Strathearn, Gleneagles

Last year I had a big birthday and BB and SiL gave me the fabulous present of a gift voucher for Gleneagles. Although I could have used it to do one of the many country pursuits they offer, OH and I thought we would rather have Sunday lunch. So, talking Mini-me into being a taxi driver for the day we donned our glad rags and set off for the 5 star hotel in Perthshire.

As ever, we arrived too early and decided to have drinks in the Century Bar first. I explained to the waiter I had a gift voucher and asked if it was okay to have drinks on it as well as lunch. I was told it was okay but he would have to transfer my drinks to the dining room. Therefore, with everything in hand I had a Bloody Mary and OH decided he fancied a pint. I have to say my Bloody Mary is one of the best I have ever tasted. Firstly it had a light sweet taste and then as it went down it gave a massive kick, which left your mouth tingling and demanding more.

At 1 o’clock a waitress took our drinks through to the Strathearn dining room and we were seated in plush surroundings reminiscent of 1920s. Gold trolleys were wheeled around by waiters and waitresses all who had their own role. We were given food menus and offered water by one and a wine menu from another. Then we were offered bread from a french waitress’s trolley. There were far too much to chose from so she offered to cut a selection of them. She then gave us butter with some Skye salt sprinkled on top.

The menu offered pre-starters of oysters and caviar blinis, which had hefty supplements. The menu then announced where to start with a box that described 2 different kinds of salmon. One from Dumfries, which had been smoked using beer barrels and one from Perthshire that had been oak smoked. Both came with capers, lemon, creme fraiche and shallots but if you wanted caviar there was another supplement. The salmon arrived on a gold trolley and was sliced thinly next to us. The waitress was amazing to watch as time and time again paper thin slices of salmon were removed from the large fish and arranged delicately on the plate. The salmon was delicious and the accompaniments really added to the taste.

Then there was the choice of soup, terrine, salad or crab. I went for the New Season Garlic and Potato Soup with sauteed leeks and girolle mushrooms and OH decided on the West Coast Crab, cucumber, pink grapefruit, white balsamic and hazlenut.

My plate arrived with the leeks and mushrooms deconstructed in the centre of the bowl and then the soup was poured from a jug around them. The soup was beautiful. Thick and creamy and garlicky with the leeks adding a very pleasant texture addition.

OH’s crab was a beautiful plate of colours. The grapefruit gave it a fresh citrus tang whilst the white crab meat was light to taste. The hazelnuts and cucumber gave the dish a crunch.

For my main, I had Seabass, roasted cauliflower, crushed potatoes, baby artichokes and champagne sauce. The skin on the fish could have been crispier and the cauliflower could have done with more colour but overall I enjoyed the dish particularly the artichokes, which I have been wanting again since enjoying them in Spain last March.

OH had Borders Lamb Rump, garden peas, confit shallot, fondant potato, roasted tomato and lamb jus. The lamb looked exceptional without a bit of fat insight and OH said it tasted just as good as it looked.

Throughout our meal the sommelier topped up our wine glasses with the sauvignon blanc we ordered and anyone passing would top up our water glasses. The service was impeccable. The ambience was added to by a three piece band who played a range of hits from people such as Pink Floyd, Nine Inch Nails, Amy Winehouse and The Clash but in the style of lift muzak.

After a short break we were given dessert menus. There was a list of ports with prices and a cheese trolley on offer with another supplement however, I went for a light and refreshing mix of sorbets. OH went for the sticky toffee pudding with a whisky and date puree.

My sorbets were the perfect way to end my meal. The mango, lemon and raspberry flavours going down a treat. The accompanying baked strip of loveliness wasn’t crisp as I had suspected but a soft, chewy affair.

OH’s pudding tasted of toffee and was sticky so ticked all the boxes. The date and whisky puree was a small dollop and I think he’d have preferred more.

When our plates were cleared we were offered coffee or tea and OH asked for a coffee, which arrived with 2 little sweets that looked beautifully wrapped in egg-shell blue and gold leaf. However, when I picked one up it immediately started to melt in my hand and I realised it was the chocolate which had been painted and not any kind of wrapper. The chocolate was rich and heavy.

