulses and nooddles (yummy). Some of the ingredients I had never heard of before and there was a lot I no longer remember but there was things like stuffed vine leaves (one of the favourites from my first trip out), brie, honey and walnuts, chicken terrine, blinis with cream cheese and caviar (I had a few of these), something like fera, beetroot and halloumi, quails eggs, a large variety of Italian cooked meats, smoked salmon, stuffed peppers, pickles, sauces and dips.

From the sea and on ice, there were langoustines (long with googly eyes), oysters, mussels (fat and juicy), prawn cocktails, roll mop herring (lush), anchovies and salmon. Next to that there was crispy duck, pancakes and hoison sauce and a whole host of savoury bon-bons.

In the centre of the room there was a variety of International main meals made with lamb, chicken, salmon, beef and vegetarian dishes so there were curries, rissottos and ragouts.

At the carvery there was roast ham and turkey (but no beef), Yorkshire puddings, pigs in blankets and gravy. At the back of the room there were dishes of buttery mash, roast potatoes, roasted root vegetables and a wealth of (not soggy) broccoli.

At the dessert station, which was like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, there was an ice cream freezer where you could make your own cones, a chocolate fountain with strawberries, crispy cakes and sponge fingers (but no skewers or cocktail sticks to stab into the strawberries so you could hold it in the fountain – I dread to think how many dirty fingernails went into the chocolate). There were also doughnuts, individual cakes, muffins, crumble, profiteroles, chocolate sponge triangles, gateaux and pretty blackcurrant and chocolate smoothies.

Obviously, by the end of my multiple trips to the various stations, I was stuffed.

One of the main things I had been looking forward to was the Bloody Mary station. However, it turned out that there wasn’t one and you had to order them from Mathew at the bar. I checked with the waitress that they were included in the brunch and all 3 of us ordered one. I asked for extra spice. When they arrived they looked really boring – long tall glasses with brown liquid at the bottom and dark red at the top. There was no stirrer or straw but a small slither of celery sliced up the stalk and perched on the top of the glass.

My suspicions were confirmed when I tried the drink – it was heavy on Worcestershire sauce and lacking in any other taste. There was no cracked black pepper or celery salt or even any chilli flakes. I struggled through it and when the waitress asked how it was I told her my concerns. She said she’d tell Mathew how to make one to my specifications and I ordered another. It wasn’t quite as bad but as I had asked for a straw or a stirrer it arrived with 2 tiny black straws that would not even have reached half way down the glass. There was also a smattering of white and brown pepper on it, I’m guessing from the pepper shaker on the table.

Of course I soldiered through it (and my mum’s who couldn’t finish her own brown vinegary drink). With hindsight it would have been lovely drizzled over some toasted cheese.

After a coffee to finish off we asked for the bill. When it arrived it had 4 Bloody Mary’s on it at the cost of £11.50 each! An extra £46.

I queried the bill and the waitress took them off but honestly – £11.50 for the worst Bloody Mary I have ever had. I don’t think so!!!

The correct bill came to £130 for 3 Brunches and a bottle of wine.

Bloody Mary’s aside, the food was excellent and it was a fabulous way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Thanks Mum.

The Saint, St Andrews, Fife

Yesterday OH and I were in St Andrews to do some research for my new book – a murder mystery set in St Andrews (if you’re interested my last book is available to download here The Same Individuals) Anyway, it was lunchtime and I remembered that the West Port Bar had undergone a revamp and had changed its name so we decided to try it out.

We discovered it was now called The Saint. Inside it was still the same layout but there was new fancy wall paper and some lovely lighting. We were sat in an intimate little niche, which would have been great if I wasn’t such a nosey bint and wanted to see what everyone else is eating. Immediately we were offered a jug of water and when the waitress returned with it she asked us if we wanted any other drinks. And when she returned with our drinks she took our order for food. It’s a simple way of attending to a table but it works really well and more restaurants and bars should do this.

