Monday, December 31, 2007

The Cotton House, Longcroft, Bonnybridge

I had heard on the grapevine that the Cotton House out by Longcroft was serving up delicious food, so as is my want I decided to sample the menu. I took a bit of a calculated risk by inviting a few members of my family to come along with me. However, needless to say it was no risk with The Cotton House living up to all our expectations.

When we arrived outside The Cotton House I began to suffer from de-ja-vue. I was thinking that I had been there before. It was not until my wife told me that we had bought a bed from the premises some ten years previously when it had been used as a bed store that I realised I was not losing my mind.

Well, the transformation from bed store to an upmarket restaurant is remarkable. Helen and Alex Lee, the owners of The Cotton House, have created a very pleasant environment and one that lends itself to creating a first class dining experience.

Seated and given menus by a very attentive waitress we perused the delights of The Cotton House. We ordered and to start we had two portions of the Mixed Hors D’Oeuvres, which I have to say were pure magic and more than enough to get our taste buds flowing. This was accompanied by a number of bottles of Tsingtao Chinese Beer, which can quench the thirst of many a Buddha.

For our mains, we shared Yau Pau king prawns which had been quick fried with mixed vegetables, Sambal chicken which is chicken marinated in chilli with basil and coconut cream, hot and spicy Singapore noodles, curried breast of chicken and, finally, marinated king prawn which was skewered on bamboo and chargrilled and served on a sizzling platter with spicy Malaysian peanut sauce. All was served with the usual egg fried rice.

The meal was fantastic; superb; magnificent; tremendous. I’m running out of adjectives to describe how good the meal was. I suppose I should just state that you will find it hard to beat The Cotton House as the quality food was outstanding, as was the exceptional level of service.

In my view, The Cotton House provides the very best Chinese and Thai cuisine in central Scotland. This is a big statement to make. But believe me it true. If you don’t believe me go and find out for yourself as I’m sure that you will agree that it’s well worth a visit.


Contact Details:
The Cotton House
209 Longcroft Trade Centre
Glasgow Road
Tel: 01324 840840

Red Lion Chinese Restaurant, Larbert

For those of you who regularly drive into Larbert towards the Commercial Hotel roundabout cannot have failed to notice that something is different. The Red Lion Hotel has been transformed into what can only be described as a carbuncle on the landscape of Larbert.

The once "normal" exterior of the hotel has been turned into a Las Vegas style Chinese restaurant that borders on the appeal of an eastern European brothel. The external lights that constantly change colour create an ambience that the sex industry in Prague would be only to proud of. Not that the Buddha has frequented any of these places, but he does know a friend who has. The only thing that is missing is the scantly clad young lady dancing round the lamp posts outside. Give it time.

How the owners ever got planning permission for the signage and lighting is beyond me. The Councl have badly let the people of Larbert down once again. I am beginning to sound like Prince Charles. But, for God’s sake it is awful. What are these people thinking about?

It took me a few weeks of head shaking to eventually put my prejudices behind me and ventured across the door of the “new” Red Lion. Although, I only had a carry out I can report that thankfully the food is not a tacky as the exterior. It was tasty and enjoyable.

I have heard mixed reports from others who have had the pleasure of eating in. I am not convinced that I will brave the neon frenzy to enter the restaurant as it is my view that the food is not a patch on that served at The Cotton House (review soon to be posted).

I have noticed that the owners have now opened a Champagne and Wine Bar. What ever next? Champagne! I couldn’t see any on the wine list. Although, I did see some overpriced Australian sparkling wine. I think I’ll give Trading Standards a call.

Food-7/10 (Carry Out)
Drink-N/A (Carry Out)
Service-6/10 (Carry Out)
External Environment-0/10 (Cannot comment on internal as carry out)

Contact Details:
The Red Lion Hotel
2 Stirling Road
Tel: 01324 562886

Monday, August 06, 2007

Yang Sing, Camelon, Falkirk.

What is it with us Scots? Why do we always think more is better? Is this the logic that we are adopting by the creeping growth in buffet nights at Chinese restaurants? What’s makes me pose these questions? Well, a while back I had the unfortunate experience to eat at the Yang Sing at Camelon, Falkirk. In short, it was one of the worst dining experiences that I have had the displeasure of experiencing in recent years.

