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.

 

 


Stuart Reviews Restaurants – Jessie’s Kitchen (Albert Rd, Broughty Ferry)

January 8, 2017

If you know me and you’ve spoken to me about food and where I like to eat, then you’ll know I love Jessie’s Kitchen.

But I’ve never reviewed it.

So now I will.

Expect compliments.

The Venue

Jessie’s Kitchen is situated in a converted mansion in Broughty Ferry, alongside Turriff’s Garden Centre.

It’s one of these places – especially in the summer – where you can sit, look out the window at the view across the Tay and think to yourself “If this was London, living here would cost

The Tuna Melt. It may look unremarkable but it certainly doesn't taste that way.

The Tuna Melt. It may look unremarkable but it certainly doesn’t taste that way.

millions”. Really, it’s lovely. And the inside is nice as well, with three open, clean and airy rooms with comfortable chairs.

But it isn’t without its problems if I’m being fair. For one thing, if you accidentally end up in the kids friendly room then it’s a bit of a nightmare. That’s not a problem with the venue, but rather the kids. I suppose though it’s good that they at least try to isolate the screaming toddlers to one area.

The other issue is that because of the large bay windows, it can be a bit of a sun-trap, and if you’re unfortunate enough to be at one of the tables where the sun shines straight down on you, it can be mildly uncomfortable.

Those are minor issues though.

I should also mention that the staff are very friendly and always look after us well. When we go, we know we’ll be given good service.

The Food

Jessie’s Kitchen doesn’t try to compete as a high-end restaurant with Michelin star food. Instead it’s a nice lunch spot, where you can get hot and cold sandwiches, baked potatoes and that sort of thing. But it does it very well.

Over the course of the last year, I think I’ve tried almost everything they have on the menu and it’s always good. My personal favourite dish is the tuna melt wrap, which is just brilliant.

The Egg Mayo Baked Potato (and of course the side salad which is part of the appeal)

The Egg Mayo Baked Potato (and of course the side salad which is part of the appeal)

It’s so good it’s frustrating because – and I say this as someone who knows his way around the kitchen – for the life of me, I just cannot make a tuna melt like it.

The same goes for the orange slice, which is my personal pick from their wide selection of cakes and traybakes available to have there or to take away.

Mhairi meanwhile went for the baked potato with egg mayonnaise baked potato. The official word on that was that the potato was well cooked, with a crispy – but not overdone – skin and the egg mayo was extremely tasty.

So we were both happy.

One thing I will say about Jessie’s Kitchen that flies under the radar is the quality of their side salad. In most venues, it’s just a lazily thrown together garnish that adds nothing to the quality of the dish, but at Jessie’s it’s part of the dining experience. Effort goes in to making a salad that is actually tasty and so it’s worth mentioning; who’d have thought it.

The Drink

As usual it was lemonade. No complaints. No massive praise either.

The Vegetarian’s Viewpoint

There’s plenty for veggies at Jessie’s Kitchen and even for – whisper it – vegans. Fill your boots, carrot-munchers.

The Price

It’s fair to say that Jessie’s Kitchen is quite pricey in comparison to venues with similar lunch menus. But on the whole – for reasons listed above – it’s worth it.

The only thing I would be critical of is the price of a slice of cake. The traybakes I have no problem with, but the cakes are more expensive and the size of the slice you get can vary wildly from day-to-day.

Final Thoughts

For around three or four months last year – before I started the restaurant reviews – we’d go to Jessie’s Kitchen every Sunday for lunch. And while we like to try different places now, we know that Jessie’s is there and will always have quality food whenever we go back.

If I’m asked for one single recommendation for somewhere to eat lunch in Dundee, Jessie’s would be my pick.

If you’ve not tried it yet, you should.


Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The West Port Bar & Kitchen (St. Andrews)

November 9, 2016

The warning sign was there…

When I asked someone who works in St. Andrews whether or not The West Port Bar & Kitchen in the town was any good, the reply was ‘Meh, it’s ok I suppose’.

That pretty much sums it up.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The West Port Bar & Kitchen – The Venue.

To be fair to The West Port Bar & Kitchen, it’s a nice, clean building, designed in a style befitting the town of St. Andrews – i.e. quite posh.

