Lake of Menteith – Hotel and Waterfront Restaurant

After checking the weather forecast and realising The Trossachs were going to be out of the rain, we headed to the Lake of Menteith to dine at the Hotel and Waterfront Restaurant there.

We had not booked but a table for 2 was not a problem and we were seated with a fantastic view of the lake and given menus. A specials, wine and lunch one. I have to admit I was not that excited by the lunch menu, which offered expensive macaroni cheese, beef burger, Thai veg curry and a pasta and shellfish dish. The special was venison but at £24 I looked at it and looked away. I, therefore, went for another option, Fish’n’chips – Battered sustainable sourced Scottish Haddock with garden peas, tartare sauce and skinny fries. OH went for the House-smoked Perthshire Chicken on a Caesar Style Salad. He would have much preferred something hot but like me he was a bit underwhelmed by the menu.

As we waited I ordered a large Pinot Grigo and OH had a non-alcoholic larger. We also sat and watched an osprey fishing. As an aside, Good news:- we were given a jug of water without asking. Bad news:- it wasn’t cold.

After a further wait, which to be fair felt like a ‘we are preparing your food fresh’ wait rather than ‘we are having a nightmare in the kitchen’ wait, our dishes arrived and we ordered another round of drinks.

My fish and chips looked well manicured with even the garden peas coming in a dish of their own. I know some people don’t like their food stuffs touching (yes Claire I am looking at you) but these were garden peas not mushy! Plus, as the dish they came in was the same size as the dish of fries, there was an unnecessary amount of peas and even I couldn’t finish them and I love peas. Saying that though, my meal was fantastic. The batter was crisp, the fish was beautiful and the fries were amazing. If I wanted to be really picky I could moan about the tartare sauce as it was a bit meh but on the whole the fish n chips were totally spot on.

OH’s tried his home smoked chicken salad and immediately said “We should try to do this at home” (he smokes his own fish btw) so he obviously loved it. There was an abundance of chicken and he enjoyed the salad but I have to admit I am not sure why the menu said it was a Caesar salad ‘style’. It may have been a lack of anchovies but OH isn’t sure. Regardless his plate was wiped clean and he said all the flavours and textures were well balanced.

Service was excellent and it was not long before we were offered dessert menus. I declined but OH went for Lemon Tart with Berry Compote. I think it came it with Chantilly Cream (I stuck in my little finger to check (it was clean)). OH said the lemon tart was not tart to taste but the berries, which were excellent, were so the vanilla cream made a great accompaniment. He also later mentioned that the tart did not taste like washing up liquid as it was not OTT lemony, which can only be a good thing.

Overall it was a beautiful meal with good service and a fantastic view. 2 mains, 1 dessert, 2 large white wines, 2 non-alcoholic lagers = £53.50

After a short walk we returned and sat in front of the lake and had another round of drinks.

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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

Venachar Lochside

On Sunday morning I woke up to a beautiful Autumn day, which just begged me to go for a drive around The Trossachs to make sure the oak trees had turned auburn. OH didn’t need asking twice so off we headed north. DSCN3855.JPG

The scenery is never disappointing and the views over the different Lochs were amazing.

Often when we are in The Trossachs we will pop into Venachar Lochside. If you’re a regular reader you may remember the last time we were here I raved about the food and criticized the service. We were hoping this would have changed since our last visit as we stopped in for Sunday lunch.

When we went in, the dining area was busy so when I asked for a table for 2 I wasn’t surprised to hear that we could either have the couches or sit upstairs. I hate bending over a low table to eat so we opted for up the stairs. We went up on our own and realised that the table with the best view needed clearing, which we did ourselves. We also wiped the table and helped ourselves to cutlery. Eventually, the waitress appeared with menus and asked us what we would like to drink. I went for a large glass of white wine and OH had a coke.  As ever the views were fantastic  – I mean this was our view for lunch —> 2015-11-22 13.52.19-1.jpgWhat’s not to like??

After another wait the waitress appeared to take our order. I decided on the Sunday Roast, which was beef done 3 ways with parsnip puree, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, winter greens, carrots and gravy. OH went for the Venison burger with Blue Murder Cheese and hand cut chips.

As we waited we admired the view.

As we waited, Mini-him phoned and OH went outside to speak to him as he couldn’t get a signal inside. He also went to the toilet.

