Archive for December, 2013

The Cock and Bull, a few miles north of Aberdeen, won the Scottish Gastropub of the year for both 2012 and 2013. We’d tried the Sunday carvery there  but had never been these for a regular meal. Today, four of us went there for a weekend lunch.

It has a ‘traditional’ pub look – fortunately, not ‘Scottish traditional’ (formica and bright lights) but traditional in the ingle-nook, wood fires and dark corners way. A cosy place for a winter’s day.

They had a shortish selection of starters, all of which sounded nice – I was tempted by the Cullen Skink but decided on the black pudding Scotch egg with homemade brown sauce. A good choice – it was delicious.

Black pudding Scotch egg

Black pudding Scotch egg

Being in the North-east, the main course had to be fish so I had Peterhead Cod with smoked fish risotto and kail.  Smoked fish risotto is quite common now and all too often the fish is over-smoked and dominates everything else. Fortunately, they got it right here and the risotto complemented the delicate cod. I like to see kail on the menu now – it isn’t the most attractive vegetable when cooked but it tastes great.

Cod with risotto

Cod with kail and smoked haddock risotto

One of the Cock and Bull’s specialities is the Cock and Bull dog, which is a giant hotdog with pulled pork. I couldn’t resist a photo. It was very tasty but challenging to eat.

The Cock and Bull

The Cock and Bulldog

We were too full for puds but had coffee and fudge, which our fudge experts pronounced excellent.

It was £20-£25 for two courses and coffee – not a cheap lunch but not too bad for a day out.

Well worth a visit if you are in the area – great pub food.


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Johnshaven is a small village north of Montrose which, like all the villages on that coast were fishing villages. Sadly, the fishing has gone but the tradition still remains.  It’s a picturesque place where the fishing history is palpable even though I guess it has become a dormitory village for Montrose and maybe even Aberdeen.

We have friends who live nearby and we had a meal in the Anchor Hotel. Frankly, it’s the kind of place that doesn’t look much from the outside. But, we’d heard good things about the food so thought that we’d give it a try.

The dining room is simply and tastefully decorated and the menu is dominated by fish dishes. Some shellfish is still landed locally and other fish comes from further up the coast. Lobster is a speciality so I decided to start with lobster soup, which was absolutely superb – one of the best fish soups that I’ve ever had.

I followed this with an Italian fish step – lobster, mussels, prawns plus a couple of different whitefish.  Fish stew is hard to get right because of the different cooking times of the different kinds of fish and, even in France, I don’t think I’ve had a perfect one. This wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t far away – tastes of the Mediterranean but with North Sea fish.

Other had fish pie, which looked and was pronounced excellent and haddock stuffed with prawns. I didn’t have a pud but did have a taste of the special dessert – syrup sponge, which everyone else had. It was really good.

Sadly, no pics as the usual low lightning.

A great find – friendly people, good atmosphere and tasty, inexpensive food. We were about £25 each for 2 courses with wine.

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