Wednesday, 10 December 2014

the hyde bar, knightsbridge - review

‘Where should I go to eat game in London?’ is a question I’ve been asked more than once, the answers to which can be determined quite simply. 

Any good, seasonal restaurant with a kitchen that knows what it’s doing will likely spend most of the year looking very forward to 12th August, the start of the shooting season. Expect the menus at these sorts of places to be trussed up with some level of pheasant, partridge, wild duck et al. over autumn and winter, and for them to do a decent job with them. 

For example, I’ve had very good pigeon at Petrus, particularly exceptional grouse liver with sweetcorn and hazelnuts at Lyle’s, and a good amount of well-cooked venison in a lot of other places. 

Like looking for your favourite pair of socks and finding them in the microwave, another place to find decent game in town is one you would never think to look - a whisky bar in a Knightsbridge hotel. 

Admittedly, The Park Tower Hotel is as unsightly as you would expect a giant cement-pineapple monstrosity to be, paling in comparison to the opulent and beautiful Mandarin Oriental on the opposite side of the road. 

It looks like a towering 1960’s communist government office block, or a massive battleship-grey hand grenade. Either way, it’s far from attractive from the outside (a lot nicer in, let me assure you), which undoubtedly makes it difficult for people to consider there could be anything worth eating within its walls.

But if you find out a little about the executive head chef commandeering the kitchen at The Hyde Bar (and also at acclaimed seafood restaurant One-O-One - both of which are in this hotel), it becomes a little more believable. 

The family of Brittany-born Pascal Proyart have been in the restaurant business for three generations. He himself spent a decade working in hotels and restaurants across Europe after training at "Les SorbetsHotel School in Noirmoutier, and he gained two Michelin stars at the Sea Grill in Brussels, and another two at Le Divellec in Paris.

He counts the likes of chef Eric Chavot (from one-star Brasserie Chavot in Mayfair and two-star The Capital Restaurant in Knightsbridge) amongst his good friends, whom he often fishes with. Chavot taught Proyart a lot about food from the South West and Proyart in turn taught Eric a lot about fish. 

He is also a chef’s chef, esteemed by his peers. Aussignac (from one-star Club Gascon) believes he “deserves fame and recognition” and even Alan Yau is a fan, describing Proyart as “amazing.”

With the kitchen credentials out of the way, let’s look at The Hyde Bar as a venue itself. 

It is unmistakably a bar, there’s no doubt about that. Rather than a restaurant with a lot of spirits, for example. It’s a bar that just happens to have a decent kitchen and a load of game waiting in the wings. 

Whilst I’d say it’s one tailored towards men seeking the feel of a private members club - with its wood panelling, 100 international whiskies, one of the finest cigar lists in London (so we’re told) and an outdoor cigar terrace - there are still good wines and cocktails available for those who prefer their drinks a little softer. 

As you’d expect from a bar, it doesn’t start to get lively until after 9.30pm, when a jazz singer will begin to croon at a grand piano in the corner. As you’d also expect from a bar, the people in it were mostly drinking, with snacks or small plates as food accompaniment, rather than full on game dinners which, I suspect, they had little idea was even available.

But game there was, and out of the nine dishes available that evening, six we did try. 

To partner the seasonal menu and make the most of what this place is particularly good at, three Dalmore whiskies have been selected by Bar Manager Victor Durbaca. The idea is for their rich flavours, hints of autumnal fruits, and aromatic winter spices to compliment the hearty meat-laden dishes. The chosen trio: The Dalmore 12 year old, The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve and the King Alexander III.

There was a chunky and rustic wedge of game paté with pickled mushrooms, a fruity blueberry compote and a slice of very smoky sourdough that felt fried but wasn’t at all greasy (£14). A plate of pheasant paillard with a flaking crispy confit leg came with a sprightly Caesar salad, bacon, croutons and sharp hits of cranberry (£19). 

There was the breast from a red-legged partridge, with porky bits, an autumnal salad with tart slithers of apple and grape halves, and a Muscat jus - very good (£17). Roasted duck breast was fantastically dense and full of iron, making best friends with the chewy edges of caramelised parsnips, and a green peppercorn and lime sauce (£20). 

