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.

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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


Potluck, Glasgow South Side #cravinghotcakes

“POTLUCK is tucked away down a cosy street in bustling Strathbungo, an up and coming area south of the river in Glasgow. We offer modern day time dining, food that is both comforting and fresh. We look forward to feeding you.”

A La Carte Menu

Score: 17/20

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If, like me, you are/were drawn inexplicably to Potluck from the photos of their Hot Cakes on Instagram without needing or caring for any further information; I can confirm they are UN.BE.LIEVE.ABLE. As I already saw someone else say: “it’s worth the hype”. They are the type of hotcakes that strike you deaf, dumb and blind from the moment they touch your lips. I was struck momentarily speechless, and then steadily more and more overcome with unconcealed joy at the sensations happening in my mouth. Read on if you’d like to hear some more provocative language used in reference to a veritable mound of delectable carbohydrate…

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Being an independent café on the South Side of Glasgow, you already expect it to be small, but I was surprised at just how small it actually was on our arrival yesterday. Being sunny, they had the ability to seat between 4 – 6 people on benches outside, but otherwise the inside can only cater to around 14-16 covers. I’m always concerned with parking restrictions and/or availability when venturing to a new and unknown location, however I can confirm there are plenty of spaces on Nithsdale Road! So the only issue that could arise is if it’s cold and/or wet; as if there’s a queue then you have to wait outside. Like most small brunch hotspots right now, they don’t accept bookings – it’s a ‘turn up and see’ type of establishment. Considering most tables are turned around and out in less than an hour, I can understand why this is their approach and will admit that in the circumstances, it’s the correct choice.

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The bright yellow painted exterior is as eye-catching as their hot cake photos, nestled in a row of other (dull by comparison) shops and residential flats. The huge storm doors appeal to my old-fashioned sense of style and exterior/interior décor preferences (as my Pittodrie review professes), with their slap-dash use of paint only adding to its character. The potted plants hanging from the wall, illuminated by their close-by weaved lightshades; provide a homely welcome as you step through the doors. We were advised upon arrival that a table would likely be available in the next 15-20 minutes, which turned out to be accurate. Waiting in the sunshine wasn’t any sort of hardship and I also heard another waitress offer coffee to others standing in line, which was lovely. We were ushered inside (thankfully – as I hadn’t brought my suncream) to one of the tables directly visible on the right hand side.

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Adding to the small, quaint and slightly retro vibe is their almost dainty furniture, which although I found endearing, Jonathan wasn’t so enamoured … As he couldn’t fit both his legs under the table. Granted, he is significantly bigger than your average Joe, but it could cause a problem for people who hit leg day hard at the gym as much like my other half. Fresh tap water flavoured with a sprig of mint arrived at our table, alongside our menus. We ordered soon after; a skimmed flat white, a long black and Johnny opted for the Salmon Scramble – “hot smoked salmon, chilli scrambled eggs, tenderstem broccoli, sesame seeds, dill, toast”.

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Although I was tempted by many things (I’ll just need to go back again), there was only one obvious choice for me on the menu – The Hot Cakes. Let me just loosen you up, in preparation of my attempt to articulate my tasting experience, with Potluck’s menu description of them: “Peach Hot Cakes: roach peaches, white chocolate pistachio crumb, raspberries, honey, pistachio kulfi, raspberry gel, pashmak”. What is kulfi and what is pashmak I hear you ask? Kulfi is a popular frozen dairy dessert from India, similar to ice cream in taste and appearance, but denser and creamier than its Western cousin. Pashmak is an Iranian version of candy floss, which slightly melts onto the top of your hot cakes to form a crunchy sugary coating of absolute joy. They offer a lemon option as well, which I think I’ll need to order next time given my penchant for all things sharp and zingy.

