Saturday, 30 May 2009

Monachyle Mhor

I am ashamed to say that I can't remember this meal in very much detail. I don't have the excuse of being drunk, more, that I was already in a food coma having been far too greedy at Mhor fish at lunchtime!

We chose to go there to celebrate our second wedding anniversary having heard positive reports from two lots of friends. Not wanting to miss an eating opportunity I planned it so that we would go via Callander to Mhor fish for lunch, then drive the rest of the way to Monachyle Mhor in the Trossachs. It was a pleasant mistake to make. Eyes being bigger than pregnant belly, I ate way too much at lunch which can be read about here. I thought I would be hungry by the time dinner came round at seven-thirty, but boy was I wrong.

The drive to the Trossachs is a picturesque one but I will warn you that the last half an hour leading up to the hotel is quite stressful, primarily as it is one track, with a loch on one side, a hill on the other and very few passing places. I would not like to attempt this track in the dark as there are no lights. I felt I could have done with a Gin and Tonic after that drive but had to make do with a mineral water.

The hotel itself looks very trad from the outside but whoever did thier interiors really knows what they are doing. Architectural and contemporary but still personal. Me likey. Our room was one of the larger ones and we had our own steam room, which I couldn't use but HI could and did. The bath was huge and very relaxing.

A shot of our bathroom and entrance to our room,

We went down for dinner and all I can remember was thinking damn this food is really good I wish I was not so full so I could appreciate it more.

The amuse bouche

bloody orange sorbet very refreshing

HI's Mallaig oyster which he said was good.

HI's fish course, very tasty but can't remember what it was!

HI's main, again can't remember what it was although it looks like slow cooked veal or beef cheek.

My fish course, some sort of beignet?

My hake, very very good
I ended up leaving food on my plate that I would normally have polished off. We actually asked if pudding could get sent up to our room to eat at our leisure, a request that was readily granted.

So, it's not the cheapest but worth saving up for for a special occasion. I would go back for the food and the hotel but not for the drive! One last thing- go hungry!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Martin Wishart: a final fling.

Whilst preparing for our trip down to London at the end of June, I read about the best lunch deals in the big smoke and it was while I was reading about the fabulous lunch at Le Gavroche, it suddenly hit me: I am not going to be able to have that lunch for a long long time. This trip to London will be our last before the arrival of He who must be obeyed and, although we are able to fit in a couple of dinners we will not have time for lunch, due to getting the train there and back and attending a wedding. So, with fine dining opportunities becoming scarce I was suddenly overwhelmed with an urge to fit in one last fancy meal.

Where to have such a meal?
Martin Wishart of course.

I did consider other places. I looked at Kitchin's menu, nothing took my fancy, Plumed Horse, same again, Wedgewood, nope, Grainstore not this time. I did fleetingly consider Paul Kitching's new place 21212. He certainly has a band of loyal followers judging by the posts on egullet. The place only opened on Thursday, and I usually like to give a place to relax into itself before visiting, especially if it involves the long and arduous drive from Glasgow to Edinburgh (!). I read the reports on egullet with interest but it all sounds a bit gimicky for me. For now refined French is good enough for me.

Rachel was joining HI and I, and since I am not drinking we decided to drive.

The place was full by the time we arrived and to our surprise there were many men there having lunch before going to the rugby! We were greeted by Stephen who we have not seen in ages. He offered to subsititute any dishes I cold not eat on the tasting menu but, for a change we decided to go al la carte.

But first the amuse bouche:
tomato water both Rachel and I said we could drink a pint of this- very refreshing and so savoury, something that looks like posh coronation chicken, and a mushroom mouse.

Freshly baked bread.

To go with the freshly baked still warm bread we had one of the best discoveries of the day: 'the best butter in the world', available at Henri's.

unfortunately it was not till I got home that I realised it was unpasteurised. Oops. I don't think Stephen realised either as he was so careful with all the other things I ate.
Bizarrely all three of us were going to have the same starter but then HI reminded me we had the option of truffle risotto, so I went for that, whilst the other two had the lobster croque monsiuer with veal tortellini

As usual the truffle risotto was happy tummy making

and the lobster and veal an elegant but interesting take on surf and turf.

