The Strathearn, Gleneagles Hotel #cravingperfection

“Representing Scotland at its best – its heritage, history and beauty – The Strathearn experience is like going to the theatre and being entertained. One of the last bastions of first-class Highland dining, The Strathearn’s traditional walnut gueridon trolleys, silver cloches and butler trays deliver the touch of a bygone era, while a setting of elegant grandeur reflects the essence of Gleneagles glamour.”

Overall Rating: 10/10

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I’ve got a confession – I adore Gleneagles. This makes it extremely easy for me to write a review or blog post on anything related to it, as it’s almost like reliving the great experience all over again, whilst trying to articulate the excellence of the experience in words that do it justice. I’ve posted the Trip Advisor review I wrote from my stay at Gleneagles for Jonathan’s birthday treat in April HERE, which focuses more on the hotel itself. I’m going to use this opportunity to discuss my experience of The Strathearn restaurant, as that’s where I decided to dine on my recent visit. The opportunity to stay this time around came as a joyous perk of having a mother who loves Gleneagles as much as I do; she was there to celebrate her friend’s 60th birthday with a table booking in Andrew Fairlie’s. I was tempted to try room service for the first time, but after reviewing the available menu items, I decided to venture out on the iconic allure of the cheese trolley.

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I wandered round from Braid House around 7.45pm and I was pleased to be seated in the conservatory area, beside the window, by the hostess Francesca. My table provided lovely lighting for a few photos as it was still light outside; and meant I had a view of the lawns out to the side of the hotel. The sommelier Elena-Diana offered me the drinks menu, which I declined as I do prefer to spend my calories on food rather than alcohol… depressing, but true. I also wasn’t feeling all that hungry, so I decided I would order 2 x starters followed by (duhhh) the cheese trolley, because, well… cheese. I always have room for cheese; it’s my chocolate dessert belly equivalent (i.e. people who say they can be full to the brim, but mention a chocolate dessert and suddenly they have room for it). Gleneagles offers 3 x courses for £65 in The Strathearn restaurant, but if you aren’t feeling up to 3 courses, you can choose from the same menu as if it were A La Carte.

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I knew I would be ordering the beetroot and goats cheese starter, as it had lingered on my taste buds since my visit in April. So my only real choice came down to whether I wanted Scottish Langoustine Bisque or Wild Mushroom and Fennel soup. I hadn’t noticed the soup on the menu the month previously and although not directly responsible for the food menu at all, I need to thank Elena-Diana for her recommendation to try the wild mushroom soup. Our logic was neither of us had tried it, but both loved mushroom and I’d had the langoustine bisque numerous times before. I’m extremely glad I took her advice, as the depth of flavour in my bowl was staggering. I didn’t get a particularly aesthetic photograph, which is maybe my failing as an experienced blogger but I’m blaming it on greed and anticipation; I didn’t relish pausing the waitress whilst she poured the warm soup over a nicely constructed pile of fennel and mushrooms in my bowl. It all tastes the same when it’s in your mouth anyway, so I didn’t feel so bad about not catching the little vegetable mountain in all its glory before it was swallowed up by fungus-decadence. So my personal thanks to Elena-Diana, and also the chefs for this wonderful new and delightful addition to the menu!

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Following my soup, I had the Heritage beetroot, goat’s cheese and baby leek salad with truffle honey and toasted seeds. I enjoyed it so much when I tried it on my last visit in April, I HAD to get it again. As I said to Elizabeth who was one of the waitresses attending to my table, I genuinely thought it was even better than last time (if that’s possible!). The earthy smell of the fresh beetroot is what assails your senses when the plate is placed in front of you, followed by the vibrant colours against the stark white of the dinner plate. The pickled radish provides a sharp contrast to the rich sweetness of the truffle honey and fresh beetroot. I thoroughly appreciated every mouthful of that salad; taking my time with it and revelling in how such few ingredients can be prepared and treated with such care and attention to gift diners with so many zeniths of sensory delight from one ‘simple’ dish. Another small touch, which really sets Gleneagles apart, was Elizabeth remembering me when I mentioned to her she had served me the month before. She even remembered what Jonathan, my fiance, had ordered! She must have an excellent memory, but it truly elicits the experience and feeling of exemplary service.

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To close, I had a final course, which I had been leading up to with fervour and anticipation… the cheese trolley. Cheese is included in the 3 x courses for £65 menu at no extra charge, but you can allow them to bring you a selection or you can ask for the trolley to pick yourself. Being a bit of a control freak in certain aspects (Jonathan would say many!) I prefer to pick my own. I also think having the opportunity to see the cheeses and ask questions about them are part of the experience; one which Christina helped grandly with. I’m a big fan of soft, strong cheeses and goat’s cheese (unless that wasn’t already obvious with how much I raved about the beetroot and goat’s cheese salad). So apologies in advance if you’re a hard cheese or blue fan, ‘cause I’ll be disappointing you miserably with my recommendations here! I chose 6 x cheeses from the trolley:

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You can see from above I’m clearly a French cheese fan, oui oui!

My favourite of the evening was the St Maure (11 o’clock position), but I cleared the plate so they were all delicious! Only disappointing element of the evening for me was that they didn’t have any of the charcoal crackers I like, which they usually do have available. I’m not an oatcakes with cheese lover so I asked for some more of the pumpkin seed bread rolls, which was no issue at all. This was also accompanied with truffle honey (again, I know… but it’ so yummy!), quince and chutney.

