Worth Travelling To: Restaurants That Bloggers Would Plan A Day Around #foodiedaytrip

Looking for somewhere to go on a day trip ? The feature blog will provide you with places to go, places to eat and things to do in Crieff, Blair Atholl, St Andrews, Gleneagles, Bothwell, Hamilton

I sometimes find myself at a loose end at the weekend and craving some adventure outwith the confines of our glorious Glasgow. When this happens, I find myself wondering where to go and what to do; meaning you can spend a few hours deliberating, which eats into your day… and you inevitably decide not to bother going anywhere after all. This blog idea was born to provide inspiration on these days – you can look at the options we’ve all pulled together below, obviously centered around food, to remove those wasted hours of brainstorming. We’re taking the hassle out of your weekend… so what are you waiting for?! Go explore!

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I reached out to some of my fellow bloggers for this post, as I knew there would be a few hidden gems out there that I hadn’t heard of before. So I’ve tagged their Instagram pages, the restaurant’s Instagram page (if they have one), with some other hopefully useful information: a brief overview of the location, others things to do and see (make a day of it!) and some other restaurants nearby that I’ve either been to or heard of that may be worth checking out too.

I’ve included travel time both from Glasgow and Edinburgh, in the hopes that that makes some of your decisions easier. I have plenty of suggestions for further afield as well, but for the purposes of this blog I’ve kept it within a 1.5 – 2 hour max. travel time, simply because I wanted to provide options for somewhere you can visit in a day.

where to go

I’ve already written a blog on my suggestion (’cause I’m self-confessed Gleneagles No. 1 fan), so I’ll mention that first and then launch into the others…


Gleneagles

“When it first opened its doors in 1924, this magnificent countryside estate in the heart of Scotland was described as a “Riviera in the Highlands”. Today, as a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Gleneagles continues to offer an unbeatable array of attractions that includes a five-star luxury hotel, three championship golf courses, an award-winning spa, and the only restaurant in Scotland to hold two Michelin stars.”

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Lauren of @laurenscravings

Gleneagles @thegleneagleshotel

Website: https://www.gleneagles.com/

Address: The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder PH3 1NF

Travel: 50 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr 10 mins from Edinburgh

Lauren Explains Why: in her blog post here

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Things to Do at Gleneagles: Golf, Tennis, Clay Pigeon Shooting, Archery, 4×4 Driving and ESPA spa (the best spa I’ve ever been to – treat yourself to a day pass!)

Other restaurants you could visit within the grounds: The Birnam Brasserie, Andrew Fairlie (2 Michelin Star), The Dormy – Clubhouse


St Andrews

“St. Andrews is a seaside town northeast of Edinburgh, on Scotland’s east coast. It’s known for its many golf courses, including the Old Course, with the landmark Swilcan Bridge at the 18th hole. The British Golf Museum chronicles the history of U.K. golf. On a headland nearby are the ruins of St. Andrews Castle, with its medieval bottle dungeon. Close to the castle is the University of St. Andrews, founded in 1413.”

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Natalie of @stravaiginscotland

Tailend Restaurant and Fish Bar @tailendstandrews

Website: https://www.thetailend.co.uk  

Address: 130 Market St, St Andrews KY16 9PD

Travel: 1 hr 35 mins from both Glasgow & Edinburgh

Natalie Explains Why: “People often think of golf when they think of St. Andrews; or the castle or the university. Now these are all good things and are absolutely worth checking out if you are in town.  The one thing you don’t often hear about is the variety of restaurants in St. Andrews.  There is something here for every taste, mood and budget, but one eatery that is worth travelling for and should be on everyone’s list is the Tailend Restaurant and Fish Bar on Market Street.

The seafood in town is always local, and some of the best you will find in Scotland.  Part of the appeal is that these guys know how to cook it well.  The menu has a nice variety but is not too large or complicated. Nice seafood flavors, but also some non-seafood options, as well as gluten free options.  The fish and chips are some of the best you will find, and the cranachan cheesecake is a deeply memorable experience.

The other thing about this place is that the drink selection is as good as the seafood selection.  Some very imaginative cocktails, and a great selection of Scottish whisky, gin and beer for you to choose from as well.  The staff are very knowledgeable and helpful with recommendations if you aren’t quite sure what to try.  Once you have finished your meal and had a nice drink, you have to leave room for dessert.  There are no words to describe their cranachan cheesecake; at least none I can think of that do it justice.

You can get take out or you can choose to eat in, but if you are eating in you better make a reservation as this place is usually packed.  Put it on your list of places worth travelling to in St. Andrews.”

Things to Do in St Andrews: St Andrews Cathedral (12th century ruin), St Andrews Castle  (13th century ruin), golf courses, seafront and pier, Botanic Gardens, British Golf Museum & 15 mins drive outside of St Andrews is Scotland’s Secret Bunker

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: The Peat Inn (Michelin star), The Vine Leaf, Blackhorn, The Jigger Inn or The Grange


Kelso

“Kelso is a market town in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland. Within the boundaries of the historic county of Roxburghshire, it lies where the rivers Tweed and Teviot have their confluence. The town has a population of 5,639 according to the 2011 census and based on the 2010 definition of the locality.”

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The Wee Food Blogger of @the_wee_food_blogger

Cobbles @cobbleskelso

Website: http://www.thecobbleskelso.co.uk/

Address: 7 Bowmont Street, Kelso TD5 7JH, Scotland

Travel: 1 hr 40 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr 5 mins from Edinburgh

The Wee Food Blogger Explains Why: “There is a world beyond the big cities and sometimes you find those hidden gems that are worth travelling to! Perhaps better known as the home of popular craft beer brand Tempest Brewing Co. the Cobbles in Kelso serves up the food to match its award-winning beer.

A hearty gastropub set in the quaint Scottish Borders town of Kelso, the cobbled square of the town centre lends its name to the pub with a foodie heart. Serving up pub classics, sometimes with a twist, but always fresh and always local, the Cobbles is certainly worth travelling to. Favourites such as fish and chips, served with a homemade curry sauce and steak and ale pie with seasonal vegetables feature on this menu. Perfect winter warmers in a cosy homely pub setting.

It’s dog friendly in the bar too – so your four legged friend can enjoy their hospitality while you enjoy your pub grub and a locally made pint!”

Things to Do in Kelso: Floors Castle, Roxburgh Castle & Hume Castle

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: The Contented Vine & The Waggon Inn


Crieff

“Crieff is a market town in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It lies on the A85 road between Perth and Crianlarich, and the A822 between Greenloaning and Aberfeldy. The A822 joins the A823, which leads to Dunfermline. Crieff has become a hub for tourism, famous for its whisky and history of cattle droving.”

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Savannah of @savannahsweeney

Yann’s at Gleanearn House, Crieff

Website: http://www.yannsatglenearnhouse.com/

Address: Perth Rd, Crieff PH7 3EQ

Travel: 1 hr mins from Glasgow & 1 hr 20 mins from Edinburgh

Savannah Explains Why: “Yann’s is located in the small town of Crieff, making it about an hours drive from Glasgow. Serving authentic French food, the family run restaurant is warm and welcoming in the old Victorian house. Prior to your meal, you have the opportunity to have a drink in the comforting lounge which is decorated in a warm and welcoming manner. Following on through to the restaurant area, it is snug and relaxed in a bistro-style. What makes Yann’s worth travelling that bit outside Glasgow for is not only the exceptional food and friendly service you will receive but the ambient setting inside the Victorian house, it changes the dining experience and is a welcomed change from a standard restaurant/bar area.

Now onto the food, Yannick the chef makes a variety of French classics alongside some specialties from his home region within France. A standout feature of the menu has to be the ‘La pierrade’ (a roasting slate where you cook your choices of meat alongside sauces, salad and fries) and ‘La raclette’ (melting cheese, accompanied by cured meats and potatoes). Make sure you leave room for dessert, the crème brûlée is one of the best around.

Alongside the restaurant, Glenearn house has rooms if you don’t fancy the drive home after dinner so you can extend your stay and explore the picturesque town of Crieff whilst you are there.”

Things to Do in Crieff: Drummond Castle, The Strathern Gallery, Monzie Castle, Macrosty Park, Innerpeffray Library (the first lending library in Scotland) and Crieff Hydro – for all your spa, tennis and luxury accomodation needs!

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: Delivino, The Lounge, The Crieff Food Co. and Crieff Hydro – Meikle Restaurant


Muthill, Perthshire

“Muthill, is a village in Perth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland. It lies just west of the former railway line connecting Gleneagles and Crieff, 3 miles south of Crieff. The line closed between the two points on 6/7/1964. The name possibly derives from Moot hill, a place of judgement.”

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Mel of @melsalwayshungry

Barley Bree

Website: http://barleybree.com/

Address: 6 Willoughby St, Crieff PH5 2AB

Travel: 55 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr 15 mins from Edinburgh

Mel Explains Why:When I think of French cuisine, I think of family days out. My parents love French food and whenever I see them we always end up at a Hotel Du Vin or Cote Brasserie (this makes my parents sound very fancy but they just like what they like, especially if there’s a voucher involved!).

So when I found out that there was a restaurant that served french food on a daily changing menu by a real french chef, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make the journey for both the food and the fuzzy feeling that comes with such dining experiences for me.

Situated in the wee village of Muthill, less than an hour from Glasgow, sits the cosy family run Barley Bree hotel and restaurant. From time to time my better half and I visit family in nearby Crieff and its easy to see why they and many others are fond of both the eatery and its owners.  I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Patron Fabrice Bouteloup when we dined a few months ago, a passionate cook who alongside his partner Alison is so friendly it was like visiting an old friend for dinner. One item that never leaves the menu and is worth making the journey just for this alone, is the Apple Tarte Tartin, which I DEMAND you try!

NOTE: Things to Do & other Places to Eat are as per Crieff post above.


Lochearnhead / Callander

“Lochearnhead is a village on the A84 Stirling to Crianlarich road at the foot of Glen Ogle, 14 miles north of the Highland Boundary Fault. It is situated at the western end of Loch Earn where the A85 road from Crieff meets the A84.”

“Callander is a small town in the council area of Stirling, Scotland, situated on the River Teith. The town is located in the historic county of Perthshire and is a popular tourist stop to and from the Highlands.”

