Jam Jar Kitchens

I know that when I think of somewhere outside of Glasgow to get a good quality bite to eat, Cardross would not be the first place that pops into my head. For those not familiar with Cardross, it’s a village just outside of Helensburgh & home to Jam Jar Kitchens. As with a lot of eateries, I came across Jam Jar Kitchens via Twitter & kept an eye on their wares through both Twitter & Facebook. It is the brain child of Masterchef the Professionals contestant, David Hetherington, formerly of Riverhill Deli (the original & sister of the Glasgow one).

Jam Jar Kitchens

We decided to pop along for lunch last Saturday on our way back from visiting family in Helensburgh as the restaurant is only open until 5pm. At the start of every month, Jam Jar Kitchens runs an evening menu the first Friday & Saturday for a set price & BYOB, showcasing . Their facebook page is a constant tease, showcasing their unique cakes (Oreo Muffins!!), weekly specials & monthly evening menus so I was desperate to pay a visit! The restaurant itself is quite cosy, as you would expect in a village like Cardross. The restaurant is decorated with lots of quirky & unique touches like a herb box filled with fresh herbs at the back window, Scottish themed cushions on the seats & a selection of different handwashes in the toilet.

Decoration

Herb Boz

The menu is a reasonable size for a restaurant of this size, offering breakfast options, a range of sandwiches & some hot dishes as well as homemade cakes. That week I had been eyeing up their special – philly cheesesteak & pizza fries so opted for that. It arrived & the portion was pretty big for one person! The philly cheesesteak was phenomenal. Honestly, I was struggling to think of words to describe it afterwards. It was filled with strips of fresh steak, grated cheese & a tomato-chilli jam which gave it a nice zing. I was initially disappointed with the pizza fries as they didn’t have a lot of #”pizza” topping. However, as soon as I started munching, it was evident there was topping spread throughout the portion of fries but just enough so the chips were not soggy. I have an issue with saturation with things like chips so they were ideal for me. Again, there was a slight chilli flavour to the tomato sauce, I suspected the same as on the cheesesteak, which added a nice flavour element to the fries.

Philly Cheesesteak

Pizza Fries

A opted for a crayfish marie rose sandwich which arrived in a giant foccacia casing. I had a bite of it & the sauce was really tasty, again with a slight chilli hint adding a twist to it. It was filled to the brim & after finishing the sandwich, A had loads of surplus crayfish remaining! The one part of the meal that I have to take my hat off to Jam Jar Kitchens for is their coleslaw. I don’t know about anyone else but my most favourite coleslaw in the world is Marks & Spencers coleslaw & Jam Jar Kitchens offering, in my opinion, rivals it! I never thought it would be possible to find anywhere that did a better coleslaw than M&S!!

Crayfish Sandwich

Coleslaw

Although Cardross is a bit outside of Glasgow & the outskirts, it is relatively easy to get to by train on the Helensburgh line, with the restaurant a short walk from the train station. If you’re looking for a filling lunch or a different dinner experience away from the big city, I would hands down recommend Jam Jar Kitchens.

Serving Board

Black Sheep Bistro

I’d visited the Black Sheep Bistro a couple of years ago on a work night out & thoroughly enjoyed it so I was looking forward to a revisit when we went for my sister’s graduation dinner. The restaurant is not on any of the main strips, in fact, it’s hidden away on a street in St George’s Cross, just at the end of Great Western Rd. It’s a small, family run restaurant that focuses on good, traditional food. The restaurant is so small in fact, that you will find weekends booked up weeks in advance so I’d definitely recommend calling ahead.

Black Sheep Bistro

The menu is quite large, with around 8-10 dishes for starters & mains, with a seasonal twist to the menu. It took me ages to decide as there were a few dishes I would easily pick on any menu. Instead, I decided to go for dishes I don’t normally have.

Black Sheep!Thistle

For starters, I went for the breaded camembert with raspberry sauce. One thing about the Black Sheep is that they do not skimp on portions! Usually when you get breaded cheese, you get one or two triangles, just bigger than a mouthful. This portion was 3 large pieces of cheese, oozing out of the breadcrumbs. It was well cooked but not so melted you can’t eat it without a spoon. I was intrigued by the raspberry sauce which was not too sweet but not too tart, with a lovely raspberry flavour & it accompanied the creamy cheese really well. I also pinched some of A’s starter which was prawns & crispy chorizo on crusty bread. I was a bit surprised to eat a mouthful only to find out it was cold! However, that didn’t take away from the slightly spicy chorizo & fresh prawns.