Our meal was excellent and we both enjoyed all the food we had. The theatre of the dining room was stunning and it was great watching the waitresses and waiters give such fantastic performances.

After our lunch we returned to the Century Bar and mini-me joined us for a round of drinks. I then asked for the bill. Now this is when things went a bit awry. Our bill arrived with a whole bunch of drinks we hadn’t had and no mention of lunch. When I queried it, the original waiter appeared and I was told there was a difficulty because of our voucher and the drinks having to be transferred. Yes but those drinks still aren’t ours. I then had to return to the dinning room and explain to another waiter the issue. After a while he managed to clear it up and gave me the right bill minus the voucher. However, this was when I realised the smoked salmon and coffee were extras. This annoyed me because as I have been pointing out, it was clear everything was priced and it was highlighted where the supplements were. There was nothing on the menu that stated it was £25.50 extra for the salmon. Feeling slightly annoyed and a bit duped I paid the bill.

A very decadent Sunday lunch consisting of a Bloody Mary, 2 pints, a ginger beer, a G+T, a bottle of wine and 2 3 course lunches with salmon and a coffee. £247.

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The Tavern at Strathkinness, Fife.

Today OH and I decided to visit the The Tavern at Strathkinness. It’s been on our list of places to visit for a while now and today turned out to be the day. We didn’t book but that didn’t seem to be a problem as we were given a seat in the restaurant although, we were also offered a table in the bar.

When we were given the menu my first thought was akin to the couple who dined in The Rook Restaurant in The Two Ronnies sketch. There was haddock pot – done in a cheese sauce, haddock coated in coconut, haddock in batter and haddock risotto. There was also salmon in Cajun spices, which makes me wonder why the haddock couldn’t have been done like this…and if you didn’t fancy haddock there was also steaks, steak pie, pork belly and mushroom stroganoff.

Thankfully, there was no haddock starters so we decided to share the ‘Crispy Breaded Brie – slices of french of brie coated and fried, served with sticky onion chutney’. When the one slice of brie arrived (note not plural as advertised) there was no onion chutney. It did however, have a very nice beetroot salad and the slice was a large one. We both enjoyed it and it didn’t feel like a frozen bought in starter due to it’s size.

brie

For main, I decided to go for ‘Pork Belly – a generous slice of slow cooked premium pork belly, slathered in creamy apple cider sauce. Decadent with potatoes and veg.’ I was asked what kind of potato I wanted – chips, mash or roasted. I went for roasted and got a “Good choice” from the waitress.

pork belly

When the dish arrived I was more than happy with it although I did give OH my green beans as I am not a fan. Everything else though was lovely and the pork really did melt in my mouth. The potatoes, cauliflower and carrots were all spot on. (Yes, I know it looks like an under-cooked scotch pie but it really was pork) OH went for ‘Smoked Haddock Pot – smoked Scottish haddock baked in a copiously creamy sauce and topped with our homemade scone crumb crust’. OH was also asked what kind of potatoes and he copied me – possibly because of the ‘good choice’ commendation I got.

haddock pot

OH’s haddock pot arrived in it’s own little dish and I soon realised that ‘copiously creamy sauce’ meant you needed to ask for a spoon. OH said he enjoyed his dish but thought he had maybe ate too much as by the end of it he said it was a bit salty and the scone crumb seemed a little too sweet. Oddly, he says he would order it again even though he didn’t finish it. Hmmm. I thought that my green beans looked good on his plate and that he maybe should have had some green veg with it too.

At this point another couple arrived and I overheard them giving their order. The woman, when asked what kind of potatoes she wanted, asked for chips. “Oh good choice.” the waitress replied. Eh?!?!?!? What a floozy!