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Rebecca of @rebeccacooks_

MHOR 84

Website: http://mhor84.net/

Address: 84 Kingshouse, Balquhidder, Lochearnhead FK19 8NY

Travel: 1 hr 10 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr 35 mins from Edinburgh

Rebecca Explains Why: “Located at the side of the A84, popular route north to Glencoe; MHOR 84 is a wee gem you won’t want to miss. Part of the well-established and popular MHOR brand (boutique hotel Monachlye MHOR, MHOR Bread and MHOR Fish); MHOR 84 is the perfect pit stop between the central belt and the Highlands. An hour’s drive from Glasgow and conveniently situated on both the Rob Roy Way and the National Cycle Route 7, MHOR 84 is a haven for both cyclists and walkers looking to refuel after a day exploring the nearby hillsides, lochs and glens.

The family run business comprises Tom Lewis and his wife Lisa May, Tom’s brother Dick and Dick’s wife Mhairi Taylor of ‘Cafezique’ and new kid on the block ‘Gather by Zique’ in the West End of Glasgow. They’ve turned the former Kingshouse Hotel into an effortlessly chic and affordable motel encompassing a café, bar and restaurant for families, cyclists, tourists and walkers alike.

The menu has a strong emphasis on good quality Scottish produce with a lot of the produce sourced from the family farm at Monachlye MHOR. Full cooked breakfasts, the most delicious eggs benedict served with their own sourdough and Illy coffee are the best way to fuel up before walking along the single track road to Rob Roy’s Grave in Balquhidder. An Instagram worthy array of freshly baked cakes and pastries are delivered fresh every morning from sister bakery ‘MHOR Bread’ – be sure not to miss out on one of the famous meringues! Stop in for lunch between 12-5pm for homemade soups, show stopper sandwiches, ‘Gareth’s’ burger and my hands down favourite seafood chowder. Ever changing daily specials showcasing fresh Scottish fish and locally sourced meat are added to the menu from 12-9pm.

The cosy and relaxed bar has a well curated selection of wines, craft beers and plenty of malt whiskeys to work your way through whilst sitting beside the wood burning stove. Every Thursday the bar area is host to “Thank Folk It’s Thursday,” a weekly folk jam session which welcomes a lively group of local musicians brandishing an assortment of traditional Scottish instruments. The Scottish music session often features Ewan MacPherson of Shooglenifty – a night not to be missed!

MHOR 84 holds a special place in my heart; I was lucky to spend several summer seasons working between MHOR 84 and Monachlye MHOR. It was evident whilst living on site and working with some of the biggest characters from all corners of the world that the success of the powerhouse team behind the MHOR brand lies in their absolute passion for all that they do.”

Things to Do in Lochernhead/Callander: Bracklinn Falls, Loch Lubnaig, Hamilton Toy Collection, Stùc a’ Chroin (mountain), Samson’s Stone & Go Ape Aberfoyle

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: Mhor Fish, The Old Bank RestaurantPuddingstone Place, Poppie’s HotelThe Golden Larches Restaurant


Blair Atholl

“Blair Atholl is a village in Perthshire, Scotland, built about the confluence of the Rivers Tilt and Garry in one of the few areas of flat land in the midst of the Grampian Mountains. The Gaelic place-name Blair, from blàr, ‘field, plain’, refers to this location.”

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Claire of @what_claire_didwww.whatclairedid.com

The Loft, Blair Atholl

Website: http://loftblairatholl.homestead.com/

Address: Invertilt Rd, Blair Atholl, Pitlochry PH18 5TE

Travel: 1 hr 40 mins from both Glasgow & Edinburgh

Claire Explains Why: When the lovely Lauren from Lauren’s Cravings asked me to think about somewhere worth driving to, The Loft instantly came to mind. Located in Blair Atholl (it’s right next to a holiday park, but don’t let that put you off), this amazing little place is well worth the drive.

I had the best dessert of my life here, White Chocolate Crème Brûlée, which was a delicious assault on the senses. I’d only ever had “bog standard crème brûlée” before my visit, but throw in white chocolate and we’ve gone dessert next level.

It’s run by a husband and wife, she’s front of house, he’s the chef, and they make most of their delicious dishes using local, seasonal produce, from the surrounding Perthshire Highlands. We fell upon the restaurant by chance, after a trip up to the Highland Wildlife Park, it’s not huge – perhaps 10-15 tables at the most – but they punch well above their weight, knocking out fine dining style food, in an unpretentious setting. If you happen to drop by on a Thursday, it’s steak night, or on a Sunday, you’ll get a delicious home cooked roast.

It’s rare that I can remember the delicious flavours of what I ate, so long after a meal, but to this day, I can still recall the delicious highland venison main course, paired perfectly with a glass of their house red.

My recommendation would be to visit The Loft in the evening, for the more sophisticated offerings – you’ll not be disappointed.

 

Things to Do in Blair Atholl: Blair Atholl Castle, Falls Of Bruar, Loch Tummel, Queen’s View & Pitlochry is also close-by (so if you go visit in the month of October The Enchanted Forest should be on your list!)

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: The Bistro


And if you fancy some places a little closer to home, both Yun Yun and Kirstie have offered up suggestions of restaurants within 30 mins of Glasgow and an hour from Edinburgh, but still within the central belt area…. you’d be surprised what other things there are to do even more local to where you stay that you didn’t know about!


East Kilbride

“East Kilbride is the largest town in South Lanarkshire in Scotland and the 6th largest settlement in Scotland. It was also designated Scotland’s first new town on 6 May 1947.”

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Yun Yun of @foodieyunyun

Oiishi @oiishiek

Website: http://oiishi.co.uk/

Address: 8 – 10 Hunter Street, East Kilbride G74 4LZ

Travel: 30 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr from Edinburgh

Yun Yun Explains Why: “I am always on the hunt for good quality sushi and I recently discovered Oiishi, a Japanese restaurant in East Kilbride. It is certainly not a place I would think of when it comes to  Japanese food especially when there are plenty of options in Glasgow but you have to trust me on this one because it really is worth travelling to! In the space of four months, I have been to this place four times so pretty much once a month so that says something right?

Like any other Japanese restaurant there are plenty of options from sushi, rice dishes, curry, noodles, sashimi and bento boxes. One thing worth knowing is that they also offer a gluten free and vegan menu so if any of you are struggling to find a place that can accommodate your dietary requirements here is another one you can add to your list. For me, this spot is worth travelling to because of the high quality of food in particularly, the sushi and ramen yet prices are very reasonable. The Japanese Roast Pork Soup Ramen is to die for and would you believe me if I said I was never a fan of soup ramen until I tried it here? I have tried soup ramen from several places and often find the soup to be filled with MSG but here the soup is packed full of flavour and there is no need to down gallons of water after your meal.

The Volcano & Summer Rolls are absolutely phenomenal not to forget the Salmon Nigiri because the salmon practically melts in the mouth. This spot is special because I lived in East Kilbride many years ago so it actually gives me an excuse to visit my hometown besides, it brings back a lot of memories from when I was a child. So, if you’re looking for decent Japanese food without the price tag then plan a trip to East Kilbride and give Oiishi a visit.”

Things to Do in East Kilbride: National Museum of Rural Life, Calderglen Country Park, James Hamilton Heritage Park, M&D’s Theme Park, Strathclyde Country Park, Bothwell Castle & Chatelherault Country Park

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: Auld Raes Scottish BistroZucca Ristorante PizzeriaMata Hari Asian Fusion Malaysian RestaurantD’Lish Cafe Bistro


Bothwell

“Bothwell is a conservation village in the South Lanarkshire council area of Scotland. It lies on the north bank of the River Clyde, adjacent to Uddingston and Hamilton, 9 miles east-south-east of Glasgow city centre.”

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Kirstie of @scottish_food_stories

Plato, Bothwell @platobothwell

Website: http://platobothwell.com/

Address: 27 Main St, Bothwell, Glasgow G71 8RD

Travel: 30 mins from Glasgow & 1 hr from Edinburgh

Kirstie Explains Why: “A restaurant that I would recommend taking a trip to is Plato in Bothwell. I found out about this restaurant from a friend as they recommended it to me, they bought an ITISON voucher which included 2 courses and a glass of either wine or fizz for £19 for 2 people!!! Which is an absolute bargain, so I absolutely had to buy it for myself.

After booking a table on Friday night I looked forward to it until the minute we arrived. To start I ordered Scallops with Salmon Caviar on sundried tomatoes which was amazing, then for mains Salmon fillet with crushed potatoes and a creamy sauce. After a few cocktails and glasses of wine we decided to share a Greek Dessert called Kataifi which was a beautiful dessert made up with chopped walnuts, cinnamon, pastry, syrup and ice cream.

Plato is a Greek restaurant inspired by the Greek island of Milos, I wouldn’t normally pick Greek food when going out for a meal but after trying Plato I feel more open minded to try more Greek restaurants.

I would recommend others to try Plato as from start to finish it was a great evening with even better food, the staff were friendly and the décor of the place was nice and homely, and they sat us at a lovely table in view of the bar which made this really special for me. I’m already debating how soon is too soon to go back?”

Things to Do in Bothwell: same as East Kilbride options above – National Museum of Rural Life, Calderglen Country Park, James Hamilton Heritage Park, M&D’s Theme Park, Strathclyde Country Park, Bothwell Castle & Chatelherault Country Park

Other restaurants nearby you could visit: RivaDa Luciano, RossoThe Cricklewood

Interestingly, throughout the drafting of this article, I’ve been made aware of a few people either suggesting a restaurant that has been featured (@skinbysisi suggested Plato in Bothwell for our next brunch in a few weeks time) and I’ve seen a friend visiting another (@clarajanex visited The Barley Bree last night for a Sunday roast). Therefore, if anything can encourage you to make a special trip, surely it’s the knowledge that others even outwith the foodie community will make the effort to visit the restaurants we’ve chosen.

Let me know if you make a day of it and if it was worth the trip, or even if you have any other suggestions of things to do / restaurants you think should be included within the location feature.

*some photos have been supplied from the collaborator, and others have been taken from Google to provide visual insight into what you can expect if you visit


Topolabamba #cravingdaddyprawntacos

Topolabamba is the Mexican restaurant for true foodies. Try our classic Mexican dishes and street food – oh and make sure to leave room for dessert; we’re talking churros people! Share with friends (real or imaginary) and even take a photo for Instagram if you like! Use the hashtag #Topolabamba and we might even share with the rest of our followers and likers. We are proud of every single dish that leaves the kitchen and every single “mmmm” from our customers. For those of you who love authentic Mexican food – or simply food in general – you’ve come to the right place.