For my main I had the beef shin, HI had the tongue, kidney and sweetbread plate and Rachel had the seabass.
The shin was very intense and rich

The offal plate (boom boom)

got the thumbs up and Rachel was very pleased with her sea bass

although I think she slightly preferred the version she had at Cameron House which was prepared with fennel.

The style was much more traditional French than the last time we were here, where foams and soils featured. It seems a deliberate move away from what is fashionable. I can't make up my mind if I think it is a good idea as I really like our meal the last time as well. Oh well it's for minds greater than mine to tease out.

HI and I could not pass up the Tart Tatin given it is one of my favourite puddings and one I have tried to perfect many times at home. This process has been made much easier by the purchase of a proper French Tart Tatin dish all the way from France. I personally prefer thinner tart's with a larger surface area to apple thickness ratio, but HI the traitor, said it was one of the best he has had. It did look quite impressive especially as it was wheeled out of the kitchen on it's own trolley and served to us by the nice young lady who had helped prepare it.

The cheese cart always features highly on any trip here and did not disappoint however we were so excited I forgot to take a picture! The cheese cart man- I really must ask him his name, was so informative that I was too busy listening to what he was saying to take photos. Rachel also had a pudding wine that was meet with cries of 'it tastes like juice".

The meal was very pleasant and relaxed. I like coming here because it's so consistent and you know that you won't have a meal that disappoints. The service will be top notch without being stuffy, the surroundings elegant, the food elegant but interesting.

The only thing I would say is that I think the tasting mneu is the way to go. We usually opt for that but given my dietary constraints and shrinking stomach the al la carte seemed like a safer option. I wondered if the portion size in the la carte would be larger but they weren't really, and besides, the glutton in me prefers the multiple tasting opportunites provided by the tasting menu!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Lunch at La Trompette

This was the last meal of our trip. We were 7 for Sunday luch and we had a jolly time indeed. Given the size of our party they sat us quiet early which suited us fine. They put us at the back, maybe realising we would be slighlty exuberant but this also worked in our favour as we had enough space to relax and for once the staff was quire laid back, and shared a laugh or two with us. The service this time, was much better, as previously it has been on the extremely slow side.

Given the meal was a while back, I can't quiet exactly remember what each dish is, sorry! But hopefully the pictures will tell the story.

"Boudin blanc with sautéed spinach, madeira sauce and pistachio nuts" Damian always orders this and always finishes it.

Some sort of confit salmon which was unfortunately too salty for Emma's taste

My goujons. Not something that I would normally order but many of the starters were not pregnant lady friendly. Hard to fault but not particularly exciting.

Red mullet with some sort of risotto nero

Duck magret, crisp pastilla of confit leg and foie gras, glazed endive, spiced duck jus

Roast breast of poulet noir, glazed chicken wings, pomme cocotte, braised parsnips. I think this was Neill's main and he liked it lots.

Grilled calves liver and bacon with potato gnocchi, onion rings, rosemary and madeira. HI ordered this of course, and his little face looked very happy.

Given my food restrictions I was not able to order as I normally would, thus my starter was a little tame for my liking whereas my main the beef hit the spot. My pudding too was exceptional.

It was a almond tart served with cream and it was lovely. Not something I usually eat but I ate it all.

Victoria's grapefruit granita was also declared a success.

Given you get high quality food for the reasonable sum of £37.50 for three courses (£47.50 for four to include cheese) it must be one of the best lunch deals on offer, apart from Le Gavroche of course. But then who wants to wear a jacket to lunch all the time?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Please bear with me..

In what may be a vain attempt to get the blog registering back on Google:

Glasgow food blog

Glasgow food blog

Glasgow food blog!!

So there.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Lounge Bohemia.

