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 Bein Inn, Perthshire

For the last fortnight I have been intending to tell you all about our recent trip to Spain but unfortunately life events have overtaken us and instead we have been involved with family stuff. Spain seems like a life time away now so I will leave it in the past and tell you about a more recent trip to The Bein Inn in Perthshire.

One of our niece’s had been staying with us – now to be known as D’Niece – and we were giving her a lift back to Crieff. It was late on a Sunday afternoon and we were struggling to think of somewhere that would be serving food. I thought of The Bein Inn as I knew we would pass it if we were going over the hill towards Perth but wasn’t sure if it would still be serving food. Thankfully when we stopped in the pouring rain we found it was.

There was a Roast Sunday Menu which offered Soup of the day, Roast Rib of Scottish Beef with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and fresh vegetables (or Mustard crusted roast ham), and Dessert of the day for £16.95.

The soup was pea, chilli and chorizo which I thought sounded lovely but made D’Niece turn a whiter shade of pale as apparently she has a fear of peas – probably brought on by a tyrannical mum (;)) making her kids eat up every last one. I’ve never had a problem eating them as I eat my peas with honey, I’ve done it all my life, it makes the peas taste funny but it keeps them on my knife ;p2015-03-29 18.09.59

The soup was just as lovely as it sounded (to me) and had tasty lumps of chorizo in it, which were gorgeous. D’Niece went off menu and chose Thai fishcake served with chilli sauce. She enjoyed it, saying they were spicy, hot and fresh just as they should be.2015-03-29 18.09.20

For mains, I had the roast ham 2015-03-29 18.26.07and both D’Niece and OH had the roast beef.

I didn’t expect to get a Yorkshire pudding with mine but I was over the moon when I did as I do love a good Yorkshire pudding me! Unfortunately, and very disappointingly, the pud was burnt and tasted a bit odd. It had a sweet tang to it and I ended up leaving it at the side of my plate. The rest was good although maybe a little bit unspecial – I never did find the mustard crust and I thought my gravy tasted the same as OH’s when I’d much rather have had something more in keeping with ham. D’Niece and OH enjoyed their roast beef 2015-03-29 18.25.48but they didn’t really rave much about it. I think the overall feeling was that it was a fine meal but nothing to write home about (unless of course you write a blog when you do get home).

The meal – 3 starters and 3 roast dinners – came to £42.50.