The menu was big and had the same old pub food – fish and chips, burgers, scampi and pies but additionally there was duck, salmon and pork chop. To me it was a pretty boring IMAG9975menu and nothing jumped out so I ordered the  fish and chips. However, I asked if I could get some Bloody Mary Ketchup on the side, which was offered with the scampi. It was the only thing that did stand out and I really fancied trying it. The waitress said it wasn’t a problem at all. When my fish arrived I was disappointed not to see tartare sauce as well but as I had asked for ketchup it was justified. Initially, the fish melted in my mouth but then it got a bit greasy. The chips were a big hit, chunky and obviously hand cut. The ketchup wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would have been and lacked any kind of kick. Overall it was an okay plate of food.

OH ordered the IMAG9974Fish Pie – Scottish peat smoked haddock, leek and garden herbs, topped with creamed mash. Surprisingly, the waitress asked if he wanted potatoes or chips with it. Automatically OH asked for chips.

When the pie arrived I could see they hadn’t taken much time in piping the mash on top and had went for the dodding it on method instead. It took ages for OH to eat his pie as it was so hot, which meant he ate all his chips and veg first so there wasn’t a lot of room left for the pie but he battled on regardless. OH said the potatoes on top were dry but this wasn’t a criticism. Inside there was loads of smoked fish within a nice creamy sauce. He enjoyed his pie although he felt completely stuffed after overdosing on carbs.

When we asked for the bill the waitress appeared with it and the card machine at the same time. More service bonus points!

2 mains, 2 pints and a coke = £34 so not the cheapest bar lunch we’ve  had recently but OH did get the opportunity to waddle for the rest of the day and complain he could no longer see his feet.

 

 

Balgove Larder – Steak Barn, St Andrews

Today OH and I paid a visit to Balgove Larder, just outside St Andrews, to have a meal in their Steak Barn.

We have seen the blackboard signs advertising the farm shop along with steak and chips on numerous occasions but had never ventured in so finding ourselves hungry outwith normal bar lunch times we decided today was the day.

When you drive in you can see Balgove Larder in front of you and a large barn to the right. The barn is made from old potato crates and inside it is full of long, communal, hand made tables and benches.  At the back of the barn you can see the wood fired BBQ where the majority of the food is cooked on. No reservations are taken so when you turn up it’s where ever there is room. However, it was not that busy so we were seated at an empty table and given our menus. A list of specials, the regular menu and a drinks one. IMAG7352

Starters were approximately £9 each and looked like smaller portions of the mains although one that jumped out was pigeon kebab, strawberries and feta salad. The special mains were roughly £18 each and there were options such as sticky bbq pork ribs, mussels, chicken kebabs and  fish and chips(£15). The regular menu had burgers, sausages and steaks. The steaks, which were £19 (the fillet was £25) are all hung for 28 days and cooked to order on the BBQ.  There were only a couple of vegetarian options but then it is a Steak Barn and not a mushroom shed.

I noticed on the drinks menu they did a Bloody Mary, which usually means it will be a good one so that was an easy decision.  The waitress asked if I wanted it spicy. Of course I did. The barman delivered it personally. Spicy was an under statement  it was rocket fuel and lush. OH had a pint of Eden Mill 19th lager.

For food I decided on the Balgove Beef Burger – steak burger, lettuce, tomato, relish, twice fried chips and salad leaves £8.95. IMAG7356The burger was easily an inch thick and the tastiest burger I have ever had. You could have added cheese, bacon or jalapenos for an extra £1.25 but I had it plain.

I hate when you have to commit to a burger because you know if you put it down you won’t be able to pick it up again in one piece. However, this bun did not collapse or slide and I was able to pick it up and put it down at will and enjoy the chips whilst they were still hot, dipping them in the relish.

OH had an 8oz Rib Eye Steak, which also came with twice fried chips and leaves. As you can see it was served on a board so of course OH had to ask with a deep sigh, “Why do we never get plates any more?”