By the end of our mains I was done but OH thought a desert wouldn’t go a miss so I ordered another wine (as you do). And after looking at the blackboard of sweets OH decided on the Mango Mojito Sorbet, which arrived with 2 spoons (love it – even though the waitress is obviously a player ;p). The sorbet was really well balanced with mango and mint so that the mint was not overpowering and the pomegranate seeds made a nice contrast in both colour and texture.

sorbet

OH then decided he wanted a coffee so there was nothing else for it but to order another Rioja.

Overall, the food was good, the ambience and view were great, the service was excellent and the menu needed some work – especially their over use of haddock and their dodgy adverbs.

1 starter, 2 mains, 1 dessert, a coffee, an orange and soda water, 1 large and 2 small glasses of wine – £50.80

The Giddy Goose, Dundee

At a loss for something to do but knowing we wanted to eat, we found ourselves driving up the Perth Road in Dundee looking for a parking place so we could have a look at the menus at the numerous restaurants dotted along the road.

We eventually settled on The Giddy Goose at it looked interesting and it announced itself as a pizza and wine bar. Inside the decor was boho chic. Purple lamps with bright yellow shades, turquoise couches and a forest of green plants hanging from the indoor pergola. There was also an outdoor seating area which was carpeted with artificial grass. We were seated indoors (because it’s June in Scotland) and given menus.

Pizza, pasta, burgers, grazing dishes, steaks and plates were all available. There was also the offer that most things could be gluten free and there was a whole section for vegans. Looking for easy to eat comfort food I decided on King Prawn & Gorgonzola Mac & cheese and OH plumped for the Chicken and Smoked Mozzarella Saltimbocca – creamy baby corn, toasted almond and herby tagliatelle.

We waited a while for our meals to arrive so I wasted the time by taking photos of my wine glass and carafe.

art

After a while a waitress came up and apologised for our wait and explained the saltimbocca takes a while to cook.

Beige

Eventually our dishes arrived. My dish looked beige and boring. It really could have done with a colourful plate to make it look more appealing, even a smattering of basil or watercress would have made a difference. It was tasty enough but the sauce was thin and there was not that many prawns compared to the amount of macaroni. As everything was the same texture, I felt if they had added some sugar snap peas it would have lifted the whole dish. I got bored eating it very quickly and left quite a bit as it just wasn’t worth the calories.

OH’s on the other hand had everything. Colour, texture and loads of flavour.

saltimbocca

He loved his dish saying the sun-dried tomatoes were excellent, the pasta tasty and the chicken stuffed with mozzarella and sage and wrapped in prosciutto was delicious. He also had to leave some but for the totally opposite reason from me – he was as stuffed as the chicken because it was such a huge plateful of different tastes and textures. He was that full he didn’t even ask to look at the dessert menu!

Lovely decor, service was excellent and the menu was great for gluten intolerant people and vegans.

2 main meals, a 250ml carafe of wine and a no-alcohol beer = £34.90

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

North Port Restaurant, Perth

OH and I were in Perth today. We had been for a wander around the Continental Food Market and also the Museum and Art Gallery so when we got hungry I searched for somewhere close by that wouldn’t mean another walk. My phone suggested North Port Restaurant, which was right round the corner and I am so glad it did. Although it really was a meal of 2 halves (to misquote a footballing cliche).

When we arrived our coats were taken and we were seated in a dark, olde fashioned room. Dark wood was everywhere; chairs, tables, floor and even a low ornate wooden ceiling. However, our table was light and airy.

The waitress appeared with a bottle of tap water and wore a loose floaty apron which added to the ye olde feel. She gave us 3 menus. A la carte, set lunch and specials. The lunch menu was 2 courses for £14.95 and 3 for £17.95. The a la cart menu offered main meals around the £18 mark and the specials menu boasted scallops, pigeon and hake.

We were asked what drinks we wanted and as there was no wine menu I asked for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand or Spain? New Zealand of course. Large or small? Large. OH asked for a bottle of St Mungo’s lager as there was nothing on tap.