A La Carte

Why: if you’re looking for no fuss, vibrant and tasty Mexican food in Glasgow – Topolabamba is the place to go! Plus it’s ‘tapas’ style, meaning you get to share and try lots of dishes during the course of one meal, so make sure you don’t miss out on the Pasilla Prawn Tacos, ’cause they are the BOMB. Good service each and every time I’ve visited lifted the score slightly, as it is a more casual dining spot.

26th July 2018

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Topolabamba is one of those restaurants that Johnny and I regularly default to in times of ‘where shall we go for dinner’ when we don’t have the energy to search for inspiration; simply because its tasty, reliable and offers a variety of dishes that will address most of your cravings at any given time (even if you don’t know what they are yet!) I feel like by making that statement I’m making it sound basic and ‘you know what you get’ type of food, but in all honesty I believe you need a couple of places like that in your restaurant repertoire. For example, The Glasgow Food Geek has Bread Meats Bread as part of her default list, and I know this from watching insta stories that depict the typical ‘not sure where to go’ theme, and ending in a place that you know they frequent in times like that. It’s honest, good food that is generally reasonably priced and never too busy that you can’t get a table (like Ox and Finch, which is also in my Top 5 list, but not in my ‘default’ list – for the simple reason you need to book weeks in advance).

I find that I rarely talk about ‘vibes’ too much in my blogs, because Johnny makes fun of me for using that particular word and I get enough daily criticism from him to avoid small pitfalls where I can (ha!), but Topolabamba has a relaxed, whilst upbeat, vibe that matches any type of evening you fancy having. Going in with 10 people for their famous flavoured margaritas? No problem! Want a lively, but not too lively that you can’t hear each other, romantic first date restaurant? Ideal! Looking for a quick bite after a day of shopping and don’t want to bother with getting dressed up? Come on in! It genuinely manages to address every possible atmospheric brief you could level at it and come up trumps. And that’s before I even get onto the food…

I didn’t hashtag #daddyprawntacos for nuttin’! These ‘PASILLA KING PRAWN TACOS’, perfectly formed using ‘Crispy Pasilla Chilli Battered King Prawns, Soft Corn Tortillas & Mexican Slaw’ are what keeps me coming back again and again and again. The crunch on these things is unreal! The prawn meat inside is always wonderfully done, the Mexican slaw not too spicy and the soft taco shell cradling it all in anticipation of your inevitable swoon. I’m not joking – I phoned the restaurant in advance of coming when I visited on this particular night, as they had run out the last time I visited, and it’s not worth Johnny having to deal with my disappointment and utter despair if we went and had to face that fate yet again. Luckily though, they were stocked up and ready to go, so I obviously ordered a portion to myself, which meant Johnny had to order a couple for himself too. He made one of his typical vulgar jokes re. the comparison photo of both prawns (above on the left) about how you’re the one at the back whilst the prawn at the front is the guy she told you not to worry about. He made me put that joke on my insta story LOL thereafter checking with me every 5 minutes if I’d received any comments on the hilarity of the joke… I took my pleasure from advising him clearly my insta foodie pals didn’t find it as funny as he did.

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Johnny then chose to order the Lamb Rojo Tacos & Barbacoa Beef Tacos (pictured above), and I helped him with one of the lamb tacos. The meat is succulent, slow cooked and juicy, meaning the cool crema and/or crumbly cheese is integral to ensuring you can finish them all off easily. Fresh garden herbs lift the somewhat heavy and rich meat laden flavours, without detaching you wholly from them; you enjoy the headiness and then are whisked away to avoid it becoming too intense.

These Crab Ceviche Tostadas (pictured above), which are 2 crispy corn tortillas topped with crab and crema were refreshing, light, crunchy and sharp; a veritable myriad of textural and taste sensations. This is my sort of dish – seafood with fresh lemon squeezed on top served on a crunchy, crisp tostada for that satisfying bite. These are a close second to my prawn tacos and will forevermore remain on the default menu list items for Topolobamba (please never remove these from the menu!!)

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Without fail, no matter how much else he orders or how full he is, Johnny always orders the ‘CHICKEN MOLE ENCHILADA’ – Pulled Poblano Chicken Baked with Crumbly Cheese, Served with a Rich Red Mole Sauce – a meaty mountain of a meal in itself. Funnily enough, with the three different types of tacos (in addition to the fact he’d eaten steak and rice literally about an hour before we came out) he fell short on this occasion. But our servers were great when we asked to take it away in a doggy bag, meaning he has his sixteenth meal of the day sorted (note: slight hyperbole may have been used in this statement).

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The only small criticism I had for this visit was that I ordered the ‘CALLO DEL MAR’ – King Scallops with Guajillo Chilli Sauce for the first time. Unfortunately, I had finished all my other dishes and was waiting for a little whilst for the scallops before inquiring where they’d managed to run off to from a waiter. His response that they ‘took longer than the other dishes to cook’ somewhat puzzled me, considering scallops are an extremely delicate protein and therefore by their very nature take LESS time than most things to cook. I think Johnny’s comment was that we could have cooked a tomahawk steak in less time, but he’s a bit of a c*nt, which I believe I alluded to earlier, so I generally ignore these comments. Moreso, because I’m generally always the one who makes comments/complaints when we’re in restaurants… it’s the age old situation of him loading the bullets and me shooting them ’cause I’m a mouthy bugger at the best of times. But instead, I settled down pondering this for a few minutes, awaiting their arrival, as Johnny was still working his way through his dishes at this point and wasn’t paying too much attention (yet). They arrived not long after, delivered by who I later found out was Ken (Manager), who stated they had taken longer than was acceptable and he’d taken them off our bill as a result. This type of preemptive service always makes me happy; when you receive excellent customer service without the need to prompt action yourself. So thanks Ken!

The scallops themselves were oven baked, so not usually how I’d like scallops, but I understand they’re probably more in keeping with the theme of food that’s being served in the restaurant. They were tasty enough, but I’m not going to rush back to have them again. Next on my list is the new menu additions of CAMARONES A LA PLANCHA, which is another prawn dish of 2 Large Gulf Coast King Prawns Grilled in Chilli Butter, Served with an Agave Tequila & Lime Dip & COCTEL DE CAMARON – a Classic Mexican Style Prawn Cocktail served over Chilled Shredded Lettuce on a Picante Sauce, ’cause I’m an 80’s baby cliche and bloody adore a prawn cocktail (can you tell I’m prawn obsessed?!)

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Top Tip: if you book your table for 6pm, there are single yellow lines right outside the restaurant, therefore you can park for free in the evenings (after 6pm) or anytime on Sundays – enjoy !

Cail Bruich – Taste of the Season – June 2018 #cravingpreCBrefurb

“At the CAIL BRUICH Restaurant our focus is to create a modern style of Scottish Cuisine, influenced by the best in classical and modern cooking techniques. We passionately craft our menus with an appreciation of the finest ingredients and produce, all available from Scotland’s outstanding natural larder.”

Taste of the Season

Score: 16/20

Why: they scored slightly lower on this occasion primarily because the service was a little slower (when we’d asked for it to be sped up) and for no comment/action on the dessert issue – see below for details. It was lunch time and the restaurant was quieter than the dinner service the month prior so I hadn’t expected this to be the case (maybe I was just missing the attentiveness of Josh, who knows!), but take a look at my other Cail Bruich blog post here for my 19/20 experience.

June 2018

Menu

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Upon enter the restaurant at 12.30pm, we were seated at the window (which I’d requested) and offered some water. I had been given a voucher (Taste of the Season menu deal for two) and advised the Waitress that we would be using it. I arrived 10 minutes before the booking time and earlier than my friend, Andrew, but I mentioned that we only had limited time to have our meal as he was working afterwards (we offered them the specific time he would need to leave). Once he arrived, he ordered an Americano (the relevance of this will factor in later…) whilst saying he would also just stick to tap water, and we gestured that we would like to begin the meal.

Retaining some mystery and intrigue, the menu depicts ‘snacks’ as a precursor to your first course. I love this, as although you’re aware you’re sitting down to set menu, the meal begins with a few surprises, which I always view as bonus dishes even although you routinely get them each and every time. The snacks provided were:

Crispy pigs head with lovage emulsion & Old Winchester scone with cep cream 

Meat dense and carb dense ’cause who can choose?! My preference had to be the scone; as I always favour carbs, but carbs with mushroom – DING DING DING! Apologies for the shoddy photographic skills on the pigs head, I was trying not to be rude by photographing (this was a few months ago when I still kinda cared about that… and it’s not like Andrew really bothered, as he’s been quite supportive of my blogging, but that’s social awkwardness for ya!). What would your choice be between the two snacks?

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Cultured butter with sea salt & smoked goose fat butter with juniper salt

 

Served with sour dough, the thoughtful and well matched flavours featured even in their butter is why Cail Bruich is reknowned for it’s fine dining appeal; no detail is overlooked. Andrew tried not to eat too much dairy so they delivered a serving of smooth and creamy babaganoush to the table for him; I almost wanted to steal it for myself it looked so good! We laughed at this point as I clearly hadn’t heard what she’d said it was and I was adamant it wasn’t babaganoush – shows even those of us who are ‘foodies’ get it wrong sometimes and points for Andrew (he loves to win…) So anyway, I contented myself with both knobs of butter and enjoyed them immensely.

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Flame grilled sea bream, gooseberry, radish and burnt cream

The bream dish was exactly the flavour palate I talked about in a few of my Instagram posts, specifically in relation to how well Cail Bruich manages to deliver on it. The bream almost has a raw texture, which I loved, but my friend didn’t. The gooseberry sang with sharp notes in amongst the puffed rice textured crunch and crisp, cool radish slices. The was my dish of the day, happily finishing off my friend’s dish too as he wasn’t too enamoured – his loss was my gain!

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Isle of Wight tomato, green strawberry, elderflower

Now I’ve cheated with this one and stolen the photo from their Instagram page (bad, I know) as I totally spaced on taking a photo! This was a fermented strawberry and tomato gazpacho type dish, with fresh and fragrant tomatoes offering a sweeter note to the zing of the strawberries. Many of my favourite dishes to leave the kitchen at Cail Bruich have been centered around tomatoes, but I wasn’t totally sold on the strawberry combination. I preferred the tomato, elderflower and almond milk dish from the Jamie Scott menu. I had actually got in touch with Josh (our Waiter from that evening) to ask him if he could swipe a photo of this dish for me, as I’d forgotton to take one, so unsure if the inclusion of it on their Instagram soon after was as a result or just plain coincidence, but regardless – I was lucky!