When we walked in through the doors of the Yang Sing and I was astounded by the amount of people who were either seated or waiting to be so. To say this restaurant was full doesn't cut it. It was bursting at the seams. I've always reckoned you could tell a good restaurant by the amount of people that dine, but unfortunately this cannot be said for the Yang Sing. After a 15 minute wait we were taken to a bench style table that was designed to seat about 12 people. The waiter explained that the menu only consisted of "eat as much as you want" for £10.00. Mmmm, okay I thought.

So after placing our drinks order, up we strode along with the rest of the Falkirk population to queue in front of what all intents and purposes were feeding trough’s. We were confronted by what could only be described as an unappealing stodgy Chinese food mountain. The starters were three types of soup, pancake rolls and filling, spring rolls, and won tons. The spring rolls were veggie and were ever so slightly greasy. There were main dishes such as mushrooms in batter, chicken in its many forms, together with beef dishes, ribs, mixed vegetables and mushroom satay. There were also noodles, fried rice and the obligatory chips. The sauces include curry, sweet and sour and lemon sauce. If you were not satisfied by the this the you could gorge yourself on the sweets such as chocolate gateau, banana fritter, ice creams, fruits and cheesecake.

It sounds okay on paper, but all the dishes appeared to be mixed together, droplets of curry sauce was mixed in with the sweet and sour sauce. What would pass a vegetarian dish was partly mixed with meat dish. I will spare you further detail, but needless to say it was minging. It was like eating in an airport cafe. Terrible! It was just horrible.

We were in and out the restaurant in less than 30 minutes, never to return again. I suppose the buffet meal at the Yang Sing is ideal for people who can eat ‘til they drop! But for those of us who expect a tiny wee bit of finesse, better value and real choice I would advise you to dine elsewhere.


Contact Details:

Yang Sing
43 Union Road
Tel: 01324 611288

Monday, July 09, 2007

Future Posts

The Buddha Belly will be posting reviews on the following shortly:

Clive Ramsay's, Bannockburn
The Horseshoe Inn, Eddleston
The Cotton House, Bonnybridge
McDonald Cardrona Hotel, Peebles
Yang Sing, Falkirk

Keep visiting Buddha Belly Eats and the Buddha Belly will help you select somewhere not so ordinary to go and eat and drink.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Boathouse, South Queensferry.

I was on my way into Edinburgh for a business meeting and suddenly I thought that it would be great to take a slight detour down to South Queensferry for lunch. I had read good reports of The Boathouse and suggested to the Buddha's wife that we should pay it a visit and I was pleased that she readily agreed.

The Boathouse overlooks the Firth of Forth and has stunning views of both bridges. We were fortunate enough to get great seats in the downstairs bistro area and they afforded us fantastic views of the old railway bridge.

The Boathouse has been described as a “fish lovers' paradise”. Well, in my view this is greatly overstating the menu. On the lunch menu I could only find three fish dishes (oysters and scallops) and one was the daily special! (sea bass). The all day menu was just as disappointing as I could only identify two mains (haddock and chips or mussels) that could be loosely described as a fish dish.

To be honest I had expected more, but that is not to say that the food was not good, it is just that it was limited fish selection. If a restaurant boosts that is offers the very best in Scotland’s fish and seafood plates then I would have expected more choice and more imagination.

With that said, we did have a good dining experience. We weren’t particularly hungry when we took our seats at the window of spectacular views so we decided to limit ourselves to sharing a tapas, a mixed salad and mussels. We also ordered two glass of house white for the Buddha’s wife and a glass of tap water and a coffee.

To be perfectly honest, I was so disappointed with the lack of fish choice on the menu that it put paid to my appetite. I know that Tam Cowan has reviewed The Boathouse and that he has given it the thumbs up. But, what would expect from someone who is a Motherwell supporter and he’s just glad to be eating anything that’s not wrapped in newspaper. Only kidding Tam and keep up the good work.

The food arrived promptly and was good. The tapas offered a plentiful supply of fresh olives, meats, fish, pates, vegetables and bread. The mixed salad was extremely fresh; the salad leaves dressed balsamic dressing was refreshing. The mussels steamed in a chilli, tomato and coriander were brilliant.

