highland foodie

Sundaes On Monday In Rocpool

If I was choosing one restaurant in Inverness that people speak most highly about, it would have to be Rocpool on Ness Walk. It has gone from strength to strength since the Pieraccini’s opened it in 2002, had an owner change and has now cemented its status as one of the city’s finest. We went a little over a year ago & were served the best mussels in chorizo I’ve had so we were confident in our choice.

Eating early, we took advantage of the pre-theatre menu. 2 courses for £16.95 is more than I’m used to for a pre-theatre menu so they were setting the bar high from the start.

On entry were greeted by who I would say is probably the owner and were made to feel comfortable. He stopped for a chat then got the night kicked off with a Caorunn.

Not wanting to fill myself up, I chose the salad option for starter. The menu described it as ‘fresh pear and pecorino cheese salad with minted broad beans and lemon’. Mint in a salad used to scare me but Jamie Oliver has recently sorted that out, phew. The salad was well balanced with the right ratio of leaves to the creamy cheese, sweet pear and fresh broad beans. I could have eaten a whole plate of those broad beans.

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Mr S tried the scrambled egg and crab on toast with cress and spring onion creme fraiche on a recommendation from his dad. He was very happy. It’s such a simple but great idea & they executed it pretty perfectly.

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For main course I was between the seabream and steak tagliata but eventually chose steak because Mr S was having it and I thought I’d get jealous. The description of ‘Scotch rump steak ‘tagliata’ style carved pink over fresh rocket leaves, fine beans and butter roasted new potatoes with salsa rosso and lime’ definitely sounded worth the two pound supplement, we thought we were getting a bargain. The potatoes were delicious – well cooked, seasoned and flavoursome. The rocket could have done with lots of salsa rosso through it to add zing. The meat was too chewy for me and I left more than half of it. I was surprised that Mr S found it chewy because he likes tasty cuts of fibrous beef like hanger. The meat portion size was far too big for either of us and we’d have preferred more quality over quantity in this case. Not one to order again but I saw other tables with the seabream and haddock and it looked nice.

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Since the main was a flop, I was having a dessert (like I need an excuse). We decided on the homemade honeycomb ice-cream with popcorn and hot chocolate sauce. Let’s just say that this was a star indulgent dish from Rocpool. It was like an elegant version of an American style sundae. I wanted to lick the glass.

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I have to mention the toilets! Very plush looking sink area, clean toilets and they are unisex. Was very strange going into the toilet at the same time a man did, and doing my lipstick next to a gent washing his hands but I got used to it.

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The service, wine, atmosphere, starters and dessert were all getting top marks so, although neither of us liked the main course, we still want to come back soon. We’ll maybe do one more pre-theatre before parting with our a la carte pounds but we’re sure we’ll be won over by it.

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A Song In Little Italy

I’m a big fan of Italian food, whether it be traditional or modern style. A traditional Italian restaurant should have charm, Italian owners and red checkered tablecloths (cliché as it sounds). Little Italy on Stephen’s Brae has all of the above. It has been in Inverness for a few years but I had never got around to trying it so a few months ago – before the hectic move – we visited this tiny venue.

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Little Italy restaurant sits next door to Little Italy Tapas & Prosecco Bar, where we almost went for lunch. I was peckish for a pizza so we saved tapas for another day.

As we are big sharers, we ordered a pizza and a pasta between us. The pasta was Linguine Salsicia Italiana but we swapped the linguine for penne. The pasta was slightly more cooked than al dente but it was flavoursome. I’m a total Italian sausage lover (why we put breadcrumbs and things in our sausages is beyond me) so this was always going to be a hit with me. A bit of parmesan or grana padano and the sweet tomatoes are lifted immediately.

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The ‘Brindisi’ pizza that we chose had similar ingredients to the pasta but why change a winning formula? The normal tomato & mozzarella base was accompanied by mascarpone, onion, peppers, chillies, spicy Italian sausage and rocket. I’m getting better with how much spice I can take so even had some of the chilli, Mr S is at last converting me. Even although there was both mozzarella and mascarpone, they hadn’t overdone the cheese. The toppings were tasty and the rocket gave a leafy lightness with a peppery hit.

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Whilst we were waiting for an affogato to share, the Italian restaurant owner broke into song in the dining room! I’ve been told since that this is a regular occurrence and, as surreal as it was, I liked it. It’s the kind of thing that in most places could have gone either way but Little Italy manage it.

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The affogato arrived in a martini glass with three big scoops of vanilla ice-cream and the shot of espresso poured over. It was nice, I was distracted (and clapping) by the singing man, and the meal had been a success. Somewhere I would return to for sure.