IMAG7355OH enjoyed his steak and said it was melt in the mouth. Later when I was asking him to rate it against other steaks he has had in the past he said it was within his top 6 but what let it down was a lack of tasty vegetables alongside it. His leaves obviously didn’t impress. Like mine, his chips looked like chip shop chips but some how actually managed to taste better.

For dessert OH went for Eton Mess, which arrived as a lovely, messy dollop on a slate. IMAG7358There was plenty of everything – the raspberries were fresh and tasted home grown, the meringue was crunchy and chewy and the mess did not last long at all.

As OH was having a dessert and an Americano, which arrived in a paper cup (obviously they use the tin mugs to keep the cutlery in)  I decided to have a pint of Cairn O Mhor Pictish Cider, which made my mouth look like a cat’s ass.

As you pay your bill at the bar on the way out I asked the barman about the Bloody Mary and he said that he used special tomato juice that you can buy in the Larder that has a hint of clam to it. I couldn’t quite make out the name he said but I knew it started with a C so OH and I went over to the Larder to buy some. We searched the whole of the shop but could only find Big Tom. We spotted there was a make of soft drink called Cawston Presse and a gap in the line so I wondered if perhaps the tomato juice had sold out. Just then an older member of staff appeared so I asked if there was a Cawston tomato juice that might have sold out. She looked at me and said “I don’t stock it” and walked off without another word. And on that note we left without buying anything. Fortunately/unfortunately she was the only thing that left a bad taste in my mouth during my visit to Balgove Larder and Steak Barn.

2 mains, a dessert, 2 pints, a Bloody Mary and a coffee = £46.65

 

By the way, when I got home I googled the tomato juice and it was Clamato.

Hotel du Vin and Bistro, St Andrews, Fife.

Birthdays are like buses. Nothing for ages then 2 come along at once, which can be a right nuisance. However, this week saw a proper birth day. On Friday Mini-me gave birth to Teeny Mini-him, which made OH and I very proud grandparents. In between visits to the hospital and taking Mini-me and new baby home I managed to shoe-horn in a birthday lunch for OH on Saturday.

Normally OH and I will make a last minute decision about where we’re dining but this time I had pre-booked lunch via a deal on 5pm.co.uk. This is a website that has offers on restaurants and allows you to then book a table through them. At the time I’d thought Mini-me would have already given birth so had thought pre-booking and paying for the meal would have been fine. Of course she went 13 days over her date, which then meant we needed to squeeze in the lunch and weren’t able to sit back and relax after our meal. As I’m a Fifer I refused to cancel the booking and reasoned with OH that we had to eat at some point…

Anyhow, the voucher I had was for the Hotel du Vin and Bistro in St Andrews. A champagne lunch for £29 – 3 courses and a glass of champagne each. IMG_20150913_165841On arrival we were greeted warmly and given the best seat in the house overlooking the North Sea, which was dark and choppy. The white horses galloped along outside as we sat in the warmth watching on.

The waiter brought us menus and asked if we’d like our champagne to begin with. Of course we did. The menu offered 3 choices for each course. The waiter had said the soup of the day was tomato and something but I couldn’t remember what the something was but as it was a miserable cold and wet day I decided the soup would be a good choice. The other starters were Bayonne ham and celeriac remoulade and Smoked salmon and horesradish crème fraîche, which is what OH went for. I think OH was a tad disappointed when it arrived as he had thought it would have been a bit fancier. 2015-09-12 13.14.26Saying that, although it looked boring he enjoyed it. I sneaked a bit and thought it was good. The salmon was thinly cut so wasn’t too fleshy and the horseradish had a perfect heat to it. 2015-09-12 13.14.49My soup however, didn’t taste like tomato and anything. It was peppery, had a thin but bitty texture to it and tasted more like a liquidized vegetable soup. When the waiter arrived to take our plates (a different guy from the one who gave us the menus) I asked what the soup was. It turned out it was sweet potato and red pepper, which made far more sense.

