Buzzworks, You've Done It Again... - The Longhouse, Kilmarnock

I have visited Scott's restaurant in Troon more times than I care to share.  I genuinely thought that it was my favourite restaurant - the best food, the best staff, the best location and also the best value for money.
That was, until I ventured to Buzzwork's newest addition to the restaurant family - The Longhouse in Kilmarnock.  Although the location isn't anything to shout about (a quiet street in Kilmarnock with no particular views) the food, service and value were perfect.  The restaurant itself is a quaint and intimate room, with only a smattering of tables.  It is really nicely spaced and not too crowded, creating the perfect dining atmosphere.
The interior at The Longhouse - Courtesy of 5PM

The four of us were seated at a high table, which is actually featured in the picture on the right hand corner.  I went for my ever-fantastic glass of Willowood rose wine, my sister went for the 'Lost Geisha' cocktail and the boys stuck to fizzy drinks.  The cocktail list is very unique and refreshing to a cocktail guru's eyes.  On my next visit, I plan to try the pomegranate mojito!

A Lost Geisha & Willowood Zinfandel Rose wine

I was expecting the menu to be the same as that of Scott's, however there were some new and enticing surprises.  I struggled to choose a starter - lobster and crayfish Thai fishcakes, sweet chilli and garlic mussels or chicken liver pate?! - as did the rest of the table.  Needless to say that the menu isn't incredibly vast, but it has enough variety to get your mind going.  The staff were friendly and polite, as I would have expected from the standards of the other Buzzwork's establishments.
Once we were ready, we placed our orders. My sister and I both went for mussels; my order with the sweet chilli and garlic sauce, Sharon's with the white wine and shallot sauce.  Ryan opted for the chicken liver pate, and Mark (being on a diet) decided to miss out on a starter.
We did however, try the 'nibbles' that they had on order.  There are six nibble options to choose from: giant olives (which truly were giant), Parmesan chunks, boquerones (also known as pickled anchovies...), piquillo peppers, pickled hen eggs and proscuitto & medjool date.  We took them up on their offer of 4 for £6.95 and decided for two portions of Parmesan chunks, a portion of giant olives and the piquillo peppers.  The Parmesan cheese was served with a sweet onion marmalade, and was so unbelievably tasty.  The cheese was cut into perfect bite size cubes, and wasn't too over powering.

The 'nibbles' platter, four for £6.95

The olives were tart and salty, as they should be, with that familiar bitter tang.  Only thing to be aware of is that the olives are not pitted - please do not try to bite straight into one for fear of losing a fang...

The piquillo peppers were very tangy and strong flavoured - personally I didn't enjoy them (even though I fought for them to be in the final four...) however once attempted with a cube of cheese, the flavour was calmed and it was somewhat enjoyable.  The small salad also had a light vinaigrette dressing on it, which was a lovely added (and delicious) touch to the platter.

My salmon - perfection

After all of the steak I have eaten recently (and considering at least 4 of my reviews have been on steak!) I decided to go for the supreme of salmon with Mediterranean vegetables and a duo of sauce.  The title of this blog really does sum it up - Buzzwork's, you really have done it again!  The salmon was perfectly cooked - slightly crisp on the outside, flaky and tender inside.  The salmon was on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes, surrounded by slices of courgette, butternut squash and peppers.  The duo of sauces were very light and subtle, which is perfect for salmon; a light butter cream sauce, and a red pepper, carrot and butternut squash mixture.  All together, it can only be described as the best salmon dish I have eaten to date.

Both Ryan and Sharon ordered the half lobster shell (which wasn't available, so it came in a dish instead) filled with lobster, crayfish and king prawns, served with garlic bread and chips.  I managed to snaffle a chunk of lobster, which was delicious.  It was firm, meaty and relatively sweet.  The whole dish was covered in a thick, creamy cheese sauce, and garnished with basil leaves.  Both parties finished the whole dish, practically gouging holes in the bowl!  It was a general consensus between the two that one portion of fries between them would have been suffice.  Perhaps if only the garlic bread accompanied the meal, as it was too stodgy for all three to be consumed.  Final result nevertheless - two very satisfied diners!

The lobster, crayfish and king prawn medley

Mark is a huge fan of goats cheese, so it was no surprise that his choice of main was the goats cheese parcels, grilled vegetables and pimento sauce.  The light crispy parcels enveloped a healthy serving of creamy goats cheese and spinach, which was complimented by the sweetness of the pimento sauce.  As Mark is on a diet, this dish really sat well with him as it wasn't too heavy or stodgy.  The grilled vegetables also added an extra flavour, but ensures he was getting some of his five a day!