After much deliberation, OH decided on Whipped Arran Blue – celery, sweet cicily, toast and I went for the Smoked Haddie, leeks, hazelnut dressing. OH is trying to eat more fish, which is what I usually order but as the other menu items didn’t appeal as much (we were ordering off the lunch menu) we both ordered North Sea Coley, celeriac, spinach, mushrooms, shellfish sauce.

As we were waiting, the waitress arrived with our drinks and a plate of homemade bread and a carrot dip with pumpkin seed granola and parsley butter. I am not usually one for filling myself up with bread before a meal but I ate it all and when I was asked if I wanted more I was sorely tempted. It was gorgeous.







Arran Blue
Smoked Haddie

I have to say, my starter was amazing. There was large lumps of delicious smoked haddock, the leeks and hazelnut dressing gave it a fantastic taste and texture and the fish skin gave it a lovely salty crunch. After I had finished I could not wait for my main meal and bragged to OH how clever I was at finding this hidden gem of a restaurant.

OH wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about his starter. I had thought it would look a bit blue but it resembled vanilla ice cream. The taste however was very blue. I tried a small amount and mentioned that it could do with a glass of port and OH agreed that was exactly what was missing. He enjoyed it though and like the crunchy celery.

There was the perfect wait between courses and the waitress was very friendly and attentive.

Coley

Our dishes both looked great when they arrived and initially I thought it was good but as I kept eating I got more and more meh with it. The skin was only crispy at the edges, I wasn’t sure the mushrooms actually went with the dish and the spinach could have been drained more. The celeriac was the biggest flavour on the plate and didn’t really deserve to be. Trying to find something positive – the shellfish sauce was good and it was a quality piece of fish.

I think because the bread and the starter had been so absolutely bloody brilliant, I got overly disappointed in my main. It was now up to the dessert to try and at least equalise in the second half. (or should it be third?)

White chocolate custard

OH ordered the Set White Chocolate Custard, hazelnut crumble, coffee jelly. Did it score? Yes it did. The coffee jelly was small but strong enough to cut through the sweet white chocolate and the crunchy crumble balanced well with the squishy, set custard. OH also ordered an americano, which arrived with 2 square truffles of really strong chocolate. I believe when only 1 coffee is ordered and you still get two bits of sweet yummyness the restaurant gets brownie points. I ordered another glass of white but small this time.

I know that some of you reading this don’t like toilets that are a hassle (Mum I mean you) and unfortunately these ones are up a spiral staircase. However, the staircase fits in perfectly with the rest of the decor and the toilets are lovely (and there is White Stuff toiletries).

When the bill arrived I kicked myself that I didn’t order a bottle of the house white as

1 3 course lunch – £17.95, 1 2 course lunch – £14.95, 1 small, 1 large NZ White £17.90 (!!!) 1 lager £4.50, 1 coffee £2.50 = £57.55

Service was fantastic, ambience and decor great and I’d say on the whole food was very good (I just need to stop putting starters on pedestals just to knock it over when the main arrives)

The V&A and The Wine Press, Dundee

On Saturday I was spending the day with my mum so we decided it was about time we visited the V&A in Dundee. I was also keen to visit The Wine Press as I had seen friends of ours checking into it and from their pics and the website it looked like a place I wanted to visit. And for this reason I asked OH if he wanted to be the chauffeur for the day. (I’m not daft)

The V&A, which sits right next to The Discovery on the banks of the River Tay is a building that makes you take far too many photos as there are so many great angles and views. It’s free to get in although there is a cost if you want to see any private exhibitions that may be on. The public exhibition of Scottish Design was interesting and they have managed to incorporate a vast amount of drawings, samples, models and videos all depicting Scottish designs. The outdoor balconies offer amazing views over the Tay and as well as a shop, there is also a restaurant and cafe inside. However, we were on a mission to visit The Wine Press so we didn’t hang around for a coffee.

The wine bar was just a short walk from the V&A. However, it is across a number of busy roads and I have to say the crossing weren’t the best. For some reason there is no loud beeping noise to let you know it’s the green man and the signs that show the green men aren’t facing you – they’re attached to the posts just above where you press the button so you have to stay alert.

