Archive for the ‘Restaurant Review’ Category

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.

mybook.to/HuntersChase

Val Penny

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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

 

Gerrard’s Corner Chinese Restaurant, 30 Wardour St, London, England

On a recent visit to London, my daughters treated me to a theatre visit, something I miss now I live in a village. We went to see The Play That Goes Wrong at the Duchess Theatre. It was an extremely funny comedy. I have rarely laughed so hard. The cast were fabulous and we enjoyed the experience greatly. Afterwards, it was only fair that I treated us to dinner.Apple Duchess Theatre

I do not know London well, so, having decided that we would have a Chinese meal, my older daughter suggested a restaurant she has been too before and enjoyed. She chose Gerrard’s Corner Chinese Restaurant on the corner of Gerrard Street and Wardour Street. For the omnivores amongst us, it was a good call. chinese out

Gerrard’s Corner is obviously a popular restaurant as we had not booked and, although we were early for dinner, there was a short queue. We were told we would have to wait about five minutes, and that was about right. We were shown to a table downstairs in the large, cosy basement. Service was friendly and prompt without making us feel rushed in any way.chinese in 2

I started with the Deep Fried Crispy Greens, and my daughters had the Satay Chicken on Skewers. We all enjoyed our starters. They were delicious. I am vegetarian and was surprised at the number of bean curd and vegetable dishes that contained meat, fish or fish paste. So my choices were limited. I chose the Fried Bean Curd with Salt and Pepper. It was tasty but a bit dry. My older daughter had the Fried Chicken in Lemon Sauce whch she very much enjoyed and my younger daughter ordered the Crispy Shredded Beef in Chilli sauce. She enjoyed that too. As a vegetarian, Gerrard’s Corner is not a restaurant that I would recommend. However, the omnivores amongst us thoroughly enjoyed the meal.

Val Penny

 

 

The Corner Cafe, 73 Main St, West Kilbride, Ayrshire, Scotland

corner cafeA few weeks ago this new restaurant and takeaway, The Corner Cafe, opened on the corner of Hunterston Road and Main Street in the Craft Town of West Kilbride Ayrshire, Scotland. My husband took me to lunch there recently. The takeaway enters from the corner cafe logoMain Street while the restaurant is entered from Hunterston Road.

When we went in, I was very impressed with the bright modern decor. Also, you can see into the kitchen. I like this, it is clean, tidy and well organised. The Corner Cafe was busy when we arrived for lunch but we did manage to get one last table for two. The table was a decent size, so many modern restaurants have tiny tables for two people.

corner cafe fishWe were also pleasantly surprised by the menu. There were imaginative specials, a variety of light meals and a generous choice of main meals. I was impressed that there was a choice of meals for vegetarians too. My husband swithered with having the fish but finally decided on one of the specials, the chicken caesar club sandwich with fries and extra onion rings. He enjoyed the meal very much. I chose the vegetarian cous cous with roasted vegetables. It was a most unexpected vegetarian option and delious. The portions were generous and there was a lovley choice of cakes and desserts.corner cafe choccake

I am also impressed that the access for disabled people is excellent. The Corner Cafe is a new venture. I recommend it and wish it success.

Valerie Penny

Dumfries House, Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland

dumfries house annaMy friend Anna and I had a lovely day out to Dumfries House,  Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Dumfries_House

It was my first visit although Dumfries house is on of Britain’s most beautifuldumfries house prince charles stately homes that was saved for the nation by the personal intervention of Prince Charles the Prince of Wales in 2007. The house and estate is now owned in charitable trust by The Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust, which maintains it as a visitor attraction and hospitality and wedding venue. Both the house and the gardens are listed as significant aspects of Scottish heritage.

Mike Scott
Phone 07968 258392
e-mail mike@mikescottphotographer.comThe 18th century house is set in lovely grounds and combines the neoclassical architecture of Robert Adam with the furniture of Thomas Chippendale. The refurbished blue bed is a stunning work of modern and classical craftsmanship.

dumfries house cafeteria

We sampled coffee and cake at the visitor centre before touring the house and grounds. The baking was fresh and the scones the most enormous I have ever seen! We enjoyed the bright, freshly decorated cafeteria. There were many tables and it was well appointed. We enjoyed exploring the grounds and the playground is delightful. We only wished we had a child with us to enjoy it too.dumfries house woodland walks

On our visit around the house we were entranced by the quality of the restoration and the beautiful, original furniture that has been saved by Prince Charles. He has secured employment for many people in and around Cumnock. This is an area of Scotland that suffers from serious unemployment and a lack of investment. dumfries house blue roomI paticularly liked the yellow room in the house. It was so bright and light and cheerful. The collection of Chippendale chairs in this room is splendid. Anna enjoyed the blue room with its cool colours and original furniture.

After our tour of Dumfries House, we stopped for lunch downstairs in the original kitchen and servants’ working area of the house in the basement. The cutlery and table furnishings were beautiful. We were served vegetriandumfries house yellow room parsnip soup, made from produce grown in the grounds. There was also a selection of sandwiches with various fillings. Biscuits and cakes finished off the meal. Some of the sandwiches and pieces of cake tasted slightly stale. that was disappointing. I suspect they are cut early in the day and uncovered until served, at whatever time of day.

However, after lunch we took another tour of the grounds and visited the walled garden. The beauty of the house, grounds and the stylish walled garden far out-weighed the slightly dry cake.dumfries house walled garden

I would defintely visit Dumfries House again and, be happy to sample the offerings in the cafeteria. Also, if I were there in the middle of the day, I would make my way to the basement for lunch. I highly recommend Dumfries House.

Valerie Penny