Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Lochlands Mill (Dundee Rd, Forfar)

March 5, 2017

It’s been pretty quiet on the restaurant review front lately, for which I apologise.

In recent weeks I’ve spent more time going back to places I’d already eaten, so there hasn’t been much to talk about.

But today I ventured further afield to try somewhere new; Lochlands Mill, just outside of Forfar.

The Venue

Well it took us a while to get their thanks to my car’s shitty sat nav, which suggested I drive across a barrier on the A90, but once we finally – and quite by accident – ended up in the right place, we were met with a

The burger was superb

The burger was superb

nice restaurant.

Rather oddly combining as a pet rehabilitation centre and jewellery store, Lochlands Mill looks quite new and has a fresh design.

It’s not the biggest place in the world, and we were lucky to get the last available table, but once we were in it was clean and comfortable.

The waiting staff were pleasant and were happy to offer recommendations on what to get from the menu.

The Food

While Mhairi went for the Soup & Sandwich combo of Lentil & Vegetable soup and an Egg Mayo & Chive open sandwich, I took the waitress’s recommendation of their home-made burger with bbq sauce and onion rings served on a brioche bun ahead of the Roast of the Day or the Steak & Ale Pie.

She recommended well.

I like to think I’m a good judge of a burger, and sometimes I feel disappointed. There are some places that apparently specialise in their burgers – like Rascals in St. Andrews for example – that don’t actually make good burgers.  What they do is try to hide the bland and substandard flavour of their ready-made meat patty with all the wild and wacky toppings available, as if they are more important.

But this burger was different. I could tell that it was freshly made just before it was served, with its rough, uneven shape, and while I’ll be honest and say I’d have preferred it a little less well done, it had a robust

Apparently the open sandwich had the perfect blend of egg to mayonaisse

Apparently the open sandwich had the perfect blend of egg to mayonaisse

flavour. The onion ring was also well cooked and not greasy, which complimented it nicely along with the Applewood smoked cheddar.

Mhairi also enjoyed her food, with the soup being declared light to eat but filling, while the sandwich was considered to have the perfect ratio of egg to mayonnaise.

High praise indeed.

The Drink

Plenty of variety of soft drink, but it won’t come as a surprise to know I went for a lemonade. Shocking, eh? Mhairi veered off the well beaten path though and elected for an Irn Bru.

The Vegetarian’s Viewpoint

It should be noted that both the Beer Kitchen and the Meat House in Dundee were considered for today’s lunch but had very little for vegetarians. While I’m sure that’s exactly the most shocking revelation from a place called The Meat House, it actually had far more choice than the Beer Kitchen.

Anyway, there were both light and main options for the carrot munchers at Lochlands Mill, so there were no complaints in that department.

The Price

All in, it came to £21.10, which isn’t bad at all. In fact, Mhairi’s meal only amounted to £6.50 which really is pretty good.

Final Thoughts

A top quality burger, a clean and comfortable venue and plenty choice for vegetarians means this is one place we’ll definitely be going back to soon.

I’d probably book a table in advance though as I think we were pretty lucky to get a table.

 

 

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Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach Review (Exchange Court, Dundee)

October 31, 2016

I’m a little bit behind on my restaurant reviews, so I must apologise. I can only imagine those of you holding your breath have died of oxygen starvation…

But next on my travels round the eateries of Dundee is New Zealand restaurant, The Bach (pronounced Batch, which you should know to avoid any embarrassing social faux-pas in the company of Kiwis) in Exchange Court, Dundee.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach: The Venue

The first thing to note about The Bach is the venue itself, situated as it is on the top floor of an old flour mill.

A Pretty Daunting Set Of Stairs.

A Pretty Daunting Set Of Stairs.

As far as I can see, there’s no obvious disabled access and a quick google search comes up with a line on their Facebook page confirming that.

Unless they’ve installed a lift since they wrote that, it means that the only way in is to climb the steep flight of stairs to the entrance shown in the picture. That not only precludes those who require disabled access, but also anyone with trouble climbing stairs.

Put simply, unless you’re fit, you’re not getting into The Bach.

Once you get in, it’s a nice enough looking venue with a purposefully minimalist style. The seating was comfortable but the lighting at the table we were sat at left a lot to be desired.

