Oct 21 2011 by Gordon Bannerman, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
WHAT I know about football could be penned on a rice crispy and there would still be space to play with.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t care about the national obsession.
But there just seems to be no escaping it, without shelling out for Sky multi-room to evade incessant debates on everything from the vagaries of 4-4-2 to Wayne Rooney’s new £30,000 thatch.
The Other Half and chums, cruelly denied a trip half-way round the world to follow the Rugby World Cup action which has been unfolding in New Zealand by a combination of Stock Market bungee jumps and dastardly wives putting the foot down, were thoughtfully floating the idea of a sunshine trip to the Costa Blanca.
But their crafty ruse was rumbled when one of we WAGS learned that Scotland’s football team just happened to be playing Spain in Alicante earlier this month. So that idea was quickly shown the red card.
So imagine my trepidation making for Auchterarder for a lunch date at the All Seasons Bistro after learning that chef patron Phil Scott had spent the last eight years or so heading-up the catering operation at St Johnstone’s McDiarmid Park, with partner Clare playing a front of house role.
Okay, having sampled the impressive match-day hospitality at the stadium I knew it wasn’t all pies and Bovril and a macaroon bar for pud.
But what was the game plan for an ambitious Lang Toon enterprise kicked-off by Phil and Clare?
Before transferring to McDiarmid, Phil’s talents were finely-honed at the Gleneagles Hotel, up the road from the High Street restaurant.
Celebrated Michelin man Andrew Fairlie might not be adopting the All Seasons decor for his next venture – the enterprising pair have done their best to tone down the Christmas cake icing Artex overdose they inherited – but I’m sure he was impressed with the meal when he dropped in.
The summer saw the bistro team finding their feet and focusing on dinners and one-off special events, but now popular demand has encouraged them to open the doors for Friday and Saturday lunches, with the emphasis on hearty, seasonal produce.
Soup of the Day was Chicken and Vegetable served with crusty bread – a meal in itself. Brimming with chicken and the produce of your average allotment, my companion was impressed.
I opted for the Mango and Brie Filo Parcels accompanied by a delicious sweet chilli sauce. It didn’t have quite the kick of a John Terry or Rio Ferdinand – I fear some of this football malarky must have rubbed off along the way – but it was a delightfully light opening gambit.
Other Half wasn’t plotting a tactical retreat and devoured the melt-in-the-mouth pieces of Roasted Chicken Leg infused with lemon and thyme, served on a generous bed of mash and gravy.
My pan fried Escalope of Salmon was teamed-up with potatoes doused in roasted smoke paprika, with broccoli and a tomato coulis completing a tasty dish.
We settled for a game of two halves, with tea or coffee included in the keenly priced £8.50 lunch menu. For a penny less than £10, warm Scotch pancake with a dollop of vanilla ice cream drizzled in chocolate sauce or Tiramisu rubbing shoulders with fruits of the forest compote were also there for the taking.
With a line-up like that, the All Seasons Bistro is definitely a winner in my book!