Ben Ledi Cafe, Callander

Ben Ledi Cafe
We were at a really enjoyable wedding in Callander this weekend. After a couple of moderately strenuous walks from Balquhidder and Strathyre and before going to the evening reception, we popped into the Ben Ledi Cafe in Callander, now part of the growing Mhor empire – owned by the enterprising Lewis family who also run the Monachyle Mhor hotel* in nearby Balquhidder.

Ben Ledi Cafe is a traditional “posh fish and chips” restaurant, and has a takeaway fish and chip bar attached to it. It serves the usual chip shop staples alongside other stuff like scallops, fish cakes and meat from the Monachyle Mhor farm. Their speciality is that you can select a fish from the wet fish counter and get it cooked any way you like. On Saturday, there wasn’t much choice (cod, skate or plaice) as the staff explained it had been a busy day.

J had a pan-fried skate wing, I had grilled plaice fillet, along with chips and salad. They don’t have a licence, but there is a Victoria Wine next door and we had a nicely chilled NZ Sauvignon Blanc.

The quality was good (although I think we get better quality fish from Fencebay at Glasgow Farmers’ Market), but the fish portions were small and, in my opinion over-priced (£11-12 for fish, chips and salad). Service was friendly and good. The best bit of the meal were the really well-cooked chips, freshly made for us. I think they were fried in beef fat which gave them a lovely chippy flavour.

I’d certainly go back, but I think for best value I’d stick with a haddock supper.

* See my commenst on Monachyle Mhor in 2004 and 2005 – I believe from friends that it has since regained some of it’s lost magic, although reviews on TripAdvisor are still mixed.

Burrowing field mice

Field mouse

The family of field mice that have been resident in our garden for a couple of years have now started to burrow under the garage, leaving big mounds of soil in on the greenhouse floor.

So, despite them being cute, it’s time to stop them. We have bought two traps, loaded them with Fruit and Nut, and in two nights we’ve caught 4 mice.

I’ll keep a running tally here….

Update: 21/01/2008 Days: 6 Mice caught: 6

None for the last 2 nights. I wonder is that it?

Food Awards 2007

Travels 2007

Lake District
Devon & Cornwall
Hamilton’s Bawn

The food highlights of 2007 were:

Best Restaurants

These are the best places we’ve eaten this year:

  1. Hibiscus, London. Relocated from Ludlow to Mayfair, Claude and Clare Bosi’s Hibiscus still retains its essential characteristics and superlative food. Although we thought that it wasn’t quite as good as when in Ludlow, I’m sure that will improve as they settle into an urban context; they should certainly retain their two Michelin stars.
  2. Fins, Fencebay. The fish restaurant that is run by the people who sell fish at the Glasgow Farmers Market. Superbly fresh, simply cooked, the fish that normally gets exported to France and Spain.
  3. Driftwood, Cornwall. Consistently good food in a stunning setting on the south Cornwall coast.

Best Hotels

Places we have enjoyed staying in this year.

  1. The Samling, Ambleside. Superbly comfortable small hotel overlooking Windermere. The breakfasts, served in the bedrooms, is particularly luxurious. The goats cheese ice cream was also excellent!
  2. Driftwood, Cornwall. Really welcoming and comfortable hotel with a New England feel, sited on the south Cornwall cliffs.
  3. Trigony House Hotel, Thornhill. An autumn highlight is this small Edwardian country house in the Dumfriesshire countryside, with comfortable rooms, good food and resident dog.

Best Breakfasts

  1. The Samling. Nothing can beat a Samling breakfast, chosen from an extensive menu the night before (only marginally resisting the urge to tick all the menu items), served in the bedroom and eaten while looking out over Lake Windermere.
  2. Tom’s Kitchen, London. Eggs benedict, say no more.