The Wine Press don’t take reservations on Saturdays so it’s first come first served, which was great for us arriving just after midday but not so much for the people who got there after 1 and had to sit at the bar until a table became free.

The food menu is fairly limited as the focus is more on the wine, of which there are loads to choose from. One of the quirks of TWP is that you can buy a card at the bar and help yourself to wine from a machine, which keeps the more eclectic or higher end wines in a perfect condition.

The food menu has 4 different sharing boards. Cheese, charcuterie, antipasti and camembert. There was also soup, bar snacks and a list of small plates, which you could order like tapas. On the specials board there were some pies. We decided to have the Tomato and red pepper soup along with the charcuterie board – 4 cured continental meats, artisan bread, khobez flatbread, beetroot and spring onion salad, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, fig, plum and apple chutney.

dav

The soup was delicious and although we had ordered a small bowl it was more than enough. The accompanying bread was soft and very fresh. The sharing board (meant for 2) was enough for the 3 of us along with the soup and nothing went to waste. The meat wasn’t too dry or too strong and the figs were lovely.

The service was impeccable, there was a good atmosphere and the decor was tasteful. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a wine bar and a small bite to eat.

3 small soups, a sharing board, a bottle of white and a non-alcoholic beer for the chauffeur = £47

Delivino, Auchterarder

Yesterday, as the start of me celebrating a big birthday, OH and I spent an entire day (along with MiniHim and TeenyMe) at Strathallan Skydiving Centre waiting for the clouds to clear. Unfortunately they didn’t and my birthday skydive has now been rescheduled for the 4th of November. To try to salvage something of the day we decided to visit Delivino in Auchterarder. I had visited the one in Crieff before and thought the Italian wine cafe was wonderful so when I found out there was one even nearer to us we just had to visit.

Thankfully they managed to squeeze us in, telling us what time they needed the table back by. Grateful for the table I didn’t mind sitting by the door. However, I did get a cold breeze every time someone came in but because I had my thermals on for the skydive I was actually quite glad of the occasional chill.

A bottle of water was immediately placed on the table along with the menu, which offered various pasta dishes in small and regular, pizzas, burgers and large sharing platters.

We ordered a carafe of wine and decided to share a small plate as a starter. davRoast Garlic and Chilli Prawns, which arrived sizzling and spitting and were fantastic; very hot, both in spice and temperature. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a pic at the start so you will just have to imagine another 5 of these fat, fabulous prawns along with some chunks of bread.

For my main I decided on Pancetta Carbonara – Crispy Smoked Pancetta, Parmesan & Creamy Carbonara Sauce. I chose to have a small plate rather than the regular size because I knew I would over eat if I did. OH had the special of Smoked haddock and Leek Risotto.

davMy pasta was everything I wanted it to be. Rich, creamy, hot and delicious. There wasn’t enough for me to get bored but the right amount to leave me completely satisfied although I was looking for some bread to mop up the remaining sauce with but that was just greed.

OH enjoyed his risotto, which was full of large lumps of haddock. I sneaked a taste and it was thick, cheesy with a nice salty fish taste. Both our dishes arrived in deep bowls, which I think really helped keep our meals warm throughout. Nothing worse than cold pasta mid-meal!mde

AS I finished the wine OH asked for Affogato for dessert. It came dismembered. Yes I know it’s supposed to be deconstructed but there’s something murderous about having to pay to make your own dessert. OH ‘drowned’ his ice cream with the espresso (affogato is italian for drowned – see you actually learned something from this blog) and crumbled the amaretto biscuits in as well. He then devoured it, whilst complaining it was just coffee and ice cream. mdeThis was solely because it was on the blackboard he was facing and he could see the price for a change. Regardless, he enjoyed it and as he would often have coffee and a dessert it was actually cheaper ;p.