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Cod, jersey royals, confit leek & warm tartare

We opted for the £10 supplement course and were pleased for doing so – it was delicious! Cod is so easily uninspiring (I feel), and all the small considerations on this dish raised it to godly heights. It was a warming, satisfying and well put together and thus worth the additional tenner.

I’ll mention at this point that we asked the Waitress to literally ‘call’ our next dish as soon as she placed the cod down in front of us… and continue doing so until the end, as we recognised we were running out of time. Our following course arrived quite promptly as a result, so I was optimistic that we’d finish up in enough time…

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Pork Belly, apriocot, baby gem lettuce, white turnip

Warm lettuce on meat dishes always makes me scrunch up my face and wish for a better accompaniment. Interestingly, I carried out a Poll on Instragram as a result of this thought and it seems I’m in a minority – most people love it! I will admit – of all the warm lettuce leaves I’ve had, these ones were pretty decent. Additionally, I’m not generally drawn towards warm fruit either so this dish wasn’t really flying high on my ‘god damnnn’ list, but I’ll conform and say it was a pleasant enough. For not enjoying warm lettuce or fruit with my hay smoked pork belly as a general rule, I did finish most of the dish (the meat was beautifullll – the fat had melted into the layers of the pork meat making it rich and silky). And I’ll give it one thing – it looks hella pretty!

However, we sat with finished/empty plates for a considerable period of time, and although I kept trying to catch someone’s eye, it proved slightly futile. After finally having our plates cleared and making a decision on the timing, Andrew stated he had to leave. So unfortunately, I was left alone to enjoy the joy that was the final course:

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Artichoke cake, raspberry, carmalised whey, artichoke

I’m am officially converted to whey, which is a by product comprised of primarily milk sugar, thus giving it its smooth, rich and sweet creamy flavour. Combine this with the absolute (I’m going there…) moistness of the artichoke cake, sharp spike of the raspberries and temperature change of the cold artichoke cream and #voila – you have yourself a winning dish ! I was absolutely gutted that Andrew missed this, as it stole the show for me; every mouthful made me revel in its genius each and every time.

The disappointing element for me was that when I was issued with the bill, every item was accounted for. Now, I didn’t grumble or say anything – as it was a set menu and I had the voucher (not that that should make a difference – I always maintain vouchers should not impact on the level of service you expect), but considering we only had one dessert I was hoping for some consideration that improved serving attentiveness during our last few courses would have gone a long way in ensuring all courses were delivered within the timescale. I would like to clarify that I didn’t expect the supplement to be removed (we had eaten this course after all!), but considering Andrew had had a black coffee I suppose I use my own experience in the hospitality industry to consider how I would ideally like the establishment to react in these circumstances. Coffee beans don’t cost very much in the grand scale of things, and it would have been a nice gesture to indicate they realised that one of us had ‘missed out’ on a course, and subsequently saving them some £cash£ in the kitchen as well (as they only had to serve one).

Now, I don’t want you reading the end and thinking that the overall review is negative, because that is absolutely not the case! The food is always stand-out good at Cail Bruich and it steadfastly remains in my Top 3 restaurants in Glasgow for dinner. But I think it’s for this reason that I was looking for that final goodwill gesture; to indicate they  had observed the fact we both hadn’t managed to finish the full set menu. Maybe I’m feeling this way as it was such a wonderful, tasty course and Andrew missed out on it… as I would love to see it, or something similar, featured on their menu in future.

So this concludes my experiences of ‘pre-refurbished’ Cail Bruich, as they’ve opened up again recently with totally new seating area, bar, kitchen and menu – featuring Bar Bites (available for walk-ins, no booking required) including dishes such as: Loch Fyne oyster with frozen raspberries; crispy monkfish cheeky, ponzu mayonnaise, seaweed vinegar; BBQ sweetcorn, smoked butter, pecorino, lemon, parsley and a few more!

I can’t wait to go back again soon and see how they’ve changed everything, hopefully the food remains consistently good as always!

Cail Bruich – Sunday with Jamie Scott #cravingJamieScott

“At the CAIL BRUICH Restaurant our focus is to create a modern style of Scottish Cuisine, influenced by the best in classical and modern cooking techniques. We passionately craft our menus with an appreciation of the finest ingredients and produce, all available from Scotland’s outstanding natural larder.” Sunday with Jamie Scott – Menu Score: 19/20 […]

“At the CAIL BRUICH Restaurant our focus is to create a modern style of Scottish Cuisine, influenced by the best in classical and modern cooking techniques. We passionately craft our menus with an appreciation of the finest ingredients and produce, all available from Scotland’s outstanding natural larder.”

Sunday with Jamie Scott – Menu

Score: 19/20

Why: fine dining in Glasgow doesn’t come much better; the food, service, ambiance and general ‘feel’ of Cail Bruich is somewhere I won’t ever tire of visiting. The flavour combinations are safe, yet inspired and the roller coaster ride of textural euphoria they provide is top notch. (I have to reserve the 20/20 marks for Michelin, so it’s basically top marks for this Glasgow establishment).

27th May 2018

Menu

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So welcome to a photo gallery and musings of Cail Bruich (one of my favourite restaurants in Glasgow), with guest Chef Jamie Scott (Masterchef The Professional Winner 2014) leading up the kitchen. Cail Bruich regularly run these types of ‘events’ – just check out their Facebook and/or Instagram page for more information on upcoming dates/guests. And we’re off…

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Celariac Taco, Broad bean, Fresh Peas & Smoked Cultured Cream

Johnny complained .. cause it all looks like vegetables. ‘Cause he a MAN, and man apparently need meat in every single dish to validate their masculinity. And apparently beans are ‘change of beggars’… what am I marrying?

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Brown Crab Brioche, Brown Crab Emulsion, White Crab Meat & Lemon Thyme

This was extremely buttery, and Johnny said overpowered the white crab meat, which I do agree with but I still delighted in the richness, albeit I would maybe have paired it with something other than brioche.

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Isle of Wight tomatoes, Elderflower, Smoked Almond Milk

This was my favourite, as we had this meal 4 months ago now and I still reminisce on it with the fondness of an old friend. It was overwhelming fresh, light and visually spectacular – with the contrast of green to white – and the elderflower oil and almond milk provided a creaminess which makes it hard to forget.

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The video of the almond milk being poured over the tomatoes was the first re-post photo/video I had on Instagram, so thanks to Cail Bruich for that. Also, Josh – our Waiter – was lovely and patiently accommodated me taking a video. Clearly intuitive and insightful as I didn’t even need to say anything; really glad we had someone serving us who is excellent at their job as it improves the night tenfold.

‘Cail Bru’ beer

This beer was served with the sourdough bread (below) – it’s from Drygate brewery – a local Glasgow beer with hints of local gooseberry, oats and elderflower. A toasty malted delight!

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100% Sourdough & Cultured Butter

The bread had already been seasoned, so CB get brownie points for that. By this point  in the meal Johnny was saying he needs calories (LOL), whereas I was sitting like a happy badger all delighted.. especially with the addition of beer.

Loch Fyne Scallops, Scottish Green Strawberries, Brown Butter Hollandaise

What a delight! Cubed chunks of smooth and silky scallop meat with textures of strawberry topped off with a creamy buttery hollandaise – such a refreshingly light fish course, and one I’d welcome over and over again. At this point I said I didn’t care if Johnny complained as he wasn’t bringing me down from the foodie euphoric high you get when your tastebuds are blessed with such  flavours and textures ! But he thoroughly enjoyed the scallop dish as well, so it was a  success !

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Veal Sweetbread, Sea Beets, Fermented Garlic Purée & Pickled Mustard

The pickled mustard lifted the dish and provided a slight sharpness to balance the umami flavour, which is always welcomed by me. The sweetbreads were reminiscent of fois gras; for those who wouldn’t even ordinarily try them, I encourage you to do it in a decent restaurant where they know how to accompany the flavour to best showcase it’s delicate flavour and celebrate their unique texture.

Johnny Update: he’s having the time of his life huffing and puffing like a giant who’s been not been given his daily child as sustenance… I’m hoping we have a decent meat dish coming soon as I can’t deal with him bringing me down from my joy at this point.

Confit Lamb Shoulder, in Bassicas, Wild Garlic, White Turnip & Green Cabbage Emulsion

Hurrah! Meat arrives … the lamb was extremely tender and provided the desperate meaty richness we were after (Johnny was after). Wild garlic was in season at this point (see my Foraging post for info), so it added a great fresh, forest fragrance to the dish.

I would like it noted that I was a great fiance at this point and gave Jonathan half my lamb dish, as he had given me his tomato course earlier on. Not sure if it’s a fair trade off in the eyes of most, but it suits us – as we both ended up with more of our favourite dish.

Strawberries, Woodruff, Sweet Cicely & Freeze Dried Strawberry Meringue

Contrasting temperatures was the hero in this dish; the strawberry sorbet underneath, contrasting with the room temperature meringue and topping. A myriad of sensations!

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Newport ‘Tag Mi Suas’

‘Tag Mi Suas’ translated as ‘take a seat’ in Gaelic is Jamie’s Scottish take on a traditional  tiramisu. It was made with all local produce: 50%, 70% and 90% chocolate used, mascarpone, touch of coffee in the sponge at the bottom of the chocolate dome and milk butter sorbet.

Jamie brought this out to the table himself, and I had a fan-girl moment when meeting him, which meant that I never took a picture of the ‘whole’ dish … you may notice there is a bite sized chunk missing, ha!

So he wandered off, and whilst I was thinking ‘I wish I had asked for a photo’… Johnny rose from his chair (without prompting), walked to the pass and asked if he could come back out again for a photo with me. The outcome is below 🙂

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I returned to Cail Bruich to sample their own Chefs ‘Taste of the Season’ menu in June 2018 – please see my other post/photos here.

Tuk Tuk Street, Glasgow City Centre #cravingindiantapasflavourbombs

“Millions of street food vendors make up the colour, sounds and smells of India. They nourish the appetites of busy office workers, sweaty rickshaw wallahs and hungry school children throughout the day. Our menu pays homage to these road side culinary geniuses. Our food is the simple earthy, lovingly prepared food of the people and represents the tastes of India today.”