Having been to New York where secret cocktail bars are all the rage, Lounge Bohemia seemed like it would be worthwhile scouting out. It's not that hard to find but as the sign says reservations are necessary. HI phoned up asking for a table for three only to be told it was standing room only. You can imagine his confusion, when, we were shown to a table on arrival. What was that all about? he fumed. We assumed it was a sense of humour. The interior took after the Mos Eisley Cantina school of design, furnished with random seventies furniture. It was dark and cosy and very civilised and there was a hostess lady who comes and takes your order, who looked as if she would scold you if you stepped out of line.

Not the sort of place you go and get really drunk in, or at least not that you would show it. It is kind of like the East Room in that respect, a place to sip and ponder your drinks whilst in like minded company. As you know we are big cocktail fans with HI having a soft spot for Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club fame and whilst in New york we sampled what was on offer at the Pegu club, Bemelmens, Death and Co, and PDT. We are always therefore keen to see what Cocktailians this side of the Atlantic have to offer, our favourite place in London at the moment being the Hawksmoor . I think HI was a bit disappointed. He started off with a promising tobacco infused whiskey based cocktail that was interesting in its presentation alone, let alone its taste. It worked well. The next cocktail the Lab Test

was disappointing. The idea is good you pick your base flavour either sour, sweet or something else and they make up a cocktail for you. We thought that each tube would have a different cocktail based around the sour note, but it was that same cocktail poured into 5 tubes! Bit of a gimmic if you ask me.

I was more than happy with my non-alcoholic drink

which was just like drinking a lemon sorbet, tart and refreshing.

I came away thinking the place was more hype than substance. I still think the Hawksmoor is better for cocktails and more relaxing, in that the bar staff give you a bit of chat, without checking to see if you are cool enough.

Viet Grill

We headed here after HI and Will had imbibed many alcoholic beverages at Red and Green and then Lounge Bohemia. This time we were sat upstairs and it was pretty busy. Much to my dismay, the boys only had eyes for the booze so my ordering was much curtailed.
We started off with some salt and pepper squid

which was very good and not chewy at all, then the fuedal beef

which they loved but due to my altered taste buds, I wasn't a huge fan of. The for our mains

we had the braised beef which was very good, succulent and rich, garlic greens, again very good, and a seabass that was disappointing as there was not much flesh to be had. In retrospect it was probably just the right amount of food to order but you know me, I always want to try as many things as possible. HI was slightly underwhelmed, I think he prefers the heat of Thai or Sichuan cooking, whilst the subtleties of Vietnamese cooking were probably lost on his drunken palate!

Monday, 11 May 2009


3 facts about Kokuryo:
1. It was an ancient Korean empire whose brilliant history flourished on a vast expanse on land in East Asia.
2. It is also the name of the only Korean restaurant in town
3. According to a friend of our who lived in Tokyo for 6 years, and therfore having some expertise in the matter, it is where to get the best sushi in Glasgow. Some might say that's not saying much but beggars can't be choosers.

We ate there years ago when it first opened and found it to be tasty although a bit on the un-healthy side with a lot of deep fried items on offer. However, a lot of time had elapsed since then, so we though it time to go back. We went with Choiti and Chris which is always a good bet as they have large appetites and like to share their food. Some of the food seemed vaguely familiar and that when I realised that one of my favourite places in New York-Ssam bar has Korean roots with a major modern American twist.

Anyway I digress, we ordered lots and most of it was pretty good.

Panchan- pickled vegetables. I think the waiter was surprised I knew what this was.

lightly fried dumpling stuffed with minced pork, tofu and spring onion. These were great primarily because for once they were large and stuffed full, so the proportion of filling to dumpling was just right. So good we ordered two portions. Excellent dipping sauce too.

this was rice cake and fish cake in a chilli sauce. Very good textures. I had a rice cake dish in Ssam bar that was similar but better.

Chargrilled chicken skewers, safe and tasty but boring compared to the others.

and then mains:

Bul Go Ki chargrilled marinated beef in rich soy sauce served with lettuce and boile drice, you make up little parcels with the lettuce and try to fit them into your mouth in an elegant fashion.

so gal bi
finely marinated beef ribs, these were tasty and tender

stir fry monk fish with bean sprout and spicy sauce, complete with spinal column which Choiti took great delight in sucking out.

