The Mither Tap Restaurant, Pittodrie House (Macdonald Resort Hotel) #cravingstellarservice

“One of the most historic and romantic hotels in Scotland, with roaring fire places and sweeping spiral staircases, Macdonald Pittodrie House is set in 2,400 acres of glorious grounds.”

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I love historic houses with roaring fireplaces, floor to ceiling windows, wood panelled rooms with dark green or burgundy paint used in the theme of the Victorian era, effectively used to create a cosy mood. Unique and interesting pieces of furniture, oil paintings and trinkets adorning the shelves and fireplace used to complete the scheme; with woodwork, cornices and ceilings also painted. I grew up in a house that was over 150 years old, with no rooms in the simple shape of a square, coal fires and little nooks and crannies for us to hide as children when playing hide and seek. So I find myself feeling both nostalgic and extremely at home when I’m sitting in an old leather chair looking out open bay windows enjoying some coffee. Unfortunately however, this wasn’t the emotions I was feeling when I was sitting in the drawing room of Pittodrie House for the first time. But it was the room where my emotions were swiftly swung around quite quickly by excellent customer service.

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My friend and I had booked Pittodrie House via an Itison voucher for DBB @ £139 (which is now sold out), and booked it for the day after I returned from my holiday in Italy (Sat 16th – Sun 17th June). We travelled up from Glasgow and arrived around 3pm to check in. I’d had some issues during the booking of this voucher, as although it states a Feature Room they had twice sent me confirmation of a classic room only. This was resolved over a few phones calls, but I had printed off the confirmation stating a Feature Room to take with us. Call me contrary… but when I need to deal with something as simple as confirming what is stated on the voucher deal, it doesn’t fill me with confidence when arriving – but I remained optimistic!

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We arrived, checked in, confirmed it was a Feature Room (yes) and headed up the stairs. There was a wedding on whilst we were there, which was nice to see, as I’m at the stage of considering various venues for my own wedding. Entering our room, my first feeling was of being underwhelmed; from the photos online of four poster beds, couches, dining tables and ornate furniture we were slightly confused with ‘The Night Nursery’ and its proclamation of being a Feature Room. The order of their rooms is: Classic, Executive, Feature and Suite. Now one thing I’ve learned from my many, many travels across Scotland with work is that there is an easy way to check what category your room falls into – check if what you have in your room matches the amenities they state for that room type on their website, e.g.:

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Please Note: the photos above are not my own; they were taken from Trip Advisor (pictured: Night Nursery room) and the Macdonald Hotels website (advertised ‘Feature Room’) respectively.

So upon finding we didn’t even have the soft bathrobe and slippers (which apparently comes into play at Executive room level) and no sign of the sofa, table and chairs, Arran Aromatics, Fruit Bowl etc., I was quite disappointed that even with numerous conversations prior to arriving I would need to discuss the room anomaly further. Leaving our stuff in the room, we went back down to Reception to discuss the matter, and were transferred over to Becca to deal with. She advised she would need to discuss it with someone else and asked us to wait in the Drawing Room and she would organise some tea and coffee for us whilst we waited (first bonus point here – well done). Cue the scene of sitting in a room that I would ordinarily be feeling comfy, slightly awed and generally happy to the actual feelings of trepidation, anticipation and irritation with the current state we found ourselves in. At the risk of sounding cheesy however, this is where our Knightess in Shining Armour arrived to salvage our feelings and subsequently the whole trip.

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After waiting for about 15 minutes, Kelly the Operations Manager introduced herself and although she stated that The Night Nursery is a Feature Room (apparently due to the fire place), she could understand how our expectations weren’t met and that we hadn’t received the items that it clearly stated should be present within a Feature Room. Firstly, she stated she would waive the £50 charge that we should have been paying extra for staying on a Saturday night. She offered us some sandwiches or a snack, but we declined as we had just eaten an hour or so previously at The Creel Inn. Thereafter, she arranged for Housekeeping to ensure all items were in our room that is promised, and she also included a bottle of prosecco and 2 x Lush bath bombs. She also offered to move us to the nearby Norwood Hall Hotel at no charge to ensure we had an upgraded room, but we declined in favour of staying at Pittodrie as the general hotel was lovely and we felt that in theme of the current conversation, we’d be well looked after and we both wanted to leave having had a good experience. The voucher only included 2 x courses at dinner, but she allowed us 3 x courses at no extra charge and also provided us with 2 x glasses each of champagne to accompany it (I’ll provide a run through of our dinner soon – as it was the final push needed to lift our spirits back to feeling excitement and enjoyment).