For mains there were was a choice between rump steak frites with peppercorn sauce, poached salmon with heritage potatoes and hollandaise sauce and wild mushroom and barley risotto. No prizes for guessing OH went for the steak and chips2015-09-12 13.51.10The steak hung off the end of the plate and looked far more impressive than his starter. OH commented that it was a better steak than at Montmarte (last week’s meal) as it wasn’t as chewy. He raved about the tomato and was glad the sauce was in a pot so he could get the char-grill taste of the steak and dip his chips in the sauce.2015-09-12 13.51.16

I decided on the salmon and my only complaint was the potatoes. Heritage potatoes are known for their different colour and textures – purple, mauve and scarlet are just some of the colours that the various varieties come in. The ones that arrived looked like stones and when I cut into them they looked like a charlotte potato well past it’s best. They tasted dry and psychologically were just very unappealing. I did give them a good go but ended up giving up as they just weren’t doing it for me.  Everything else on the plate was great though.

The dessert menu arrived and again there was 3 choices. Bread and butter pudding with rum and raisin ice cream, 2015-09-12 14.26.23Rhubarb fool with ginger biscuits and Artisan cheese selection (£2.50 supplement). OH went for the bread and butter pudding and loved it. When it arrived I could see the steam coming off it and the ice cream slowly melting against it. OH said it was spot on – the rum in the ice cream wasn’t too over powering and the bread and butter pudding was better than his mum used to make. I decided on the Rhubarb fool and it’s only now2015-09-12 14.26.33 I realise I didn’t get any ginger biscuits! Whilst I was eating it I said to OH it could do with something crunchy sprinkled over it to give it a bit of contrast. Now I’m looking back at the menu I know why it was a bit lacking. The fool itself was great – thick and creamy and the rhubarb chunks still had a bit of bite and weren’t too tart.

It was a lovely meal and it would have been great to have ordered a bottle of wine with it and chill for the rest of the afternoon but we had to dash off and chauffeur little Teeny Mini-him home, which was obviously far better than any bottle of wine 😉  2015-09-13 14.54.08 copy

Two 3 course meals with a glass of champagne each, 2 pints of Bitter and Twisted = £40.22 with a voucher (should have been £70.22)

The Grill House, St Andrews, Fife.

When I’m on-call I have to stay within an hours drive of central Fife and have a good phone signal. Therefore, OH and I drove around Fife trying to think of somewhere we could dine. We drove through Elie first only to find it was the Elie Fair day and the cars were parked nose to tail along the pavements so we quickly gave up on the small east neuk village. Crail was similar with tourists swarming the streets. Since we had spent the morning on the golf range (yes I am still hitting balls) we even tried Crail Golf Club but the elitist club only serve food to members or people who have golfed the course so we left those pompous gits behind. It was with no surprise to either of us that we ended up in St Andrews. Over the years we’ve ate here a lot but had never tried The Grill House so we made our way inside.

The music and decor are Mexican and the menu also reflected a Mexican theme as there were fajitas, chili and enchiladas on it as well as a burger and char-grill section. There was a lunch menu, which didn’t finish until 4pm and it offered 2 courses for £7.95. However, I found it to be quite uninspiring and for once I struggled to order from it. Incidentally the soup of the day was split pea and mint (I hate mint in my food).

OH looked at both menus and couldn’t decide what to have. He then decided he was going for the Flat Iron steak on the à la carte menu. Well, he was until I pointed out to him that it was also on the set menu with a £4.95 supplement and even with the add-on it would still be cheaper and he’d get a ‘free’ starter with it.  One decision made he then struggled with what starter to go for as, like me, he found it difficult to chose between the soup, haggis fritter, Caesar salad and salmon goujons (also with a supplement). Eventually he settled on the haggis fritter, which came with onion chutney and salad..  2015-07-25 15.51.56  When it arrived it was a slice of haggis, which had been battered and deep fried. The haggis was greasy and not spicy enough. The salad was undressed and the chutney cold, which in turn made the haggis cold too.