The apparent 'Reuben'

The apparent ‘Reuben’

I could have no complaints about where we were sat, the noise levels or the comfort of the chairs. That was all fine.

But the service wasn’t great.

Though we were seated, had our orders taken and were served pretty quickly, the real letdown was that our waitress never bothered to clear our plates away when we were finished or ask us if we wanted dessert. Even when we put our plates to the end of the table in a mild display of passive aggression in an attempt to grab her attention, she just kept ignoring us.

What that did was turn us off our plan of getting desserts, so when a different waitress finally came to clear the table and ask if we wanted anything else, we’d decided not to bother.

So that cost them money in the short-term, and also put us off coming back.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The West Port Bar & Kitchen – The Food

Another aspect to mark it down on was the food.

Mhairi went for a Brie and Cranberry Sauce baguette, which you’d think would be simple enough to make work, but alas it was not to be. Essentially what she got was a baguette with salad and a bit of cranberry in

A lot of effort went into this Brie and Cranberry Sauce baguette

A lot of effort went into this Brie and Cranberry Sauce baguette

it, and then some slices of brie places on top. Surely when you order a baguette with a filling of your choice, you want your filling to ‘fill’ the baguette? She also felt that it could also have done with being served warm.

I meanwhile went for the Reuben Sandwich. You don’t get this American delicacy on the menu in too many restaurants in this neck of the woods, so it was the main reason I was happy to give the West Port a try.

And though the description didn’t follow the traditional style of the dish – in that replaced some of the core ingredients with pulled bbq beef, mustard and wholemeal bread – it still looked good on paper.

Alas it wasn’t well cooked. The beef was dry, the bread was just two pieces of toast without butter, the cheese was minimal and the mustard was non-existent. I had to smother it in mayonnaise to give it a bit of moisture.

The fries were also devoid of taste as well.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The West Port Bar & Kitchen – The Drinks

Again, it’s two lemonades, and they were fine.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The West Port Bar & Kitchen – The Vegetarians Viewpoint

The West Port Bar & Kitchen offers a wide range of vegetarian options, including a nice range of choice in their Healthy Eats range.

If you’re not a fan of the sausage, there’s plenty here to choose from.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The West Port Bar & Kitchen – The Price

All in all it came to £17, which is on the cheaper end of the scale. But then again we did just order sandwiches.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The West Port Bar & Kitchen – Final Thoughts

As we walked past plenty of other restaurants that looked great, we came to regret going to the West Port Bar & Kitchen.

It just wasn’t very good.

On the plus side, I was inspired to make my own Reuben Sandwich for lunch yesterday, and that was amazing.

So I’ll at least take some comfort from that…


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: Tonic (Perth Rd, Dundee)

September 27, 2016

Thanks to a change in my work schedule, I now finish on Sundays at 11am instead of 12pm, and that means one thing; the world of brunch is now open to me.

So this week, rather than a trip to a restaurant in the afternoon – and for those of you worrying that I’d missed a review last week, we actually went back to The Tinsmith for another pie – we decided to pop along to Tonic on the Perth Rd in Dundee for a mid morning meal.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Tonic – The Venue

Set very much in the heart of Dundee’s student territory, Tonic is a nice enough restaurant/bar with a mostly open plan. It didn’t stand out in terms of decor, but it was clean and the seats were comfortable so I have no complaints.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Tonic – The Food

Tonic’s brunch menu mixes the more traditional Scottish/English breakfast choices (bacon, eggs, black pudding, potato scone etc) with American favourites like pancakes, waffles, french toast and filled pretzel

Here's the banana and peanut butter filled pretzel bun. Why it's on a chopping board, I don't know.

Here’s the banana and peanut butter filled pretzel bun. Why it’s on a chopping board, I don’t know.

buns.

I ended up going for the Eggs Benedict Pancakes with a side order of hash browns, black pudding and grilled tomato (alas, the picture of it has been accidentally deleted and thus lost to time), while my fellow foodie Mhairi opted for the Banana, Nutella and Peanut Butter Filled pretzel.

Mine was good, but it certainly needed the extra side orders to make it filling, and though the savoury Eggs Benedict might not have seemed the right choice to go with sweet American style pancakes in theory, I found the flavours complimented each other well. It was nicely presented and tasted great.