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Once our room was ready, we left The Drawing Room feeling like Kelly genuinely cared and was personally invested in ensuring we enjoyed the rest of our stay. I won’t provide you too much detail (‘cause I think you’re already realising that short and snappy ain’t my strong point in blog writing, which is the total antithesis of real life LOL) on the next few hours, except it included hot baths with Lush bath bombs, fluffy bathrobes and prosecco enjoyed in the room!

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We had dinner booked for 8.30pm, as we’d had quite a generous lunch … gotta give your appetite time to work itself up again so you can do a decent meal justice! The Mither Tap Restaurant at Pittodrie House is a 2 AA rosette, and the setting is quite intimate as it’s in another of their lovely wood panelled and decorative front rooms. I was particularly fond of the large mirror on the wall, but we’re here to talk about food, not my love of period ornate furniture.

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Our order compromised the following:

Starters

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Scottish smoked salmon, served with heritage beetroot, capers, caper berries and a quail’s egg

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Ham Hock Terrine

The salmon, as is the case with the majority of Scottish salmon, was tender and delicious even whilst being quite thickly cut in comparison to what is usual. It was of such good quality though that I was extremely happy for the thicker slices – meant I had more to eat! The capers and caper berries provided an edge of saltiness, and the only suggestion I would have is to pickle the beetroot and serve a couple more of the thin slices to add another level of flavour contrast, or some apple slice/cubes etc. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it and the egg was cooked perfectly!

Levi enjoyed her terrine as well, and specifically mentioned she loves the salty notes coming through as it’s a total novelty for her as she generally eats the same as her kids and thus doesn’t cook anything with salt anymore. The addition of cherry added a sharp sweetness that cut through the saltiness in a perfect balance on the palate.

Mains

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Roast lamb, fondant potato, roast onion and garlic cloves, buttered savoy cabbage, sweetcorn puree and rich gravy

The lamb was pink, thus cooked exactly the way I like it, and smothered in the richest tasting gravy I’ve had for a looong while, so well done on the thorugh execution of that! The creamy sweetcorn puree and buttered cabbage provided difference in texture and added to the decadence, with the roast onion and garlic giving a strong punch of favour considering they were small additions – perfect! Roast garlic cloves have to be a favourite of mine; I’d never last as a Vampire with my serious love for copious amounts of garlic on everything and anything.

Desserts

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Strawberry Bavarois with meringue, sesame tuile, fresh strawberry and strawberry daiquiri sorbet

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Tonka Bean Crème Brûlée with shortbread, fresh passion fruit and passion fruit sorbet

Considering I decided to forego cheese for a set dessert – unheard of – I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the strawberry bavarois (translating to a dessert consisting of milk thickened with eggs, containing gelatin and whipped cream). It was very moreish and I somehow managed to eat it all, even after the first two courses and copious amount of champagne … what a champion! I’ll let Levi tell you about how much she enjoyed her dessert in her section at the end.

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We then sat in the small, intimate bar area enjoying the last of our champagne before bed. Kelly came through to say goodbye to us before heading off home, and checking one final time that we were happy with everything. Thank you so much for turning our whole experience of the overnight stay around – it’s all as a result of your excellent approach and customer service (and the amazing food!) that we had such a good time, regardless of the room situation.

