Trump Macleod House & Lodge, Scotland

Now I know a lot of you would never dream of giving Trump your money so the thought of staying in one of his hotels would not be on your list of things to do. However, I’m guessing you have probably wondered what it would be like. Therefore, knowing this, I selflessly decided to take one for the team and spend my birthday in Trump’s Macleod House this weekend on a DBB deal just so I could tell you all about it. (and because I got a great deal I could not resist!)

When we arrived we were met by a charming man in the car park who led us to reception where we were checked in and then escorted to our room, which was massive. Two dark wood Queen size beds adorned in gold and plush cushions monopolised the room to the point you hardly noticed the large wooden sideboard that hid the mini bar, held the Nespresso machine and offered a basket full of nibbley treats. Entertainment came in the forms of a large screen tv with all the Sky packages and a Bose sound system. The bathroom boasted Italian marble, underfloor heating, a large roll top bath, huge walk in shower and a countryside view. The complimentary toiletries were in abundance and covered every eventuality of our stay and more. Everything screamed American grandeur. Helpfully, the receptionist talked us through all the gadgets and showed us where all the hidden bits and bobs were.

Not long after she left a charcuterie board and 2 glasses of fizz were delivered as part of the romance package I had booked. The plate was large and full of different meats, cheeses, pickles and bread and was one of the best sharing platters I have had.

Later, dinner was served downstairs and for sake of brevity you can hopefully zoom in and check the menu out yourself. From the wine menu I chose one of the cheaper options at £35 for a young Rioja steering clear of the ridiculously priced bottles.

Disappointingly, the soup was lentil so that was given a miss and to start OH had Kedgeree, smoked haddock and egg, which he enjoyed because it was something he would not normally order. The rice was done perfectly and just like the dating app, there was plenty of fish. I had the game terrine with prune ketchup. It wasn’t an overly strong terrine but was a bit heavy as a starter. The prune ketchup was thick and rich and didn’t taste of prunes.

I struggled picking a main as the fish dish didn’t appeal so eventually plumped for the beef cheek. Not being a big meat eater this was a completely new venture for me. The meat fell to bits, didn’t require much chewing and didn’t stick in my teeth, which gets extra bonus from me. However, the gravy, like the ketchup was rich and thick, and along with the buttery mash became too much and I could not finish the dish, already feeling (and looking) like a snake that had ate a pig.

OH had the venison stew and dumplings. He says it was exactly as described and tasty but nothing special. The fact the stew came in a bowl didn’t do itself any favours as OH hates that and believes forks and bowls don’t go together. Also, to be fair, the photo doesn’t do it justice and because of the lighting both our plates look like puddles of mud.

I couldn’t face a dessert but OH opted for the salted caramel apple crumble. A nice end to the meal he says unenthusiastically but probably because he would have preferred ice cream with the dish.

Delightfully, I was brought another glass of fizz as a birthday gift from the hotel, which was lovely. I have no idea what it was but it didn’t give me immediate heartburn so it was probably expensive.

Fast forward to the following morning and breakfast was served because obviously I was back to my snakelike self and needed feeding up again (yeah right!). As is the norm at good hotels the breakfast was lovely. A selection of fruit, yoghurt, meats, cheeses, salmon and pastries were on offer as well as cooked menu options. Just in case you are wondering, OH had Eggs Benedict and I had scrambled eggs and salmon.

As we had brought our golf clubs with us, after breakfast and checking out, we drove down to the Clubhouse to spend some time on the practice grounds. For £25 you can spend all day on the short course, putting green and driving range. It was bracing but dry so we managed to waste some time whacking balls and trying to stay out the bunkers. We then had a walk amongst the dunes and down on the beach where the surf roared and the sands were empty.

It was a fantastic birthday in plush surroundings with good food and phenomenal service. I am over the moon I got a great deal on our stay but I am not sure I would feel quite the same way if I had paid full price.

Hotel du Vin and Bistro, St Andrews, Fife.

Birthdays are like buses. Nothing for ages then 2 come along at once, which can be a right nuisance. However, this week saw a proper birth day. On Friday Mini-me gave birth to Teeny Mini-him, which made OH and I very proud grandparents. In between visits to the hospital and taking Mini-me and new baby home I managed to shoe-horn in a birthday lunch for OH on Saturday.

