After a Sunday stroll along part of Crow Road, B8822, I returned home in search of my copy of Iain Banks’ novel of the same name. I definitely got one, with its striking monochrome checkerboard cover design that is utterly unforgettable.
To make up for the fact that I couldn’t locate my copy, I watched the BBC miniseries and laughed at a shaggy Peter Capaldi, a young Joe McFadden, Dougray Scott and Bill Paterson. Nostalgic end of the day.
A great day
The reason we went to Fintry was to revisit the Courtyard Cafe at Knockraich Dairy Farm. The views crossing did not disappoint, a bit more like Tolkien’s Middle Earth than Scotland in the spring.
To be honest I don’t know if it was the Campsie Fells or the Trossachs I was looking at but I had to stop the car to take a picture.
The panoramic views were the icing on the cake of a smashing day.
My daughter had previously described our dessert as “simply the best cake I have ever had”.
What Katy did
Knockraich is a place I’ve wanted to visit for a while, simply because of the dairy products Katy Roger makes with her daughter Helena, while her other daughter Catherine takes care of the cafe.
Katy’s products are loved by chefs and are usually name checked on menus. They handcraft butter, crowdie, crème fraîche, yogurt and other dairy delights, all produced thanks to her husband’s herd of Holstein cows.
They have also branched out with accommodations, hosting weddings, and they have an interior shop, so there are myriad excuses you can use to get here.
Make them flock
There is even a gothic chicken coop with oak beams located next to the parking lot. Unfortunately, there were no hens on display when we visited due to current bird flu regulations.
However, I’m going to use that as an excuse to come back, and if the chooks don’t back down pronto, I might settle in and squat in the Fowl Palace myself.
A small country lane leads you to an interior garden and a door in the corner leads to the farm shop. I stupidly hadn’t booked in advance, so I was crossing my fingers that they would have room for a few hungry travellers.
I didn’t like the car ride home with my starving daughter if they couldn’t fit us in. Luckily they could, but I would book ahead as on weekends they are busy.
You could have; soup, ploughman’s lunch, pâté with oatcakes, homemade sausage roll or fishcakes, vegetarian and bacon and cheddar quiches or sandwiches of many varieties or meatballs with tomato sauce on a ciabatta.
After much deliberation, I ordered a small bowl of tomato soup, minus the bread and butter, with an open sandwich (£10.45). The girl was sold on the combination of lime and ginger in root vegetable soup (£3).
There were a few grumbles heard from other diners about the slow service, so we made sure to intercept waitresses passing by to order drinks, a refreshing raspberry crush (£2.40) which was so good that I ordered another the next time the waiter came by.
Soup of the day
The bowls arrived piping hot so we set them aside to cool while we tackled our main courses.
My daughter had opted for the large smoked haddock croquettes served with salad, coleslaw and chutney (£9.50).
What appealed to her was the rustic texture and crispy exterior filled with healthy kale, although she was less convinced by the chutney which added nothing to the dish.
I had made a beeline for the sourdough open sandwich smothered in homemade hummus, topped with roasted peppers, onions and arugula. A simple salad sits alongside some crisps to make you feel naughty and virtuous all at once (£10.45).
All good fresh ingredients attractively arranged on a plate, simply prepared and satisfying. Then we returned to our soup of the day. Wow, I have no hesitation in telling you that it was simply the best tomato soup I have ever had, with a swirl of Katy Roger’s creme fraiche to refresh the taste buds.
My table companion was delighted with his bright orange plate, our two spoons were chasing every last drop around the bowls.
After our starter and our main courses, the cake menu was calling us. There was almost a fight as we both wanted the chocolate and honey tart (£2.95) which I generously allowed my lunch mate, while I opted for a rose cake and with cardamom served with a delicate jug of custard (£3.50). Both were worth the wait.
A small tartlet, a crisp and light pastry shell was filled with a glorious chocolate ganache topped with a cream star and milk chocolate shavings. There was a jar of homemade raspberry jam on the side.
A perfect slice of cake arrived next, sprinkled with rose petals and crumbled pistachios. I graciously allowed my daughter to taste it and she agreed it was moist and smooth perfection.
All that was left to do was pay the bill and stock up on Katy Roger’s dairy delights to take home.