Goats cheese parcels with grilled vegetables and pimento sauce

After our plates were cleared, I was 90% certain that I was going to get a dessert - I just didn't know what.  I was so thrilled with the menu at The Longhouse that I knew deep down that I was going to hit a home run - and I did.

Whilst it's obvious that steak is my main course of choice, I am not really much of a 'sweet' fan.  That is, until tiramisu is available.  The Longhouse got my vote for "Fox's Favourite Restaurant To Date" award after sealing the deal with possibly the best dessert on the planet!  I enthused so much about it, I actually convinced Sharon (who was full to the point of combustion) to grab a slice too.  Ryan is not a fan of chocolate, so he chose something very unique - the rhubarb and ginger brulee.

Tiramisu Dessert

The sign of a proper, home-made tiramisu is how light it is.  Many shop bought tiramisus are heavily drowned in the liqueur, or the cream layer is excruciatingly sweet with no base whatsoever.  This tiramisu was heavenly - an equal layering of cream, mascarpone, sponge and liqueur garnished with a fresh strawberry and cream.  I urge you to order the tiramisu from here, I can guarantee that you will never have had a dessert so rich, creamy, flavoursome yet light as air!

Ryan is a true fan of rhubarb, so the brulee was a natural choice for him.  The portion was massive compared to a creme brulee, and was served with a sable biscuit.  The thick layer of crystalised sugar encased chunks of rhubarb pieces, coated in a ginger seasoned custard.  He said that there was also a strong hint of lemon throughout the dessert, which was a refreshing taste to counter the ginger.  The shortbread biscuit was sweet and melted in his mouth, and was a filling companion for this beautiful dish.

Once all our plates had been cleared, we sat back and embraced our indulged food babies.  I finished my second glass of wine, and we all sat smiling at the feast we had conquered.  You may think this was an extract from a children's fairytale, but it wasn't - we were really that impressed!

The total bill for two glasses of wine, numerous soft drinks, a cocktail and four three course dinners was a fantastic £108.  The service was quick and efficient, with knowledgeable and friendly staff.  It epitomised the true dining experience I expect from restaurants, and I know for certain I will be back in Kilmarnock to visit The Longhouse again.

Contact details:

The Longhouse
130 Titchfield Street

Tel: 01563 535130

Wheelchair access: No

Somewhere Not So Special... - Grill on the Corner, Glasgow

Throughout my reviews, you will know that I am obsessed with steak.  When restaurants claim to have the finest cuts of meat, and specialised farms with massaged cows on specialised diets, I have no choice but to grant them a visit.

My partner Ryan and I have been excited about Grill on the Corner in Glasgow from the moment it was booked.  Saturday night, later booking - I was prepared to be enthralled by this restaurant.  Sadly, my experience of Grill on the Corner is much like Scottish weather - miserable.

The restaurant itself is a vacuous, beautifully decorated space.  Lots of mismatched mirrors on the wall, low hanging chandeliers and quirky bookcases casually decorated.  It reminded me of the mad hatters tea party, but in a sleek and stylish way.

Upon entering the restaurant, there was a waiter behind the podium where menus were kept.  Standing on the staircase beside this was a young girl, staring into space, dressed casually.  I presumed she was a customer waiting to be served, as she caught eye contact with us and proceeded to stand.   I motioned towards the desk, when she suddenly approached us, and asked for our booking details.  She did the closest walk to a run I have ever seen round the corner and away from us!  Wearing heels and also just coming out of the rain, I trotted after her with Ryan holding my back to ensure I didn't slip and fall.  Very impersonal, very rushed and not what I would have expected from a restaurant of it's stature...

Stunning interior, courtesy of "Top Ten Glasgow Guide"

We were seated and provided with our menus.  Ryan ordered a glass of water, as he was feeling very dehydrated.  The waiter serving us scrunched his face up, as if this was unheard of.  I appreciate that in a Chinese Buffet, the money is in the drinks - this, however, is a city centre restaurant!  The money that we would potentially be spending was certainly not in the drinks.  I ordered my standard glass of rose wine, and also a glass of water.  He asked if we knew what we wanted to eat - well, no, considering we were just through the door? - and stalked off with our drinks orders.  The menu is very extensive - plenty of unusual but delicious sounding starters, a vast array of main courses (seafood, grill, vegetarian) and a compelling wine and cocktail list.  Just a shame we never got given the time to actually read through it all!  He returned within a minute with the drinks, and again asked if we were ready to order!  Again I must compare to a Chinese Buffet - the 'in and out' service.  We asked for just a little more time, and he left again.
Once we were (finally) ready to order, he came back at the ready.  I was famished, and decided to go for the chicken pate with Cumberland jelly and toast.  Ryan was suffering a mild concussion, and decided against a starter.  For the mains,  I ordered the Galloway sirloin, medium rare, with peppercorn sauce.  To accompany this i chose 'crushed potatoes', that I shall explain later in the review.  Ryan opted for the normal sirloin, cooked medium with a side of skin-on fries.

