Another weekend, another wee venture into the countryside and, of course, another lunch. I’d be an idiot not to, especially as we found ourselves out near the village of Kippen, a tiny village which boasts two great eateries - The Inn at Kippen and The Cross Keys, the latter of which won our attention this afternoon.
We’ve dined her a few times in the past and never been let down and I’m happy to report the food was as imaginative and tasty as ever. You’ll also have to travel a long way to receive a friendlier welcome at this family-run, 309-year inn.
There were four of us for lunch, including Little Miss Hungry, and we shared two starters between us - a crab, chive, lemon and new potato salad and an asparagus, lemon and parmesan risotto.
The crab salad was light, refreshing and had a perfect balance of flavours, while the risotto was creamy without being overly rich. Little Miss loved the risotto and I had to embark on a touch of swordsmanship with my fork to get more than two mouthfuls.
I can confirm from previous visits that a few of their pub meal staples such as fish and chips and burgers are both exemplary, but I fancied something different today and opted for the fish of the day - gurnard, baked in foil with lemon scented potatoes in a vermouth sauce. Gurnard is a fish I hadn’t tasted before but I’ll certainly look out for it when I next visit the fishmonger.
Anyway, I’m not going to witter on all day about the pearly white, succulent flesh or lemon-tinged veg but suffice to say it was magnificent.
The Hungry Scotswoman chose the honeyed chicken with harissa yoghurt, bulgur wheat, roast peppers and toasted almonds. Unfortunately, there was a mix up with the kitchen and her dish arrived after the rest of us had cleaned our plates. However, did I mention the service here is fantastic? It is, which is why we weren’t charged for the dish.
Mother-in-law joined us today and made light work of the village bangers and mash with caramelised onion gravy. Ok, I say ‘light work’ but she actually only scoffed two of the three bangers, safely hiding the third in her handbag to munch on later. And who can blame her?
And here’s where other restaurateurs should take note. Look at the picture below, it’s a kids’ meal. A proper meal for children. It hasn’t been near a deep fat fryer or a freezer. Just a smaller version of what the adults are eating. Not difficult is it? But that’s a rant for another day.
I’ve little doubt we’ll be back.
In terms of decent eateries, Stirling is a town that’s improving fast. Among the plethora of chain pubs dishing out frozen fodder to unsuspecting tourists in the town centre, there are a few diamonds in the rough.
The Kitchen is the most recent addition and judging by the meal we ate last night it deserves your attention.
Apologies for the poor photos in this post - the light was very dim. Conducive to a romantic meal for two but not so hot for decent images.
First up we were served complimentary toasted bread rolls. A nice welcome, I thought.
First course was mixed seafood chowder. A rich, creamy broth with mussels, peppered mackerel, squid and smoked haddock. It was fantastic, if a little filling, and the portion of crusty bread was perfect for soaking up the broth.
Main course was an Orkney ribeye steak with hand cut chips, sautéed garlic flatcap mushroom and roasted cherry tomatoes. The meat was tender and carried so much flavour it almost didn’t require a sauce, but I think the dish would have benefitted from one.
Overall, a superb meal and a very welcome addition to Stirling. Oh, and their kids’ menu is fantastic too - not a hint of chicken nuggets!