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Issue 65 - Roadside Dining

Scotland Magazine Issue 65
October 2012

 

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Roadside Dining

The Editor goes in search of good food while travelling

Sometimes the simplest of decisions leads to some of the most wonderful experiences. For instance on a recent trip to Scotland I decided not to eat at motorway service stations and look for more interesting places to eat and drink.

Let me explain further. Most motorway services usually feature a petrol station, a collection of big name fast food outlets and, generally, a freezer food restaurant. By this I mean large quantity, minimum cooking fuss type joints.

However there is a big movement sweeping Scotland of eating local and as seasonally as possible. As yet this is still at a grass roots level but there are some great examples emerging.

Farm shops are one place this revolution is starting to show up in. Of course with the connection to the land and producers you get excellent quality food and the provenance is pretty much there to be seen in the fields. My best experience of this was heading up to Aberdeen on the A90. There is a little sign for the Castleton Farm Shop and cafe, and I recommend you turn off the road and enjoy. The food on offer is simple, high quality and perfect for the traveller looking for something different. Also there is a shop attached so you can stock up on snacks and stuff for later on; perfect for the foodie traveller.

Two other establishments deserve mention in this food journey, and they could not be more different, but both share a wonderful food ethos. The Thistle Hotel in Glasgow is often a haunt of mine, mainly for the secure parking. However on this trip I explored the menu a little, and it's worth looking at. Despite the size of the hotel the kitchen manages to put out excellent dishes to keep any diner happy.

The smaller, more intimate surrounding of the Parklands hotel in Perth provided an excellent evening's dining. Perth seems to be establishing itself as a destination for foodies, and the offerings at the Parklands reflect this. Local meat and imaginative dishes, and of course a decent wine list, made for a lovely night out.

My final roadside stop took me down to Doune and the Deanston Distillery cafe. Again top notch food is on offer here; in fact several of my fellow diners were there just for lunch, not a tour of the distillery, which is always a good recommendation.

So I guess in all this what I am really saying is step out of your comfort zone, leave the road and see what you can find. You will be surprised.