Food – Glasgow: Ardnamurchan. Great seafood with a quality pedigree

Ardnamurchan

Just the name alone conjures up the sound of the waves crashing off the shore, the salty tang in the air and the smell of fresh seaweed washed in on the last tide. Ardnamurchan, for me, a West Highlander born and bred, is reminiscent of home in so many ways.

So imagine the surprise that this was a restaurant which prided itself on good highland produce and I’d never heard of it!

Located at the top end of Hope Street, opposite the Theatre Royal, the restaurant is outside that busy section of the city centre in Glasgow that, is, quite frankly, now saturated with eateries and not all of them deserving of your hard-earned cash.

Hope Street is a one-way street and while there is some on-street parking available outside the restaurant, the chance of getting a space is akin to winning the lottery. So, do what we did and park at the NCP car park in Cambridge Street. After 6pm you can park for the full evening at the princely sum of four pounds and it’s literally a five-minute walk to the restaurant.

Level disabled access from the street is excellent, however, the restaurant does have an upper floor reached by some steps, therefore be sure you request a ground floor table if you need one.

Food – Port of Menteith: The Lake of Menteith Hotel. Dining in spectacular surroundings

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There can be few more spectacular dining settings than here at the Lake of Menteith Hotel, perched, as it is, on the shores of its namesake. The hotel itself is styled in the design of a New England waterfront inn and sits perfectly in this landscape.

Located in central Scotland some 14 miles from Stirling, and even from Glasgow or Edinburgh, can be reached within an hours drive.

The lake is Scotland’s only natural one. It contains Inchmahome Priory,  a now abandoned Augustinian priory formed by Walter Comyn, Earl of Menteith in 1238. The Island of Inchmahome is where Mary Queen of Scots spent three weeks hidden following Somerset’s defeat of the Scots army at Pinky Cleugh. The Priory can be visited by boat from Port of Menteith during the months of March to September.

If you’re lucky you just might see an osprey feeding on the trout in this stocked fishery. Herons patrol the shallows and reed beds and in the evening, as darkness falls, you could be in for a treat if the otters that inhabit this area make an appearance.

Food – Crieff: Knock Castle Hotel. A rooftop restaurant with unparalleled views.

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Knock Castle Hotel & Spa – simply stunning at night.

Knock Castle Hotel & Spa isn’t just a place to lay your head – albeit in some luxury, but it’s also an award-winning restaurant in its own right – and you don’t have to be staying here to enjoy it.

I reviewed the hotel in February 2019 Crieff: Knock Castle Hotel & Spa. Living like a king – for a day! and was so impressed with the food provided that I’ve decided to review the restaurant as a separate entity.  Why, I hear you ask, well that’s simply because it deserves it.

The kitchen brigade is run by the hotels chef-patron Jason Henderson, who, rather amazingly, not only is the head chef, but also the man behind the overall control of the hotel, ably assisted by his right-hand man, general manager, Malcolm Copland.

It’s a quite remarkable achievement.  Running a kitchen is in itself a full-time job, never mind adding in the complexities of a hotel to the mix, but Jason not only manages but makes it look effortless too.

Crieff: Knock Castle Hotel & Spa. Living like a king – for a day!

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Located in the heart of Highland Perthshire there lies the small market town of Crieff.  And tucked away in a quiet secluded spot high above the main street is a piece of Victorian splendour that has stood the test of time.  This is the gem that is Knock Castle Hotel & Spa.

The fairytale turreted castle lies in its own private three-and-a-half acre site reached down a tree-lined driveway which rears up to meet you in all its majesty between the forested canopy.  Lit at night by green floodlighting, the gothic-looking structure could easily be part of a film set.

It really is awe-inspiring, and, if first impressions count, then this luxurious spa hotel needs no further introduction.  This the type of place where you can dress up in your Sunday best and act out the part of Lord of the manor, or, alternatively, set yourself up in the bar and relax as the stress of everyday living rapidly dissolves.