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Taibah and I visited Tuk Tuk Street on a Tuesday evening, and it wasn’t too busy (allowing me to get a photo of the unspoiled view of their wall mural). It had been high on my list of ‘must go’ places for months, so when arranging a place to meet Taibah, I suggested Tuk Tuk Street with eagerness. Thankfully, she’d been keen to go as well so it was an easy decision for us. I’d spent those months salivating over many, many Instagram posts featuring their dishes, so I already had a few in mind I knew I wanted to try. Additionally, their great attitude and clear effort at engaging with their customers, witnessed across Instagram, was a definite plus point for me and really encouraged me to make the effort to go.

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For me, customer service comprises a huge element when visiting any restaurant and Tuk Tuk Street illustrates their commitment to customer engagement clearly via their social media platforms. I’d even seen a post where a customer (another Glasgow foodie blogger) wasn’t overly enamoured of her experience and Tuk Tuk responded to her via the comments asking her to email them directly to discuss. Ensuring everyone leaves their restaurant happy with their experience is clearly a top priority for them; which impresses me and endears me to them and what they’re selling.

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Social media can dictate an establishment’s successful rise or untimely fall these days, so it’s important to recognise the power it wields and to engage directly with your customers using it. Therefore, my first nod of recognition is for the person(s) responsible for manging Tuk Tuk’s social media platforms, as you’re doing your job well!

* I’ve since found out it’s one person and her name is Pam – way to go Pam 🙂

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Mint Mambo

But where would that person be, without a good product? I listened to The  Untitled Food Podcast recently where they were discussing that although food blogging is moving towards food being celebrated for being aesthetically pleasing, or ‘Instagrammable’, rather than taste, nowhere would last very long if they didn’t have the quality and consistency of flavour to back up the ‘look’. Ultimately, we talk about, take photos of and blog about food because it elicits emotions in us through all five of our senses. Our eyes are only one, albeit a primary one, and whilst I will say Tuk Tuk provides vibrant colour schemes both in their décor and their food, there’s only so much you can do with good quality, traditional Indian food to make it look ‘pretty’.

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Take the ‘Majestica Prawn’ for example, as I don’t think anyone will be celebrating this dish for its visual accolades alone. And honestly, even the description of ‘king prawn in the shell slow cooked in a garlic tomato butter sauce’ doesn’t do it justice. I wiped this dish clean WITH MY FINGERS, as even using a spoon was leaving too much behind (never leave a man, or in this case a drip of sauce, behind!!). My friend saw how much I was enjoying it and offered her half to me willing, as she knows how much of a shellfish fiend I am. Smooth, creamy, with the right balance of sharpness too, the sauce was something I wish I had the recipe for as I’d make it daily to smother absolutely everything I eat! The prawn itself was cooked perfectly with just the right amount of bite left it in; perfect for mopping up some of the glorious sauce. Taste really is the primary sense required in this dish, as no amount of words or photos can truly depict how fantastic the experience is when you actually have it in your mouth.

Another dish that follows the same theme as above is the Golgappa ‘popular cold chaat puri from Mumbai with potatoes, chickpeas, & tamarind’. I probably wouldn’t even have ordered this dish had I not been with Taibah, who had eaten them as a child in Pakistan and stated it was without doubt her favourite street food dish. The dish arrived as five little ‘puffs’ filled with the vegetarian mixture, which was to be topped up with the liquid – provided in a little jug on the side.

The theatre of the Golgappa was exciting; topping up your puff with the zingy liquid and popping the whole lot in your mouth to be enjoyed. My hashtag in the title specifically references the Golgappa; they are little flavour bomb explosions upon impact with your taste buds. Again, the photo can’t depict the delight of filling up your little puff, bickering with your friend to make sure there was plenty of liquid to go around or even the thrill of anticipation experienced between filling and ensuring you get it to your mouth in time without spilling anything. Touch and taste really are the winning senses here, so hopefully photos of us enjoying them, tells more of a story than a basic photo of the Golgappa themselves.

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Similarly, how could you make this Samosa Chaat- ‘chickpeas & samosa doused with mild yoghurt, tamarind & mint chutney’ look like it had wowed you on the first bite? I adored the chunks of red onion and crispness of the samosa, combined with the cooling yoghurt and freshness of the mint chutney. But how else can I relay that to you without ordering a Deliveroo on your behalf (yes, they’re on Deliveroo you lucky Glasgow City Centre sods!) so you can try it for yourselves? You see it on Masterchef: traditional Indian cooks always struggle to make their dishes look as appealing as traditional British or French dishes, as most of them comprise sauces, liquids or curry sauces that spread out unconstrained on any surface they’re on. So much of their allure comes from the palate roller coaster ride you’re taken on, which unfortunately means we rely on the likes of Matt Preston to describe to us – using his expert and world renowned Food Critic adjectives and descriptors. So although I may not be Matt Preston, I hope you understand my feelings on my Tuk Tuk experience thus far. But moving onto mains…

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We ordered the Butter Chicken – ‘creamy chicken dish cooked in buttery sauce with almonds’ and Lamb Lasooni – ‘Chef’s favourite! Our speciality lamb diced and cooked with whole cloves of garlic’, to be eaten with a side of naan bread. The Glasgow Food Geek has said it’s the best Butter Chicken she’s ever had, and I’d like to echo those sentiments! I wouldn’t ordinarily order Butter Chicken, as it can sometimes be too rich for me, but Tuk Tuk gets the balance of flavour just right to ensure you enjoy it all the way to the end of the dish. The Lamb Lasooni was equally wonderful, and I think this was Taibah’s preference of the two dishes. We had to order another naan to make sure we finished it all!

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Throughout the meal, the service from the waiters was excellent and we even got some banter beyond the generic exchange between customer and server. Overall, the experience lived up to my expectations, which is a happy outcome for both myself and Tuk Tuk, as I’ve encouraged plenty others to ensure they try it now as a result. I only hope they continue to do well, as I want to ensure I get the opportunity to visit again soon and try some more of their amazing culinary delights!

Thanks, and I hope to be back again soon … I can already feel the craving returning!

Top Tip: Parking your car can sometimes me a bit of an issue on Sauchiehall Street, so I would suggest parking either on Bath Street (parallel to Sauchiehall Street) or on Garnet Street (hill leading up to Renfrew Street). However, please note Garnet Street can obviously only be used when all the streets have opened up again following the Art School fire.

Some extra photos from my visit with Jonathan in September 2018:

 

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Tantrum Doughnuts #cravingatantrum

“The idea behind Tantrum Doughnuts is to make premium patisserie products more accessible to people, by using fantastic ingredients and traditional bakery techniques to give an alternative to the mainstream factory-produced doughnuts.”

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So when we finished brunch in TriBeCa last weekend, I MADE Jonathan drive us to Tantrum Doughnuts, because they’ve been taunting me on Instagram for months ! Even Jonathan had tried them already as a lovely colleague of his had brought a box into work. It’s a rare day of sun in the North Pole when he’s tried something foodie in Glasgow before I get the chance to!  It didn’t help that any time I remembered I want one, it’s too late at night and the shop was bloody shut (’cause unfortunately people need sleep, apparently). I will note that they are open longer than you would imagine though (6pm West End and 7pm City Centre) – I’m just a bit of a vamp sometimes and have a craving around 11pm.

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So considering it was only 2.00pm, and we were in the city anyway… it made logical sense to make the most of the low mileage required to procure a couple. We’re practically green warriors here; reducing our carbon footprint was a juicy bonus to this wonderful idea, since it wouldn’t then require a singular trip in its own right to Glasgow city centre solely for doughnuts. I mean, who* would do that …

*this clearly does not consider the hordes of people that were willing to traverse the M8 in horrific traffic conditions when Krispie Kreme opened up at Hermiston Gate.

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Even although I was a bridesmaid at a wedding the next day and even although I’d just had a french toast with candied streaky bacon Mega-Brunch at TriBeCa, one doughnut can’t be a bad idea, right?! But which one(s) to choose…

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Jonathan recommended the crème brûlée doughnut as he’d tried it already at work and said it was his favourite, so that was an easy first choice. This was soon demolished with the fervour of a ravenous newly-turned zombie during an apocalypse. Evidence below:

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Therefore, I implore you – PUT DOWN THE £1 BAG OF ASDA JAM DOUGHNUTS RIGHT NOW! Head over to either the Gordon Street or Old Dumbarton Road and pick yourself up a couple of these little clouds of doughnut delight!

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I chose the pistachio glaze with a hibiscus flower reduction and candied pistachios doughnut, as I must admit the colours drew me in. The added allure of nutty texture, in addition to the fact that anything with pistachio in it is champion in my books, sold it.  But my deduction of the above ended up being just alright. Definitely above your average doughnut, but if I’d chosen that doughnut alone, it may not have been enough to encourage me to return. However, I will tip my proverbial hat to Jonathan in his recommendation – the crème brûlée doughnut was a clear winner. It’s hard to beat a gooey centre though when you’re a doughnut ring … never really had a fighting chance poor thing.  I will certainly be making a comeback for that badboy.

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We also got a slush to share (you need something to wash your dough down!) and opted for a mixture of the morello cherry flavour and the coconut & lime flavour. As you can see, this was garnished with cute little hibiscus flowers – I thought this was a lovely touch. This slush was really refreshing and a nice iced blend: as I hate when you end up drinking all the flavouring, leaving the ice behind, but this wasn’t the case here. I hear that their milkshakes are also tiptop, so I may need to return with more of an appetite next time so I can justify eating a couple of doughnuts AND a milkshake!

Update: I think this is now planned with @thefoodlife_gla after our brunch at Partick Duck Club at the start of August. So continuing in the theme of ‘brunch dessert’, I’m sure I’ll find some room…

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Jonathan’s Viewpoint:

“They were nice, I liked it”

^^ this is a GLOWING report from him, so well done Tanturm!

The Mither Tap Restaurant, Pittodrie House (Macdonald Resort Hotel) #cravingstellarservice

“One of the most historic and romantic hotels in Scotland, with roaring fire places and sweeping spiral staircases, Macdonald Pittodrie House is set in 2,400 acres of glorious grounds.”

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I love historic houses with roaring fireplaces, floor to ceiling windows, wood panelled rooms with dark green or burgundy paint used in the theme of the Victorian era, effectively used to create a cosy mood. Unique and interesting pieces of furniture, oil paintings and trinkets adorning the shelves and fireplace used to complete the scheme; with woodwork, cornices and ceilings also painted. I grew up in a house that was over 150 years old, with no rooms in the simple shape of a square, coal fires and little nooks and crannies for us to hide as children when playing hide and seek. So I find myself feeling both nostalgic and extremely at home when I’m sitting in an old leather chair looking out open bay windows enjoying some coffee. Unfortunately however, this wasn’t the emotions I was feeling when I was sitting in the drawing room of Pittodrie House for the first time. But it was the room where my emotions were swiftly swung around quite quickly by excellent customer service.