At one side I sat under a bright spotlight, while at the other, Mhairi was almost in complete darkness. I felt as though I was being interrogated.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach: The Food

We came for brunch on a Sunday, so the menu was different to what you would expect during the week or if you’re coming for lunch or tea.

Having said that, there was still a decent amount of choice, and though they didn’t have what I had specifically come for – The Mexican Breakfast Burrito – I was pleasantly surprised by their off-menu alternative of mince on toast covered in a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.

I say pleasantly surprised because it’s nice to have the choice of eating something a little bit different.

The dish itself was reasonable enough, but I think they added extra pepper and a hint of chilli to the point where the intended flavours were overpowered.

Mhairi meanwhile went for Gingerbread Waffles with Strawberries and Maple Syrup. She thought they were great, and having convinced her to let me try a bit I can confirm that was the case.

Mince on toast covered in eggs benedict. It was...interesting.

Mince on toast covered in eggs benedict. It was…interesting. Notice the wonderful lighting from the intense spotlight I was sat under.

I think I’d rather have had that than what I ordered.

As a takeaway treat, we each bought a brownie to go.

Now I’m a fair man and believe in only giving honest feedback, otherwise the reviews lose their merit, so I apologise to the chef in case he reads this when I say…

We both agreed that what we got was possibly the worst brownie we’d ever tasted.

Honestly folks, it was just grim. A dry, crumbly husk with dark chocolate chunks that made it bitter.

A brownie should be soft and chewy, perhaps even gooey. This was the opposite.

Thumbs down.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach: The Drink

Fresh Orange juices for us both, and thankfully it wasn’t from concentrate.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach: The Vegetarian’s Viewpoint

Almost everything on the menu with only a few exceptions was suitable for vegetarians and there were also plenty of items for vegans too.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach: The Price

All in, it cost £25.50. That’s almost double the price of brunch at the superior Tonic and is more expensive than the vast majority of the places I’ve reviewed.

Let’s be honest, this wasn’t great value.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach: Final Thoughts

The only major success story from The Bach was the gingerbread waffles. My food was interesting in theory but not particularly tasty, and brownies were awful. When you add that to potential issues with access, the relative lack of value for money and the discomfort of sitting under a bright light as if I was being interrogated, I just can’t recommend The Bach.


Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Braes (Perth Rd Dundee)

August 28, 2016

The thing about doing reviews is that if you’re constantly positive or negative, and what you write starts to become ‘one-note’, then they lose their meaning.

If every restaurant review I did gushed about how amazing it was, then how would you be able to tell if a one restaurant is really better than the other?

So I’m glad to have found a local eatery that I can justifiably take issue with.

In this case it’s Braes on the Perth Rd in Dundee.

Braes Review: The Restaurant

Well, it’s not really a restaurant, it’s more of a pub that sells food, but suspiciously sticky floor aside, Braes is a pretty nice establishment. The chairs we sat on were very comfortable, the decor was nice enough and

Here's the Mac & Cheese Bites, the Crawfish Roll with Sweet Potato fries and a rather unattractive blob of mayo.

Here’s the Mac & Cheese Bites, the Crawfish Roll with Sweet Potato fries and a rather unattractive blob of mayo.

the view of the Perth Rd and the old University buildings was pleasant.

My only complaint is that the people of ‘We Want Plates’ wouldn’t have been happy with the strange pots and pans the food, cutlery and condiments were served in.

Braes Review: The Drink

We both went for a pint of lemonade each and that’s what we got. It was chilled, a nice flavour and accompanied the meal fine. And hey, if you’re thinking “All lemonade tastes the same” then I’ll simply counter that all wine tastes the same to me too. Same with beer. So there.

Braes Review: The Food

Now here’s the thing…

Braes has an excellent menu; it’s filled with the sort of food that I adore. From the various sharing platters to the multitude of burgers (including a Mac & Cheese topped burger which sounds amazing), chicken dishes and bbq style treats, this is heaven for diner who loves what the Americans would call ‘comfort food’.

I chose to go with the fried Crawfish brioche roll as it’s not the sort of thing that you usually find on menus in Dundee, plus I didn’t want anything too heavy.

