Strathearn, Gleneagles

Last year I had a big birthday and BB and SiL gave me the fabulous present of a gift voucher for Gleneagles. Although I could have used it to do one of the many country pursuits they offer, OH and I thought we would rather have Sunday lunch. So, talking Mini-me into being a taxi driver for the day we donned our glad rags and set off for the 5 star hotel in Perthshire.

As ever, we arrived too early and decided to have drinks in the Century Bar first. I explained to the waiter I had a gift voucher and asked if it was okay to have drinks on it as well as lunch. I was told it was okay but he would have to transfer my drinks to the dining room. Therefore, with everything in hand I had a Bloody Mary and OH decided he fancied a pint. I have to say my Bloody Mary is one of the best I have ever tasted. Firstly it had a light sweet taste and then as it went down it gave a massive kick, which left your mouth tingling and demanding more.

At 1 o’clock a waitress took our drinks through to the Strathearn dining room and we were seated in plush surroundings reminiscent of 1920s. Gold trolleys were wheeled around by waiters and waitresses all who had their own role. We were given food menus and offered water by one and a wine menu from another. Then we were offered bread from a french waitress’s trolley. There were far too much to chose from so she offered to cut a selection of them. She then gave us butter with some Skye salt sprinkled on top.

The menu offered pre-starters of oysters and caviar blinis, which had hefty supplements. The menu then announced where to start with a box that described 2 different kinds of salmon. One from Dumfries, which had been smoked using beer barrels and one from Perthshire that had been oak smoked. Both came with capers, lemon, creme fraiche and shallots but if you wanted caviar there was another supplement. The salmon arrived on a gold trolley and was sliced thinly next to us. The waitress was amazing to watch as time and time again paper thin slices of salmon were removed from the large fish and arranged delicately on the plate. The salmon was delicious and the accompaniments really added to the taste.

Then there was the choice of soup, terrine, salad or crab. I went for the New Season Garlic and Potato Soup with sauteed leeks and girolle mushrooms and OH decided on the West Coast Crab, cucumber, pink grapefruit, white balsamic and hazlenut.

My plate arrived with the leeks and mushrooms deconstructed in the centre of the bowl and then the soup was poured from a jug around them. The soup was beautiful. Thick and creamy and garlicky with the leeks adding a very pleasant texture addition.

OH’s crab was a beautiful plate of colours. The grapefruit gave it a fresh citrus tang whilst the white crab meat was light to taste. The hazelnuts and cucumber gave the dish a crunch.

For my main, I had Seabass, roasted cauliflower, crushed potatoes, baby artichokes and champagne sauce. The skin on the fish could have been crispier and the cauliflower could have done with more colour but overall I enjoyed the dish particularly the artichokes, which I have been wanting again since enjoying them in Spain last March.

OH had Borders Lamb Rump, garden peas, confit shallot, fondant potato, roasted tomato and lamb jus. The lamb looked exceptional without a bit of fat insight and OH said it tasted just as good as it looked.

Throughout our meal the sommelier topped up our wine glasses with the sauvignon blanc we ordered and anyone passing would top up our water glasses. The service was impeccable. The ambience was added to by a three piece band who played a range of hits from people such as Pink Floyd, Nine Inch Nails, Amy Winehouse and The Clash but in the style of lift muzak.

After a short break we were given dessert menus. There was a list of ports with prices and a cheese trolley on offer with another supplement however, I went for a light and refreshing mix of sorbets. OH went for the sticky toffee pudding with a whisky and date puree.

My sorbets were the perfect way to end my meal. The mango, lemon and raspberry flavours going down a treat. The accompanying baked strip of loveliness wasn’t crisp as I had suspected but a soft, chewy affair.

OH’s pudding tasted of toffee and was sticky so ticked all the boxes. The date and whisky puree was a small dollop and I think he’d have preferred more.

When our plates were cleared we were offered coffee or tea and OH asked for a coffee, which arrived with 2 little sweets that looked beautifully wrapped in egg-shell blue and gold leaf. However, when I picked one up it immediately started to melt in my hand and I realised it was the chocolate which had been painted and not any kind of wrapper. The chocolate was rich and heavy.

Our meal was excellent and we both enjoyed all the food we had. The theatre of the dining room was stunning and it was great watching the waitresses and waiters give such fantastic performances.

