Archive for the ‘Restaurant Review’ Category

The Cafe Royal, 19 West Register Street, Edinburgh, Scotland

I recently met up with a delightful clowder of Cats: some other authors whose books are also published by Crooked Cat Books. We got together at The Cafe Royal, 19 West Register Street, Edinburgh, Scotland.Cafe Royal

It was years since I had been to The Cafe Royal and I had forgotten what a popular, busy pub it is. Hidden away around the corner at the East end of Prince’s Street, it is a gem. The décor is fabulous: Victorian & Baroque, stained glass windows in the Oyster Bar and Royal Doulton ceramic tiles. The staff were friendly and attentive. The wide choice of beers and whiskys is legendary.  cafe royal inAfter we had drunk our publisher dry, but not under the table, we all ordered meals and the food was excellent. Our main courses ranged from fish to risotto, steak pie. All the choices were much enjoyed and all were very reasonably priced.

Cafe royal outWhen we arrived about 3pm the bar was quite empty: by the time we left to find a different watering hole some five hours later, The Cafe Royal was back to being the bustling bar I remembered from years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to The Cafe Royal. The company, the food and the drinks were all excellent, so whether you are looking for a pub to watch a rugby match or a restaurant to enjoy a meal with friends, I highly recommend Edinburgh’s Cafe Royal.

Val Penny


Paul Hollywood Bakery and Coffee, Euston Street, Kings Cross, London

Paul HollywoodIf I were Paul Hollywood, I would be embarrassed to have my name associated with this establishment.

I have never been a particular fan of the celebrity baker Paul Hollywood. (Pause for people to shout at the computer!) However, when my husband and I were meeting our daughter for morning coffee near Euston Station in London the other places were too full for us to find a table so we chose the Paul Hollywood Bakery and Coffee, Euston Street, Kings Cross, London.

I was bitterly disappointed by the service, the drinks, the cleanliness and the decor.

The positive things I should mention are that we did get a table when nowhere else nearby had one for us and my daughter and husband both got what they ordered. So far, so good.Paul Hollywood in

Immediately we walked in, we noticed the decor was shabby. Not shabby chic, shabby. A few seats had grubby cushions, most had had them torn off. The chairs were not comfortable, the tables were not clean and the floor was dirty. We decided not to eat here because of the filth but braved hot drinks. My husband did get his flat white, coffee. My daughter got her tea. I asked for and Earl Grey Tea: I got a PG Tips black tea. I had taken a few sips before I realised, so I didn’t take it back. Paul Hollywood tea

The staff certainly showed no interest in their customers or their environment. There was a notice asking customers to leave their cups, plates and such on the tables and a member of staff will be happy to collect it. In the hour we were there, when the place was not particularly busy, not one member of staff ventured from behind the counter to collect or clean anything. The interest in their own conversations prevented them from having time to do that.Paul Hollywood out.jpg

Would I recommend Paul Hollywood Bakery and Coffee, Euston Street, Kings Cross, London – no. Would I go there again – no.

Val Penny



Creme De La Crepe, 29, Covent Garden Market, London, England

I was having a wander around Covent Garden, London, England with my daughters when we decided to stop for lunch. There are lots of interesting places to choose from and we decided on Creme De La Crepe. It is a cosy casual little restaurant that offers a wide variety of both sweet and savoury crêpes and smoothies. COVENT_GARDEN_MARKET_BUILDING

The restaurant is spotlessly clean with tables in vaulted spaces with flagstone floors and one or two tables are outside the restaurant. We sat ‘outside’ Creme De La Crepe so that we could still be in the Covent Garden area. I chose the crepe called Billy Goat’s Gruff. This contains goat’s cheese, caramelised onion marmalade, sweet cherrybell peppers, rocket. It was delicious.

My older daughter went with the crepe known as Nick the Greek that is made from falafel, hummus, sunblushed tomatoes, red onion, black olives, extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, rocket. She really enjoyed it. My younger daughter ordered a house favourite, Crepe Monsieur. In it is free range smoked ham, mature cheddar cheese, english mustard mayonnaise and rocket. She said it was very tasty.creme de la crepe

We all really enjoyed our meals and I would highly recommend this competatively priced little restaurant, Creme De La Crepe, always assuming you enjoy crepes.

Val Penny

The Apartment, 7-13 Barclay Place, Edinburgh, Scotland

My husband, my mother and I recently went to The Apartment, 7-13 Barclay Place, Edinburgh, Scotland for a celebration lunch together. My husband was treating us to celebrate a successful year which saw my debut crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ published by Crooked Cat Books with a launch date of 02.02.2018. ‘Hunter’s Chase’ is dedicated to my mother. The story is set in Edinburgh and two of the main characters live in Gillespie Crescent, just opposite The Apartment.Hunter's Chase book cover (1)

Although there were only three of us, we are not an easy group to cater for. Mum uses a wheelchair. Unfortunately for her, I am not the best wheelchair driver on the planet, but she is very gracious. Access was easy.  I am vegetarian while my husband and mother are confirmed omnivores.

We had booked a table and the staff were very helpful and kind. We were able to choose between two tables and opted for the one nearest the window. We decided against alcohol in the middle of the day, but we all had different drinks. Mum had a diet coke, I chose a soda water and lime while my husband asked for a ginger beer.The Apartment Outside

Mum did not have a starter, but my husband chose the traditional Scotch Broth soup. I went for the pear, blue cheese and walnut salad. We were both delighted with our choices. The menu is not huge, but it is a carefully chosen mix of meats, fish and vegetarian dishes to suit all tastes. I always feel pleased when I have genuine choices: at The Apartment, I did.