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We enjoyed the breakfast the next day; we decided to eat in the room with the huge skylight as it provided a lot of natural light to enjoy your morning meal. The sausages, beans, mushroom and bacon were tasty, but I did find the beans got cold quite quickly, potentially due to it only being a couple of the small burners underneath the trays to keep them warm and it was a deep dish. I also had to ask for some poached eggs, as after I’d been seated they pointed us towards the buffet but it only had fried eggs on offer. Unsure if this was only one that one occasion, as there was a wedding in so the waiting staff seemed to be under some pressure to manage the sheer number of people, but otherwise I would have liked it if they had explained that if we wanted anything else then we were free to ask/request e.g. for poached or boiled eggs/omelette etc.

There are numerous activities that can be arranged for your stay – including golf, clay pigeon shooting, pony trekking etc. I’m a big fan of clay pigeon shooting personally, so I love when hotels accommodate group activities to suit all parties. The walled garden was quite overgrown unfortunately, which is a shame as it would have been a nice area for photos during a wedding. It’s clear that the driveway has recently been updated and tended to, so it would be nice to see the garden kept up to the same standard.

Overall, Kelly’s personable attitude and excellent customer service, in addition to the wonderful chefs carefully crafted creations at dinner, are truly what won over Pittodrie House for Levi and I. We left extremely happy and I personally felt really glad that my friend’s experience and well-deserved night away turned out so well!

Until next time,

Signature

Levi’s Viewpoint:

“I had a fabulous night away with Lauren. When we first arrived at Pittodrie House we were initially slightly disappointed with the room. We were expecting a much larger room, with a feature bed, bathrobes and a fruit bowl! Although we didn’t move rooms, we were reassured it was in fact a feature room (although a small one). The duty manager, Kelly, could not have been more accommodating. We were given complimentary tea/coffee, prosecco, champagne, a third course for dinner and Lush bath bombs for the room. She also ensured that the bathrobes and fruit bowl were in our room. This effort is what made our stay so special and led Lauren to consider this as a wedding venue.

The dinner itself was a pleasant surprise. It truly was fine dining.  The presentation was immaculate and there was not anything I could fault. I am so pleased we had the complimentary dessert as I got to taste the tonka bean brulee. It is now my new favourite flavour! I have now discovered that you can buy many tonka bean associated flavours online.  It tasted so good it led me to a frantic Google search when I returned home.  The only way I can describe it is that it tastes homely.  After dinner we found the bar in a lovely little cosy room with a real fire, which was the perfectt way to end the night with a few drinks.

Before we left the next morning we went to explore the grounds.  We found the walled garden, which (if given a little TLC) would be lovely. With Bennachie in the background the setting was beautifully atmospheric. All in all we had a very enjoyable stay.  Kelly made every effort to make sure we left as happy guests, which we did.

I would definitely consider visiting Pittodrie House again.”

Partick Duck Club #cravingduckeggblue

The History of the Duck Club:

in a large building with a smoking chimney located near the original transport museum site, was a tavern known as the “bun and yill house” or bunhouse (yill is an old scots word for ale) in 1827. it stood on old dumbarton road on the approach to the river kelvin. the bunhouse was the favourite tavern of a group of glasgow merchants, bankers and professors. they would walk out to partick from the city each saturday to dine on roasted duck, sage & onion and green peas, washed down with locally-brewed ale. the ducks were abundant and healthy from feeding at all the local grain mills on the banks of the river kelvin.

their favourite dish gave the name to the drinking and social club they formed in 1810, the duck club of partick. their president’s fondness for the fowl gave rise to the verse:

“the ducks of partick quake with fear, crying lord preserve us, here’s mcTear”.

All Day Breakfast Menu / Lunch & Dinner All Day Menu

Score: 19/20

Why: although I haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit for dinner I’m confident PDC is worthy of 19/20 across all meal times; their stellar service, food, atmosphere and coffees at brunch time are too good not to be mirrored across the board. The owners are friendly and heavily invested in their business being a success, so how can it not be when their commitment to ensuring every customer’s experience is excellent is paramount?

