Ten years ago I would never have believed I’d be eating the uniquely Scottish haggis with anything other than tatties and neeps.
A brave new world of culinary techniques is upon us, however, and our national dish is a bit more flexible than people give it credit for.
But haggis pakora with a chili dip? This was one of the surprisingly delicious items on the menu at The Balbairdie Hotel in my home town Bathgate when I popped in with an old friend for a catch-up.
I recently had haggis on a panini with cheese and chili sauce which also pleased the palette, so I would urge anyone who doesn’t eat the sheep ‘delicacy’ to give it a go - particularly The Balbairdie’s Scottish/Asian fusion.
The haggis is fluffy and not too spicy while the batter is crispy and thin allowing the contents to flow through it creating a fantastic combination of flavours along with the cold dip. Loved it.
The kitchen is run by local boy Colin Black who has turned his passion for cooking into what could be a promising career and successful business as my starter isn’t the only food worthy of praise in his new venture.
I usually slather steaks in ‘broon’ sauce at home, but in politer company and more formal settings I often refrain from my foodie faux pas.
So it is testament to The Balbairdie’s steak then that I ate a full 8oz rump without even thinking I needed the popular condiment. It’s always necessary on chips though, no matter how good they are, and the homemade variety that came with my dish were excellent.
My pal Gary had the chicken pakora for starters which had a different but equally and light batter and chose the chicken fajitas for his main. For review purposes I told him I had to try both and I’d certainly order both again without hesitation. In fact, the taste stayed with me and I made fajitas for dinner two days later.
Dishes are a perfect size and are not overburdened by needless, pretentious garnish. This tells me the chefs think about what they put on your plate and place the focus on the quality of the main ingredients.
Dessert was cheesecake, my favourite, and Colin’s strawberry number with ice cream is refreshingly sweet with a beautiful soft texture.
Waitresses Pamela and Margaret (Colin’s mum) also delivered impeccable service and aren’t shy either with some light-hearted banter.
Even Gary, who is used to dining out in plush eateries in Edinburgh with his wife Lynn, said was the whole meal was quality.
The Balbairdie Hotel
3 Bloomfield Place, Bathgate. EH48 1PB