Then there was a hearty and cheesy parmentier - much like a Shepherd’s pie - with venison mince and loaded with Gruyere (£19). And whilst the venison meatballs cooked in red wine and a tomato sauce were a little sweet for me, the hand cut chips they came with were textbook - crisp shells, fluffy middles (£21).

Robust red meats with a whisky flight set in a bar with a cigar terrace must be the blueprint for an ideal evening for many a father, mine included. My dad declared in rapturous voice to Victor, that before that evening, he had only ever enjoyed whisky as an aperitif prior to food. Thanks to this meal, however, he was now wiser to the compliments carefully selected whiskies can give to a meal, much in the same way as wine pairings. And I second that.

Good, seasonal game, from an esteemed and well-decorated chef passionate about hunting, in the whisky bar of a Knightsbridge hotel that looks like a concrete version of those trigger-point foam rollers you find in the gym. 

London, you are full of surprises.

Liked lots: both Victor and his replacement at the end of his shift, Santo, provided exceptional service

Liked less: One of the dishes arrived quite cold. After informing Santo, the remaining were piping hotel and delivered with much apology. Minor gripes like this are inconsequential when taken on board and corrected with the right attitude, as here. It's a shame the outside of the building can't get a face transplant though.

Good for: Being an anti-vegetarian; a good range of game to choose from; taking someone who appreciates whisky; staying for a few drinks after.


Find the menu on Zomato.

Afiyet olsun.

Note: I was invited as a guest to this restaurant.

Hyde Bar at the Park Tower Knightsbridge on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 4 December 2014

quattro passi, mayfair - review

Should you, dear reader, happen to be a Russian oligarch, Middle Eastern oil baron or a member of an acutely irritating, internationally worshiped teenage boy band, then allow me to assist with your New Year’s Eve plans.

Quattro Passi on Dover Street in Mayfair launched in September this year. At the helm, two Michelin-starred executive chef Antonio Mellino, heralding from the original restaurant on the Amalfi Coast which boasts the glittering accolade. 

On the menu, Amalfi delicacies, from the region of Campania in Southern Italy, with ingredients flown in three times a week. And in the L-shaped dining room, hand-carved leather wall panels, French silk wallpaper, and diners who aren’t shy of a few bob.

They are offering a New Year’s Eve menu of seven courses with a glass of champagne on arrival for £222 (before service, I presume). There is the promise of a DJ below deck in the private lounge area, with the chance to dance the night away as you bid farewell to 2014 and what could have been the deposit on a new car, should you succumb to its bar loaded with fine cognacs, brandies and whiskies.

Unashamedly, this restaurant is tailored to the well-lined pockets of the affluent and uninhibited business accounts. Outside the New Year’s Eve offering and on a normal day, antipasta dishes are between £18 - £40, intermediate courses £16 - £42, mains around £28 - £50 and desserts £18 - £22. You won’t find a bottle of wine for less than £50, and a lot of them are over £100. 

As the old adage goes, “something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it”, and it seems there are quite a lot of people willing to pay these prices.

It’s also a place for celebrities. It’s polished and dimly lit, and has a chandelier made from a thousand silk petals (celebs - they love that sort of thing). In the short time it’s been open, clients have included Lindsay Lohan having lunch, Valentino hosting his book launch dinner there with Kylie, Hugh Grant and Anne Hathaway, not to mention a host of royalty from far off lands.

I am that person that gets excited when the slip of paper that comes out of the Sainsbury’s till tells me I’ve got £0.72 off my next shop. Therefore, I can safely assume I don’t fall into Quattro Passi’s target market. But I was invited to a trial run of this New Year’s dinner, and I will write about the menu objectively, with my money-is-no-object hat on, my favourite of the imaginary hats.

Marinated carpaccio of Sicilian red prawns in a blueberry sauce

Probably best I couldn’t detect the blueberry in this. Otherwise, very well seasoned raw prawn, somehow fashioned into a square sheet on the plate, with a couple of quenelles of what I think were soured cream. Perhaps a little too prawn-y for some (as my companions mentioned), but it was good for me.

Potato veloute, poached quails egg, white truffle from Alba

A shallow bowl of an interestingly textured velouté, a little gelatinous, but with good flavour and a generous shaving of punchy funghi.