Breaded CamembertPrawn & Chorizo on crusty bread

Mains in the Black Sheep revolve around the meals that you crave when you need some proper comfort food with dishes including macaroni, steak pie & chicken balmoral on the menu. I was tempted to have the dish I’d had previously, haddock with parma ham & parmesan but opted to try something new. I ordered beef with red wine sauce, parmesan mash & seasonal veg. As I’m not a big parmesan fan, I asked for colcannon instead which they happily switched. The plate had 2 massive bits of meat sitting on top of a big pile of mash. We were given a pot of veg between two which was full to the brim with broccoli, carrots, apargus & green beans. The dish wasn’t entirely to my liking as the red wine sauce was more of a gravy when I was hoping for something similar to a jus. The mash as well was a bit lacking in texture, possibly a bit too much cream or milk added. The meat, however, was really well cooked & fell apart as I tried to cut into it.

Beef with red wine sauce & colcannon

Now one thing the restaurant does well is desserts. As you’ll have noticed from previous posts, I don’t normally get  a dessert but here I couldn’t resist! They have 2 options for dessert, either a bigger plate for yourself or ordering 3 mini desserts to share (or one your own if you can handle it!). I shared a peanut butter, dark choc & pretzel tart, strawberry shortbread stack & puff candy meringue ice cream with my dad. Honestly, it was one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten in my life. The tart was very dense, with good quality chocolate & the combination of that with the salty peanut butter & pretzel base was divine. The shortbread stack was filled with buttery shortbread, fresh strawberries & just the right amount of whipped cream whilst the puff candy meringue can speak for itself. It was so tasty!!

Trio of desserts

If you’re looking for good quality, traditional food, I’d recommend the Black Sheep in a heartbeat. I’m already eager to go back to try more of their fantastic desserts!!

Thai Treats in Bangkok

On our recent holiday, we also visited Bangkok & Koh Samui. I’ll be honest in that I’m not the biggest fan of Thai food with any I’ve had in the UK being either too lemony or having too much coconut. Given that, I was a big apprehensive going to Thailand as I thought the food would be of a similar taste. How wrong was I?! The food in Thailand is much much better, with lots of different flavours & nowhere near as much overpowering flavours as what is passed as Thai food in the UK.

We only really had 2 nights in Bangkok as we arrived after midnight on our first time. We were unfortunately caught up in the Thai Coup which meant we could only stay out til 10pm at night so it was a bit restrictive as to where we could go at night. The first night, we went to Issaya Siamese Club which had been recommended to me. The menu takes a twist on Thai food but with keeping traditional Thai flavours & cooking methods at heart. We picked a selection of dishes including tender beef, papaya salad, soft shell crab yellow curry & soft spicy chicken summer roll. The food was fabulous, full of flavour & also really well presented. My favourites were the tender beef which was served cold but was quite spicy & the soft shell crab yellow curry. There was so much crab on the plate & the yellow curry was a more creamier curry than the red or green but not too creamy that it was a heavy curry.

Tender BeefSoft Shell Crab Yellow CurrySoft Spicy Chicken Soft Roll

Whilst in Bangkok, we also sampled some tropical fruits & street food. On a riverboat cruise we were on, there was a fresh fruit platter with loads of fruits I hadn’t come across such as sour fruit, queen fruit, lychee, guava & pomello. There was also mango & sticky rice which is a popular traditional Thai dessert. The rice is cooked with coconut milk to make it sticky but not too coconutty & it just so moreish!! Some of the fruit, such as dragon fruit & guava, I found to be quite tasteless but others such as the sour fruit, were delicious!

Fruit BuffetSour Fruit

The next day, we went to Bangkok’s biggest market & I had hoped to try some weird street food (including insects). I was a bit disappointed to find that the food area didn’t offer anything from the norm. We decided to sit down & have some food & opted for pad thai (when in Rome & that) & a shrimp fried rice. Both dishes were full of flavour & the one thing I like about the Pad Thai was that the peanuts & chillies with it are optional, you have to mix it in. Another thing I love about Thai restaurants/eateries, is the condiments. As standard, you get 4 pots, 1 with dried chillies, 1 with chilli fish sauce & 1 with chilli vinegar (my favourite). The fourth is either empty or filled with a soy/fish sauce.

Pad ThaiShrimp Fried Rice

On our last night, we opted to dine at the street food stalls we had seen at the end of the street where our hotel was. There were a couple of stands with some tables & chairs along with a couple of mini kitchens. We ordered a few different dishes including sweetened grilled pork, spicy hot beef curry & spicy hot pork soup. I honestly do not think I’ll taste pork nicer than the sweetened grilled pork! It was so tender, sweet but not sickly sweet & just so moreish. There was a mixup with the order as both the pork & the beef tasted the same so I think they gave us the hot & spicy soup for both. The soup was the type of food I had been dreading. Yes it was spicy but it was also full of lemongrass. So much so, that’s all I could taste  & I couldn’t really eat any of it.

Sweetened Grilled PorkHot & Spicy Pork Soup

Bangkok was a good starter for an indication of what authentic Thai food is but when we went to Koh Samui, that’s when we tasted some really good dishes. Blog to follow shortly!!