As consumers, we are constantly being reminded that we should “shop local”. This is clearly not always possible as my daughter is partial to a banana which I can’t source from this continent, and I admit I’m rather fond a Chilean Merlot. Having said that, Scotland is bursting full of the most outstanding produce, and The Crieff Food Co has recently opened to showcase Perthshire’s finest.
Proprietor Jamie Landale is both a farmer and a foodie. He is passionate about promoting the wealth of Perthshire’s wares, and has established The Crieff Food Co to do just that.
The lower floor of the large building – which used to house a branch of The Edinburgh Woollen Mill – is the cafe. It is a vast space with an abundance of light. The back wall is painted the colour of the season – mustard yellow – and the simple tables and chairs are surrounded by more cosy booths and a high communal table with stalls made from stripped wood and industrial metals. The look of the place is modern but with traditional accents. It reminded me a lot of the trendy supermarket chain Whole Foods.
The cafe counter features a large glass display cabinet for the goodies of the day, and a blackboard detailing the daily specials in addition to the menu offerings. The food selection is predominantly made up of sandwiches, salads and pastry goods such as pies and quiches, all of which look rustic and delicious.
Mr Kerry kept going back to the counter to look as he couldn’t make up his mind but, in doing so, made friends with the charming serving team who took a shine to him and let him bore them with repeated questions and requests for information. He eventually settled on the burger from the specials list.
The burger arrived on a wooden board in the most perfect-looking shiny bun coated in sesame seeds. We later learned in the quickfire round of questioning that the bread served in the cafe is made on site, as are most of the other components of the menu.
The generous beef patty had Isle of Mull cheddar melted over it and the stack was held together with a skewer of an olive and a sundried tomato, which I thought was a nice touch.
Mr Kerry was eventually defeated by his generous dish but there was no danger of him trying any of mine, as I had been too quick off the mark. I had ordered the slow-cooked pork, black pudding and apple pie and was incredibly glad I did. The neat, individual pie had hot, crusty sides with not a soggy bottom in sight – the pastry was thin and crisp and sturdy. In contrast, the lid was flaky, buttery puff pastry, which added another dimension, and I admit that I have never seen the two combined in the same pie before.
The filling was layered, the pulled pork on the bottom could have been more generously portioned but is was tender; the slice of black pudding in the middle had a really lovely spice to it and was topped with sweet, soft apple, again with a hint of spice that made the pie a real autumnal warmer. The serving plate of choice was a slate board which I always think looks lovely but I hate using a knife and fork on it as, for me, it has a fingernails-on-blackboard resonance – but I powered on through.
We wouldn’t have been able to leave without sampling the cakes, and I chose the lemon drizzle. I could immediately see when the slice was presented that the moisture was literally oozing from the cake. It had been given one hell of a drizzle which can only be a good thing. It was so very moist but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the drizzle was not an over-sugared syrup but a lighter, more subtle version. The flavour was definite lemon but without leaving an unnecessary coating on the tongue.
Mr Kerry picked a chocolate eclair and when I say he picked it, I mean he pointed at the exact one he wanted through the glass. The choux pastry was dry and crisp, the cream rich and the chocolate topping simply chocolate that had melted, been drizzled across and then hardened again. This eclair was a thing of delight and a world away from the soggy, synthetic supermarket varieties.
The fresh cream cakes as well as all other cakes, pies, quiches, salads, dressings, sausage rolls, breads and soups are made on site in the large kitchen at the back, which must be a continuous hub of activity considering the selection of things they prepare.
We enjoyed our relaxed lunch immensely and that was before we had even ventured upstairs into the food hall.
The upper floor is again expansive and airy and offers all things Scottish, including a butchery counter, homemade ready meals, local cheeses, fruit, vegetables, flowers, dry goods and more. We decided that on this dreary Sunday, we’d forego the bananas and red wine and took home Perthshire cheeses, cold meats and Scotch eggs instead.
We’ll be back for more very soon.
Price: soup £4.25; sandwiches and toasties: £5.95 – £6.95; quiches and pies: £6.95; salads: £8.25 – £8.50; cakes from £1.95
Info: The Crieff Food Co
Address: 3 High Street, James Square, Crieff, Perth, PH7 3HX
Tel: 01764 655817