Reviews Section

September 18th, 2011

Foodie Highlights – The Torridon Inn Category: Reviews

We spent a week away in June up in the beautiful area of Torridon which is located in Wester Ross.  The cottage we stayed in looked over the road and onto the Loch itself.  The views were stunning all around.

Upper Loch TorridonWe spent the week with my Mum & Dad so we had on-site babysitters.  So it would have been rude not to have some grown up time & go out for a meal.  To be honest I was just expecting a ‘locals’ pub with us being in a remote area.  So when Anthony told me that there was a rather nice hotel just 2 minute walk away I was quite impressed. Just down this road in fact…

Annat to the Torridon Inn

He then went on to say that the Chef (Jason ‘Bruno’ Birkbeck) at the hotel was actually taking part in this years ‘Good British Menu’ programme on BBC.  Well you cant ask for much more than that in such a beautiful remote location.  The hotel in question is The Torridon & is set primarily at the luxury end of the budget but it also, cleverly, has an ‘Inn’ attached which offers B&B rooms with a pub. And a rather nice pub at that.

The first time we visited we went on a rainy afternoon & sampled the afternoon scones with a cup of tea.  The scones were warm & delicious. The *only* quibble we had was that the jam was served in plastic pots rather than homemade in a little pot. I know, just a little thing but we did notice!

Later in the week Anthony & I escaped for our evening out. After a quick drink in the bar we headed for some food – we had reserved a table & whilst it probably wasn’t necessary it did get busy so we would recommend to anyone wanting to go to call ahead & book.

The mussels that evening had been taken of the menu so I chose the sleepy hollow smoked salmon, caper
and shallot dressing with toasted muffin. Try saying (or typing that) after a glass of wine! It was really delicious & beautifully presented (apologies the photos were taken on my phone!) Sleepy Hollow SalmonAnthony chose the Stornoway black pudding and apple stack, mixed leaf salad & cider reduction. Needless to say it didn’t stay on his plate for long.

Black PuddingThe Mains were more difficult to choose  as they are more ‘pub grub’ in style, however after much to-ing and fro-ing I chose the scampi in a basket with chips, peas & homemade tartare sauce. YUM!

ScampiAnthony went for the predictable Torridon beef burger with fries, tomato relish and picallili plus the bacon & cheese. He really enjoyed every mouthful.

Torridon BurgerDespite the fact we were rather full by this point we decided to share a pudding because we were on holiday & we don’t get many meals out these days – this was an easy choice – sticky toffee pudding, butterscotch sauce & vanilla ice cream. Well…

I think you can see it was so delicious I forgot to take a photo. Seriously, I dont think lasted more than 60 seconds.

I should probably also mention, they are child friendly which is perfect for pubs in remote locations! The staff were really nice & helpful and we really would come back. The only downside? The 439 miles to get there and the 439 to get back.  Next time we get a chance to get up on the West Coast again I hope we will get a chance to visit. And if we win the lottery we’ll maybe stay at the hotel too!

The hotel are also on Twitter & I’d recommend a follow – they keep you updated with the weather & the fun their ‘Activities’ team are getting up too & some lovely photos.

August 8th, 2011

A Review: The Spotty Blue Teapot Category: Reviews

The Spotty Blue Teapot is a tea room that opened in Hoylake earlier this year. Its aim is to be a chic, healthy living tearoom with children in mind.

We heard about it via Twitter when it opened but we only got round to visiting it today. We went for lunch but as we’d had a late morning we didn’t get there until just before 2pm so we were pleased to see that it was quite quiet (they are holding storytimes through the summer holidays & whilst we wanted child friendly we didn’t want anything overrun and too busy!)

We found a table & looked at the menu which can also be found on their website. There was a nice choice of lunches and Elodie picked something from the children’s menu so I went to order at the counter.

I had somehow managed to miss the massive large steps by the counter allowing children to get up & presumably ask for things & pay for themselves. A nice touch, but its a shame Elodie didn’t really get acknowledged by the staff given how quiet it was. Then the lady taking my order answered the phone, that’s usually fine but there was no apology or let somebody else answer it. You can probably tell by now that it didn’t give us the first impression we were expecting.

I took Elodie over to the small play area whilst we waiting for the food and drinks – it was a few playmats, toys, books, paper and pencils and small tables and seats. Simple but a nice touch & one that many parents would appreciate. My only gripe was that I couldn’t really leave Elodie there to play whilst I had a cup of tea as I couldn’t see her from the table. In fact there were only two, maybe three tables that were close enough to the play area.

Elodies food arrived first – 4 Toasted Cheesy Squares. Ok I presumed they would be ‘toasties’ but what arrived was cheese on toast cut into quarters and then alongside that a plate of cucumber slices which cost me an additional 75p! I like to give Elodie fresh salad or vegetables with lunch so felt slightly obliged to get some but she only ate a couple and we were left with the remaining 10!!  She enjoyed her cheese on toast though and we enjoyed our lunch as well – fresh coronation chicken sandwich & jacket potato.

The cafe use local produce were possible & the food was good quality. The salad was fresh and crispy which is seemingly rare these days.

We left feeling a bit underwhelmed by the experience, the staff were not rude, but neither were they happy. The food was tatsy and the quality was good but it was a bit on the pricey side.

The one thing that really *did* bug me, however, was the children’s party leaflet. Three options for parties that looked nice, food and drink included and a story at the end, time permitting! Then they mentioned the birthday cake.  You are not allowed to take in your own birthday cake. Seriously.  They deem themselves ‘professional bakers’ so ask that you don’t bring your own cake but instead they would be happy to  discuss you cake requirements. I’m sorry but that really made me angry. You may make fantastic cakes (I dont know we didn’t try one today) but at least give people the option.  You cant have a children’s birthday party without cake can you?