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My friend and I had booked Pittodrie House via an Itison voucher for DBB @ £139 (which is now sold out), and booked it for the day after I returned from my holiday in Italy (Sat 16th – Sun 17th June). We travelled up from Glasgow and arrived around 3pm to check in. I’d had some issues during the booking of this voucher, as although it states a Feature Room they had twice sent me confirmation of a classic room only. This was resolved over a few phones calls, but I had printed off the confirmation stating a Feature Room to take with us. Call me contrary… but when I need to deal with something as simple as confirming what is stated on the voucher deal, it doesn’t fill me with confidence when arriving – but I remained optimistic!

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We arrived, checked in, confirmed it was a Feature Room (yes) and headed up the stairs. There was a wedding on whilst we were there, which was nice to see, as I’m at the stage of considering various venues for my own wedding. Entering our room, my first feeling was of being underwhelmed; from the photos online of four poster beds, couches, dining tables and ornate furniture we were slightly confused with ‘The Night Nursery’ and its proclamation of being a Feature Room. The order of their rooms is: Classic, Executive, Feature and Suite. Now one thing I’ve learned from my many, many travels across Scotland with work is that there is an easy way to check what category your room falls into – check if what you have in your room matches the amenities they state for that room type on their website, e.g.:

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Please Note: the photos above are not my own; they were taken from Trip Advisor (pictured: Night Nursery room) and the Macdonald Hotels website (advertised ‘Feature Room’) respectively.

So upon finding we didn’t even have the soft bathrobe and slippers (which apparently comes into play at Executive room level) and no sign of the sofa, table and chairs, Arran Aromatics, Fruit Bowl etc., I was quite disappointed that even with numerous conversations prior to arriving I would need to discuss the room anomaly further. Leaving our stuff in the room, we went back down to Reception to discuss the matter, and were transferred over to Becca to deal with. She advised she would need to discuss it with someone else and asked us to wait in the Drawing Room and she would organise some tea and coffee for us whilst we waited (first bonus point here – well done). Cue the scene of sitting in a room that I would ordinarily be feeling comfy, slightly awed and generally happy to the actual feelings of trepidation, anticipation and irritation with the current state we found ourselves in. At the risk of sounding cheesy however, this is where our Knightess in Shining Armour arrived to salvage our feelings and subsequently the whole trip.

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After waiting for about 15 minutes, Kelly the Operations Manager introduced herself and although she stated that The Night Nursery is a Feature Room (apparently due to the fire place), she could understand how our expectations weren’t met and that we hadn’t received the items that it clearly stated should be present within a Feature Room. Firstly, she stated she would waive the £50 charge that we should have been paying extra for staying on a Saturday night. She offered us some sandwiches or a snack, but we declined as we had just eaten an hour or so previously at The Creel Inn. Thereafter, she arranged for Housekeeping to ensure all items were in our room that is promised, and she also included a bottle of prosecco and 2 x Lush bath bombs. She also offered to move us to the nearby Norwood Hall Hotel at no charge to ensure we had an upgraded room, but we declined in favour of staying at Pittodrie as the general hotel was lovely and we felt that in theme of the current conversation, we’d be well looked after and we both wanted to leave having had a good experience. The voucher only included 2 x courses at dinner, but she allowed us 3 x courses at no extra charge and also provided us with 2 x glasses each of champagne to accompany it (I’ll provide a run through of our dinner soon – as it was the final push needed to lift our spirits back to feeling excitement and enjoyment).

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Once our room was ready, we left The Drawing Room feeling like Kelly genuinely cared and was personally invested in ensuring we enjoyed the rest of our stay. I won’t provide you too much detail (‘cause I think you’re already realising that short and snappy ain’t my strong point in blog writing, which is the total antithesis of real life LOL) on the next few hours, except it included hot baths with Lush bath bombs, fluffy bathrobes and prosecco enjoyed in the room!

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We had dinner booked for 8.30pm, as we’d had quite a generous lunch … gotta give your appetite time to work itself up again so you can do a decent meal justice! The Mither Tap Restaurant at Pittodrie House is a 2 AA rosette, and the setting is quite intimate as it’s in another of their lovely wood panelled and decorative front rooms. I was particularly fond of the large mirror on the wall, but we’re here to talk about food, not my love of period ornate furniture.

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Our order compromised the following:

Starters

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Scottish smoked salmon, served with heritage beetroot, capers, caper berries and a quail’s egg

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Ham Hock Terrine

The salmon, as is the case with the majority of Scottish salmon, was tender and delicious even whilst being quite thickly cut in comparison to what is usual. It was of such good quality though that I was extremely happy for the thicker slices – meant I had more to eat! The capers and caper berries provided an edge of saltiness, and the only suggestion I would have is to pickle the beetroot and serve a couple more of the thin slices to add another level of flavour contrast, or some apple slice/cubes etc. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it and the egg was cooked perfectly!

Levi enjoyed her terrine as well, and specifically mentioned she loves the salty notes coming through as it’s a total novelty for her as she generally eats the same as her kids and thus doesn’t cook anything with salt anymore. The addition of cherry added a sharp sweetness that cut through the saltiness in a perfect balance on the palate.

Mains

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Roast lamb, fondant potato, roast onion and garlic cloves, buttered savoy cabbage, sweetcorn puree and rich gravy

The lamb was pink, thus cooked exactly the way I like it, and smothered in the richest tasting gravy I’ve had for a looong while, so well done on the thorugh execution of that! The creamy sweetcorn puree and buttered cabbage provided difference in texture and added to the decadence, with the roast onion and garlic giving a strong punch of favour considering they were small additions – perfect! Roast garlic cloves have to be a favourite of mine; I’d never last as a Vampire with my serious love for copious amounts of garlic on everything and anything.

Desserts

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Strawberry Bavarois with meringue, sesame tuile, fresh strawberry and strawberry daiquiri sorbet

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Tonka Bean Crème Brûlée with shortbread, fresh passion fruit and passion fruit sorbet

Considering I decided to forego cheese for a set dessert – unheard of – I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the strawberry bavarois (translating to a dessert consisting of milk thickened with eggs, containing gelatin and whipped cream). It was very moreish and I somehow managed to eat it all, even after the first two courses and copious amount of champagne … what a champion! I’ll let Levi tell you about how much she enjoyed her dessert in her section at the end.

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We then sat in the small, intimate bar area enjoying the last of our champagne before bed. Kelly came through to say goodbye to us before heading off home, and checking one final time that we were happy with everything. Thank you so much for turning our whole experience of the overnight stay around – it’s all as a result of your excellent approach and customer service (and the amazing food!) that we had such a good time, regardless of the room situation.

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We enjoyed the breakfast the next day; we decided to eat in the room with the huge skylight as it provided a lot of natural light to enjoy your morning meal. The sausages, beans, mushroom and bacon were tasty, but I did find the beans got cold quite quickly, potentially due to it only being a couple of the small burners underneath the trays to keep them warm and it was a deep dish. I also had to ask for some poached eggs, as after I’d been seated they pointed us towards the buffet but it only had fried eggs on offer. Unsure if this was only one that one occasion, as there was a wedding in so the waiting staff seemed to be under some pressure to manage the sheer number of people, but otherwise I would have liked it if they had explained that if we wanted anything else then we were free to ask/request e.g. for poached or boiled eggs/omelette etc.

There are numerous activities that can be arranged for your stay – including golf, clay pigeon shooting, pony trekking etc. I’m a big fan of clay pigeon shooting personally, so I love when hotels accommodate group activities to suit all parties. The walled garden was quite overgrown unfortunately, which is a shame as it would have been a nice area for photos during a wedding. It’s clear that the driveway has recently been updated and tended to, so it would be nice to see the garden kept up to the same standard.

Overall, Kelly’s personable attitude and excellent customer service, in addition to the wonderful chefs carefully crafted creations at dinner, are truly what won over Pittodrie House for Levi and I. We left extremely happy and I personally felt really glad that my friend’s experience and well-deserved night away turned out so well!

Until next time,

Signature

Levi’s Viewpoint:

“I had a fabulous night away with Lauren. When we first arrived at Pittodrie House we were initially slightly disappointed with the room. We were expecting a much larger room, with a feature bed, bathrobes and a fruit bowl! Although we didn’t move rooms, we were reassured it was in fact a feature room (although a small one). The duty manager, Kelly, could not have been more accommodating. We were given complimentary tea/coffee, prosecco, champagne, a third course for dinner and Lush bath bombs for the room. She also ensured that the bathrobes and fruit bowl were in our room. This effort is what made our stay so special and led Lauren to consider this as a wedding venue.

The dinner itself was a pleasant surprise. It truly was fine dining.  The presentation was immaculate and there was not anything I could fault. I am so pleased we had the complimentary dessert as I got to taste the tonka bean brulee. It is now my new favourite flavour! I have now discovered that you can buy many tonka bean associated flavours online.  It tasted so good it led me to a frantic Google search when I returned home.  The only way I can describe it is that it tastes homely.  After dinner we found the bar in a lovely little cosy room with a real fire, which was the perfectt way to end the night with a few drinks.

Before we left the next morning we went to explore the grounds.  We found the walled garden, which (if given a little TLC) would be lovely. With Bennachie in the background the setting was beautifully atmospheric. All in all we had a very enjoyable stay.  Kelly made every effort to make sure we left as happy guests, which we did.

I would definitely consider visiting Pittodrie House again.”

Partick Duck Club #cravingduckeggblue

The History of the Duck Club:

in a large building with a smoking chimney located near the original transport museum site, was a tavern known as the “bun and yill house” or bunhouse (yill is an old scots word for ale) in 1827. it stood on old dumbarton road on the approach to the river kelvin. the bunhouse was the favourite tavern of a group of glasgow merchants, bankers and professors. they would walk out to partick from the city each saturday to dine on roasted duck, sage & onion and green peas, washed down with locally-brewed ale. the ducks were abundant and healthy from feeding at all the local grain mills on the banks of the river kelvin.

their favourite dish gave the name to the drinking and social club they formed in 1810, the duck club of partick. their president’s fondness for the fowl gave rise to the verse:

“the ducks of partick quake with fear, crying lord preserve us, here’s mcTear”.