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After waiting a little while longer than expected for our coffees, I asked the waitress if we could have them over. Extremely apologetic for the time we had waited, she removed them from our bill. Thank you Katie ! You really did exceed expectations by doing that, and it raised the happi-ometer in anticipation of our brunch. And then they arrived …

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I won’t say too much, as you NEED to go there yourself. Aesthetically, they were a wonder to behold; fat fluffy hot cakes nestled amongst a myriad of colours, temperatures, flavours and textures. They were stacked to a towering height of generous proportions and finished with the pretty white pashmak, or ‘fluff’ as I called it. Now I’ve eaten many a dish where they make the effort to have the dish extremely pleasing on the eye and yet it falls down in other areas (mainly taste). But no, no, no … not in Potluck! Whoever the Chef is in there, I feel like I need a photograph with them ASAP, ‘cause they are going to be famous for these babies!

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It literally struck me speechless; I moaned, I ooohh’d, I ahhh’d, I stared in wonder around the room imagining where on earth these fat, fluffy carbohydrates had been all my life. And that was only on the first mouthful as I kept being surprised with all the different elements the dish had to offer. Reminiscing about them now, I can’t quite believe how good they were. If you do anything this weekend, head to the south side of Glasgow and get some of Potluck’s hot cakes!

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Johnny’s salmon dish was a decent portion, although he had asked for an extra portion of salmon because, y’know, protein so that’s probably not the typical amount of fish. The chilli eggs were interesting and palatable (in his own words) and overall a thoroughly enjoyable dish. He did end up finishing over half of my plate of hot cakes though, and they were also his preference. Mopped every last crumb up from his plate, my plate and we probably would have done the same for our neighbouring tables plates if it hadn’t been considered socially impolite.

We left happy badgers and will definitely be returning again very soon !

Let me know what you think,

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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.

 

The Strathearn, Gleneagles Hotel #cravingperfection

“Representing Scotland at its best – its heritage, history and beauty – The Strathearn experience is like going to the theatre and being entertained. One of the last bastions of first-class Highland dining, The Strathearn’s traditional walnut gueridon trolleys, silver cloches and butler trays deliver the touch of a bygone era, while a setting of elegant grandeur reflects the essence of Gleneagles glamour.”

Overall Rating: 10/10

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I’ve got a confession – I adore Gleneagles. This makes it extremely easy for me to write a review or blog post on anything related to it, as it’s almost like reliving the great experience all over again, whilst trying to articulate the excellence of the experience in words that do it justice. I’ve posted the Trip Advisor review I wrote from my stay at Gleneagles for Jonathan’s birthday treat in April HERE, which focuses more on the hotel itself. I’m going to use this opportunity to discuss my experience of The Strathearn restaurant, as that’s where I decided to dine on my recent visit. The opportunity to stay this time around came as a joyous perk of having a mother who loves Gleneagles as much as I do; she was there to celebrate her friend’s 60th birthday with a table booking in Andrew Fairlie’s. I was tempted to try room service for the first time, but after reviewing the available menu items, I decided to venture out on the iconic allure of the cheese trolley.

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I wandered round from Braid House around 7.45pm and I was pleased to be seated in the conservatory area, beside the window, by the hostess Francesca. My table provided lovely lighting for a few photos as it was still light outside; and meant I had a view of the lawns out to the side of the hotel. The sommelier Elena-Diana offered me the drinks menu, which I declined as I do prefer to spend my calories on food rather than alcohol… depressing, but true. I also wasn’t feeling all that hungry, so I decided I would order 2 x starters followed by (duhhh) the cheese trolley, because, well… cheese. I always have room for cheese; it’s my chocolate dessert belly equivalent (i.e. people who say they can be full to the brim, but mention a chocolate dessert and suddenly they have room for it). Gleneagles offers 3 x courses for £65 in The Strathearn restaurant, but if you aren’t feeling up to 3 courses, you can choose from the same menu as if it were A La Carte.

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I knew I would be ordering the beetroot and goats cheese starter, as it had lingered on my taste buds since my visit in April. So my only real choice came down to whether I wanted Scottish Langoustine Bisque or Wild Mushroom and Fennel soup. I hadn’t noticed the soup on the menu the month previously and although not directly responsible for the food menu at all, I need to thank Elena-Diana for her recommendation to try the wild mushroom soup. Our logic was neither of us had tried it, but both loved mushroom and I’d had the langoustine bisque numerous times before. I’m extremely glad I took her advice, as the depth of flavour in my bowl was staggering. I didn’t get a particularly aesthetic photograph, which is maybe my failing as an experienced blogger but I’m blaming it on greed and anticipation; I didn’t relish pausing the waitress whilst she poured the warm soup over a nicely constructed pile of fennel and mushrooms in my bowl. It all tastes the same when it’s in your mouth anyway, so I didn’t feel so bad about not catching the little vegetable mountain in all its glory before it was swallowed up by fungus-decadence. So my personal thanks to Elena-Diana, and also the chefs for this wonderful new and delightful addition to the menu!

