It was a dark and stormy night when I went for dinner at The Ardler Tavern with my other half.
(It actually was – we chose the tail-end of Storm Babet for date night.)
We weren’t sure that we would actually be able reach Ardler when we set off from home but thankfully we made it in one piece and boy were we glad we did!
The Ardler Tavern
Walking into The Ardler Tavern is like being hugged by your favourite aunt. The outside of the building is an unassuming, traditional village terraced space. But inside it’s bright and light and welcoming and you instantly feel your shoulders relax.
The decor is farmhouse style – except for the toilets! I won’t give away what makes them extra special but if you go there, make sure to check them out. The fire was lit and whoever was in charge of picking the music did a great job all night.
We went on a Saturday night and the place was packed – by the looks of it there were people there who just wanted to get out of the house right up to groups celebrating special occasions. All looked equally at home in what is a traditional country pub done very, very well.
The staff were buzzing about serving the customers but at all times they were cheery and helpful and nothing was an inconvenience to them.
The menu is very much pub grub but with a few curveballs thrown in there that offer something you aren’t likely to see in many similar venues. There is also a massive specials board, so you won’t be stuck for something you like.
My other half and I like to try each other’s food, so the negotiations began in earnest. For our starters we landed on the crispy chicken fillets (£6.75) and the blaggis pakora (£6.50) – see what I mean about the curveballs?
The three large chicken fillets were battered and then smothered in a lovely chilli and honey sauce and served on top of some salad. Despite the risk of the sauce making everything soggy, the batter on the chicken was still crispy and tasty and the salad underneath (which was detailed with everything from peas to pieces of grape to red onion) hadn’t wilted. It all worked very well together and tasted great from start to finish.
The blaggis pakora (blaggis being a portmanteau of black pudding and haggis) were massive, and accompanied by spiced onions and a sauce that was smoky and warm but without giving too much heat. The pakora was almost like an Indian Scotch egg, with the blaggis in the middle. It was a wee bit stodgy, I think because it was very large – if it had been smaller I don’t think there would have been that problem.
On a cold, wet night we wanted comfort food, so my main course choice was the battered haddock with chips, peas and tartare sauce (£13.95). The piece of fish was massive and the batter around it a beautiful golden colour. The chips were those old school chunky bad boys and they were perfectly cooked. I just wish I’d been given more of the tartare sauce!
The special board had a fillet steak garni (£22), so my other half had that cooked medium with a blue cheese sauce (£2.50). The steak was perfectly cooked, the piece of meat tasty and with a nice char on it. Although it was only a 6oz steak, the quality of the meat and the sides made you feel full. The onion rings were homemade and huge! The only thing that let the plate down was that he was given a single tiny button mushroom, which looked a bit sad compared to the rest of the plate.
For a side we had the cheesy garlic bread (£3), which was great but had we known how large our mains were we may have skipped.
At The Ardler Tavern, not only do they have a cheesecake of the day, but they also have a creme brulee of the day! So that’s what we chose.
The creme brulee (£6.95) was espresso which is a favourite of mine, and the cheesecake (£6.95) was cookies and cream.
The sugary crust on the creme brulee was light and thin (I didn’t need a pickaxe to get through it) and the creamy part underneath was enriched by the lovely taste of the coffee, which cut through the sweetness in just the right way.
The cheesecake was a mammoth! It came with chantilly cream on top, a scoop of cookies and cream ice cream on the side and crushed biscuits all over the plate. And every bit of it worked well – it was cheesecake done absolutely right.
The Ardler Tavern has to be one of the top restaurants in Perthshire. It is a hidden gem that unless you know about it, you’d never know it was there.
It is comforting and comfortable, it’s great for a special occasion or just a bite to eat, and it’s even dog friendly. It really shows the levels that a pub in a tiny village can get to and they do it all with a smile.
It’s definitely become part of my regular eating out rotation.
Address: Main Street, Ardler, PH12 8SR
Tel: 01828 640037
Price: £74.30 for two starters, two mains, one side, two desserts and two soft drinks
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