Lunchy Munchy At La Tortilla Asesina

Finding your feet in a new city can be hard – even if you’ve lived there before a million moons ago. You get lost and you don’t have favourite places to go, it’s a blank canvas. Exciting but unfamiliar and my control freak side hates the thought of giving somewhere rubbish my money.
Luckily we seem to be off the starting block by finding somewhere that has convenient opening hours, is near to work and that we feel welcomed and at ease in. La Tortilla Asesina on Castle Street is a Spanish tapas restaurant that also has a bar area. A wee post-work glass of vino with some Spanish ham is my idea of bliss so you can see why we’ve been a few times.
Last week after a mortgage appointment (yes, we are hopefully getting our house!) we felt like a celebratory lunch so ended up in La Tortilla Asesina.

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We have actually been here twice before in the last few years and the first time didn’t think much of it. The menu was massive and I think they were doing too many mediocre dishes – definitely quantity over quality. But the last time we visited before we moved up the road, they seem to have streamlined things and concentrate on doing more with less dishes.

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(Love their sense of humour!)

I’ll get my bugbear out of the way first – when you google this place no website comes up and their Facebook didn’t have any menu handy that I could see. Websites are expensive so I understand why small businesses don’t always have them but if they don’t then a pinned post of their menu on Facebook or regular photos of it (and on Twitter) then I often don’t go to places. Going to a new restaurant is all about reeling you in but La Tortilla is putting no bait out.

So it was unsurprisingly quiet on the Wednesday lunchtime that we visited. They do a fantastic lunch deal with two tapas for £5 that we didn’t know about – why they are not screaming about this on social media I don’t know.

Mr S and I shared a selection of dishes and they gave us free bread too. My first choice was chipirones – fried tiny baby squid. I would never have ordered this before but my father in-law loves it and after trying his I’m hooked. Chipirones just seems to have so much more flavour than calamari and less rubber to it – more like little fishy, salty bites. They were lovely and crunchy – a definite high point.

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We had a prawn dish each because Mr S wanted the battered prawns with garlic mayo and I wanted the Gambas pil pil. He was happy with his prawns and I was enjoying mine. A little more chilli and garlic wouldn’t have gone amiss but they were still good.

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Our meat choice was pollo chisporroteante, which is sizzling chicken strips marinated in mojo sauce and fried with onions and peppers. It was yummy! Full of flavour, the chicken wasn’t dry and the oily pan sauce was perfect for mopping up with bread.

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We had patatas bravas to accompany the meat and the ‘chips’ were soft in the middle but golden on the outside. The sauce is usually spicy but this lacked flavour.

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A tomato salad finished our selection of goodies well and provided some much needed veg.

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We left after lunch with full bellies and contented smiles… I think we’ve got our first favourite.

Life Begins At 30

A couple of months ago I posted on Girl Around Glasgow that I was moving back up to Inverness – that was an emotional day!

I’m now in Inverness, very behind on Glasgow blog posts with all the craziness of moving and trying to get Highland Foodie started.

You can find the latest mention for Girl Around Glasgow here.

I thought that I’d start Highland Foodie with a wee introduction and thank you to everyone who has followed my blogging journey so far. I enjoy it and it is a bit of escapism for me so I hope that you like it too. Girl Around Glasgow is still staying for now but I also need your support for this site so enter your e-mail on the right and get an e-mail every time I post on here. You won’t get spam and I don’t post that often so it is not a big commitment.

For those who don’t know me, I grew up in Inverness and moved away to Glasgow to study at 18 years old. I’m now 30, and ready to come home and settle. Many things about Inverness remain the same (my parents still live in the same house) but the restaurants & cafes have changed a lot so there’s plenty to explore. The social media presence is less vocal in the Highlands & it’s much more difficult to find the good ones so tell me your favourites.

This week our Glasgow flat is officially sold and no longer ours. I feel teary every time I think about it even though I know it is the right long-term decision. We have offered on a house up here so fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly or my folks are stuck with us forever. It’s tempting because we are being very well looked after! Work has taken up more hours than I care to mention since the move but we’ve fitted in a few treats including drinks and tapas at La Tortilla Asesina & dinner at Rocpool. I also have lunch at Little Italy to write about as well as my girly weekend in Aberdeen.

 

My current ‘to go to’ list in the Highlands includes Cafe 1, The Mustard Seed, River House, River Cafe and McGonagall’s as well as a few coffee and cake cafes. If you know of any others that you think I’d like then please comment below or email thehighlandfoodie@gmail.com – I want to find all of the best places. I’m also looking for the best food suppliers… who sells the freshest fish, the meatiest charcuterie, where can I buy fresh farm eggs and where do I find special occasion meat?

 

Laura