Mhairi went for the flat mushroom wrap, which was described as containing mozzarella, chedder and a rich marinara sauce.

As you can see, the amount of crawfish in the roll compared to bread and salad left a lot to be desired

As you can see, the amount of crawfish in the roll compared to bread and salad left a lot to be desired

We both ordered sweet potato fries with our dishes and we also shared some Mac & Cheese Bites as a side.

The food certainly sounded like it would be great, but the reality was that it was merely ok.

My roll flattered to deceive. The crawfish was nice but there was so little of it. From a top down view it looked good but as you can see, the crawfish only lined the very top of a rather dry brioche stuffed with salad. It’s the food equivalent of getting a pint of lemonade from the bar and it being filled up with so much ice that there’s barely a half a pint of fluid in the glass.

Meanwhile, Mhairi’s wrap – although well cooked – had no mozzarella in it and the marinara sauce was laced with chilli heat. Had she known it would be a spicy sauce, she wouldn’t have ordered it. To me, a ‘rich marinara sauce’ is a tomato based sauce with garlic, onions and herbs as standard. If it’s going to be spicy, specify that.

The Mac & Cheese Bites were tasty enough, but to be honest also had a bitter aftertaste of the oil used to fry them.

But on the plus side, the sweet potato fries were quality.

Braes Review: The Vegetarian Viewpoint

As stated above, Braes has an excellent menu, and it would be fair to say that vegetarians get a huge choice of dishes, with no less than 19 items to choose from.

Braes Review: The Price

All in, for two main courses with sweet potato fries, two pints of lemonade and some Mac & Cheese bites, we were just over £20. Not bad, but not exceptionally great either.

The Flat Mushroom Wrap with Sweet Potato Fries

The Flat Mushroom Wrap with Sweet Potato Fries

Braes Review: Final Thoughts

Compared to both Sol y Sombra and Cafe Montmartre, Braes falls short in the quality department, but then I suppose it’s horses for courses. It is first and foremost a pub.

Although I was underwhelmed with what we were served today, the amount of food on the menu that we like means we will go again, but I’d certainly hope for a better experience.

 


Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Wee Mexico (Perth Rd, Dundee)

August 8, 2016

As a new feature for Stuart Reviews Stuff, I’ve decided to start doing restaurant/takeaway reviews.

The point of them isn’t to be harsh – because I feel some people only bother to review things to complain – but rather to simply share my thoughts. I reckon most of the time I’ll end up being complimentary as it’s very rare that I find myself disappointed by food.

Anyway, the first review will be for a new restaurant/takeaway that’s only just opened on the Perth Road in Dundee today, Wee Mexico.

Seeing as it was their very first day of business, I was expecting it to be mayhem, but I was hungry and keen on trying it so decided to brave the potential line. And though one of the staff standing outside the

The Burrito didn't come in fancy packaging but was a good size, filling and tasty.

The Burrito didn’t come in fancy packaging but was a good size, filling and tasty.

door couldn’t have made it more obvious that he thought I should come back later “to avoid a wait”, I’d already paid for my parking so I wasn’t to be deterred.

And I’m glad I wasn’t.

The idea behind the restaurant is that it offers simple Mexican street food, with no table service – although you can sit in if you want – or fancy packaging. Among the wide selection of tacos, burritos, nachos and quesadillas – and it should be noted that they also offer a wide range of vegan and gluten-free options, which is fantastic –  I elected to go for The Grand Burrito, containing beef, salad, refried beans, salsa and all the other usual trimmings at a cost of £3.50.

I’ve got to say that I was most impressed, especially with the price.

I love the nearby takeaway, Jushi, but £3.50 would only get me a couple of bits of sushi at best, and certainly not enough to satisfy an empty stomach,

This burrito was tasty and filling and was very quickly wolfed down.

If I was to have an issue, it would be that it had a wee bit of a kick to it and while I get that Mexican food does need some heat, it might put off the likes of my girlfriend who would only want the mildest of food going. I believe that they plan to offer a variety of heat levels and maybe it was just an opening day oversight, but the choice would be nice.

I’ll certainly try Wee Mexico again though, and look forward to a speedier service.

Recommended.