Kimchi, of course, unfortunately a bit disappointing.

I can't believe I forgot to take a photo of the deep fried chicken in spicy and hot sauce which was decidedly moreish.

So, never having been to Korea i can't say if it was authentic but it was tasty. It is a world away from Ssam bar but even in a place like New York, Ssam bar is place that pushes the boundaries to much acclaim, so it's not much of a criticism. What I will say was that it was a lot more expensive than i was expecting, coming to £100 for four. We had 6 beers and one Appletiser and then the food. Granted there was a lot of food and we didn't finish it all, but I was still a wee bit surprised. Despite this i shall go back, maybe refining what I order, just a little.

Cake heaven at Cafezique.

As if our lunch a couple of hours earlier at Crabshakk was not decadent enough, John and I decided we needed cake. Having been impressed with Delizique's cake selection previously, I suggested we went there. Being greedy and being unable to decide what we wanted, we ended up choosing three slices between the two of us

We sat in Cafezique and had tea and coffee whilst working our way through our spoils. I thought I did detect a couple of jealous glances from other patrons but they may well have been looks of disbelief at how much cake two people could eat.

Lemon polenta cake which was light and airy, which is just as well given the thick layer of cream and berries sandwiched in the middle of it.

oohy gooey cake of previous rapturous blogpost, so rich you need cream to eat it even with booze soaked morello cherries on the bottom.

and lime tart, to make us feel a bit healthy, although I have to say I still prefer lemon tart.

If you want cake go to Cafezique.


John of St John fame was up from London and knowing how much he likes his bivalves,

I thought that Crabshakk would be the perfect place for us to have lunch. In my current state most of the menu is off bounds but I knew that I could live vicariously through John.

Crabshakk has come out of nowhere, it is relatively new but already for Saturday dinner is booked up 3 weeks in advance. The owner John Mcleod along with his wife Lynne Jones have utilised every last scrap of space in the joint, something which probably has something to do with John being an architect and one who is responsible for the interiors of Cafezique, Bar Gandolfi and Gandolfi Fish. He obviously learnt a thing or two about the restaurant trade whilst he was involved in these projects, judging by Crabshakk's success.

Lunchtime on a Friday afternoon and the recession is nowhere to be found.

We were one of the first ones in with a table for two at twelve, fortunately they gave us a table for four, which given my ever girth and John's prodigious ordering meant we had just enough room.

I went for the fish (Pollock, the fish not the plaice!! ha ha droll fish humour) and chips with garlic mayo, which we confirmed was made of pasteurised egg yolks whilst John started off with three oysters with shallot vinagarette, tabasco and lemon

In one of his shells was a little critter very much like the one that was in my oyster in Applecross, again, we couldn't tell if it was a sign of freshness or otherwise but the lovely staff provided John with an additional two oysters in recompense.

He then proceeded to have half a Scottish lobster grilled with garlic butter


a whole brown crab. Looking at him tackle said crustacean with crab clamp made me glad I had the far lazier option of fish and chips. Far too much effort if you ask me, almost negative calorie in essence- the amount of effort expended equals the amount of calories consumed, the perfect foodie diet!

My fish and chips was very very good but suffered from a bit of seepage from between what was perfectly cooked fish, and the batter.

The chip were excellent, almost on par with Mohr fish, the only thing that could make them perfection would be if they had a little bit of crunch on the outside to give that whole texture sensation in the mouth, as the insides were soft a fluffy and yummy, especially with a lick of garlic mayo. My plate was clean.

The place was full within half an hour of our arrival and as mentioned before every possible seating option was utilised, something you see a lot of in New York and London but not so much here. It added to the feeling that you were somewhere desirable, a place to be seen and a place to eat in. I am quite happy with avoiding the 3 week wait and having what Crabshakk has to offer at lunchtime. I certainly couldn't wait 3 weeks to have more of those chips.