Normally OH and I will make a last minute decision about where we’re dining but this time I had pre-booked lunch via a deal on 5pm.co.uk. This is a website that has offers on restaurants and allows you to then book a table through them. At the time I’d thought Mini-me would have already given birth so had thought pre-booking and paying for the meal would have been fine. Of course she went 13 days over her date, which then meant we needed to squeeze in the lunch and weren’t able to sit back and relax after our meal. As I’m a Fifer I refused to cancel the booking and reasoned with OH that we had to eat at some point…

Anyhow, the voucher I had was for the Hotel du Vin and Bistro in St Andrews. A champagne lunch for £29 – 3 courses and a glass of champagne each. IMG_20150913_165841On arrival we were greeted warmly and given the best seat in the house overlooking the North Sea, which was dark and choppy. The white horses galloped along outside as we sat in the warmth watching on.

The waiter brought us menus and asked if we’d like our champagne to begin with. Of course we did. The menu offered 3 choices for each course. The waiter had said the soup of the day was tomato and something but I couldn’t remember what the something was but as it was a miserable cold and wet day I decided the soup would be a good choice. The other starters were Bayonne ham and celeriac remoulade and Smoked salmon and horesradish crème fraîche, which is what OH went for. I think OH was a tad disappointed when it arrived as he had thought it would have been a bit fancier. 2015-09-12 13.14.26Saying that, although it looked boring he enjoyed it. I sneaked a bit and thought it was good. The salmon was thinly cut so wasn’t too fleshy and the horseradish had a perfect heat to it. 2015-09-12 13.14.49My soup however, didn’t taste like tomato and anything. It was peppery, had a thin but bitty texture to it and tasted more like a liquidized vegetable soup. When the waiter arrived to take our plates (a different guy from the one who gave us the menus) I asked what the soup was. It turned out it was sweet potato and red pepper, which made far more sense.

For mains there were was a choice between rump steak frites with peppercorn sauce, poached salmon with heritage potatoes and hollandaise sauce and wild mushroom and barley risotto. No prizes for guessing OH went for the steak and chips2015-09-12 13.51.10The steak hung off the end of the plate and looked far more impressive than his starter. OH commented that it was a better steak than at Montmarte (last week’s meal) as it wasn’t as chewy. He raved about the tomato and was glad the sauce was in a pot so he could get the char-grill taste of the steak and dip his chips in the sauce.2015-09-12 13.51.16

I decided on the salmon and my only complaint was the potatoes. Heritage potatoes are known for their different colour and textures – purple, mauve and scarlet are just some of the colours that the various varieties come in. The ones that arrived looked like stones and when I cut into them they looked like a charlotte potato well past it’s best. They tasted dry and psychologically were just very unappealing. I did give them a good go but ended up giving up as they just weren’t doing it for me.  Everything else on the plate was great though.

The dessert menu arrived and again there was 3 choices. Bread and butter pudding with rum and raisin ice cream, 2015-09-12 14.26.23Rhubarb fool with ginger biscuits and Artisan cheese selection (£2.50 supplement). OH went for the bread and butter pudding and loved it. When it arrived I could see the steam coming off it and the ice cream slowly melting against it. OH said it was spot on – the rum in the ice cream wasn’t too over powering and the bread and butter pudding was better than his mum used to make. I decided on the Rhubarb fool and it’s only now2015-09-12 14.26.33 I realise I didn’t get any ginger biscuits! Whilst I was eating it I said to OH it could do with something crunchy sprinkled over it to give it a bit of contrast. Now I’m looking back at the menu I know why it was a bit lacking. The fool itself was great – thick and creamy and the rhubarb chunks still had a bit of bite and weren’t too tart.

It was a lovely meal and it would have been great to have ordered a bottle of wine with it and chill for the rest of the afternoon but we had to dash off and chauffeur little Teeny Mini-him home, which was obviously far better than any bottle of wine 😉  2015-09-13 14.54.08 copy

Two 3 course meals with a glass of champagne each, 2 pints of Bitter and Twisted = £40.22 with a voucher (should have been £70.22)