Built in the 1800s the building was once the former home of shipping magnate Lady Macbrayne. It then had a spell as a nursing home before being bought up by a local family, the Hendersons. This establishment is kept firmly on track under the careful guidance of the energetic and award-winning chef patron, Jason Henderson, ably assisted by a select management team headed up by the general manager, Malcolm Copland – an extremely likeable and professional individual with a very definite finger on the pulse of this hotel at all times.

Food: Blantyre – Central Cafe. Watch out for this one, it’s going places!

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Blantyre’s Central Cafe

Move over, there’s a new kid on the block, quite literally – at Block three, Blantyre Industrial Estate, Lanarkshire.

Central Cafe is located in a busy industrial space on the outskirts of Hamilton and located minutes off the main A725 East Kilbride Expressway. Not perhaps your first choice of location to travel to, but don’t be too hasty – bear with me on this one folks.

I turned up on a Friday afternoon at 12 noon for a lunch, having heard about this new business from a friend.  I have to say I was intrigued – and the thought did run through my mind as to what quality of food could ever be offered by a ‘greasy spoon cafe’ on an industrial estate in Blantyre. Have you ever heard of that old saying “never judge a book by the cover?”  Well in this particular case it was never more aptly applied!

The place was busy, even at 12 noon with what appeared to be a mix of tradesmen, businessman and local customers. That’s a sign immediately that this cafe and I hesitate to call it that because it’s so much more, is doing something right, particularly as it had only just opened the week previously.

Accomm: Cologne. Lindner City Plaza. A very comfortable hotel in a superb location.

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The Lindner City Plaza Hotel.

Sometimes trying to find a good hotel, and relying on other people’s subjective opinions and reviews can all be a bit ‘hit and miss’. However, The Lindner group’s City Plaza establishment in Cologne is a very definite ‘hit’ in terms of both location and level of comfort provided.

This is a hotel, which, at the time of our visit in December 2018, was predominantly used by business clients rather than tourists.  But, don’t let that put you off, it’s merely proof, if it were needed, that its location is slap bang in the centre of the city and is ideally placed.  Located at Magnustrasse 20, it is a five-minute walk to the nearest underground station (U-Bahn).

I was visiting the Kölner Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas markets, of which there are seven dotted around the city. And, from this hotel, the main four can easily be reached on foot with a 30-minute gentle stroll. See blog post here. Travel: Cologne’s Christmas markets. Well worth a visit.

Getting from Cologne Bonn airport is easy via all the usual methods, however, we had pre-booked a taxi in order that we didn’t have to wait around for trains or buses, and from collecting our luggage to arriving at the hotel, was a short 30-minute journey.

The hotel is located on a quiet street, and should you be driving yourself there, the hotel has a private underground car park.  Should it so happen that it is full, then fear not as there’s a public multi-storey car park directly opposite the hotels front door.

Food – Germany – Cologne: Jameson’s Distillery Pub. Excellent grub at reasonable prices.

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Jameson’s Distillery Pub, Cologne.

 

Imagine. Who travels to Cologne and then decides to eat in an Irish pub, when there is no shortage of local providers? Well, me, apparently! However, in my defence, we had just arrived that day and were looking for somewhere local to dine. Jameson’s was literally a five-minute walk from our hotel on Magnustrasse.

There are two steps from the pavement to reach the front door, which is wide enough to permit wheelchair access, however, once inside be aware there isn’t a huge amount of room in which to manoeuvre, and there are also further steps into other dining areas set apart from the main floor.

This pub/diner is entirely true to its name and Irish roots.  dark mahogany wood seats and tables, display cases of assorted Irish memorabilia and pictures of the old homeland.  In the main bar, there is an awesome marquetry style roof, and, frankly, it’s worth a visit just to see this.

The establishment is located in Friesenstrasse, a quiet side street where there are also a selection of other restaurants serving several local hotels.  It has a covered outdoor dining area which features heaters, but given that our visit was in December 2018 and the temp hovered just above freezing, eating en plein-air just wasn’t on the cards.