I decided to visit the loos before we left and crammed myself into the one ladies toilet. Bizarrely, one of the tiled walls hadn’t been grouted so I’m guessing they are half way through doing them up? In the tiny toilet there was also a sink, which I had to go on my tiptoes to get my hands into only to discover it was so teeny I had to wash one hand at a time. To be honest, I’m not sure if they have sacrificed toilet space to enable more room in the restaurant but I did leave wishing they had put in as much effort to their toilet design as they have to their food.

Loos aside, service was great from a very smiley, happy-to-help waitress and food was fantastic. I definitely will be back but unfortunately it won’t be after my skydive as it isn’t open on Sundays. (it is in Crieff though)

One small plate, one small pasta, one main, one dessert, one carafe of wine £41.50.

The Crusoe, Lower Largo, Fife

Anytime I get asked where I would recommend for a meal in Fife I generally say The Crusoe, in Lower Largo. It has good food, it’s in a picturesque location and always has a lovely ambiance. Therefore, for my mum’s birthday, we chose to take her there for lunch.

As it was a beautiful day I pre-booked just in case we couldn’t get a table but as it turned out the majority of people were eating outside. However, it did mean we got a nice table with a view of the Forth.

We were given 2 menus. The regular one with light bites, starters, mains and desserts and a specials one. The soup on the specials menu immediately jumped out to me as it was White Onion with Cider and Cheese Croutons. Ever since I first had white onion soup in a Belfast restaurant, which was the most amazing soup ever, I have been a big fan so although it was a gorgeous, sunny day and the last thing I needed was a starter or soup, I just had to have it.

OH decided on the smoked haddock tartlet with poached egg and Mum decided not to have a starter and save herself for her main.

IMAG9638My soup wasn’t as white as I had thought it would be as the cider gave it a brown tinge. However, it was still very tasty with just a light hint of apples. The crouton was a large soggy thin piece of bread that could have been left out. Disappointingly, the accompanying bread was too thick and dry as if it had been sliced in the morning and left out.

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OH’s tartlet looked amazing. The poached egg was soft but not runny and when I asked him if the tart was really fishy he said, “Not yet. Oh wait a minute I got a bit there.” Overall however, it was a tasty, satisfying dish that he demolished and was happy with.

 

IMAG9641For my main I ordered from the specials menu again and had Fillet of Cod, with Prawn and Green Pea Risotto and Samphire.  Again it looked amazing when it arrived. The risotto had a bit of bite and the little prawns through it were a nice touch. Unfortunately, the skin of the cod wasn’t crisp and I had to get my bit of crunch from the samphire. My favourite bit of the dish was the creamed leeks that weren’t mentioned on the menu. They were a delight.

IMAG9640OH also ordered from the specials menu and had Braised Shin of Beef with horseradish hollandaise, roast root vegetables, mash and Madeira jus. His beef looked melt in the mouth and was surrounding by roasted carrot and turnip. OH’s only complaint was that he could have done with more gravy/Madeira jus. Again he cleared his plate.

Mum, in a surprise selection, went for Chicken and Ham Pie from the main menu. When it arrived it was a proper pie – it had a top, bottom and did not arrive in its own dish! I haven’t seen one of them in a restaurant for a long time. The mash was in abundance and although mum gave it a good go she had to leave some. She said that the pie was packed with chicken and ham and you could tell it was home-made.IMAG9639

Mum and I continued with our wine as OH, as is his norm, ordered a dessert. Pineapple Carpaccio. From memory there was mention of meringue, freeze-dried raspberries, pistachio, coconut jelly and blueberries.

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When it arrived it was like a Caribbean disco on a plate and was easily the brightest dessert I have ever seen. The dish was jam-packed and no-one could complain about portion size. The thinly sliced pineapple had a hint of coconut but it wasn’t overpowering and the whole dish was a fantastic fresh and fruity fun feast.

 

On the whole, a brilliant birthday meal.

