Cromlix, Kinbuck (near Dunblane)

Cromlix isn’t the type of place you pass and think “let’s go in there for lunch”. It’s the type of place you save for a special occasion, book in advance and then search for it on google maps to make sure you know how to get there.

Cromlix was an elegant Victorian Perthshire mansion, which has been refurbished recently by Andy Murray (yes, the serious looking tennis player who has a post box in nearby Dunblane painted gold in his honour) and transformed into a luxury five-star destination. There is a long drive up through woods to get to the old mansion and then you are signposted to a car park which could easily be mistaken for a car show as there were numerous Mercedes and BMWs, a lotus, a Porsche and a Morgan Plus 4 in it. 2015-01-03 14.17.51

When OH and I arrived we were greeted with a welcoming smile and shown through to the bar where we were offered seats next to an open wood fire, which was perfect as it was a crisp cold day with blue skies and little warmth. Soon our drinks orders were taken and we had olives and beetroot humus with baked flat breads in front of us. We were also given menus. The set menu, 3 courses for £26, or the a la carte but we were also told we could mix and match if we wanted to and that the roast of the day was pork and the game of the day was venison.

Decisions made and proffered to the waitress we managed to finish most of the humus before we were shown through to our table in Chez Roux. The dining room is in a conservatory and therefore very bright and airy and in contrast to the rest of the hotel has a much more contemporary feel. The kitchen is open to the dining room and therefore offers the opportunity to watch all the food being prepared.

Before our starters arrived we were served canapés.2015-01-03 12.53.27It’s a game for you to guess what they are (I can’t remember!).

OH had ordered2015-01-03 13.00.56 Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Chive Crème Fraiche to start with. When his soup plate arrived it had the crème fraiche in the bottom with some, what looked to me like, white onions which had been caramelised (I could be totally wrong). The soup was then poured into the plate around the crème fraiche. OH said the soup was really rich, thick and creamy and was just enough not to be to be too much.

I had ordered Pig Head Croquette, apple and beetroot salad as a starter. 2015-01-03 13.01.04 The meat was shredded inside the croquette and it sat upon an apple sauce surrounded with batons of apple and squares of white beetroot. The meat, although stronger tasting than pork, wasn’t too strong and I loved it.

For main course OH had Crusted Cod with Harissa Couscous. 2015-01-03 13.15.21He says the cod was cooked to perfection, fresh as a daisy and as white as snow with it falling into massive big chunks. The couscous popped in the mouth and had raisins and all sorts in it. (do you think he’s been storing up similes knowing I was going to ask him?)

I had the roast of the day, which was pork. It was carved from the trolley and it came with creamed vegetables (a beautiful mix of sprouts, carrots, cabbage and perhaps some horseradish – again I’m guessing!)  a honey glazed parsnip, mashed potatoes and I think fennel in the gravy. The pork just melted in the mouth. 2015-01-03 13.15.30

Throughout the meal the staff had been extremely attentive ensuring we were happy and had our water glasses topped up. However, my glass of Eradus, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc failed to arrive and we had to chase it up. My pork was almost finished by the time it arrived but it is a very small complaint.

For dessert OH ordered the 2015-01-03 13.36.15Diplomat Pudding with Chantilly Cream (diplomat pudding is like bread and butter pudding but made with croissants instead of bread) and I had  Apple Tart Fine with Spiced Pear Sorbet.2015-01-03 13.36.25

Both desserts were of course lovely but OH and I were starting to struggle with them as we were already full up, the portions certainly hadn’t been skimped on. We battled on regardless and ensured our plates were clean. The spiced pear sorbet is worthy of a separate mention as was the gooseberry jam in the little pot on OH’s plate.

Thinking we had done well to finish off our desserts OH sat back and ordered a coffee. To my stomach’s horror and my eye’s delight the ever attentive waiter placed some petit fours in front of us along with OH’s coffee. I’m ashamed to say we left one of the macarons behind. 2015-01-03 13.47.21The staff, the food and the building were all fantastic. If you have a special occasion coming up you will not be disappointed if you choose Cromlix to celebrate it in.

A gin and tonic, a soda water and lime, a glass of wine, low alcohol beer, 2 set menus at £26, a pot of coffee and discretionary service charge came to £85.85.