Signature risotto with Sorrento lemon zest

I very much liked the look of this - a piatto bianco - white risotto on a white plate, with strands of zest within the mass that would have been easier to spot had the lighting been brighter. It looked like it had great texture, the plate given a good shake to spread the rice. And the grains were beautifully cooked - fantastic bite. 

But the flavours did not work for me. It seemed too sweet, more like a rice pudding, with medicinal tasting lemon. It was as if it had been grated from a waxed fruit, which I’m pretty certain was not the case.

Interestingly, it was the favourite dish of some of my fellow diners. Which just goes to show how subjective food and eating it is.

Oven-baked daily catch fish fillet with potatoes mille feuille

The catch that day being sea bream, and a very nice plate it was. A well seasoned, well cooked bit of fish - although it could have had a crispier skin - with good potatoes and crisp pak choi nicely dressed with lemon. Nothing too spectacular, just solid.

Fassone beef Fillet with Barbaresco wine Jus de Viande with broccoli flan and porcini mushrooms

The meat here was spot on - succulent and pink. The flan was an interesting take on the vegetable - never before have I had my broccoli wobble. Porcini mushrooms were a good call, the jus tying it all together nicely.

Tagliolini pasta with artichoke hearts and lobster

This pasta shape was a new one to me. It’s a variety of tagliatelle - the classic noodle from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy - and is long, paper-thin, and cylindrical in shape.

This was a very good dish, wonderfully savoury, with delicate slithers of artichoke hearts and the occasional presence of crustacean. My only gripe being there wasn’t more of it.

Soft sponge roll with chantilly, raspberry coulis and pistachios crumble

A sponge roll, how retro. Like something from the birthday parties of my childhood, it evoked the associated memories. Which are all good. Sharp coulis filled the roll, as well as there being a blobbed crescent of it, along with a small quenelle of tart sorbet. A tangy plate to end on.


Bread was very good and made on site, stacked on a small set of portable shelves, a range of rolls, flatbreads and grissini. A little olive oil for glugging would have been good with it. Expect a wooden box of assorted petit fours to wrap up.

We were very generously treated to a wine flight to accompany the meal, each tasting swirled in burgundy glasses big enough to house a goldfish or two (even for the non-burgundy wines).

With alcohol, service and a drink or two at the bar, expect to pay around £350 pp for this New Year’s evening. But the burning question is of course, is it worth it? 

For me - who falls squarely into the ‘mere mortal’ category - no meal is worth £350, whether New Year’s Eve in Mayfair or not. But for many, these sorts of figures are lost down the back of Karelian birch, gilded brass, Kremlin-inspired sofas all the time, without being missed. 

And for those people, this would likely be a very pleasant evening indeed.

Liked lots: service was wonderful, particularly from the exuberant restaurant manager (I forget his name, sorry)

Liked less: the dining table was too high for wee me, sat against the wall on the banquettes. So much so that for the first time in my dining life, I had to sit on a cushion to eat. I'm not even that short (5'3.5 - that half makes all the difference)

Good for: laughing in the face of financial restraint

My rating: 3.5/5

Find the menu on Zomato.

Afiyet olsun.

Note: I was invited as a guest to this restaurant.

Quattro Passi on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Saturday, 29 November 2014

frescobaldi, mayfair - review

Swing a right down an alleyway opposite Hamley’s on Regent Street, and you’ll find yourself on a quiet and short strip of road called New Burlington Place. The only people that seem to know about it are the cabbies that turn into it from adjoining Saville Row for a three-point-turn, and to drop off the well-suited elite; there’s little else there. 

Except, that is, for new Italian fine dining restaurant and wine bar, Frescobaldi. Despite an almost complete lack of passing footfall, little launch fanfare, and having only being open for two weeks, it was almost full late Saturday lunch time. 

People knew it was on this invisible road, and were coming for it specifically.

If the name rings a bell, you may have seen their restaurant on the lower ground floor of Harrods, their branded Laudemio olive oil sold at Fortnum & Mason, or come across their outposts in Florence and at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

Their major claim to fame though, and the focus around which this new restaurant is based, is that the Frescobaldi family produce wine, and have done for a very long time indeed (more information on that in this recent Independent article). 

It’s an involvement that dates back centuries. During the renaissance, we’re told they traded bottles with Michelangelo for works of art, and they were major financiers to the kings of England, with receipts signed personally by that great wine-quaffer, Henry VIII. 

