With the rise of trendy and hipster places to eat where bare pipes and industrial lighting are a fashion accessory rather than a necessity, one could be forgiven for thinking that all examples of rustic chic are now contrived as they create the desired 'look'. Recently, though, I visited a place where these creative features were organic, original and all the more cool because of it.
My faithful black labrador, Riley, is used to being taken anywhere and everywhere. He hops eagerly into the car as soon as the boot is open and has so far been enthusiastic about everywhere he's been. I am, however, always on the lookout for places to go that he will truly love and Monikie Park seemed to fit the bill and it just so happens, there is a Mediterranean cafe I have been meaning to try right in the middle of it.
Just as we are told not to judge a book by its cover, it may also be ill advised to judge a restaurant by its name. Some are intriguing yet reveal nothing about their cuisine and some are really quite dull and simply named after their street or location.
Broughty Ferry, the beautiful seaside town blessed with sunshine, dolphins, wonderful people and a lot of coffee shops.
The summer holidays are well underway. The weather is unpredictable and we have at least three weeks to keep the family happy and entertained before school starts again. Will we need sunscreen and straw hats or wellies and jumpers? Who knows but somehow, we all need to find our sanity somewhere that everyone loves. Somewhere that visiting grannies will enjoy as much as the little ones and Daddy on his lunch break. But surely there isn't a place that ticks all the boxes?
Set on the roadside in the quaint village of Strathtummel sits this small hotel which is just finding its feet amongst the plethora of good food establishment in Perthshire and Angus. The views of the grand Loch Tummel make a lovely backdrop and Maggie and Mabel, the sweet little dogs, provide a lovely sleepy welcome.
Gleneagles' place on the global map of fine hotels has long been assured. Whether you are lucky enough to be staying in one of the grand bedrooms, using the spa or strolling around 18 of the most scenic holes in Scottish golf, it's an establishment which prides itself on offering something special. There are a variety of levels to the luxury though and the newest string to the dining bow, the Birnam Brasserie, is a more casual, all-day dining affair. I went along to find out if it's destined to be a relaxed alternative to fine dining when staying at the hotel - or whether this French Bistro is likely to become a destination in itself.
I love eating out. And eating in. In fact I just love eating. But I digress. Getting dressed up to dine somewhere extra special used to be a thrilling treat. And it still is but these days, with a small person in tow, evenings out either take tremendous planning or have to happen at lunchtime.
The past six months have been a pleasure and an exhausting joy for me as I have been experiencing motherhood for the first time. That said, I am starting to feel that using an innocent babe as my excuse for not changing out of my jammies until lunchtime is becoming awkward - and have even accepted that I might be ready to start stepping out in the evening once again.
Once upon a time in the early nineties, a new term was coined and lo, the "gastro-pub" was born. It was new, it was adventurous, it was exciting but what did it mean? Sadly, in a lot of cases it meant the faithful and terribly underestimated ploughman's lunch was scrapped, while a handful of good old British pubs began giving their food as much thought as their ale.