As we continued to wait I realised the light was fading and queried if I would be able to go out and take some photos before it got dark. OH said go for it. I did. I took a number of photos and the food still hadn’t arrived by the time I got back.

2015-11-22 14.30.13When it did arrive I have to admit it was worth waiting for. My Sunday roast was amazing. The oxtail fell to bits and melted in my mouth. The textures, flavours and variety were so good. Honestly I couldn’t compliment it more.

Well, in saying that I did say to OH. “I’ve only got one complaint.”

He said, “it’s too much?”

Piggy me replied, “Nope, not enough gravy.” Oink, oink.

OH’s burger was good – nice and juicy but in contrast to me, he said it was far 2015-11-22 14.30.22too much for him. The added extra of strong blue cheese went well with the gamey taste and the generous sized chips were indeed, hand cut.
He said it was too much for him but he still managed to clear his plate.

Sitting back content after our filling lunch we stared at our empty plates and waited.

I had enjoyed my wine and often when OH is having a dessert I will plump for another glass of wine so I had already decided this was happening. When I put this to OH he said he’d just have a coffee as he (really) was full and would just like to sit and enjoy the view. So we waited.

and waited, thankful for the view.

Eventually, I went downstairs and, after waiting to speak to a waitress, ordered a coffee and another glass of wine. “House?” “Yes please.”

I went back up the stairs and we waited.

and waited…

and waited.

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Pic whilst we waited

After some time we decided to give up on ever receiving our drinks and  I went back downstairs to pay the bill. I cancelled the previous drinks order and did receive an apology, although I don’t think she appreciated the abysmal service we had received as they were still run off their feet. This isn’t totally their fault as being understaffed is just bad management.

Then I looked at the bill. “Excuse me, £8.95 for a glass of wine?” She looked at the bill and then at her till. “Er yes. I’ve never noticed the price before I just press the button.” When I got back up the stairs I checked the menu – she had given me the most expensive wine on the wine list so that was a lesson learnt the hard way.

The food is fantastic, the views unbeatable – if they could just sort out their service this would be the place to go every time you wanted to eat out.

However, considering how busy it was (and considering it was the same the last time we visited) I guess they are getting away with it so won’t think to change the staffing levels.

One ridiculously priced glass of wine, 1 coke, 2 main meals – £36.72.

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On the drive home I couldn’t resist another quick pic in Doune.

 

The Inn on The Tay, Grandtully, Perthshire

OH and I had went out for a run in the car and had been touring around Perthshire with the roof down enjoying the rare Scottish sunshine. We’d had a big breakfast and weren’t hungry but by half 2 we were starting to get peckish. OH suggested stopping off at Grandtully as there was a pub with a great view of the white water on the Tay – the appropriately named The Inn on the Tay. When we drove into the car park OH commented that it was different from the last time he had visited. It turned out he had last been there in 2001 when he had kayaked down the Tay so it wasn’t surprising it had changed and the car park had been upgraded.

On the way in I noticed they stopped serving food at 3pm (it was 2.45pm). I also noticed they did Cullen Skink, which is one of OH and I’s favourites so it was a quick and easy decision to order the haddock, leek and tattie soup and not annoy the chef by placing a large food order minutes before he was due to finish. I placed our order for food and drinks at the bar, paid for it and took the offered cutlery and napkins outside to a table on the deck. I’m assuming it’s normally waitress service and this only happened because it was 2.45 and I had went straight to the bar to order. 2015-06-27 14.57.21

OH was right, the view from the deck is stunning and looks directly on to the spot on the Tay that kayakers and rafters brave the rushing white waters.

The Cullen Skink arrived almost immediately (I think I was right about the chef wanting finished promptly). To be honest, I was a little disappointed as it wasn’t the biggest of bowls – at £6 for a bowl of soup you do expect something that will fill you but then maybe I’m just greedy.2015-06-27 14.46.30 The Cullen Skink itself was a little thin and could have had a tad more cream but it was good enough.  I could see the orders the other diners were having and it all looked good and well displayed.

As we sat 2 teams of white water rafters paddled past. From their screams and shouts it certainly sounded like they were having fun. Free entertainment when you’re dining is rare and it certainly created an exciting buzz on the deck as everyone stopped talking/eating and watched the water.

The location is amazing and that alone is worth visiting The Inn on the Tay for. You can check out the lunch menu for yourself here – the other meals certainly looked good.

2 Cullen Skinks, a pint of cider, a soda water and lime and a great view of people taking on the white water = £17.50

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