The waitress attempted to charge me £1.80 for the glass of tap water. You would think that there was a shortage of rain drops in this country! I asked her to think again and that certainly put paid to any tip that I was thinking of offering. Maybe, a bit harsh, but this type of thing gets on my wick.

All in all it was very tasty lunch and at £25.00 was well worth it. I would go back just in hope that there are more fish dishes on the menu. So in summary and true Tam Cowan fashion the Buddha Belly Eats rating is:


Contact Details:
The Boathouse
19b High Street
South Queensferry
West Lothian
EH30 9PP
Tel: 0131 331 5429

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Purple Mango, Milton Keynes

When I first visited the Purple Mango I was extremely disappointed both by the food and the service. So it may be a bit of a surprise for you the read that I have returned. Well I am a wee bit myself, but my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law persuaded me to give it another chance.

My Brother-in- Law insists that the Purple Mango is the best Indian restaurant in Milton Keynes and surrounding area. Well he is right in that the restaurant is very stylish, modern and offers a very nice atmosphere and I'm glad to report that it has also gone up in estimation.

The last time I was there I ordered the chicken biriani which turned out to be bland and tasteless. I was really disappointed. I would not make the same mistake twice. This time I decided that I would pick from the banquet menu and I got to choose from an extensive menu which included a starter, a main course, side dish, rice or a nan bread and a coffee. It was great value.

For my starter, I ordered a Prawn Tikka Puree which was absolutely fantastic. This was followed by a plentiful supply of tasty Lamb Bhoona that was medium curry with plentiful fresh spices, onions and green peppers. I decided to order Allo Ghobie, which is potatoes and cauliflower as a side dish, together with Special Pilau Rice. I would not say that Lamb Bhoona was the best I've ever tasted, but it was good. The Allo Ghobie was mouthwatering. Mmmmmm lovely.

As a footnote, my Wife and sister-in-law ordered the Purple Mango Special King Prawns that were deliciously flavoured with herbs and spices. The prawns were the largest I have ever seen served in any restaurant they had been beautifully cooked in a clay oven.

I’m glad that I gave the Purple Mango another opportunity to please me palate and I’m pleased to report that it offers good generous and thoughtfully presented food from a creative menu. My only negative comment is that on both visits the staff came across as being a bit gruff. Maybe, its because I’m used to the really friendly staff at my local curry house, The Gulnar. The Buddha Belly Eats rating is:


Contact Details:

Purple Mango
26b Walnut Tree
Local Centre
Walnut Tree
Milton Keynes
Tel: 01908 677980

The Wavendon Arms Again

This week we're on wee tour down south and we decided to pay another visit to the The Wavendon Arms. Ardent readers of Buddha Belly Eats will recall that I visted the The Wavendon Arms earlier this year. We had booked for 8.00pm and arrived at 7.30pm and settled in the bar for quick aperitif. Well a pint of Bombardier in my case, a small glass of Leffe for the Aussie whooos and a bottle of Pinot for the ladies.

Bang on 8.00pm we were shown to our table. The place was heaving and the atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable. The menu had not changed since we last visited. The “Specials” menu is a daily feature that certainly enticed some of our group. I ordered grilled asparagus, poached egg, parmesan and rocket for my starter and ribeye steak, chilli onion rings, pesto tomato and chips on the side for my mains.

My starter was delicious and I grudgingly shared it around the table. Once I had rescued my starter from the appreciative mouths of the scavengers I summarily devoured it. It was good. No, it was very good. The poached egg yolk mixed superbly with the balsamic dressing. The asparagus was blanched to perfection and combined spectacularly with the poached egg, parmesan and rocket. Mmmmm. I might sneak back today for another plateful. I would give the starter 9/10.

The mains arrived just in time to be accompanied by another pint of Bombardie. The steak had been cooked to medium rare as requested. The chilli onion rings were a tad on the dry side. Maybe, this was result of the dish being placed under a hot plate for slightly longer than it should have been. Still, I did enjoy the steak, pesto tomato and chips. I would give the mains 7/10.

We forced ourselves to order three deserts for the table, two hot chocolate cakes with ice cream and one sticky toffee pudding with cream. We all got stuck in to the puddings and they were a magical way to end the meal. I would give the deserts 9/10.