2 Starters, 3 mains, 1 dessert, 3 glasses of wine, 1 pint of coke = £67.00

 

Forage and Chatter, Edinburgh

I recently changed jobs and as a leaving present I was given a voucher for Forage and Chatter in the west end of Edinburgh. Therefore OH and I headed there yesterday to enjoy a spot of lunch on the hottest day of the year so far. Incidentally, when I phoned to book a table the restaurant was fully booked but they thought someone was going to cancel their booking so they took my number and phoned me back within 10 minutes to offer me a table at 1.45pm, which I thought was great and endeared me to the restaurant immediately.

We found the Forage and Chatter hidden down some stone steps at the end of Alva Street. Inside we were led to our table, which was basically out the back door of the restaurant in a covered over back yard. We were then given 4 menus – drinks, wine, table d’hôte and à la carte. The set menu was 2 courses for £14.95 and 3 for £17.95. Obviously, I opened the wine one first.

Not long after the wine arrived we were given two deep-fried dough balls along with some pesto and spiced butter.  Looking at the menus, I really wanted to order the Langoustine Bisque, mussels, leeks and fennel for starters but the restaurant was really hot as was I so the thought of soup became a no no. Instead I ordered Chicken liver parfait, prune, hazelnut and mushroom.

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The liver parfait was gamey tasting but not over powering.  The hazelnut was crushed over the top to give it a bit of a crunch but I felt it could do with another texture as overall everything was just too smooth.

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OH ordered Roasted Cauliflower, dates, capers and wild herbs.

He loved the date sauce and the chargrill flavour of the cauliflower.

For his main OH ordered Red Deer Loin, turnip, purple sprouting broccoli and mustard seed with a side of buttered new potatoes. IMAG9483OH really enjoyed his deer loin and felt the portion size was perfect, pointing out that as it was a strong meat he wouldn’t want to eat too much of it but it was enough to satisfy.

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I had North Sea cod, leeks, potatoes parsley and capers. I thought it was a bit on the salty side but I don’t know if I’m just noticing salt more nowadays due to trying to avoid it (yes i know I mention my low salt diet every blog – deal with it). The cod was lovely, big chunky flakes with a fabulous crisp edge.

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As is our norm nowadays, I stuck with the wine and OH had a dessert. Carrot cake, orange, pistachio, white chocolate, which visually looked more savoury than sweet but was well-balanced and a good end to the meal (the waitress brought me a spoon too). Although I didn’t try it all I can testify that the cake was light and spongy.

The restaurant has a quirky dining space with menus that make the most of local Scottish ingredients and I’m really glad my ex-colleagues made it possible for me to enjoy this hidden gem.

1 starter £8.50, 1 main £21.00, 1 side £3.50, 1 set lunch £17.95, 2 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc £45 = £95.95. (Yes 2 bottles of wine. It was really hot and the wine was really cold and moreish)

The Cellar Restaurant, Anstruther

Today marked 28 years of marriage to OH. Yes, I know. He could have committed murder and got less time but as long as I keep buying him lunch I’m sure he will stick around. Well, as long as he gets a plate every now and again he might ;p

So to celebrate this momentous occasion we decided to dine at The Cellar Restaurant in Anstruther. The Cellar is a Michelin starred restaurant hidden away in the East Neuk behind the Fishery Museum in Anstruther. As soon as you enter you know you’re in for a real treat. The restaurant is tastefully decorated with silver birch beams, real fish skin pictures and tasteful Scottish touches – none of your Bay City Roller tartan or thistle wall paper here.

We took a seat in front of the log fire and enjoyed pre lunch gin and tonics as we poured over the menus deciding between pigeon or crab and halibut or hogget.

It was a set menu with only 2 choices for each course (we were asked when I booked if there were any dietary requirements) As usual we decided to order different courses so we could try everything on the menu. Decisions made on courses and wine and we were taken through to the small restaurant area where there was

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seating for maybe 20 max? Certainly I could see why you need to book well in advance. Incidentally, there was an option to have wine paired with each course but we decided on a bottle of white Rioja that I hoped would fit in with both of our choices.

