Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Ground House - Stirling (Scotland)

Stirling is a beautiful city. It's full of old buildings, cobbled streets, castles, monuments and you can see The Highlands on the horizon when you climb up high. It's a small city in comparison to some of the cities in England and definitely in comparison to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Stirling was the capital city of Scotland way way back in the past, it's often referred to as the ancient capital of Scotland, which will give you an idea of how long ago that was. Since then in terms of culinary offerings Glasgow and Edinburgh have far surpassed as they have done in size and population. Stirling seems to have quite a few tearooms and the odd chain restaurant thrown in there. I feel that I was lucky on my last visit to Scotland to happen upon a Henderson's Bistro, which was literally opposite to where we had parked. This time I struggled to find somewhere that grabbed my fancy for lunch. Due to it's historical connections it has a lot of tourists (namely Chinese/Japanese/Americans) and I was reluctant to fall in to a tourist trap. Local blogs, websites and (in desperation) Tripadvisor was of no use and so I would have to use the old method of happening upon a place to eat as I passed on the street. Shock. Horror. 

As we walked down from Stirling Castle the blue skies disappeared and the heavens opened, as is the Scottish weather. Trying to find somewhere for lunch became much more urgent before we became soaked through to the skin. No where was really jumping out of me, I was trying to use my tried and tested method of searching out good coffee which usually pairs with good food. I saw a sign for 'unique blend coffee' but it didn't look like the indies I'm used to and so I walked past, after going a little further in the rain and seeing no where better we turned back and went to The Ground House. 

First impressions were good when they had my favourite ginger beer, Bundaberg, and a diet version too! There was a good selection of sandwiches in the fridge and I had my eye on a meatball baguette until I turned around and saw their more extensive lunch menu detailed on the blackboards behind the counter. D and I stood there for a while debating over what to have, going backwards and forwards about what we fancied. In the end we decided to go for a two mains for £12 deal with me ordering a hot dog topped with chilli, sour cream, cheese, jalapenos with a side of tortilla chips. D ordered the chilli bowl which came with pitta bread and tortilla chips. It was a close choice over the pizza options for D. 

We took our cold drinks to a table and waited for our food and my coffee. The decor wasn't amazing, it felt like they had somehow got stuck in the early 00's, with leather covered table chairs and a few other dog eared bits of furniture. There were advertisements dotted around telling me that on a weekend this coffee lunch spot turned tables and became an open mike night, gig venue and general bar. This might have explained the dog eared furniture if it had been used a bit roughly in the later hours. A lick of paint an update (take a visit to Leeds' coffee shops, or even Edinburgh's independents) would definitely help this place out. 

My coffee arrived within a few minutes. There was an attempt at latte art which would leave me to presume that they don't have as high a coffee demand in Stirling as what they do in Leeds, i.e. they haven't had the opportunity to perfect it. You should never judge a book by it's cover however, what did the coffee actually taste like? Unfortunately the barista had scolded it and so this would have distorted the taste, when it cooled so I could taste the coffee better I found it a little bitter, perhaps down to the blend I can't see how scorching it would make it bitter but I am no expert. The staff were lovely and so I hate to be negative but a little more training on how each component can affect the coffee would be helpful, no one wants scorched coffee. 

The food arrived shortly after, both D and I were surprised by the portion sizes. It was the last day of our holiday, so why not go all out with the gluttony? 

It is what it is, it isn't gourmet dining, it is overloaded American type food. I loved it. I felt like a massive fatty whilst and after eating it but I enjoyed it immensely. Sometimes when it's pouring it down with rain outside and you're feeling sad because it's the last of your holiday you need some comfort food. 

D ran out of things to dip in his chilli before the chilli ended and I helped him out with some tortilla chips and all of my jalapenos too (my stomach has decided they don't like them much to my tongue's dissatisfaction).  

If the above points could be tweaked I'd return next time I'm in Stirling, as it stands at the moment I'd be reluctant to do so. At the moment it just feels a bit 'student like', or what student places were like when I was a student, students in Leeds these days (God I sound old) seem to have higher standards than we did, with their gourmet coffee houses and decent eateries in Hyde Park and Headingley.. 

If you're struggling to find it, it's opposite this building. 

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