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Following my soup, I had the Heritage beetroot, goat’s cheese and baby leek salad with truffle honey and toasted seeds. I enjoyed it so much when I tried it on my last visit in April, I HAD to get it again. As I said to Elizabeth who was one of the waitresses attending to my table, I genuinely thought it was even better than last time (if that’s possible!). The earthy smell of the fresh beetroot is what assails your senses when the plate is placed in front of you, followed by the vibrant colours against the stark white of the dinner plate. The pickled radish provides a sharp contrast to the rich sweetness of the truffle honey and fresh beetroot. I thoroughly appreciated every mouthful of that salad; taking my time with it and revelling in how such few ingredients can be prepared and treated with such care and attention to gift diners with so many zeniths of sensory delight from one ‘simple’ dish. Another small touch, which really sets Gleneagles apart, was Elizabeth remembering me when I mentioned to her she had served me the month before. She even remembered what Jonathan, my fiance, had ordered! She must have an excellent memory, but it truly elicits the experience and feeling of exemplary service.

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To close, I had a final course, which I had been leading up to with fervour and anticipation… the cheese trolley. Cheese is included in the 3 x courses for £65 menu at no extra charge, but you can allow them to bring you a selection or you can ask for the trolley to pick yourself. Being a bit of a control freak in certain aspects (Jonathan would say many!) I prefer to pick my own. I also think having the opportunity to see the cheeses and ask questions about them are part of the experience; one which Christina helped grandly with. I’m a big fan of soft, strong cheeses and goat’s cheese (unless that wasn’t already obvious with how much I raved about the beetroot and goat’s cheese salad). So apologies in advance if you’re a hard cheese or blue fan, ‘cause I’ll be disappointing you miserably with my recommendations here! I chose 6 x cheeses from the trolley:

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You can see from above I’m clearly a French cheese fan, oui oui!

My favourite of the evening was the St Maure (11 o’clock position), but I cleared the plate so they were all delicious! Only disappointing element of the evening for me was that they didn’t have any of the charcoal crackers I like, which they usually do have available. I’m not an oatcakes with cheese lover so I asked for some more of the pumpkin seed bread rolls, which was no issue at all. This was also accompanied with truffle honey (again, I know… but it’ so yummy!), quince and chutney.

Whilst enjoying my cheese, I became acutely aware of the piano playing Clair Du Lune followed by Tale as Old as Time in the background and I just stopped for a moment to appreciate my surroundings and the ambiance created within The Strathearn. I left feeling well looked after, content and happy, and I really couldn’t have asked for much more than that having eaten alone. Thank you!

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Francesca greeted my Mum and I warmly again the next morning for breakfast and seated us at the same table I’d had the night before. Sunshine illuminated the room and the conservatory was heating up quite quickly due to the greenhouse effect. Thankfully there were a set of doors behind us that were opened up, providing some cool air and a welcome breeze. I won’t delve too much into the breakfast on this review (I’ve shared some photos on my Instagram), but let me know if you want to know more about it on another post!

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Service: 10/10

Food: 10/10

Ambiance: 10/10

Value: 8/10

Instagram: @laurenscravings

Cocktails & Steaks, Uddingston #cravingaroast

We had good intentions of going for breakfast this morning when Jonathan (my fiance) and I met up with our friends Simone & Jason. They’re getting married in July this year, and we got slightly distracted in wedding shenanigans (all will be revealed on 08/07/18), which meant that we didn’t leave to head upto Uddingston Main Street until midday. Cue us arriving at Angels Hotel to be told there were no tables, followed by Smiths which was fully booked as well meaning we ended our hunt for food in Cocktails and Steaks. It boasted a Sunday Roast, which we were all pretty keen on having (and although Simone is a fiend for a Toby Cavery, we were short on time, alas…).