Most of their nine estates can be found in the hills around Florence and Siena, and a range of wines from the likes of Mormoreto (a single-vineyard cru of Castello di Nipozzano) to the flagship Frescobaldi cuvée (Brunello di Montalcino Castelgiocondo Riserva) take pride of place on the new restaurant’s menu.

To launch this first independent site in the UK, the Frescobaldis have partnered with Good Food Society, a new hospitality venture promoted by fellow Turk, Levent Büyükuğur (also founder of Istanbul Doors, an international restaurant group with over 40 venues).

They’ve done very well with the interiors. A great wall of glass for the frontage, striking frescos of Italian renaissance characters painted onto the tiled walls, a great central column with shelves housing Tuscan paraphernalia and bottles of wine poured by the glass - it’s a handsome space.

At Frescobaldi, you’ll find the largest menu you’ve ever seen, in size rather than content - open, it’s almost as wide as the wingspan of an albatross. The extra maneuverability the broad and comfortable chairs provide are as good for big bottoms as they are for accommodating the perusal of the massive things; best to read them turned sideways for the sake of a smashed wine glass.

In it, a confident and concise menu with less than a handful of entries under each section: antipasti, carpacci, tartare, primi piatti (pasta), to share (salads, cheese and charcuterie), secondi di pesce (fish mains), seconde di cane (meat mains), contorni (sides).

Bread was great and made on site, the soft and salty focaccia still warm from the oven, crisp Sardinian flatbread entirely void of moisture, and the basket comes with a bottle of that Laudemio olive oil to glug at your pleasure. 

There were rippled sheets of seabass carpaccio with pink peppers, soy sauce and fresh curly celery strips, that could have done with a touch of astringency (£16). The lactating Puglian burrata, with rocket pesto and ripe tomatoes, was just about the creamiest I’ve encountered (£12.50). 

I thought the marinated black Angus beef with lentils and courgettes would come as a salad with cooked slices of steak, and I expected it to be dull. It was actually like a plate of joyous lemony bresaola, with a little gathering of fantastically dressed firm green lentils and tiny cubes of courgette (£15).

The wide ribbons of pappardelle with the veal cheek ragu were gorgeous - great bite and deep yellow from yolk. The pappy but pleasing sauce, quite sweet from the meat, needed the contrasting texture it got from a flourish of small crisp rosemary croutons scattered before serving - very good (£15).

There were small and soft dimpled gnocchi with porcini mushrooms and an earthy umami sauce, although I do like my dumplings sporting the marks of a longer fry (£15). The ossobucco was a loaded plate of flaking veal, flanked by a barrier of unctuous white polenta, and with a great slug of marrow that slipped out of the bone after just a little persuasion (£23).

Tiramisu came in an unusual format, a mound of yellow sponge, coloured from extra yolk I presume, with a moat of coffee sauce and bitter toasted beans. It was cleared in the same amount of time it took me to register it had arrived (£9).

They've been smart in making more of their wines accessible to diners, by offering small and reasonably priced pre-grouped wine flights. You get a taste of three glasses (125ml each), and there are different groups of three to choose from, ranging from £16 - £68. I had the Red Flight “Sangiovese” at £21.

Two female maître d's were wearing the same sophisticated monochrome dress that wouldn’t have looked out of place at a cocktail bar, and service was charming and very attentive, if a little too enthusiastic at the beginning of our early lunch reservation, when we were the only occupied table.
Fellow diners ranged from groups of American visitors, to distinguished and impeccably dressed Italian matriarchs enjoying a girly lunch, to young couples, to a Turkish family, which may have been a Mr Büyükuğur influence.

Like I said, I don’t know how these people knew it was there. I did, because my visit was in the capacity of critiquing it for the consumer publication for British Turks & Turkophiles, T-Vine (thanks to Mr Büyükuğur’s involvement).

But know about it, people seem to. And now you do too. 

Liked lots: accessible and reasonably priced wine flights, interiors, there’s also a very becoming bar below deck to enjoy both wines and spirits in

Liked less: Frescobaldi won’t win any prizes for ‘bargain restaurant of the week’, but considering the location and setting, it’s not trying to. That in mind, with a bit of considered ordering, you can keep a reign on the bill and enjoy a very good meal

Good for: respite from the hectic shopping streets of the West End, impressing a date


Find the menu on Zomato.