Mhairi unfortunately ended up with just banana and peanut butter on hers as they’d run out of Nutella, and though she enjoyed it, it seemed quite dry without the missing ingredient.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Tonic – The Drink

As it was still morning, we opted for ‘fresh’ Orange juice. Alas it was orange juice made from concentrate, which I personally find totally unacceptable in 2016. How difficult is it to buy Tropicana or one of the other brands that deal in properly fresh juices?

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Tonic – The Vegetarians Viewpoint

With such a wide range of pancakes, french toast and waffles to choose from  – as well as  Vegetarian Traditional Breakfast – anyone with an aversion to meat would find plenty to eat here.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Tonic – The Price

Two meals and two drinks for £13.75.

I think that’s the cheapest yet, but drinks aside, it didn’t taste ‘cheap’.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Tonic – Final Thoughts

Only let down by the lack of chocolate spread in Mhairi’s pretzel bun and the quality of the ‘fresh’ Orange juice, Tonic provided us with a nice meal that kept me filled up until night.

I’d go again.

Check Out My Other Restaurant Reviews

Braes
Cafe Montematre
Sol Y Sombra
Taypark House
The Tinsmith
Wee Mexico


Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Taypark House (Perth Rd, Dundee)

September 11, 2016

Another Sunday and another restaurant to review.

This time it’s the ‘Boutique Hotel, Cafe and Gin Bar’ off the Perth Rd in Dundee, Taypark House.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Taypark House – The Restaurant

Based in an old manor house – and what I’m led to believe was once part of the University of Dundee’s Medical School – it’s fair to say that this is a nice looking restaurant/cafe.

The decor is swish, the seating comfortable and – and this is not something I’ve ever felt the need to comment on in any of my previous restaurant reviews – the toilets were very clean.

Put simply, it looks great, but that’s far from the most important aspect an eatery should be judged upon…

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Taypark House – The Food

When I was chatting to someone earlier this week about my restaurant reviews, they made a very sage point…

They said that when they go out for something to eat, they expect to get something better than what they could quickly make for themselves in their own kitchen.

As you can see, the Ciabatta looks quite dry. Serving it with ready salted crisps didn't help either.

As you can see, the Ciabatta looks quite dry. Serving it with ready salted crisps didn’t help either.

That’s exactly right.

If I go to Jessie’s Kitchen for example, I can order a Tuna Melt and know for sure that I’ll get a better quality dish than I could rustle up at home, even though a Tuna Melt in theory is quite a simple dish. The chef at Jessie’s shows that there’s more to it than just tuna, cheese and bread.

With that in mind, today at the Taypark House I ordered a Steak Ciabatta with caramelised onions, and I can honestly say that I could make a better one myself. In fact, I’ve had a better one this week.

And that’s disappointing.

I love a good steak sandwich, but if I order one in a restaurant I want it to be special. I want the steak to be perfectly cooked, for the bread to be of a higher standard than I can buy in a supermarket and for it to almost melt in the mouth.

This didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, it was decent enough and was made with good quality steak, but it was quite dry on the ciabatta and lacked anything to set it apart from something I could make myself in five minutes.

Mhairi meanwhile ordered the Breaded Halloumi Flatbread and reported back that she enjoyed it, but longed for last week’s Tinsmith pie.

So did I.

We also got ourselves a couple of takeaway traybakes but unfortunately once again, they weren’t up to the standard set by Jessie’s Kitchen (which I’ll review at some point soon).

taypark-2

The Breaded Halloumi Flatbread

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Taypark House – The Drink

A pint of draught lemonade for £2.30.

Absolutely no complaints on that score.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Taypark House – The Vegetarian’s Viewpoint

Choice for the Shallot Scoffers was actually quite limited.

The Halliumi Flatbread was the one sandwich that catered for vegetarians and the only other choices were a Goats Cheese Salad, Mac & Cheese and a Mezze selection.

That’s not too bad but other establishments offer a wider selection.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Taypark House – The Price

All in for two main courses, two drinks and two traybakes it came to £25 or thereabouts.

That’s £7 more than last week’s trip to The Tinsmith.

Hmmm.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: Taypark House – Final Thoughts

In isolation, Taypark House would probably be considered a decent place to eat.

However, I’ve become quite the gourmand in the last couple of months and have tried many local restaurants, pubs and cafes. With that comes a higher level of comparison and scrutiny.