For my main course I had plumped for Grill House Pulled Pork Chicken, which was char-grilled chicken breast topped with pulled pork, melted smoked cheese and hickory BBQ sauce. It came with the option of fries or chili fries.2015-07-25 16.12.27 It arrived covered in leaves with no other vegetables. I enjoyed it and ended up eating far too much of it. The sauce wasn’t too strong which can often be the case with BBQ sauce and there was heaps of melted cheese.

Just in case you don’t already know (I didn’t), Flat Iron Steak is cut with the grain from the leg. Apparently it produces a more flavoursome steak but can often be tougher than a rib-eye or sirloin. This is because it would normally then be sliced in half along an internal membrane to produce 2 thinner cuts instead of the thicker, Flat Iron steak that could still contain the gristly membrane (thanks wiki).

OH’s asked for his steak rare as usual and it arrived with a with a red wine and thyme sauce and a pile of rocket leaves.The sauce came in a cute, little saucepan on the side and I was shocked when, half way through, I saw him pouring it over his steak (OH hates it when the sauce is all over his steak). 2015-07-25 16.12.19When I queried this I was told it was really nice with a lovely hint of the wine and thyme and it went great over his mediocre steak. “Mediocre?”  “Yes, it’s alright but I’ve had better.”  Of course this has to be true, with no disrespect to this steak, as he has had many fantastic steaks over the years.

OH had 2 ales from the St Andrews Brewing Co. to wash down his meal – considering our earlier drive I’m not sure if it was coincidence or not that one was called Neuk and the other Crail.  2015-07-25 16.39.17Overall, The Grill House was enjoyable. They have very reasonable priced cocktails, the service was good and  the toilets clean and although the starter wasn’t great, if you like your food sizzling or deep fried then this is the place for you.

One set 2 course meal with a £4.95 supplement, one main, 2 ales and 2 diet cokes = £40.55.

Playfair’s Restaurant, St Andrews

Lusa (remember my fussy cuz/sis from the states?), MiniMe and I decided we would head to St Andrews for a little shopping and some food. It was a glorious day and it was great just wandering up and down the ancient streets.  The home of golf is home to a whole lot more nowadays as it now boasts modern shops like Superdry, Monsoon and H+M as well as unique gift shops, boutiques and deli’s. Definitely something for everyone.

Lusa had booked us into Playfair’s Restaurant which is part of the Ardgowan Hotel on Playfair Terrace. According to the reviews on Tripadvisor we’d be in for a treat.

Having finished our shopping we decided to find somewhere in the sun to have   some light refreshment before our meal. Unfortunately the majority of places with seats outside were all full so we headed towards the restaurant to see if they had anything suitable. It was perfect. There were a number of available tables outside and it was a complete suntrap!

At our allotted time we headed indoors and enjoyed the much cooler interior. Mismatched chairs with coordinating fabric, doors on the roof and mirrors along the wall worked really well together and Darren was happy to introduce himself and escort us to our table.

When given the menus there were 2 options – the seasonal menu, which was 3 courses and tea/coffee for £27.95 or the a la carte. However there was nothing that really jumped out from the limited seasonal menu and it didn’t feel like much of an offer so we all went a la carte. Decisions made, Darren took our order.

As we waited with our drinks (a lovely bottle of sauvignon blanc and a fresh orange) we were offered a small slice of bread, which I thought was very tasty. The other two weren’t so keen but they did try to catch the waiter’s eye to see if they could mooch another slice. They didn’t succeed.