And finally, is it just me or do the waitresses at the The Wavendon Arms look the same, about 5'5" tall, size 8-10, blonde hair pulled and tied back, black trouser and black t-shirts, tanned or fake tanned and their naval showing. I must be getting dead old because I am finding this whole revealed naval thing a bit disturbing. I can't seem to take my eyes of them. I don't know what I'm going to see, but it does slightly and momentary disturb my thirst quenching activities. I hope that I’m not starting to go through a bare naval induced mid-life crisis thing.

The Buddha Belly Eats rating is:


Contact Details:

The Wavendon Arms
2 Newport Road
MK17 8LJ
Tel: 01908 584277

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Good Golf and Good Food Are A Great Mix

My son and I were back playing golf at St Fillans the other week. We had a fantastic time on the course. The weather was the usual, four seasons in one hour. That's a slight exaggeration, but it was close. We had our usual stake for nearest the pin at the short 8th hole and I am now down £2.00. I'll see if I can balance the books before the golfing season is out.

One of the joys of playing golf at St Fillans is looking forward to the freshly cooked food that awaits you at the 19th hole. Regular readers will recall my post "St Fillans Golf Club, St Fillans" were I praised the food. Well I’m pleased to report that the food remains superb and the prices are still set to ensure that they do not dent your pocket. Try the ham salad, with a side portion of chips. It’s pure magic. Enjoy.

The Buddha Belly Eats rating is:

Food-8/10 (Ham salad on its own is a 10/10)
Drink-8/10 (So reasonable)
Environment-9/10 (Views are stunning)

Contact Details:
St Fillans Golf Club
South Loch Earn Road
St Fillans
Telephone: 01764 685312

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Wavendon Arms, Wavendon

Sometime ago we got a call from the Buddha’s Wife’s sister claiming that she had found a great place to eat and that we would love it. So on our next trip down south we went to the Wavendon Arms and we were not disappointed.

The Wavendon Arms is described as a new country pub with a difference and it certainly is and it puts my local “The Commercial” slightly in the shade. It’s rumoured that the owners spent over £1M on the refurbishment. Both the external and internal works look as though a few pounds have been invested and are very tasteful.

When we arrived we were offered a warm welcome and were seated promptly. At my back was roasting log fire (it was in January!), which soon ensured that I was ready for drink. Whilst the ladies ordered a bottle of chenin blanc, the Buddha ordered a pint of Brigadier, whereas, the Aussie whooos ordered a Bloody Mary! The Brigadier was very pleasant and I was soon ready for a second, whereas the Aussie whooos nursed his drink a night. Light weight!

For our starters, we decided that we would share both Spanish Tapas and Greek Mezze. The starters were generous in size and offered plenty in the way of variety and taste. Very enjoyable.

As you may be aware, the Buddha is rather partial to a Ribeye Steak so that’s what I ordered for my mains. When it arrived it was drizzled in what the menu describes as “Bloody Mary Butter”. The steak was also accompanied by a side order of fries and salad. As I cut my knife into the steak I could see that it was cooked to perfection. The “Bloody Mary Butter” was interesting and certainly added to the taste of the succulent beef.

For desert the adults shared, a couple of cheese boards, which were plentiful in cheese, biscuits and fruit. The kids ordered the usual deserts are were silent whilst they ate them which is always a good sign.

I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, which was well cooked and presented. The service was first class and the atmosphere at The Wavendon Arms is relaxed, friendly and informal. Just the kind of place the Buddha enjoys. In summary, the meal was good, albeit a bit pricey for an out of town eatery, but the Buddha would return.

Contact Details:

The Wavendon Arms
2 Newport Road
MK17 8LJ
Tel; 01908 584277

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Time Flies

Is it that long since the Buddha posted on Buddha Belly Eats? Just shows you that time flies when you're caught up in everything Heart of Midlothian. As the football season draws to an end and the drivel that I've been posting on my other blog “Jambo Voice” begins to dry up my mind has turn to Buddha Belly Eats.

Even though my attention has been on “Jambo Voice” I still have been eating and drinking out so I have stacks to comment on. Over the next few weeks I will be posting a number of reviews so please keep visiting Buddha Belly Eats.