All Day Breakfast Menu / Lunch & Dinner All Day Menu

Score: 19/20

Why: although I haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit for dinner I’m confident PDC is worthy of 19/20 across all meal times; their stellar service, food, atmosphere and coffees at brunch time are too good not to be mirrored across the board. The owners are friendly and heavily invested in their business being a success, so how can it not be when their commitment to ensuring every customer’s experience is excellent is paramount?

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You’ve got to be quacking mad if Partick Duck Club isn’t in your top places of ‘must go NOW’ brunch spots in Glasgow! I’ve seen numerous photos all across Instagram and beyond for the last few months, which has had me eager as a beaver to plan a mate date brunch here. They do brunch all day, every day – does this not make all your dreams come true?! This weekend, my fervent anticipation has finally culminated in the BEST brunch, featuring Orkney crab. Now anything with shellfish generally means I’ll love it, but PDC truly has taken the wonderful and delicate flavour of tantalising Scottish crab and transcended it beyond any normal expectations with crème fraiche, avocado, sourdough toast, a poached duck egg and a smattering of choice garnishes.  However, I’m getting ahead of myself as I didn’t just dive head first into a plate of crab on toast upon entering (even though this sounds like the aforementioned dream plus infinity when it comes to dreaminess).

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The mirrored wall inside, viewed as you enter, gives the impression that the place is bigger than it actually is. I can’t decide if it’s a shame it isn’t bigger than originally expected, as more people should be able to experience the wonder of their fare, or a good thing, as the smaller size means it maintains a sense of intimacy. The mirror serves a dual purpose of reflecting the natural light and the subtle tones of blue allude to the duck egg colour theme that comes through throughout the restaurant, which I’m assuming is the intention. The booths are leather and blue tartan and the empty glass bottles lined up along the window sill are a noticeable feature. My friend and I were seated at one of the tables for two along the mirrored wall. I love the burnished brass effect salt and pepper grinders and the duck decorated china sugar bowl; all little touches that bring a smile to your face before you’ve even sampled the food!

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My friend, being slightly hungover, decided she was having the Eggs Benedict and a portion of the salted duck fat chips (have you ever heard of a better idea… chips WITH your Benedict?!), and I ordered the hummus, pine nuts, tomato, sourdough from the Nibbles Menu and Potted Orkney Crab with crème fraiche, apple and radish starter, which isn’t on their online menu but you can see a photo of it on their Instagram: @partickduckclub.  The staff were attentive, friendly and polite – and not even a grumble from them when Ms Fussy Pants here decided she wanted to change her original order… I’d seen the crab on toast waltz by and decided I wanted that A LOT more than the potted crab, ha! So they allowed me to swap the potted crab starter for the Orkney crab on sourdough brunch option I mentioned above. My friend ordered an orange juice as well, which only came in a small glass, so she probably could have been doing with a bit more… I can chug a whole carton when hungover, but she remained ladylike and proper; sipping only a little at a time (she’s a better woman than I – I clearly lack self-control around fresh orange after a night out).

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Our food arrived in a decent time, and it was a delight for the eyes! The garnishes they use to decorate the food and the plates are used smartly; they lift the dishes from simply pleasant to engaging, colourful and eye-catching. It’s been proven we eat with our eyes first, and taste buds later, hence why the Instagram culture is so embedded in our food pleasures nowadays, thus PDC have ensured they deliver on this extremely important factor first to grab your attention. I love the light blue colour of the plates, as the contrast of the food on them looks fantastic.

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My combination of flavours was fresh, zingy, spicy with the hint of chilli and creamy from the avocado. It’s the best brunch meal I’ve had in a long time! I can’t recommend highly enough, and the hummus was edging close to being as tasty as Paradise hummus (I measure all hummus against Paradise hummus, as it’s the best in the city – in my opinion). Having the hummus was probably a bit much, but it would have been a nice extra if I’d stuck with the lighter option starter. The micro herbs, finely diced tomato and pine nuts were a welcome textural addition. Christine, my friend, thoroughly enjoyed her Eggs Benedict, and proceeded to dip some of her chips into the hollandaise sauce. Some of the best ideas are born from hangovers, I’m sure of it! I helped finish her chips, because that’s what friends are for after all, and I can confirm they were scrumptious.

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I finished off with a coffee, decorated with a pretty fern – well done coffee maker! And the total bill came to around £36 for everything, which I felt was pretty reasonable considering the portion sizes and the quality of ingredients.

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Further dishes from my visit with Jonathan in August 2018:

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duck leg & nduja hash, fried duck egg, sour cream, sourdough

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mushroom duxelle, portobello mushroom, goats cheese cream on sourdough

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potted orkney crab – crème fraiche, chilli, lime & apple, sourdough crisp

Links below to the menus:

Lunch and Dinner Menu

All Day Brunch Menu

 

The Boathouse, Isle of Gigha #cravingislandlife

“Gigha is a small island off the west coast of Kintyre in Scotland. The island forms part of Argyll and Bute and has a population of about 160 people. The climate is mild with higher than average sunshine hours and the soils are fertile.”

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The Isle of Gigha is an island community that is owned wholly by its residents under a development trust called ‘Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust’. The islanders purchased it in March 2002 for £4million, with help from grants and loans from the National Lottery and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Interesting Fact: 15th March is celebrated as the island’s “independence day”, as this is when the purchase was made between private owners and the community.

Venturing over to Gigha, although unknown to most, is something I really feel everyone should endeavour to do at some point, especially if you’re already down the South West coastline! I work on the West Coast, and the Isle of Gigha is an island under my Operational remit at the moment, unfortunately only until the end of next week, hence why I wanted to make the most of my last minute opportunity to visit one last time. And god damn was I hella lucky with the weather! It was bloody glorious … as the photos can attest to. The island is accessible via a ferry from Tayinloan, which is situated on the A83 almost exactly between Tarbert and Campbeltown in Kintyre, Argyll.

The CalMac ferries run every hour, on the hour, from Tayinloan to Gigha from 8am until 7pm (Mon – Fri during the season) and every hour on half past the hour back from Gigha to Tayinloan. It only takes 20 minutes to travel between, and it costs approximately £25 for 2 people and a car return journey. If you want more ferry information, either in regards to timings or costs, please visit CalMac website.

Since I am a self-proclaimed foodie, which is why I started this blog in the first place, the key aspect of this post is to talk about The Boathouse restaurant. I’ll touch on where to stay, other ‘things to do’ or general information about Gigha further on , in the hopes that it may seal the deal on your decision to take a trip over to try their locally sourced seafood (maybe in conjunction with a visit to Tarbert and Campbeltown – as there’s plenty to do there too, but more on that another time!).

The Boathouse, Ardminish Bay, Gigha

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The Boathouse is a family owned restaurant with a great reputation for the finest Scottish seafood on the West coast of Scotland, most of which is landed on our doorstep.

When I visited Gigha back in February I didn’t get the opportunity to try this restaurant, as it is only open seasonally (23rd March 2018 until 30th Sept 2018). So when I decided to organise a visit this time around and I knew my Mum was coming with me, it was the obvious choice for evening dinner plans. We booked a table in advance for 7.30pm and (being the fussy, pernickety b**t*rd that I am) I requested a window seat – but being an old boathouse, there only is 2 x small windows with little visibility outside, but I’d still request it if you like natural light. Whilst sitting in our hotel’s beer garden at around 6pm, we got hungry. So I made a phone call to The Boathouse and they accommodated our booking an hour early at 6.30pm and we walked down to the restaurant from The Gigha Hotel as it only takes about 5 minutes.

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Although we’d booked a table, we walked by a few people sat on benches outside and couldn’t help ourselves – we had to sit outside too and appreciate the awesome view … I mean look at it?! Have you ever seen a more glorious backdrop … I think it would undoubtedly win first prize for the ‘most likely assumed to be a tropical island, but actually in Scotland’ award. It might tie in first place with Luskintyre beach in Isle of Harris, but Gigha is in my area right now (Argyll) – so it has my total allegiance and vote!

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My mum and I had already looked up their menu online, but were delighted to find a vast array of local seafood dishes available on the Specials Board. Anything they had run out of was marked with an asterisk (gutted about the mixed grill of fish situation… although it worked in my favour, as I’ll get onto), but regardless there was plenty on offer in addition to the main menu – lending to the fresh ‘sea to plate’ ethos. So much of their produce is landed locally on Gigha – salmon, halibut, lobsters, scallops etc. and the list goes on!

Our order comprised of the following:

Starters

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Langoustine Tails in garlic butter (me)

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Deep Fried Monk Cheek with plum sauce and lime (Mum)

The langoustine tails were finger licking good (like seriously, I’m an animal!) and they weren’t shy with the portion size either so you feel like you’ve won the lottery when the dish is placed in front of you. My Mum loved her monk cheek, and said the batter was crisp and delicious but the lime was a little sharp for her. She said I would have enjoyed it though (as my taste buds live for sharp flavours … pass me the whole lemon please!) Unfortunately at this stage, the damn midges got so bad we had to move indoors, and although they’d given away our table to someone else – they accommodated our request (thank you so much!)

Goodbye gorgeous backdrop for my photos… until we meet again…

Mains

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Whole Lobster (me – told you it worked out in my favour didn’t I?!)

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Grilled Gigha Halibut with avocado, apple, radish, chilli & orange crispy pancetta with walnut arancini (Mum)

The grilled halibut was cooked well and served over a cold salad, which my Mum said was light, crisp and nailed it on the flavour combinations – her smile below was maintained throughout the whole meal, so that always makes me happy; as I love it when I get to share a great dining experience with my Mum. I ended up ordering the lobster, because 1) they didn’t have any of the mixed grill of fish left, 2) I love lobster and 3) it kept drawing my eye, and I’m not on Gigha often – so ‘why the hell not’ attitude promptly reigned supreme in this situation. And I was not disappointed! First of all, look at the size of it! It has a monster amount of meat in it, which made for a very happy (albeit full) girl. It was cooked extremely well, and the light salad  and potatoes were the perfect accompaniments. Lobster meat can quite easily become quite tough if overcooked and not handled well, but the chef clearly knows what he’s doing with this excellent local produce!