Soon our starters  arrived. Lusa and I had both went for the Organic Scottish Clava brie with toasted sourdough and wild mushroom fricassee to start with whilst MiniMe had the Soup du jour with focaccia, which was Lentil and Bacon.2014-07-24 18.26.38

Lusa and I both thought the name of our starters should have been more about the mushroom as it totally outweighed the Brie. I also felt there was a taste missing or another level that could have been reached with the dish as it just felt a little lacking. MiniMe loved her soup and wiped the bowl clean.

For mains I plumped for the Scottish fish stew with tomatoes, saffron aioli and crusty loaf and I wasn’t disappointed. It was delicious. 2014-07-24 18.47.22I was left a bit uncertain what to do with the saffron ailoli so MiniMe used it to dip her chips in.

Lusa wasn’t sure what to go for as there was poached fish on the menu as she believes the only thing that should be poached is eggs. However, Darren convinced her that the Poached Shetland haddock with Welsh rarebit, creamed potatoes and Arran mustard sauce was amazing.  Lusa didn’t quite find it amazing and although she said it exceeded expectations and almost melted in her mouth, it lacked flavour. 2014-07-24 18.45.33Fortunately the creamed potatoes and mustard sauce won her over and she pronounced it a good dish.

MiniMe who isn’t a regular restaurant diner, unless you count drive thru McDonalds, wasn’t too sure of anything on the menu as there was always something that would put her off. For instance the Stovies with beef short-rib, spiced tomato sauce and oatcakes sounded great to 2014-07-24 18.45.12her but when we explained they wouldn’t be made with cornbeef she was immediately put off and went for the Prime steak burger 170g topped with Welsh rarebit in a brioche bun, with tomato chutney and handcut chips. When Darren informed her it would come pink her face turned the same colour. “Eh no, can I get it cooked through please”.

It turned out that MiniMe isn’t keen on prime beef as it tastes too farmyardy and the brioche bun was too doughy. Thank goodness for the chips and aioli! You can take the girl out of McDonalds….

After we had finished it was decision time –  should we go for a dessert? I knew I wouldn’t be but Lusa and MiniMe were swithering.  Lusa scoured the menu but couldn’t find any mention of custard so thought she’d get Darren to ask the chef if there was any chance of a wee bit custard with today’s crumble (pear) but Darren was no longer giving us the time of day. We all agreed he delegated desserts to the lesser staff and probably ‘the bringer outer’ of meals wasn’t even allowed a pad and pen yet. We sat for a while until eventually we were asked by a lesser staff member if we wanted a dessert. Lusa asked if there was any chance of custard and she got a firm no in reply. We were pretty sure Darren would have at least asked the chef. Disappointed we handed back our menus and started discussing other restaurants we could head to for dessert that might have custard.

Possibly we were being left to let our meal digest but again we found it difficult to attract anyone’s attention to try and ask for the bill. Darren, the bringer outer and lesser staff all avoided our table. Maybe asking for custard is a huge taboo!

Eventually, like buses, we managed to get 2 waiters at once and they both went off to get our bill.

Dinner for 3 plus drinks and tip £80.

I enjoyed the evening, it was good food with great company and I might go back but I’d definitely leave MiniMe behind with a fiver for a happy meal.

Tune in next time to find out where to get desserts with custard in Fife….

 

Knockhill and Aikman’s Bar

Well today was a bit different, to say the least!

It was my birthday last November and OH bought me a Rally Car Experience at Knockhill and today was the day we were heading to Scotland’s National Motorsport Centre so I could become the Stig!

Although the weather was awful and the track looked more like a scene from Wuthering Heights than some place you wanted to speed in a Subaru, we were all assured that it was the perfect weather for throwing a car around a hill side. With hindsight, I can confirm they were exactly right.

Helmet on and belted in, I was talked through a couple of laps by Sasha, my instructor. She told me my lines (where to head the car on each corner)  and when to slow and when to add more power. I was then left to my own devices and allowed to throw it about the track myself. Talk about a buzz! I couldn’t believe it – the steering wheel was rapidly being twisted left and right – my feet were accelerating and braking like I was doing the hokey cokey on speed and the smile on my face was as manic as Jack Nicholson’s in The Shinning.

