Cargills Restaurant & Bistro, Blairgowrie

Today OH and I decided to head North for lunch and ended up in Blairgowrie. After wandering around the shops we walked down towards the River Ericht in the hope there would be someplace 2015-07-11 15.45.06overlooking it we could eat. That’s where we found Cargills Restaurant & Bistro. It was set back off the road so no river view but it looked lovely with tables outside and then inside a large airy room decorated in red and green.

We were greeted warmly by the waitress and offered to take a seat. There was a board with specials aswell as an extensive lunch menu with a variety of options. The made to order quiches sounded great – you had to pick 3 ingredients – but I didn’t fancy waiting for it to cook so decided to go for the Venison Pie with Mash and Beetroot from the specials board. OH plumped for a small Arbroath Haddock, Chips and Peas as opposed to the large one, which was almost twice the price. Quite a few of the dishes offered a smaller version which I liked. We waited quite awhile on our meals arriving, which I don’t mind really as it means you’re getting your food freshly made but it did make me think I should have went for the quiche after all.

When I saw the venison pie on the board I had pictured maybe getting a segment from a large, round game pie with a nice thick, short crust pastry, possibly some beetroot salad on the side with a lovely creamy mash.What arrived disappointed me. A tin dish with a puff pastry lid, a beetroot cut in half and some mashed potato.2015-07-11 14.34.42

Earlier I had decided against having the chicken fillet with tomato and mozzarella sauce because it’s something I would throw together in the kitchen myself but the pie that arrived looked more like something I would throw in the oven when I couldn’t be bothered cooking at all. Pleasingly, it was full of meat and it melted in the mouth. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough pastry to go with it. I also felt they had forgotten to salt the mash as it was a bit tasteless but OH argued that it would be a different type of potato than I’m used to. Regardless of the potato I felt the mash was bland.

OH enjoyed his small fish and for once wasn’t ‘stappit fu’ after his meal. I’ve just asked him what he thought of it and he said “it was just exactly as the menu said, a battered fish. You can’t go wrong with battered fish.” So there you have it.  2015-07-11 14.34.28

I nipped to the ladies before getting the bill only to find there was no loo roll in the first toilet. 2015-07-11 15.46.03Thankfully there was some in the next one but it’s little things like this that added to the disappointing experience.

Cargills had loads of potential – it had a lovely atmosphere, good service, nice decor and it’s on a good wee spot along the river – if only they had just used short crust pastry…..

A Magners, blackcurrant and soda, venison pie and a small battered fish – £24.60

The Boudingait, Cupar

Another Saturday and another weekend oncall, which means I’m not allowed to leave Fife and have to be available to react to the ring of a phone. It’s an odd feeling because I always feel like I’m taking a huge chance when I order food – what happens if my phone rings before it comes? Often I will avoid going out just because it feels like I’m skiving. However, today I thought I’d take the risk and it paid off.

OH and I decided to go to Cupar and visit The Boudingait. It’s a relatively small place and was busy when we arrived but we managed to get a table without problem. There was a very mixed clientele – mostly in pairs but there were young and old couples, 2 older men together and at another table there were 2 older women who had the right idea – they had already demolished a bottle of white by the time we arrived and they had only just got their main meals.

Although the menu offered a variety of dishes it was the Artisan Wild Game Pies that caught our eye. The pub used to buy them fresh on a Saturday from the Farmer’s Market in Cupar but when they became more popular they started buying them direct from The Wee Pie Company in Glendoick.

OH went for the Baa Baa “Lamb is one of the most tastiest of meats, here it is lies beside caramelised onions & carrots, tossed in rosemary ~ simple ~ to allow the flavours of the meat shine through.”  Whilst I decided on the Venison Wallace “Chunks of wild venison & seasonal vegetables brought together with haggis: first seared & then casseroled in a redcurrant & red wine sauce to release & combine all of the flavours.” Both pies were served with served with chunky chips, homemade onion rings, vegetables and gravy. Incidentally the vegetables were carrots, broccoli and parsnips – none of which were frozen or over boiled and the gravy came in a little jug alongside.

2014-08-16 15.09.56When our identical dishes first arrived I felt a little let down as the pie was small and looked like I could have bought it from the bakers down the road but after cutting into it and seeing the large pieces of meat inside I was not as disappointed. Then, after tasting it, I was more than happy. It was delicious and with the added gravy soaking into the chips and pastry it became rich, tasty and surprisingly filling. We both cleared our plates and I reckon if OH had a slice of bread he would have wiped the plate clean enough to put it straight back in the cupboard without washing.

We were offered the dessert menu and told to think Pavlova but we decided against putting any more pounds on. Although I did notice that one item was Ginger Sponge Pudding topped with a syrup & ginger sauce, served hot with either CUSTARD, cream or vanilla ice cream. If you’ve read my blogs before you may remember Lusa (my cuz from the States) who had us searching Fife for someplace that offered pudding and custard. Anyway, I sent her a Snapchat of the menu but of course fussy pants replied that it sounded great apart from the ginger bit – typical! 😉

The waitresses were rushed off their feet but were consistently pleasant and cheerful, whether bantering with the locals or serving complete strangers. The toilets were bright, clean and airy although the hot tap was too hot and the cold water just a dribble but that’s a very small gripe.

Two Artisan Pies, 2 pints of lager and a diet coke = £33.60.

I’d definitely go back – especially as they do breakfast until 1pm at the weekends.