To start with we were brought an amuse-bouche of Smoked Haddock Mousse, Anster Cheese and Gherkin. It arrived balanced delicately on a box of seashells and looked exquisite. Well, it looked like cream cheese on a Pringle but it tasted way better – the smokey fish amused my bouche perfectly and the mix of crunch and cream worked well together.

Next arrived Ox-tongue, Parmesan and Pickled Onion. This was an odd dish in that you couldn’t see the Ox-tongue. It looked like a bowl of white custard scattered with crispy bits. In the centre was t

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he skin of a pickled onion, which held a green liquid. Yes, I know I should have paid more attention when the waitress told me exactly what it was but I couldn’t take it all in! The creamy stuff was heavy, cheesy and thick then, when you dug deeper, you found the ox-tongue, which looked like Oxo cubes. The first one was really tasty and to me was akin to pork belly. The next one was good and more meaty tasting but then the 3rd one was too much. It was a really rich dish so probably half the amount would have sufficed. The crispy bits and onion skin gave it a much needed crunch but the after taste was like I had just finished a packet of cheese and onion crisps.

Soon after, our starters arrived. OH had Pigeon, Celeriac, Yeast Emulsion and Hazelnut

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(the waitress did describe it better). OH liked his pigeon and thought the hazelnut was a good contrasting texture and balancing flavour. The pigeon was not as pink in the middle as it is often cooked and he preferred it this way. He also liked the rooty celeriac addition to the dish. As it is such a strong meat he appreciated that there was only the one medallion.

My starter was Local Crab, Toasted Rice, Squid and Kelp Jelly. The crab had a perfect square of see-through jelly over it and the rice looked like little maggots

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escaping from its confines. However, it tasted amazing. The crab was fresh with a light, lemony zing and the toasted rice gave it a soft bite. I could easily have eaten more of it.

After a short break our mains arrived. OH had Hogget, White Cabbage, Wild Garlic, Mint and Lemon Thyme. The dish looked beautiful. The hogget was light to taste and served pink.

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The mint sauce was delicate and not overpowering and OH raved about the white cabbage and said this was his favourite dish of the day.

I went for Halibut, Baby Gem, Bacon, Mussel Juice and Charcoal Oil. Immediately I could taste the chargrill effect and loved it. The baby gem was crisp and the mussels

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fat and juice. I did get the occasional hit of salt but I think because I’m trying to reduce my salt intake I’m more attuned to it now.

For dessert OH went for the Apple & Sorrel, Bramble, Brown Butter Curd and Lemon Thyme. When it arrived it looked like lots

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of tiny red apples with green leaves resting on top of a raft, which was adrift on a white, foamy pond.

Of course, I went for the Scottish Cheese, Pickled Walnut and Grapes. To my credit I remember the waitress saying there was also pear jelly (the only additional thing I remember her describing although there were loads throughout the meal).

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I also asked for a glass of port to accompany the cheese board and OH requested a glass of Tokaji, Mad, which was the recommended dessert wine for the dish. Both drinks added a fantastic layer to the course. My blue cheese on a cracker, spread with pear jelly and accompanied with a mouthful of port was fantastic. If I had any complaint it would be that I’d have liked another slice of pickled walnut on the plate. OH enjoyed his dessert and couldn’t have been more complimentary about the wine pairing.

To finish off our meal we decided a couple of Irish Coffees would hit the spot and when they arrived they were accompanied with

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chocolate orange truffles, fruit jellies and, in a cinnamon box, some salted fudge. Anything chocolate and/or orange I need to give a wide berth to so my loss is OH’s gain. He says it was velvety, rich, dark and cocoay (is that a word?) The fudge was good but bad. I love fudge but this was really sweet, which was great but, again, maybe it’s me and salt just now, it had a funny after taste to it.

Service was impeccable. The time between dishes was spot on, descriptions of food added to the meal, napkins were replaced and glasses topped up whenever needed, to the point that all tasks were completed naturally and almost without being noticed.

The bill came to £142 2 set lunches @ £35 each, alcohol £72 (gin, wine, dessert wine, port, Irish coffees)

A fantastic wedding anniversary meal, which we won’t forget.