Great Places to Stay
- Dining and Drinking at Gleneagles
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As you might expect the style and standard of the cuisine at Gleneagles is top class. There is a fine-dining restaurant, as well as a fabulous new contemporary gourmet restaurant both perfect for a relaxing elegant dinner. There is also the Club bistro, casual and easy-going if you just want something light and simple, with burgers and pizza for the children. This is located right beside the swimming pavilion with a bright and sunny ambience, as if you were at a Mediterranean beach resort. This is a lively place for coffee, lunches, snacks or an informal evening meal.
The Strathearn Restaurant, with its original pillars, ornate cornicing, a grand piano, and views over the sweeping lawns, it is probably exactly the same in its style and grandeur since the 1920s - though perhaps it's had a lick of paint since then. Andrew Hamer was promoted to Head Chef in 2000 having worked at Gleneagles for the past four years. He now supervises forty chefs in the vast kitchens which have to cater for hundreds of guests 24 hours daily, from breakfast to dinner, with meals served in the main dining room, The Club, the Dormy Golf clubhouse, and room service. "At Gleneagles our approach is essentially to use the highest quality products and to keep the food simple", says Hamer. "We use the best of local produce although I am also interested in looking further afield. I recently visited Italy on a tasting tour and now we use a 25-year-old Italian balsamic vinegar."
On the dinner menu you will certainly find Scotch lamb, local game, Tay Salmon, West coast scallops and wild mushrooms. But just like the makeover development and rejuvenation of the entire hotel, the Strathearn restaurant is far from being an old-fashioned hotel dining room. Many of the guests are well travelled and discerning about their food and wine. This is quality Scottish cuisine with a contemporary style, presented with excellent five star service. A pianist entertains while you dine and an army of waiters swan around ensuring your every attention.
There are two bars for an aperitif beforehand or a nightcap and coffee afterwards. The Cocktail bar is intimate and cosy, while the Lounge Bar is designed and has the ambience of an Ocean liner. This is where the famous Gleneagles afternoon tea is served and this is so popular you have to book a table. After a round or two of golf or a country walk guests certainly enjoy a very traditional selection of tiny cucumber sandwiches, scones, served with clotted cream and jam, all kinds of cake and shortbread, everything home-made on the premises.
The youngest guests visiting Gleneagles are catered for with the smoothest pureed baby food, and kids' favourite food which is served at a children's supper time to allow their parents to enjoy a more sophisticated dinner alone.
Restaurant Andrew Fairlie
Gleneagles, forever sticking to its motto of the highest of standards, now offers the ultimate in fine dining with the opening of Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles. This gourmet restaurant, open to non-residents as well as hotel guests, is run by the eponymous award-winning young chef who has created a most original menu blending the very best of classic Scottish and French cuisine.
From the moment you step into the "secret" cocktail bar adjoining the restaurant, you know this is going to be a very stylish experience. In my little black lace number, with a touch of diamante jewelry, and my partner showing off his new velvet suit and DKNY silk tie, we felt suitably dressed for the occasion, surrounded by a romantic, dark interior design, featuring rather theatrical drapes with a private gallery of contemporary portraits and still life, by Archie Forrest, on the walls. The elegant young staff, (with shirts courtesy of Mr. Pink), greeted us warmly and offered a flute of ice-cold champagne as we perused the leather-bound menu. There is the chef's five course speciality `menu degustation`, or a la carte, featuring a choice of eight dishes from which to select a starter and/or fish course and then a selection of eight main course dishes. The emphasis is on seafood and fresh local produce, the poetic descriptions so inspiring in themselves it is impossible to choose between them.
I opt for Grilled scallop and Poached Oyster salad, which is tender and delicate, beautifully arranged around the plate with a spicy pimento puree sauce. I also sample my partner's Ravioli of Summer Truffle, that rare Rolls Royce of the fungi family, with its rich pungent flavour, softened with an accompanying white bean veloute. We then both selected the Home Smoked lobster, Andrew Fairlie's renowned signature dish that deserves a Michelin award all by itself.
The empty lobster shells are smoked over Auchentoshan whisky barrels for 12 hours, which are then filled with the sliced lobster meat and roasted in a hot oven for about five minutes with melted butter and lime juice. The result is a most unusual but sensational melt in the mouth creation, with a soft smoky aftertaste.
While savouring each course we sipped a smooth, red Burgundy, which added a perfect balance of soft plummy fruits to the delicate flavours of the seafood, herbs and spices.
I then moved on to a thick fillet of Arkaig Char, a flaky white salmon-style fish, which sat on a large, flat, black cep nest, while my partner selected Steamed Halibut on a bed of shellfish risotto. In both dishes the fish was perfectly cooked and served with an imaginative combination and contrast of texture and colour.
And to follow? The choice of Passion fruit tart, Mille Feuille, or Hot chocolate pudding (specially prepared in 25 minutes), was all too tempting. We decided however to share a platter of French farmhouse cheese, which is flown in each week from Paris from a speciality shop, Jacques Vernier. The waiter was in his element as he explained where each soft, mild, melting or mature cheese came from, which region, valley or hill the goat or cow grazed on. Served with crisp sesame crackers this was mouthwateringly good and the perfect end to an absolutely fabulous meal.
Andrew Fairlie enjoyed a brilliant apprenticeship, becoming the first recipient of the coveted Roux scholarship, training under the great French chef, Michel Guerard. He worked in Paris at the Hotel de Crillon, the five star Royal Scotsman train and the Ritz in London. He was then invited to become executive chef at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow, where he was awarded a Michelin star, which he retained for five years.
Andrew Fairlie arrives at Gleneagles garlanded with numerous awards for his creativity in the kitchen. To experience dinner at his new restaurant is something very special and the perfect location for a birthday or anniversary, so book now for that important date. Apart from the most exquisite cuisine, supremely prepared and served on Limoges porcelain, it is the Parisian style, personal, friendly service and sheer glamour of the ambience which will ensure you will wish to return to taste it all again.
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