'Where's a good place to eat?' That familiar question. But when we were staying at Kennels Cottage B&B in Dollarbeg, there was no hesitation. Everyone likes The Unicorn Brasserie, they told us, and on top of that they kindly booked us a table and gave us driving directions.
They had said the Unicorn was tricky to find, tucked away on a back street in Kincardine. Tucked away it was, as despite the brown tourist signs directing us to it we kept missing it. We drove across the top of the street it turned out to be on, we drove across the bottom of the street, and we even drove along the street once but failed to see it.
The Unicorn was originally the Unicorn Inn, and was a coaching inn built in 1639. A sign on the wall tells us that it was later the birthplace of the physicist and chemist Sir James Dewar (1842-1923), who invented the vacuum flask, and was the first person to liquefy hydrogen gas.
As we were frazzled and late, and it was raining, we were relieved to get a warm welcome in the cosy low-lit bar area with its fireplace stacked with logs. On the walls are art-works for sale, not the usual paintings of local scenes but on the night we were there it was a collection of very artsy and modern photographs of chairs.
The Unicorn is very much a family-run place, with the warm welcome being provided by mum, her daughter and son-in-law in the kitchen turning out the food, with dad's job being baby-sitting and doing the books.
Savouring the Menu
The Soup of the Day turned out to be a choice between parsnip, parmesan and chili soup, or a sea-food chowder, which Donna ordered. Mike wanted to see - and sink his teeth into - the haggis and tattie scone tower with Drambuie sauce.
For the main course Donna chose chicken breast wrapped in pancetta with roast potatoes, vegetables and - not to be denied - that Drambuie sauce again. We were a long way from southern France but Mike had to try the Toulouse sausage on creamed potatoes with braised red cabbage and onion gravy. For dessert we were united: two raspberry ripple cheesecakes with fruit coulis, please.
Beyond the bar steps lead down to the long dining room, which was also low-lit and with a lovely romantic atmosphere. (The photo shows it during the day as The Unicorn is also open for breakfast and lunch as well as dinner.) Tables were well spaced-out and it was full, on a rainy midweek evening: a good sign. Donna has eaten chowders all over the USA and beyond, and declared this Kincardine version a winner. The haggis starter was savoury and meaty, with the sweet/whisky/herb/honey taste of the Drambuie sauce a perfect match.
The Drambuie complemented the chicken too, while the Toulouse sausage was every bit as good as ones we've had in Toulouse itself. After the meaty mains, the fruity lightness of the cheesecake was just right. The service was impeccable all evening, just the right balance of friendly and efficient. We left with a warm glow inside us, not just from the wine but also from the genuine and friendly family feeling that permeated the place. They do say that food cooked with love tastes better, and that certainly showed through here.
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