Britain’s B&B’s, guesthouses and hotels have been helping clog arteries for decades. The ‘full English’ has kept heart surgeons and Weightwatchers in business for over forty years. Yes indeed – the Great British breakfast has a lot to answer for. So, at great risk to myself, I recently undertook a brief review of breakfast tables across Scotland. The noodlepie journey to the operating table began at Herrislea House Hotel, in the village of Veensgarth in the white scum – a big pieman put-off. All too commonly bacon producers add water to the bacon, hence the scum. If a fry-up doesn’t appeal first thing, you can order kippers, smoked haddock, choose from six cereals or snack on bannocks and oatcakes. There’s also an excellent homemade rhubarb jam to accompany the toast.
At Alder Lodge Guest House in Lerwick, the ‘capital’ of Shetland, I opted for scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, mushrooms and beans. Nice to see HP sauce on the table together with a selection of Robertson’s Marmalade. Whereas, Herrislea House Hotel was decorated with African and Asian paraphernalia picked up on by ex-merchant navy seaman turned hotelier Gordon Williamson, Alder Lodge goes for the wicker and lacy table cloth look. The breakfast was a bit of a disappointment. ‘Flan style’, watery scrambled eggs, flaky black pudding, white scum bacon and the biggest breakfast blunder of all, cheap baked beans. You can spot them a mile off, their light, wan expression gives them away every time. Stop scrimping and use Heinz.
Back at Burrastow House, also in the Shetland Islands, I wasn’t surprised to find scumless bacon on my plate in the morning after the night before’s experience. I took a pew in the eight-seater wood paneled, plate lined breakfast room overlooking the voe outside and got stuck in. A bumper bowel loosening opener of homemade dried fruit compote, led into freshly squeezed grapefruit juice before moving on to the main event pictured above. I couldn’t find fault with the superb black pudding, back bacon, tomato and fried organic egg or the soft fruit packed muffins that followed. Interestingly breakfast at Burrastow must be ordered the night before – this is normally a good sign on the noodlepie quality checklist.
Alpen, Bran flakes and Weetabix will get you started at Roseneath Guest House in Oban on the west coast of mainland Scotland, but yer regular best of British is one of two options to follow in the fourteen-seater antler adorned breakfast room. The other option, on this visit, being pancakes. This rendition was well presented and speedy. Also worth noting, the chef got up extra early to cook for pieman and noodle girl as we had an early ferry to catch. Nice to see tattie scones on my plate, but Roseneath is also guilty of white scum sin. Plus the sausage was of the supermarket frozen variety which is invariably crap – as noted by Maki at I was just really very hungry. However, the coffee was served in a large cafetiere and didn’t come from the arse end of the Nescafe range. Also worth pointing out, Room 3 has a four poster bed, great views and owner Colin will greet you with a whisky on arrival, which is nice.
Over at Pieman’s Scottish bothy you’ll find more meat than many a B&B. Working in a westerly direction from the fried organic egg we have fried potato scone, bacon, Hall’s black pudding, wild Perthshire haggis, Lorne sausage and a decent dollop of HP sauce. No beans today just a few fibrous veggies centrestage. Haggis is all too often left off the breakfast plate in Scottish B&B’s which is a shame as they’re difficult to catch in the wild, but well worth the effort. The naturally tender, spicy tinge to the meat of a haggis is sensational. No-one to my knowledge has successfully reared one in captivity although you can find fake fellas in supermarket fridges all over Scotland.
The Tiree Scarinish Hotel on the island of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides also serves a haggis-free ‘full Scottish’. Some of the older crofters I chatted to said they hadn’t seen a haggis in the wild for decades. It’s thought they’re now either locally extinct or have gone nocturnal. However, pigs are still found on Tiree and I can happily report white scum-free bacon here. Although the sausage, which I understand is made locally was disappointingly bland. The Tiree tomatoes were the juiciest of all the breakfasts sampled on this trip.
I hope you enjoyed this brief ‘Supersize noodlepie British breakfast review’. Now does anyone have the number for Weightwatchers?