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Desserts

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The Boathouse Meringue (me)

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Clootie Dumpling (Mum)

My Mum had decided before she came to the restaurant that she wanted the Clootie Dumpling, as it’s a childhood favourite of hers, and she said it was delicious – the ideal balance of moist and rish. She wasn’t as keen on the whiskey ice-cream that came with it, but that’s a personal preference as neither of us is hugely keen on alcohol infused ice cream. My decision to order The Boathouse Meringue was a direct result of one being placed down in front of the man sitting at the table next to us – it was a total FOMO moment. I was quite full, but I couldn’t rightly leave the restaurant knowing I had missed out on something so spectacular! It was the perfect ratio of crunchy to chewy and the vanilla infused cream and fruit complimented it impeccably in a firework display worthy finale for the overall meal.

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Our server, Annabelle, was polite, smiley and a great waitress for the duration of our meal, which always impacts on your experience of a restaurant. And she put up with facial expressions like the one above whilst I tore into my lobster! The meal came to a total of approx.. £100 (excluding tip), and we left distinctly full and feeling like Violet who just visited Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, but not regretting it one.little.bit.

So much so, that after work the next day, we decided to go back from lunch the next day before getting the ferry back to the mainland. So it wasn’t quite the goodbye we thought for that glorious view, as it looked equally if not more beautiful the next day. Annabelle was working again as well and laughed when she saw we had come back less than 24 hours later and perched ourselves once again at the benches outside and – luckily for us – the midges didn’t make a return.

We decided to share a couple of starters, and opted for more seafood, as clearly The Boathouse knows how to handle its seafood and it would be a damn shame to miss out on all their offerings, so we ordered:

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King Prawns: with garlic hot sauce, cardamom and lime butter and blackened fried noodles

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Seared Scallops: with 12 hours slow cooked pork neck, pear & black pudding bon bons, cauliflower puree and green chilli and orange marmalade

The prawns were succulent, meaty juicy and moreish – with the texture contrast of the fried noodles in a rich, flavoursome sauce that my Mum proceeded to spread on bread (made freshly on Gigha). The scallops (I feel like I don’t even need to say they were cooked perfectly at this stage) were delicate and ideally suited to the cauliflower puree and bon bon accompaniments – I only wish there were more!

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We then paid up promptly, as we thought we could catch the ferry at 1.30pm, only to realise that there isn’t a 1.30pm ferry (lunchtime break) and we HAD to go back to The Boathouse for coffee and cake to await the next ferry at 2.30pm. So it was fair to say Annabelle probably thought we were obsessed by this point, but it was drinking my coffee whilst overlooking the Ardminish Bay that I had one of those rare ‘ahhhhh’ moments. One of those moments where you sit back, breathe in deeply and really appreciate your surroundings; feeling totally content and present in that current moment. We then headed off back to the mainland, having had a totally great time on Gigha, primarily thanks to The Boathouse restaurant, staff and location.

I’m only sorry I never got to try their Queenies, and their crab claws, oh wait … and their lemon sole … and ………. Oh never mind, I’ll just need to go back!

The Boathouse also offers camping and camper van facilities, with toilets and showers within their grounds. So take a trip over, park or tent up and enjoy the view over a glass of wine and some langoustine tails – I swear you won’t regret it.

Where To Stay: The Gigha Hotel

With its natural charm and delicious locally-sourced cuisine, the Gigha Hotel is a true testament to the finest in island hospitality. Perched quietly above Ardminish Bay, the Hotel offers everyone unsurpassed views of the beauty of Kintyre Peninsula and beyond. Whether you are with us for the day or a week, our dedicated staff will always make you feel welcome! So bring your boat, your bikes, your wellies and relax with us. Stop in at the pub and have a drink with us and allow yourself to be inspired by this wonderful hidden gem.

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The Gigha Hotel is a typical island hotel; the perfect balance between local chatter (locals gather in the reception area for tea), cosy public areas (the front room has lovely couches, TV, games and books), outdoor seating area (for when the sun does shine and you want a beer garden) and quirky elements that make it stand out in your memories later in life (the breakfast order process).

Things To Do: Achnamore Gardens

Sir James Horlick acquired the estate in 1944 he wished to establish a garden to grow his more tender Rhododendrons.  He managed this by cutting small clearings in the Ponticum and trees and by 1970 the garden was full and looked magnificent. On his death he left some of his collection to the National Trust for Scotland so that rare species could be propagated and shared with other great gardens.

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If you’re looking for something to do, the community owned and operated gardens deserve a visit – they settle you into that ‘ahhh’ moment I mentioned earlier even more as nothing quite achieves that more than the beauty of nature.

Local Produce: Wee Isle Dairy

Tarbert Farm is a small dairy farm on the Isle of Gigha off the southwest coast of Scotland, run by Emma Rennie Dennis and her brother Mark Rennie, where we milk roughly 60 cows. The herd is predominantly Friesian, with a few Jersey and other breeds. The farm is owned by the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust; Emma & Mark’s parents took on the lease in 1968.

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You can drive by the dairy farm and past the cows that produce the lovely milk and artisan ice-creams by travelling north on the island and over the cattle grids. Similar to organic produce, it’s nice to see the animals frolicking around and playing with each other as it demonstrates a happy life on the island for them. Wee Isle Dairy milk is also one of the only producers these days that you can get the truly traditional ‘cream at the top’ of the milk bottle; extra tasty when mixed in with Scots Oats porridge! Their milk is available from various shops in Argyll (I picked mine up in Furnace local shop), and also in Edinburgh and Crieff now too.

Views: Sunset over Islay and Jura

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Top Tip: The Gigha Hotel is currently running an Itison voucher, so why not take advantage at a discounted rate and go see how great the Isle of Gigha is for yourself?!

Mammy’s Viewpoint:

“Seriously WNTL about The Boathouse and Gigha…fantastic service and fabulous food in a ‘far far better than the Caribbean’ setting. My friend and I, with our four legged friends Cerys (Welsh Terrier) and Nina (German Shepherd) are already planning an island hopping road trip in a converted van and will book in advance for the ferry, camping and the restaurant. We’re taking no chances. Can’t wait to return.

 

Singl-end Cafe & Bakehouse, Merchant City #cravingtrunch

“Bohemian joint serving a wide array of creative dishes, home cooked baked beans and coffees.”

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The definition of bohemian means someone or something that is socially unconventional, or I suppose ‘hipster’ could be another descriptive word we could use for the sake of this discussion. Would you attribute this word to Singl-end? I suppose you could at first glance; with their artisan bread collection, gluten-free and vegan options, eclectic menu and high-waisted jean-clad staff. I’m smiling whilst writing this; as I’ve been Direct Messaging @foodnotes_gla on Instagram this morning talking about the occasional attempt we make to try to fit in with the other ‘real’ hipsters in these types of establishments and failing miserably… earning ourselves the self-proclaimed title of ‘fraudulent hipster’. But in actuality, what dictates whether you are or you aren’t? I find a compelling argument that hipster is becoming more mainstream, and thus doesn’t really deserve its bohemian connotations anymore. With the introduction of all the new trendy brunch spots – Pot Luck, Café Strange Brew, Patrick Duck Club and the likes, it’s becoming the norm rather than something on the periphery of convention.

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We visited the Merchant City branch again this morning, as the location of the Garnethill café has always put me off going for some reason. I think people always have personal preferences of what areas of town they like visiting (i.e. I love Merchant City and Finnieston, but I’m quite as keen on West End for example). This generally has nothing to do with the restaurants themselves, but moreso do to with accessibility for me – I find parking easy in Merchant City, and Finnieston is easy for me to get to coming from the North East of Glasgow. It’s these small things that impact the decisions we make, hence why I’m glad they opened the café on John Street.

31924632_10156492083108578_3019538338970337280_n.jpgPictured above: Meaty Baked Eggs

Their menu is slightly different than what is online (simply because I had Croque Monsieur – pictured below – on our first visit and you can’t see that option online), but the majority of dishes are the same. They also generally have a specials clipboard featuring their Daily Soup and Salad options, Main Dishes and special Omelette. Importantly… even at 10am they serve ALL menu options; even those under the ‘Lunch’ heading, or any of the ‘Main Dishes’ from the specials, which is ideal if you’re more of a ‘full meal’, rather than breakfast kinda person at McDonalds (who even likes the McMuffin’s anyway?!) If you like a myriad of flavours being offered as a supplementary taste sensation over and above your typically classic dishes, then this is a place for you (pictured below – Singl-end Eggs Florentine). I love when chefs take time to really enhance flavour in their dishes, as their passion really does end up on the plate, which inevitably is what draws in the droves of customers in their masses. The fresh baked goods and fresh bread on display as soon as you enter through their doors is a smart marketing ploy, but equally effective in encouraging people to wait for a table (as you can’t book).

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Service is typical of a generally busy café; they’re polite and efficient but often don’t have the luxury of spending too much time building rapport with tables, as otherwise service would suffer. Although I did have a nice conversation with a waitress upstairs today just before I left, which always personalises the experience and encourages you to return somewhere, in my opinion. Having been a waitress myself for a significant number of years, good customer service is one of those elements of eating out that really impresses me, but you also need to take all factors into consideration when reviewing it (i.e. how quiet/busy, informal/formal or staff levels), however regardless of all that – politeness and efficiency are admirable qualities to aspire to.

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Their seemingly hand crafted table tops with old letters and stamps preserved in time for you to peruse over your baked eggs is pleasing, fun and provides a great backdrop for any pictures. I also like their island and Scottish maps up on the walls upstairs, as quite ironically I noticed the Islay map whilst on the phone to a Water Operator on Islay dealing with critical water tank levels due to a Whisky festival going on this weekend (the joys of being on Operational Stand-By…). So I suppose with the funky interior décor, there is the opposing argument for hipster status once again. But dare I say it… they haven’t caught onto the paper straw movement yet (much to my fiancés delight), so maybe it’s time we all admitted that this is simply our current trend, or dare I say ‘fad’ indulgence, for brunch these days? And they needn’t be scared of dropping the ‘bohemian’ tagline in favour of advertising themselves as leading ‘trunch’ providers (that’s trendy brunch FYI), as if I learned anything at my last creative thinking seminar, it’s that a newly created word can draw a loyal audience that transcends even the quality of the item (e.g. Cronut). But I’ll leave you with that for now, as I never professed to be a marketing genius and they’ve pretty much got brunch on lockdown anyway, so that’s a wrap folks!

33576434_10156545699283578_6783485336010883072_nPictured above: Meaty Breakfast (with substitution of vegetarian haggis instead of black pudding)

Top Tip: visit the John Street (Merchant City) branch if you want somewhere handy for parking, and be prepared to wait for a table if you’re going at busy times!

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Salmon Stack

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Altamurra Toast with scrambled eggs & veggie haggis (amazing!)