After our lunch we returned to the Century Bar and mini-me joined us for a round of drinks. I then asked for the bill. Now this is when things went a bit awry. Our bill arrived with a whole bunch of drinks we hadn’t had and no mention of lunch. When I queried it, the original waiter appeared and I was told there was a difficulty because of our voucher and the drinks having to be transferred. Yes but those drinks still aren’t ours. I then had to return to the dinning room and explain to another waiter the issue. After a while he managed to clear it up and gave me the right bill minus the voucher. However, this was when I realised the smoked salmon and coffee were extras. This annoyed me because as I have been pointing out, it was clear everything was priced and it was highlighted where the supplements were. There was nothing on the menu that stated it was £25.50 extra for the salmon. Feeling slightly annoyed and a bit duped I paid the bill.

A very decadent Sunday lunch consisting of a Bloody Mary, 2 pints, a ginger beer, a G+T, a bottle of wine and 2 3 course lunches with salmon and a coffee. £247.

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The Tavern at Strathkinness, Fife.

Today OH and I decided to visit the The Tavern at Strathkinness. It’s been on our list of places to visit for a while now and today turned out to be the day. We didn’t book but that didn’t seem to be a problem as we were given a seat in the restaurant although, we were also offered a table in the bar.

When we were given the menu my first thought was akin to the couple who dined in The Rook Restaurant in The Two Ronnies sketch. There was haddock pot – done in a cheese sauce, haddock coated in coconut, haddock in batter and haddock risotto. There was also salmon in Cajun spices, which makes me wonder why the haddock couldn’t have been done like this…and if you didn’t fancy haddock there was also steaks, steak pie, pork belly and mushroom stroganoff.

Thankfully, there was no haddock starters so we decided to share the ‘Crispy Breaded Brie – slices of french of brie coated and fried, served with sticky onion chutney’. When the one slice of brie arrived (note not plural as advertised) there was no onion chutney. It did however, have a very nice beetroot salad and the slice was a large one. We both enjoyed it and it didn’t feel like a frozen bought in starter due to it’s size.

brie

For main, I decided to go for ‘Pork Belly – a generous slice of slow cooked premium pork belly, slathered in creamy apple cider sauce. Decadent with potatoes and veg.’ I was asked what kind of potato I wanted – chips, mash or roasted. I went for roasted and got a “Good choice” from the waitress.

pork belly

When the dish arrived I was more than happy with it although I did give OH my green beans as I am not a fan. Everything else though was lovely and the pork really did melt in my mouth. The potatoes, cauliflower and carrots were all spot on. (Yes, I know it looks like an under-cooked scotch pie but it really was pork) OH went for ‘Smoked Haddock Pot – smoked Scottish haddock baked in a copiously creamy sauce and topped with our homemade scone crumb crust’. OH was also asked what kind of potatoes and he copied me – possibly because of the ‘good choice’ commendation I got.

haddock pot

OH’s haddock pot arrived in it’s own little dish and I soon realised that ‘copiously creamy sauce’ meant you needed to ask for a spoon. OH said he enjoyed his dish but thought he had maybe ate too much as by the end of it he said it was a bit salty and the scone crumb seemed a little too sweet. Oddly, he says he would order it again even though he didn’t finish it. Hmmm. I thought that my green beans looked good on his plate and that he maybe should have had some green veg with it too.

At this point another couple arrived and I overheard them giving their order. The woman, when asked what kind of potatoes she wanted, asked for chips. “Oh good choice.” the waitress replied. Eh?!?!?!? What a floozy!

By the end of our mains I was done but OH thought a desert wouldn’t go a miss so I ordered another wine (as you do). And after looking at the blackboard of sweets OH decided on the Mango Mojito Sorbet, which arrived with 2 spoons (love it – even though the waitress is obviously a player ;p). The sorbet was really well balanced with mango and mint so that the mint was not overpowering and the pomegranate seeds made a nice contrast in both colour and texture.

sorbet

OH then decided he wanted a coffee so there was nothing else for it but to order another Rioja.

Overall, the food was good, the ambience and view were great, the service was excellent and the menu needed some work – especially their over use of haddock and their dodgy adverbs.

1 starter, 2 mains, 1 dessert, a coffee, an orange and soda water, 1 large and 2 small glasses of wine – £50.80