The Allanpark Hotel, Stirling

Having bought tickets for Bloody Scotland, yesterday OH and I headed to Stirling to see crime writers Denise Mina and Louise Welsh chat with Janice Forsyth and then Mark Billingham chew the fat with Richard Osman in the Albert Halls.

A friend at work had advised us to park at the Vue Cinema and walk over the bridge into the middle of town, which turned out to be a great idea rather than driving around trying to find a place to park in the busy city centre. She also suggested the Allanpark Hotel for somewhere to eat, which also turned out to be a great piece of advice.

The Allanpark Hotel is off the beaten track and hidden at the end of a street not far from the Albert Halls. When we went in we were seated in an already busy room. I could tell by looking around that other diners were also there for Bloody Scotland as I spotted a number of programmes being read.

Soup of the day was Potato and garlic, which meant OH had already chosen his starter. The menu offered a lot of light bites, sandwiches and soup, sharing platters, pizzas and afternoon tea. The mains were things like fish and chips, burgers, stuffed chicken and macaroni cheese, which does sound a bit dull but I could see the dishes being taken to other tables and they looked good.

OH’s soup arrived quickly and was accompanied with some home made bread from the Bavarian Bakehouse. The soup was the perfect temperature and meant all the different flavours could be tasted. It was smooth with a little kick to it and went down a treat.

For main, I decided to go for the Seafood Tagliatelle w/ Tomato, Basil & Mascarpone – King prawns, squid, clams, chorizo, samphire, tagliatelle, Parmesan, garlic ciabatta. The prawns were huge and firm and the sauce was perfectly balanced. The samphire gave it a crunch and the chorizo was well cooked and not over powering. Overall the dish was great, just the right amount of pasta and all the ingredients complemented one another. Looking back though, I can’t remember tasting any squid or seeing any clams in the dish.

OH had a Super Food Bowl w/ roasted Chicken breast – wholemeal cous cous, lentils, kale, sun-dried tomato, roasted beetroot, artichokes, pesto, micro-herbs. OH enjoyed it but said there was too much and by the time he ploughed through it the dressing became too acidic as it had all pooled in the bottom of the bowl. The bowl also annoyed him and he would have preferred a plate but then they would have to change the description.

When we were asked if we wanted dessert, I stuck with the Pinot Grigio and OH decided to have the Classic Crème Brûlée – set vanilla custard, brown sugar, home-made shortbread, which I thought was a boring choice but when it arrived it looked amazing. The whole dish was sweetness in different forms. The caramlised brown sugar snapped into brittle shards and clashed delightfully with the soft creamy custard and OH loved every single calorie of the dish.

The service was exemplary. Everyone was cheerful and friendly, the food arrived quickly but with just the right amount of time between courses and when the bill arrived in a little Wind in the Willows book the waitress immediately brought the card machine.

1 starter, 2 mains, 1 dessert and a bottle of wine = £57

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