The omnivores both chose the rib-eye steaks for their main courses. Mum requested hers be cooked ‘medium’ while my husband wanted his ‘medium rare’. Apparently both were perfectly cooked. They both seemed to enjoy their main courses. My husband’s only complaint was that there was parmasan cheese on his salad. He believes this to be the cheese of the devil! I chose a halloumi, sweet potato and pepper skewer for my main course. It was served with a beetroot coleslaw, green salad and another side. I chose fires. The beetroot coleslaw sounds strange, but tastes delicious. I highly recommend it.The Apartment Food

Neither Mum nor I could manage a pudding, we shared a plate of truffles. They were tiny but tasty. A delicious end to the meal with a fine coffee. My husband chose the chocolate brownie. This was served warm with a bitter fruit couli cutting the sweetness of the chocolate and a fine vanilla icecream. My husband is very fussy about his coffee, but not even he could find anything to complain about with his Americano.

The service was flawless. This was a first visit to The Apartment for all of us, but we thoroughly enjoyed it, so it will certainly not be our last.

‘Hunter’s Chase’ is available to order from Amazon.

Val Penny

Hunter's Chase banner





Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, High Maybole Rd, Alloway, Ayr, Scotland

I went to visit Alloway with my friend Anna. We stopped for coffee and cake at the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, High Maybole Rd, Alloway, Ayr, Scotland. The Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, is set on the banks of the River Doon and across from the Burns Memorial Gardens. We took the opportunity to visit the beautiful gardens before stopping in at this tranquil hotel.Burns museum

The Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, is situated in an ivy-covered house is a 6-minute walk from the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. We took a self-guided tour of the property Robert Burns grew up in, Burns Cottage,  as well as a visit to the museum that houses his manuscripts, books, many artefacts and artwork. Burns Cottage, was the first home of Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet and radical thinker. It is located in Alloway, South Ayrshire, Scotland. It was built by his father, William Burness in 1757. Burns is acknowledged as Scotland’s national poet. He was born there on 25 January 1759.Burns Cottage

After our visits in the town of Alloway, Anna and I decided to look for somewhere to stop brig-o-doon outfor afternoon coffee and cake. We were delighted to find the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, its fine-dining restaurant offers traditional Scottish cuisine, and panoramic views of the gardens and river. The hotel also retains exclusive fishing rights on the river for its guests. Other amenities include landscaped gardens, event facilities and limited parking, but coffee and cake sufficed for us. brig-o-doon entrance

The entrance is beautiful and in the lobby and fire added to the warmth of the surroundings. We so enjoyed curling up in the comfortable armchairs whiling the afternoon away. The coffees were delicious. Anna had a cappuccino, while I opted for a decaf latte. The cakes were fresh and tasty. Anna had an individual bakewell tart, while I had a slice brig o doon insideof apple pie. The service provided by the staff was excellent.

There was a wedding taking place the day we were there. Nevertheless, the service for us was still excellent. We were not made to feel unwanted or in the way at all. The only brig o doon roomsdisadvantage to the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel is that the access for those with mobility issues is poor. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel and we hope to visit there again.


Val Penny



Ed’s Easy Diner, 11 Euston Square, London, England

I was in Euston Station, London one morning waiting for a train and had a little longer to wait than I expected, so I decided to go for brunch and I decided to find somewhere to have brunch. I noticed Ed’s Easy Diner and decided to go in there for an American style brunch revolving around eggs, but after I sat down, I realised this was going to be more difficult than I had anticipated. I am vegetarian and all the egg dishes included bacon or sausage. I should have left then.Ed's out

I was shown to a table immediately and a menu was brought to me quickly but it was several minutes before a server managed to tear themselves away from conversations with colleagues to take my order. This restaurant styles itself a funky chain diner with a 1950s vibe serving burgers, hot dogs and American comfort food, but I did not find it so. My East European server made it clear that changing dishes as specified on the menu were not possible. Very un-American!Ed's pancakes

Eventually we compromised, I would have the three pancake stack, and orange juice and a black coffee. The drinks arrived without issue. What can you do wrong with orange juice and coffee? When the pancakes arrived, there was bacon on the top. I explained, again, that I am vegetarian and the bacon would have to go. Imagine my surprise when my three pancake stack came back with out the bacon and the top pancake. You have to laugh!

I cannot recommend Ed’s Easy Diner, as I did not eat there. The coffee and orange juice is good and access is easy for those with mobility issues, should they wish to go there.

Val Penny


Pickwick’s Tavern, Ohlos de Agua, Algarve, Portugal

My husband and I very much like Portugal, the countryside the people and the food. However, on a recent visit we stopped in for a cup of tea to a delightfully English pub, Pickwick’s Tavern. The owners and staff are English and they do an excellent mug of tea. My husband has also often taken refuge there with a pint of lager when I am resting or shopping. Conveiently, Pickwick’s Tavern runs a ‘husband creche’ that many wives take advantage of!portugal out

The pub benefits from the mild weather in the South of Portugal. It makes a point of showing main sports matches on big screen TV. It is always busy during international football and rugby matches. portugal in

The inside of Pickwick’s Tavern is quite small but cosy. Outside there is a large comfortable street-side area that benefits from large parasols that provide shade in the eat of the day. portugal sign

The staff and owners are friendly and take time to chat and make customers welcome. The ambience of Pickwick’s Tavern is warm, the food offered is excellent ‘pub grub’ and they do a tasty breakfast. We really enjoyed our visit to Pickwick’s Tavern and I highly recommend this this establishment.

Val Penny