The overall impression was that they were trying to do too many things at once rather than pick one or two and make them really good. And that making as large a profit as possible was slightly too high on the agenda.

Saying that we would probably go back and try again but I dont think it will be a regular place to go and that’s maybe more of what we’d expected & have liked.

July 2nd, 2011

Nanny’s Shop, Shieldaig Category: Reviews

Its that time again, when we have been on our annual holidays in the Highlands of Scotland except this year we ventured to the West Coast.

We spent a week in a really lovely holiday house in Annat which is just South of Torridon.  I will do another blog about our holiday but one of the highlights of our holiday was our quick visit to Nanny’s Shop. A fantastic little shop which was re-opened in 2008 by owners Lynn & Lisa.  The shop is quaint and stocks so many beautiful things. It also serves fresh coffee, fantastic cakes and you can even get some fresh smoked salmon (or order some fresh seafood for the next day if you get there in time).

The shop has a lot of history & I believe it is much unchanged from the previous owner, Nanny Grant, who had run the shop since 1950.  Before that her father (who built the shop in 1918) ran the shop when he had also been carrying on the family tradition.

It now attracts visitors from all over with its modern, chic interior and offers a really friendly service, quality gifts & fantastic food and all set in a beautiful location overlooking Loch Shieldaig. I mean, how lovely is this…

If you are in the area, we really would recommend a visit, a coffee and a cake!

March 12th, 2011

Review & Competition: Hotel Chocolat Easter Chocolates Category: Reviews

So its not too long to Easter and the lovely Jam & Cream has sent me a Hotel Chocolat H Box to review, how could I say no?

The 15 filled chocolate eggs arrived quickly and well packaged in the post, so I can recommend their postal service if you want to order from their website :)

But getting to the good bit, the chocolates… well, unusually they lasted a few nights in the house which was a pleasant surprise, not because they were horrible – because they were too lovely & had to be savoured!

Our Top 3

Caramel Egg – delicious sweet runny caramel in a 50% milk chocolate shell, it tastes even better than it sounds

Vanilla Custard Egg – vanilla custard ganache in a milk chocolate shell, I could have eaten a whole box of these

Blueberry Egg - very fruity blueberry ganache in white chocolate, I am weary of fruity chocolate but this really tasted like fresh blueberries and went nicely with the smooth white chocolate shell

The Others

All the eggs were lovely and the chocolate shells are nice and thick so you get a good chocolate fix with each one.  The strawberry egg was another fresh fruity surprise in white chocolate and the caramel praline egg tasted like a Ferrero Roche encased in a caramel chocolate shell nom nom nom…

The only downside to this box is that there are 15 chocolates in each box and 8 flavours so there weren’t two of every flavour.  We had 5 pairs, one triple selection (Caramel, yummy) but two came on their own & I dont like sharing ;)

Competition – Would you like to win a Hotel Chocolat H Box?

We can really recommend this box so if you would like to win a box for yourself all you need to do is ‘Like’ the Hotel Chocolat Facebook page or follow them on Twitter & come back and leave me a comment below to let me know you have done it – please leave me your Twitter name and/or a way to contact you.  I will than randomly pick a winner after the closing date on 26th March 2011.  Good Luck!

Please note this competition is only open to UK Residents

March 15th, 2010

Review: The Punch Bowl Category: Reviews

Last month we went for an overnight stay at The Punch Bowl in Crosthwaite in the Lake District.  The occasion, our third wedding anniversary and Elodie stayed with Nanny & Grandad for the night.

The Punch Bowl was named Pub of the Year by ‘Michelin Pub Guide 2009′ and after looking at their luxurious accommodation on their website we couldn’t resist a bit of R&R…

IMG_3306The overnight rate included Afternoon Tea upon arrival and Breakfast.  We hadn’t appreciated this until we actually booked in so it was a nice surprise.

From the off, the staff were really lovely.  Not too much, nor too little – just friendly, welcoming and very helpful.  After checking in, we were shown to our room and left to our own devices.  If we had realised that Afternoon Tea was included we may have arrived a little bit earlier so we decided to enjoy it before it was dinner time! We sat downstairs in the pub/lounge area and two scones, jam and cream were served alongside a refreshing pot of tea (using tea leaves, not teabags).

afternoontea2 Carry on reading & leave a comment…

February 8th, 2010

Review: 60 Hope Street, Liverpool Category: General, Reviews

We’d been meaning to eat at 60 Hope Street for a quite while and we’re not sure how we hadn’t managed to get there sooner.  The occasion that finally got us there, however, was my mums 60th birthday.  And on a recommendation from my brother we managed to book a table for what turned out to be a rather pleasant dining experience.  We only wish we’d taken the opportunity before!

On arriving we went downstairs to the Bistro/Bar area and ordered a drink, this was the only sneaky tactic I didn’t like as our table was ready and waiting when we arrived, but some restaurants do have a bad habit of getting you to order a drink before ordering wine for the table.

When we were eventually seated (we played a game of musical chairs first!) the Maître d’ came over and handed out the menu’s.  He then theatrically read aloud the days ‘specials’.  We’re not sure if he was new and performing with much enthusiasm or is always so entertaining, but with much gusto he detailed the dishes brilliantly.

It took us a while to eventually decide on what to order but I think between us we sampled quite a few of the dishes.  To start I ordered Scallops in pastry with red pepper & aioli and Anthony eventually decided on the Assiette of Duck.

IMG_2863

Carry on reading & leave a comment…