And unfortunately for Taypark House, it means that I must consider it a disappointment.

If you’re looking for somewhere to have a nice bite to eat in Dundee, there are better places out there.

They might not look as nice, but the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the tasting.

And I’ve tasted better,

Check Out My Other Restaurant Reviews

Braes
Cafe Montematre
Sol Y Sombra
The Tinsmith
Wee Mexico


Stuart Reviews Restaurant: The Tinsmith Review (Westport, Dundee)

September 4, 2016

As part of the legendary pub quiz team ‘Buster Hymen & The Penetrators” many a Tuesday night was spent in my university-era pub of choice, Tallys.

But a combination of leaving university and not drinking alcohol meant I’ve not been there in years, and I only recently realised that not only has Tallys closed down, but it has reopened and been refurbished as The Tinsmith.

And today I went along to try out their food.

Stuart Reviews Restaurant: The Tinsmith Review – The Restaurant

Well it’s a pub, not a restaurant, but I was taken aback by how much the interior has changed. The bar has moved to the middle of the floor, the wall has been knocked in so that it’s more open plan than before and

While the food tasted great, the presentation wasn't the best

While the food tasted great, the presentation wasn’t the best

– in a way, sadly – the seating has all been changed, which means that ‘our’ booth by the window has gone.

But I made a point of sitting in the part of the room where our booth was.

I’m nostalgic that way.

It was all very nice though, so I have no complaints on that score.

Stuart Reviews Restaurant: The Tinsmith Review – The Food

Much like Braes – which I reviewed last week – this has a menu where almost everything on offer is something I would enjoy, so I was spoiled for choice.

Unlike Braes, what we ordered was actually really nice.

Both Mhairi and myself went for one of the homemade pies – I went for the Pulled Pork & Smokey Beans, she went for the Butternut Squash & Feta – with onion gravy and sweet potato fries and veg.

What’s good about it is that you get a choice of pie filling (Peppered Steak & Ale, Chilli & Cheese, Jamaican Chicken Curry and the two mentioned above), potato (Sweet Potato Fries, Creamy Mash or regular chips) and vegetable (fried onions, mushy peas or a variety of boiled veg) which suits most tastes.

And I’ve got to say, it was very tasty.

The pastry to filling ratio was spot on and the way the fries were drenched in the gravy meant that it was almost like ordering Poutine.

Mmmm.

Any complaints? Well the presentation wasn’t the best – as you can see in the pictures – and I’d sooner have had my food on a plate, but you can’t have it all.

Mind you, can Mushy Peas be presented as anything other than a bowl of green sick?

Mind you, can Mushy Peas be presented as anything other than a bowl of green sick?

If I wasn’t so full, I’d also have tried the Deep Fried Mars Bar with Irn Bru ice-cream.

Next time…

Stuart Reviews Restaurant: The Tinsmith Review – The Drink

As usual it was a pint of lemonade, and as lemonades go, this hit the spot.

Like I said last time, if anyone is reading this and thinking “All lemonade tastes the same” then I’d respectfully point out that you’re off your head.

Stuart Reviews Restaurant: The Tinsmith Review – The Vegetarian’s Viewpoint

Loads of choice for the carrot munchers among you.

They’ve even got a Halloumi  Burger, which I’d love to try.

Stuart Reviews Restaurant: The Tinsmith Review – The Price

I accidentally cut my pie open before the ceremonial taking of the photograph. Oops.

I accidentally cut my pie open before the ceremonial taking of the photograph. Oops.

All in for two main courses and two pints of lemonade, it came to £17, which is the cheapest of any of the restaurants I’ve reviewed so far.

It’s also cheaper than any of the other places I’d regularly go for food before I started doing these reviews, including the likes of Jessie’s Kitchen, Rascals Bar in St. Andrews and Duke’s Corner.

Not too shabby at all.

Stuart Reviews Restaurant: The Tinsmith Review – Final Thoughts

I said last week that the quality of the menu at Braes meant I’d probably go back and try again. Now I’m not so sure.

The menus of both Braes and The Tinsmith are comparable in terms of food I’d like to eat, but the latter was both nicer and cheaper.

Out of the two, I know which one I’d go back to sooner.

Check Out My Other Restaurant Reviews

Braes
Cafe Montematre
Sol Y Sombra
Wee Mexico