 I have to admit, that the food was absolutely outstanding.  The pate was served encased in a layer of fat, preserving that delicious meaty flavour beneath.  Topped with three sweet berries, the combination was delicious and the jelly was really something.  Layered on top of thickly sliced crunchy toast, it was a taste revelation.  I only wish there had been more of the pate, as it was absolutely mouthwatering and a pleasure to eat.

Chicken pate, with Cumberland jelly and toast

Within minutes, the slate had been cleared from the table.  The funny thing is, there was no usual banter that you would expect from a waiter.  I am unsure if it was perhaps his first night, but there was no connection from the staff - again very impersonal and not particularly warming.  Usually you are asked "how was that for you?" or "was everything alright with your starter?", but not here.  I appreciate weekends may be hectic - but we were literally being served so quickly and customer service is such an important part of the dining experience.

Less than five minutes wait, we were met with our mains.  All I can say is - WOW!  The steaks were absolutely perfect.  Cooked to a precision that ensured the steaks were juicy, tender and the right consistency - very well done to the chef.

Delicious - Galloway sirloin steak with 'crushed' potatoes
The Galloway steak is from a breed of cow that is allowed to freely graze amongst heather moors and long grass.  The steak was astounding.  Very moist, tender and a fantastic shade of pinky-red.  There was a sweetness to the meat, but also a smokiness from the grill.  The peppercorn sauce was creamy and thick, and there was plenty of it to coat the meat and truly accentuate the flavours.  My side, the 'crushed potatoes' were a revelation.  Crushed baby potatoes, mixed with chives and butter.  The potatoes were soft and fluffy, the chives were strong but not overpowering, and when eaten with a chunk of flawless steak - my God.

Ryan was overjoyed with his impeccably cooked steak.  He said that in all honesty, it is the best steak he has ever had to date!  His sirloin cut was very thick, but this did not compromise the juiciness and tenderness of the meat.  The skin-on fries arrived in a miniature basket - very cute and a nice touch for decor!  Fluffy inside, crunchy outside and lightly salted - the perfect chip!

Sirloin steak with skin-on fries
Our plates were well and truly cleared, and I was elated with my meal.  The waiter cleared our plates away, again with no chit-chat or care for comments we had.  I also found it strange that he didn't ask if we wanted desserts.  The reason why?  We were given a menu anyway on his return.  No questions asked, just slapped onto the table and left.  I cannot help but ask - why?! As paying customers you expect some sort of respect, or civil conversation with the staff!  I was actually quite shocked by the attitude of the staff, and regardless of how perfect the food was, it ruined our experience.

I had asked about the desserts on the menu to our waiter on his return.  Trying to gauge him in some polite conversation about cakes and such (part of his job, really) was probably more difficult that riding a bucking bronco on a rickety bridge built on a ship that was sailing on the roughest seas.  Yes, really that difficult.

We decided to cut our disappointing visit short and say no to desserts.  The menu sounded good, but considering how extensive the main menu was, the variety of desserts available were scarce.  I quite like when restaurants do a 'special', such as a cheesecake or a meringue.  There are perhaps eight desserts available.  Although some do sound fantastic, I was beyond giving anymore chances for bad service.

Ryan paid the bill and left a standard tip.  Upon seeing the slightly skimpy tip, the card was pushed back to Ryan and the waiter then left, without so much as a goodbye or a thank you.

The bill came to approximately £66.  This was for one starter, two steaks and one glass of wine.  I am usually fine to pay this kind of money, however I would expect the staff to be accommodating and helpful, even if it is a pretence. 

My opinion of Grill on the Corner is not a good one.  The quality and preparation for the food was definitely ten out of ten, and if you aren't big on service then I would recommend visiting.  However, if you enjoy the 'out for dinner' experience like I do, then I would not recommend a visit.  To give you an overview - we were in and out within an hour.

I am tempted to revisit Grill on the Corner, perhaps to see if this was a fluke or we caught the staff on an 'off' night.  Who knows? I certainly don't.