The restaurant was empty when we arrived around 12.10pm, and it instantly reminded me of #porterandrye with its dark wood steakhouse vibes. The waitress asked if we had booked, which we hadn’t, and we got offered a seat by the window with lots of natural light, which I loved.

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The seating arrangement is booths on one side and slide in chairs on the other, which can be seen in the photos above. I found the chair comfortable and the specially branded placemats and crystal water glasses were a tasteful touch. However, although Simone and I are big fans of 90’s RnB (Pony by Ginuwine featured), I’m not so sure it’s exactly suited to the ambience the restaurant is trying to create, as it was being played just slightly too loud for Sunday lunchtime. They playlist creator does need to be commended for their taste; but I’d prefer to hear it in in the evening and preferably with a Mojito in hand.

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Now our food order ended up being something that rarely happens to me, moreso because I fundamentally don’t agree with everyone ordering the same thing regardless of whether you’re sharing or not (I like looking at other potenital dishes on offer even if I’m not eating them ok?! Call it future planning!) – but we all ordered the same 2 courses from the Sunday Menu for £17.95.

I’ve been trying to increase my protein intake recently, hence why I chose the ‘Josper grilled chicken with a chimichurri sauce’, rather than the baked camembert like I usually would (you’ll soon find out how obsessed with cheese I am after we’re a few reviews deep…). But honestly, I’m glad I did – as the chimichurri sauce is one for the tasting! A perfect balance of herbs that aren’t too overpowering with a sharp punch of vinegar and olive oil underpinning it all. I’m a great lover of sharp flavours, and I do believe it lifted the dish into something ‘moreish’, which we all agreed on. Chicken was cooked well; both juicy and succulent on the inside but with a crisp finish on the outside. This rested on a small bed of leaves with small touches of (what I believed to be) butternut squash puree around the side.

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The roast itself is served pink, unless you specify that you like it cooked otherwise. They are generous in their portion of beef; I was given two slices, which you can see takes up the majority of the plate. And the most glaringly obvious highlight of the dish is the quality of the meat, which they state on their website is from Scotch Beef, and therefore of excellent quality (it isn’t being biased just ’cause I’m Scottish.)  I also thoroughly enjoyed the homemade Yorkshire pudding, with the bottom of it soggy with gravy that had been so thoughtfully poured inside for me. I would have liked the roasties to be slightly more crispy, but I know that can be difficult to create in a restaurant setting within the limited confines of service time. The vegetables were hidden under the beef playing their own little game of hide and seek; which I happily indulged them in playing but left slightly disheartened with how quickly the game reached its resolution. There was the baby turnip you see below, with one stalk of brocollini, one asparagus tip and three or four small pieces of carrot that would have benefited from some caramalisation. The liberally poured gravy distracted me from any despondancy I may have felt with the vegetables though as it quite literally danced over my tastebuds for the duration of my main course. There had evidently been some time spent on deepening its rich flavour, thus enhancing the whole dish overall. This is where a Sunday roast at Cocktails and Steaks is a step above your generic pub roast; the outstanding ingredients being carefully handled by their evidently talented chefs, and heightened through careful consideration of how best to handle those ingredients.

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This is true of both courses I tried today, and it did mean I left thinking that I wouldn’t mind returning to sample more from their Main Menu. Considering how busy Angels and Smiths was, I was surprised that only two other people arrived whilst we had our lunch. There was only one waitress working as well, which could have been a problem if they expected the same level of traffic as the other restaurants. She was prompt in her tasks in terms of clearing plates and providing more water for the table, but we felt she was slightly awkward at times. The best interaction we had with her was actually right at the end – maybe she was distracted with getting things set up for the day beforehand.

Our meal concluded not long after an hour of being in the restaurant, but this was due to us requesting our main course quickly following our starter, as Simone and Jason had to catch the train home to London. Although we didn’t end up getting the breakfast we’d prepared ourselves for, we left Cocktails and Steaks content and with our interest piqued for a potenital evening meal in the future.

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Instagram: @laurenscravings