Amazing does not cover it!.

After the first 5 laps Sacha’s feedback was mostly positive but I did think I must have been a bit slow when she said, “Well at least you didn’t get overtaken, which was good.” Hmmm.

I was then given a 15 minute break before doing it again but this time clockwise around the track. Sasha talked me through the lap a couple of times and then told me she wasn’t going to teach me anymore but would be my rally partner and navigator. Therefore, she was just going to use rallying terms and went on to explain them. I promise I did listen but when she was saying things like 90° right tight open to chicane, in my head I was still doing the hokey cokey. http://youtu.be/1e3-k3PPtqc

The last lap was being assessed so I thought I’d try to floor it. All was going well and I was braking and wellying it like a good un right up until I noticed the black car behind me. My only thought was – he is not going to overtake me! It was about approximately 10 seconds later I hit the cones and started to spin. Sasha grabbed my steering wheel and yanked it round. To be honest, I’m not sure what else she said but I did whatever she told me and soon we were back over the blind crest and it was power on again. She then happened to mention that she was glad she got to the steering wheel or we would have been on our side in a ditch. What?? Apparently its a bad bit of the course and notorious. I’m pretty sure she hadn’t mentioned this already.

Anyway, with another short break to allow your heart to stop racing and your blood pressure to drop it was then on to the demo lap. Thank goodness Sasha hadn’t shown me how it should have been done first or there’s no doubt we would have been in a ditch. She didn’t waste any time in getting around the track. The handbrake was never out of her hand as she flung the Subaru from corner to corner. At one point she casually mentioned I had gone quiet – really? She wanted me to chat as my entire life flashed in front of my eyes??

Honestly, she was amazing and I couldn’t believe the control she had as we hit corners side on and she then whipped the back end round to skid into the next one. It was an experience I will never forget!

Back in the clubhouse we had a couple of minutes to relax before there was a presentation to reward all the competitive drivers but I wasn’t really interested in that bit as really it’s the taking part that counts, isn’t it?

½ a fecking point off bronze and a point off of silver!!!! I was robbed, I tell you! I bet it was that sodding cone that lost me points.

I could have been a contender!

Anyway, did I mention it was cold and wet at Knockhill? Long story short, we needed to head to St Andrews after my adrenalin rush so once again we found ourselves in the home of golf but this time cold, damp and yearning for sustenance.

For the last wee while my mum has gone on and on about Aikman’s Bar in St Andrews and it’s amazing Cullen Skink. Now I do love a bit of Cullen Skink but I’ve looked at this cellar bar before and thought “this cannot be the bar my mum means”. It’s a typical student bar with hard seats and wooden floors. There is also a smell of bleach permeating the entrance from the toilets secreted down below.

Menu

We ventured in and saw the blackboard.


OH has since reported the pint was good and reminded him of Prague.
Cullen Skink was indeed top of the menu so I reckoned this must be the place. We also noticed the bar had Kozel on draught (Czech beer you have to try!) so that was it settled. 2 Soups with rolls, 1 pint of Kozel and a diet coke. £11 odds. (OH can’t remember the exact price but joked it was about the same as the price of his starter yesterday).

Image

The soup really hit the spot and was thick, creamy and fishy. The roll was warm and satisfying.

For £6.70 I couldn’t fault the food. The decor is auld, faded and a bit stoorie. The toilets are basic and smell of bleach, the toilet paper comes off in inch sections and the hand dryer hardly puffs on you but there is some very intellectual graffiti on the back of the toilet door you might like.

If you go and expect the worse you will enjoy some lovely, cheap and hearty soup and feel young again for a wee while AND who knows, you might even be sitting on the same seat that Prince William once sat on 😉