Category Archives: Food – 4 stars

The Crown Inn, Humshaugh, Northumberland

Just exactly what pub food should be: hearty, tasty, and uncomplicated. The portions are big for the price, and rich in flavour. The service is good, friendly, and fast. It’s the kind of place you leave with a smile on your face and a satisfied hand resting on your rounded belly. Yum!

Hawes Inn, South Queensferry

We’ve been visiting this pub for several years, and it seems to get better every time we go. It’s situated just underneath the Forth Rail Bridge, and is a great place to stop off after a pleasant walk along the shore, or with visitors we want to wow with some classic Victorian (over)engineering. The food is good pub grub, with battered fish that hangs over the edge of your plate, and steak and ale pies decorated with crispy puff pastry lids. The atmosphere is friendly and family-oriented, and the service is good, if occasionally a bit slow. Not somewhere to go for a hard drinking session, but a lovely place for Sunday lunch.

The City Buffet, Perth

Buffet-style chinese dining (or lunching), yum. For a fixed price (£5.49 weekday lunchtimes, a few pounds more than that in the evenings), you get to fill your plate as often and as high as you want from their massive catering dishes. Kung-Po chicken, crispy fried beef, various kinds of sweet and sour, lemon chicken, satay, noodles, and lashings of fried rice. There are starters and desserts to choose from as well, and they even have a few Western options (chips, fish nuggets, etc.) to choose from if you so fancy. It’s a very simple setup, and certainly not someplace you’d go for a romantic dinner date. But for a quick, filling, tasty, and satisfying bite to eat on your way to, or back from something else, it’s pretty hard to beat.

La Pompadour (Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh)

La Pompadour has a gorgeous old-fashioned formal dining room. We were lucky enough to visit on a very quiet Wednesday evening (surprising, given how close to the Festival we’re getting), and we got one of the best tables in town: tucked into the north-east corner, looking straight up at the Castle. The down side of it being quiet enough for us to get that table was that the restaurant felt empty and lacking in atmosphere, and its formality felt intrusive instead of luxurious.

I started with a medallion of sea bass on a bed of ratatouille couscous, and a red pepper and chili sauce. Main course was roast lamb on a bed of spinach and puy lentils, with roast vegetables and new potatoes. Dessert was an enormous cone of dark chocolate mousse with blackcurrent sorbet. The flavours were traditional: rich and well-balanced, but not terribly adventurous or exciting. Presentation was excellent, but the portions were a bit on the large side–I could only face one of the home-made chocolates and fudges that came with the after-dinner tea and coffee, which is a shame. The food was well-priced (£18-£26 for a main course), but the wine and spirits were expensive. £15 for a bottle of what was effectively house white is on the high side, but £6.80 for a (50ml) measure of gin is shocking.