I look forward to hearing your comments over the summer.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Upcoming Posts in January 2007

Keep your eye out for upcoming posts in January 2007. The Buddha Belly will be posting reviews of the following:

Hermann’s, Stirling
The Wavendon Arms, Wavendon
Purple Mango, Milton Keynes

Keep visiting Buddha Belly Eats for reviews on some of the good places or not so good places to eat and drink.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Inn at Woburn

By the time you read this review my sister-in-law and her husband will have celebrated their first wedding anniversary. To acknowledge this important event, the Buddha Belly thought that he would write a review of the meal that we shared to celebrate their wedding. Although, it was just over a year ago it was such a memorable meal that it is still vivid in my memory. Some of the best stories always have a beginning, middle and an end and the Buddha Belly believes that a good review is not different. So let’s commence at the beginning of what was a special day.

The wedding party was collected by limousine and were we were taken the short distance to the Registry Office in Bletchley. The ceremony was intimate, romantic and a true celebration of the love that two people have for each other. It was a privilege to be part of what was a trilogy of wedding ceremonies. Don’t ask. It would take to long to explain.

After the wedding ceremony, it was back in the limousine and on to the Inn at Woburn. Just six miles from the Registry Office at Bletchley, the Inn at Woburn is set in the heart of the picturesque Georgian village. The Inn, which was opened in 1724, is part of the extensive Woburn Estate which is famous for its deer herds.

On arrival, we made for the very pleasant and comfortable bar and ordered drinks to toast the legal status of the couple. Whilst we toasted the happy couple we also took in the surroundings. The Inn is quite, how could I put it, “sort of posh”. Although, the decoration and furnishings reflect its character it is not oppressively posh, it’s as my wife described it "comfortably posh".

We soon moved into the small elegant dining room that offered a slightly more intimate ambiance. As soon as we were seated at the large round centre table we were presented with menu’s that offered the diner a wide variety of contemporary dishes.

For starters, I had baked scallops with spring onion and vermouth sauce. The scallops were served in their shell which was interesting. This was a brilliantly simple starter that was mouth-watering marvellous.

For my mains, I ordered grilled rib eye steak with red wine sauce served with frites, flat cap mushrooms, and roast cherry tomatoes. I enjoy my steak medium rare and this steak was cooked to perfection. The red wine sauce was light that it encouraged the fusion of tastes from the steak and the sautéed mushrooms and tomatoes. Mmmmm. My taste buds are crying out as I reminisce of the taste.

It’s unusual for the Buddha Belly to have a sweet, however as it was a special occasion I decided what the hell its not every day that the wife’s sister gets married. Well, that’s not entirely true as this was her third time during the proceeding three months. As I explained earlier don’t go there it’s a long story!

Anyway, the Buddha Belly ordered the pana cotta with cranberry and raspberry sauce that was sweetened by vanilla cream served with Amaretto biscuits. When it arrived it reminded me of a recent nude of a woman. It was of sheer beauty that had a fascinating simplicity. I could have admired its beauty all day. However, that was not the pana cotta purpose so needs must and with fork in hand I delicately and respectfully took a forkful. The distinctly vanilla sweet cream was silky-smooth in texture complimented the cranberry and raspberry sauce that appeared to have a champagne fizz to it. It was lip-smackingly delicious.

The excellent meal was finished by a selection of handmade cheese with grape, celery, grape chutney, savoury biscuits and the obligatory coffee.

The Chef at the Inn is a guy Olivier Bertho. I had never heard of him, but I have to say that he offered us a superb menu of contemporary cuisine which was presented and served with flair and imagination. The food was nothing but excellent. The staff were enthusiastic and very attentive without imposing on our dining experience. I loved the food and had the most enjoyable meal. FANTASTIC!

The first wedding anniversary is symbolised by paper and I have attempted to do this through the virtual paper provided by Buddha Belly Eats. However, what really matters is that the happy couple have found that special someone to share their life in lasting love. Congratulations C and J on your first legal year of togetherness and the Buddha Belly wishes you many more.

Contact Details:

The Inn at Woburn
George Street
MK17 9PX
Tel: 01525 290441

All The Best For 2007

The Buddha Belly would like to wish everyone all the best for 2007 and lang may yir lum reek wi ither fowk's coal.

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may your God hold you in the palm of their hand.

Best wishes for 2007