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You’ve got to be quacking mad if Partick Duck Club isn’t in your top places of ‘must go NOW’ brunch spots in Glasgow! I’ve seen numerous photos all across Instagram and beyond for the last few months, which has had me eager as a beaver to plan a mate date brunch here. They do brunch all day, every day – does this not make all your dreams come true?! This weekend, my fervent anticipation has finally culminated in the BEST brunch, featuring Orkney crab. Now anything with shellfish generally means I’ll love it, but PDC truly has taken the wonderful and delicate flavour of tantalising Scottish crab and transcended it beyond any normal expectations with crème fraiche, avocado, sourdough toast, a poached duck egg and a smattering of choice garnishes.  However, I’m getting ahead of myself as I didn’t just dive head first into a plate of crab on toast upon entering (even though this sounds like the aforementioned dream plus infinity when it comes to dreaminess).

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The mirrored wall inside, viewed as you enter, gives the impression that the place is bigger than it actually is. I can’t decide if it’s a shame it isn’t bigger than originally expected, as more people should be able to experience the wonder of their fare, or a good thing, as the smaller size means it maintains a sense of intimacy. The mirror serves a dual purpose of reflecting the natural light and the subtle tones of blue allude to the duck egg colour theme that comes through throughout the restaurant, which I’m assuming is the intention. The booths are leather and blue tartan and the empty glass bottles lined up along the window sill are a noticeable feature. My friend and I were seated at one of the tables for two along the mirrored wall. I love the burnished brass effect salt and pepper grinders and the duck decorated china sugar bowl; all little touches that bring a smile to your face before you’ve even sampled the food!

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My friend, being slightly hungover, decided she was having the Eggs Benedict and a portion of the salted duck fat chips (have you ever heard of a better idea… chips WITH your Benedict?!), and I ordered the hummus, pine nuts, tomato, sourdough from the Nibbles Menu and Potted Orkney Crab with crème fraiche, apple and radish starter, which isn’t on their online menu but you can see a photo of it on their Instagram: @partickduckclub.  The staff were attentive, friendly and polite – and not even a grumble from them when Ms Fussy Pants here decided she wanted to change her original order… I’d seen the crab on toast waltz by and decided I wanted that A LOT more than the potted crab, ha! So they allowed me to swap the potted crab starter for the Orkney crab on sourdough brunch option I mentioned above. My friend ordered an orange juice as well, which only came in a small glass, so she probably could have been doing with a bit more… I can chug a whole carton when hungover, but she remained ladylike and proper; sipping only a little at a time (she’s a better woman than I – I clearly lack self-control around fresh orange after a night out).

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Our food arrived in a decent time, and it was a delight for the eyes! The garnishes they use to decorate the food and the plates are used smartly; they lift the dishes from simply pleasant to engaging, colourful and eye-catching. It’s been proven we eat with our eyes first, and taste buds later, hence why the Instagram culture is so embedded in our food pleasures nowadays, thus PDC have ensured they deliver on this extremely important factor first to grab your attention. I love the light blue colour of the plates, as the contrast of the food on them looks fantastic.

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My combination of flavours was fresh, zingy, spicy with the hint of chilli and creamy from the avocado. It’s the best brunch meal I’ve had in a long time! I can’t recommend highly enough, and the hummus was edging close to being as tasty as Paradise hummus (I measure all hummus against Paradise hummus, as it’s the best in the city – in my opinion). Having the hummus was probably a bit much, but it would have been a nice extra if I’d stuck with the lighter option starter. The micro herbs, finely diced tomato and pine nuts were a welcome textural addition. Christine, my friend, thoroughly enjoyed her Eggs Benedict, and proceeded to dip some of her chips into the hollandaise sauce. Some of the best ideas are born from hangovers, I’m sure of it! I helped finish her chips, because that’s what friends are for after all, and I can confirm they were scrumptious.

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I finished off with a coffee, decorated with a pretty fern – well done coffee maker! And the total bill came to around £36 for everything, which I felt was pretty reasonable considering the portion sizes and the quality of ingredients.

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Further dishes from my visit with Jonathan in August 2018:

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duck leg & nduja hash, fried duck egg, sour cream, sourdough

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mushroom duxelle, portobello mushroom, goats cheese cream on sourdough

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potted orkney crab – crème fraiche, chilli, lime & apple, sourdough crisp

Links below to the menus:

Lunch and Dinner Menu

All Day Brunch Menu