Whilst enjoying my cheese, I became acutely aware of the piano playing Clair Du Lune followed by Tale as Old as Time in the background and I just stopped for a moment to appreciate my surroundings and the ambiance created within The Strathearn. I left feeling well looked after, content and happy, and I really couldn’t have asked for much more than that having eaten alone. Thank you!

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Francesca greeted my Mum and I warmly again the next morning for breakfast and seated us at the same table I’d had the night before. Sunshine illuminated the room and the conservatory was heating up quite quickly due to the greenhouse effect. Thankfully there were a set of doors behind us that were opened up, providing some cool air and a welcome breeze. I won’t delve too much into the breakfast on this review (I’ve shared some photos on my Instagram), but let me know if you want to know more about it on another post!

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Service: 10/10

Food: 10/10

Ambiance: 10/10

Value: 8/10

Instagram: @laurenscravings

Cocktails & Steaks, Uddingston #cravingaroast

We had good intentions of going for breakfast this morning when Jonathan (my fiance) and I met up with our friends Simone & Jason. They’re getting married in July this year, and we got slightly distracted in wedding shenanigans (all will be revealed on 08/07/18), which meant that we didn’t leave to head upto Uddingston Main Street until midday. Cue us arriving at Angels Hotel to be told there were no tables, followed by Smiths which was fully booked as well meaning we ended our hunt for food in Cocktails and Steaks. It boasted a Sunday Roast, which we were all pretty keen on having (and although Simone is a fiend for a Toby Cavery, we were short on time, alas…).

The restaurant was empty when we arrived around 12.10pm, and it instantly reminded me of #porterandrye with its dark wood steakhouse vibes. The waitress asked if we had booked, which we hadn’t, and we got offered a seat by the window with lots of natural light, which I loved.

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The seating arrangement is booths on one side and slide in chairs on the other, which can be seen in the photos above. I found the chair comfortable and the specially branded placemats and crystal water glasses were a tasteful touch. However, although Simone and I are big fans of 90’s RnB (Pony by Ginuwine featured), I’m not so sure it’s exactly suited to the ambience the restaurant is trying to create, as it was being played just slightly too loud for Sunday lunchtime. They playlist creator does need to be commended for their taste; but I’d prefer to hear it in in the evening and preferably with a Mojito in hand.

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Now our food order ended up being something that rarely happens to me, moreso because I fundamentally don’t agree with everyone ordering the same thing regardless of whether you’re sharing or not (I like looking at other potenital dishes on offer even if I’m not eating them ok?! Call it future planning!) – but we all ordered the same 2 courses from the Sunday Menu for £17.95.

I’ve been trying to increase my protein intake recently, hence why I chose the ‘Josper grilled chicken with a chimichurri sauce’, rather than the baked camembert like I usually would (you’ll soon find out how obsessed with cheese I am after we’re a few reviews deep…). But honestly, I’m glad I did – as the chimichurri sauce is one for the tasting! A perfect balance of herbs that aren’t too overpowering with a sharp punch of vinegar and olive oil underpinning it all. I’m a great lover of sharp flavours, and I do believe it lifted the dish into something ‘moreish’, which we all agreed on. Chicken was cooked well; both juicy and succulent on the inside but with a crisp finish on the outside. This rested on a small bed of leaves with small touches of (what I believed to be) butternut squash puree around the side.

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The roast itself is served pink, unless you specify that you like it cooked otherwise. They are generous in their portion of beef; I was given two slices, which you can see takes up the majority of the plate. And the most glaringly obvious highlight of the dish is the quality of the meat, which they state on their website is from Scotch Beef, and therefore of excellent quality (it isn’t being biased just ’cause I’m Scottish.)  I also thoroughly enjoyed the homemade Yorkshire pudding, with the bottom of it soggy with gravy that had been so thoughtfully poured inside for me. I would have liked the roasties to be slightly more crispy, but I know that can be difficult to create in a restaurant setting within the limited confines of service time. The vegetables were hidden under the beef playing their own little game of hide and seek; which I happily indulged them in playing but left slightly disheartened with how quickly the game reached its resolution. There was the baby turnip you see below, with one stalk of brocollini, one asparagus tip and three or four small pieces of carrot that would have benefited from some caramalisation. The liberally poured gravy distracted me from any despondancy I may have felt with the vegetables though as it quite literally danced over my tastebuds for the duration of my main course. There had evidently been some time spent on deepening its rich flavour, thus enhancing the whole dish overall. This is where a Sunday roast at Cocktails and Steaks is a step above your generic pub roast; the outstanding ingredients being carefully handled by their evidently talented chefs, and heightened through careful consideration of how best to handle those ingredients.

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This is true of both courses I tried today, and it did mean I left thinking that I wouldn’t mind returning to sample more from their Main Menu. Considering how busy Angels and Smiths was, I was surprised that only two other people arrived whilst we had our lunch. There was only one waitress working as well, which could have been a problem if they expected the same level of traffic as the other restaurants. She was prompt in her tasks in terms of clearing plates and providing more water for the table, but we felt she was slightly awkward at times. The best interaction we had with her was actually right at the end – maybe she was distracted with getting things set up for the day beforehand.

Our meal concluded not long after an hour of being in the restaurant, but this was due to us requesting our main course quickly following our starter, as Simone and Jason had to catch the train home to London. Although we didn’t end up getting the breakfast we’d prepared ourselves for, we left Cocktails and Steaks content and with our interest piqued for a potenital evening meal in the future.

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Instagram: @laurenscravings