Dunblane – The Riverside

2014-04-26 11.47.04
Eons ago I remembered passing a wee pub in the middle of nowhere whilst OH and I were out for a run in the car near Dunkeld – in my memory it looked like the pub from American Werewolf in London. Since then it’s been in some deep recess in my head for somewhere to visit. Having found the pub (Sheriffmuir Inn)  I started looking up its reviews on Tripadvisor and they were so divided it put me off. It was either great – “I felt like royalty” or “I can’t believe I drove all the way there – wish I had went to the Riverside”. It was that review that made me look up The Riverside in Dunblane.  Then their website got me hooked. I phoned late on a Friday night (about 10ish) and got a lovely bloke on the phone who managed to have a conversation with me even though the atmosphere behind him was making it very difficult. It was that background noise that made me want to go to the Riverside even more.

When we arrived in Dunblane we parked at the Cathedral and walked along the Allan River into the centre of town. The river was high and fast flowing – almost quite mesmerising at points. We had a dander up the high street and went into a few shops. Dunkeld has loads of interesting wee shops from high end present shops to antique shops,  brilliant rake around charity shops, classy boutiques and THE best butcher for sausage rolls ever! Honestly, we were just walking past and saw them in the window and just had to go in to buy some. And as I am typing this hours later I can confirm that they were just as good as they look and I would easily drive back to Dunblane just to buy another sausage roll from Bennets!!!!!

After a very enjoyable wander up and down the High Street, we went into the Riverside with our appetites at a peak. On entry there is a sign to stand at to be seated. I always love these as it means you are being taken care of right from the start – none of this looking around to see if someone saw you coming in nonsense.  We were ushered through to the back and looking at it now I think this may be the family room but fair play to the families that were there as their kids were really well behaved and didn’t annoy me at all and I have to say kids in restaurants usually annoy me A LOT.

For starters I had the Cream of Cauliflower soup, which was lovely but I wish I didn’t chomp the watercress garnish as it really didn’t add to the flavour and If I’m being really picky the butter could of been a little less hard as it ripped my sour dough bread apart…obviously I struggled through regardless.

OH had potted smoked mackerel, crème fraiche, chives, butter, gin pickled cucumber and soldiers. It came in a little pickling jar and he raved about it – you know how he usually says it was tasty well today it was “chunky, fresh, creamy, it wasn’t a smooth pate but had flakes in it and it was just enough as well”.  High praise indeed!2014-04-26 13.12.37a

I do try to cook a wee bit at home and often on Sundays I will follow a recipe and try my best. OH is lovely and will often say when we’re out for a meal that I could have cooked it. Therefore,  I’ve now decided to start going for dishes I wouldn’t normally chose from a menu or cook at home. So today I plumped for  Gin & Star Anise marinated Venison Loin, Caramelized Onion Mash and Juniper Jus.2014-04-26 13.34.39

I hate to be a cliché but right from the start I bit off more than I could chew. I reckon if I had a steak knife I could have handled this better but having managed to saw off a sizeable chunk of the venison – I just went for it. 5 minutes later and I’m still chewing. OH asked if I wish I had ordered the fish pie. Yes, a little.

Saying that, once I got the hang of the sawing I started enjoying the venison and although I couldn’t taste the gin (probably because gin is a taste I really enjoy) I could savour the star anise.

OH had the steak burger with brioche bun, lettuce, vine tomato, dill pickle, mustard mayo, twice fired fries and relish. He’s said it was decent, nice and juicy. It wasn’t one big burger but 3 wee ones (probably from the sliders that were also on the menu) but he wants a special mention for the roll which was good as it had a “light crisp on top and it wasn’t doughy and it didn’t fall apart”.2014-04-26 14.10.44

The attention to detail in The Riverside deserves a mention. The brown paper menu’s, the labels on the table, the syrup tin sugar bowls, the mulberry colour scheme, the wooden tables and chairs, the quotes on the walls and the bill arriving in a children’s book all come together to give a calm, interesting dining experience.

I’m not a pudding person (you probably know that by now) so I just asked for another large glass of Merlot and OH had a coffee instead of a coke. The bill came to £50 (that’s 2 starters, 2 mains, 2 large glasses of wine, a coke and a coffee).

and (just in case your mum asks) the toilets were clean and worth a visit!

2014-04-26 14.16.59


After our meal we headed back up the High Street and popped into the Museum. There was lots to see but my favourite bit was the ginger tablet at £1.20 – don’t ask, just go and buy it – it’s amazing. We also ventured into the Cathedral for a look around – make sure to ask someone in a tartan waistcoat the story about the girls being poisoned 😉

After leaving Dunblane we headed out of the small Cathedral town and decided to pop into the Sheriffmuir Inn, which is a short drive through some lovely scenery. I was curious to see how it would have compared to our lunch in the Riverside Inn. We ventured in and ordered drinks. The barmaid was lovely, friendly and couldn’t have been more helpful and the decor was gorgeous – polished wood, iron work and dark blue tartan. I loved the bar stools. BUT IT WAS DEAD. We were there around 4.30ish and when we were paying for our drinks the barmaid had to ‘open up’ the til, which I’m pretty sure meant they hadn’t had anyone in before us. The menu on the wall looked appetising and was roughly £4 dearer per dish than the Riverside. I kind of still want to eat at the Sheriffmuir Inn but I’m really glad we went to the Riverside today and for those people that have already been to Dunblane (you know who I’m looking at!) and didn’t eat at the Riverside get back there and try it out . You won’t be disappointed.