Contact Details:

Grill on the Corner
21-25 Bothwell Street
G2 6NL

Tel: 0141 248 6262

Wheelchair access:  No

Something Remeniscent - Taj Mahal Restaurant, Lochgilphead

I spent my childhood years running free in the countryside at Port Ban Caravan Park, Kilberry.  Working full time and being too tired to really stimulate my brain called for a good ol' remeniscent trip back to my roots.

One of my many fond memories was stopping for a bite to eat in Lochgilphead, which is about forty minutes from the secret haven of Port Ban and just about two hours from Glasgow.  The restaurant consists of about four tables, but luckily you are able to order a takeaway.

The staff are always willing and welcoming, and considering we have been visiting the Taj Mahal for a good decade, it's nice to know that they still have their passion for service.

They have a good, strong menu full to the brim of curries and sundries with mouth watering descriptions - it truly is a challenge to make a decision.

Chicken tikka masala, chicken chilli masala and lamb chilli masala - just three of the amazing dishes on offer.

Whilst making your decision, poppadoms and a selection of four accompaniaments are set in front of you to nibble.  The yellow sauce has always been a family favourite (and is the first to go!) guessed to be a mixture of coconut milk and tamarind.  I suggest you go and taste it for yourself!  Next is a selection of crunchy pickles in a tangy, sour coating - absolutely fantastic on top of the crispy poppadoms.  There is also a large portion of mango chutney, which is sweet, thick and absolutely mouth watering.  Personally I'd say it's better than the real thing.  The fourth and final addition is a portion of spiced onions.  Sliced as opposed to cubed, the teaspoon is rendered useless so prepare to get your fingers sticky!  Nevertheless, they consist of a slight kick with that usual potent onion taste - fantastic.

For starters, my sister Sharon and I went for the mixed pakora.  I was slightly disappointed that they provided mushroom pakora instead of vegetable.  For those who know me, I really despise mushrooms!  Sharon is a fan, and for the sake of the review, they were hot, flavoursome and coated in a soft batter.  The chicken pakora was a delight, and a small side salad helped take the minor sting from the pakora sauce.

My partner Ryan ordered the tandoori chicken.  He absolutely adored it - a good spicy kick to it, and marinated so that the succulent chicken was completely caked in the smoky, spicy coating .  The meat fell off the bone, and again it was served with a side salad of shredded lettuce and cucumber.

I am a huge fan of lamb when it comes to curry, but I am very pernickety about how it is cooked and the texture.  I fully trust the expertise of the chef, so I opted for the lamb chilli masala.  Well, wow.  The lamb was tender and fell apart when I was cutting it.  The tomato and chilli sauce was spicy and thick, perfect for dipping garlic naan bread!  Ryan ordered the chicken version of my dish, and again, no complaints.

My lamb chilli masala + garlic naan

My father decided to go for a lamb bhuna.  Again, he praised the tenderness of the lamb chunks and the flavoursome sauce that came with it.  As my father is also a spice fiend, he said that next time we visit, he would be getting the lamb chilli masala - I can't help but agree.  I tried to get a photograph, however I am smart enough to know not to stand in the way of a hungry man's dinner.

Chicken Tikka Masala - Already tucked into!
My sister went for her old favourite - chicken tikka masala.  Usually prepared with nuts and raisins, Sharon asked for hers to be plain.  The chicken chunks were tender and marintated to the core.  The sauce was creamy, rich and intense - absolute perfection.  She cleared out the karahi with some plain naan and pilau rice.  I was lucky enough to taste the chicken tikka masala, and I can assure you that you would not be disappointed.

The final dish to be ordered was by Mark, my sister's partner.  As he is not a fan of spicy foods, or anything too heavy, he ordered the chicken pasanda.  Consisting of a very mild, sweet yet creamy sauce and tikka chicken pieces garnished with sultanas and nuts, the whole dish was very pleasing and satisfying.  Mark also dipped a peshwari naan, which really brought out the creaminess of the sauce.

Chicken Pasanda + Peshwari Naan

Including six soft drinks to the bill, it came to a total of £74, making it apporixmately £20 per head.  The food is absolutely delicious, the setting is serene and overall, the Taj Mahal is hidden gem.  Each guest is also offered a complimentary After Eight, which is a nice touch considering most restaurants offer you the cheap powdery mints that do more harm than good!

  The only downside of the Taj Mahal? They don't deliver to the ML1 area....

Contact Details:

Taj Mahal
41 Lochnell Street
PA31 8JL

Tel: 01546 606 296

Wheelchair access? No