Afiyet olsun

Note: I was invited as a guest to this restaurant.

Ristorante Frescobaldi on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Thursday, 27 November 2014

SCOTLAND: food & dining at Gleneagles, Perthshire

Food provenance is not the first thing you associate with a 232-room hotel. Such a big operation, with most taken rooms at double occupancy, translates to a lot of mouths to feed. Even more so when said hotel is set amongst 850 acres of Perthshire countryside; it’s a good hour drive from the nearest dining competition the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow can offer.

Guests sleep at Gleneagles, they pursue leisurely activities there, and they eat there. It’s a destination hotel of great comfort; once you’re within its fold, there is little desire to leave. With eating options outside of the hotel mostly removed from the equation, Gleneagles could easily fall into the sorry culinary abyss so many resorts end up getting lost in - not caring.  

They could offer mediocre fodder three times a day, because it’s not like guests can eat anywhere else. Sure, it would manifest as a blip on otherwise glowing TripAdvisor and reviews - “great service, grounds, activities, rooms, spa - food is so so” - but visitors would still come, for everything else.

But they don’t do this. Gleneagles is so far from that abyss, that they’re at the other end of the spectrum entirely. Through their numerous restaurants, passionate staff, and local sourcing, they showcase the Scottish larder in all its glory. And my, what a glorious larder it is.

Along with a few others, I was invited to stay at Gleneagles to experience the food offering, and get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into it. We met with some of the local family-run businesses that supply the hotel, spoke to and dined with chefs, handled a lot of feathered game, got a tour of Scotland’s only two-Michelin starred kitchen, quizzed the Gleneagles Director of Food and Beverage (previously at The Savoy), ate a lot of very good food, and understandably, got quite tipsy.

I was struck by the level of unbridled passion for good produce and good eating I encountered with almost every person I met associated with food at the hotel. They were all really nice, really welcoming, and really good at what they do. I’ve written a little about them below by way of appreciation and thanks. 

Should you ever find yourself staying at Gleneagles, your stomach will thank you for it. 

Gleneagles suppliers

Stuart Tower Dairy

Stuart Tower Dairy farm is home to 90 beautiful Holstein cows. Most commercial farms have 200-250, so relatively speaking, it's a small operation. The animals are out grazing during the summer months, and are fed on grass and wheat silage, barley, soya and beet pulp during the winter. 

The commoditisation of milk meant owners and husband and wife team, Neil and Lindsay Butler, had to diversify in order to add value to their product. In 2006 they dabbled in ice cream, and have not looked back since. It now accounts for around half of their business. 

Each majestic lady produces around 8,500 litres of milk a year, some of which goes into the 40,000 litres of ice cream in 200 flavours made at the farm. It’s this stuff that's supplied to Gleneagles.

Milk pumped the morning of our visit was poured into the ice cream machine (no snip at £30,000 - that’s some investment), churned for a while (with only a little air included), and pushed out of a big nozzle, much like a bigger and more expensive Play-Doh Fun Factory toy press. Two litre containers were filled for each of us, full of rich, smooth and dense ice cream.

They have a large parlour located in converted steadings on the farm, and a patio overlooking the Strathmore valley, where you can sit a while and enjoy whatever flavour ice creams happen to occupy their displays that day. 

Neil mentioned they appreciated such a big enterprise as Gleneagles supporting the local, independent businesses. And rightly so.

George Campbell & Sons Fishmongers

Current owner, Ian Campbell, has worked at George Campbell and Sons since 1977, but the business has been going strong through four generations since 1872. It's supplied seafood to Gleneagles, almost continuously, since the hotel opened 90 years ago. 

Around five fishmongers work through the night every evening to prepare catches that come in from the bountiful cold waters in and around the country, for delivery to clients in the morning. Machines are available that fillet and pin-bone hauls, but here it’s all done by hand. The last van leaves at 8am, and their geographical positioning means they can reach 90% of the population of Scotland within 90 minutes; that means supremely fresh products. 

We were joined by Alan Gibb, Executive Chef at Gleneagles, and Colin Bussey, Alan’s predecessor, who retired in 2008. Colin, not one to take to retirement too easily, has since started a small consultancy business, and in this capacity has worked with George Campbell and Sons to come up with around ten fish-based food products, to sell to retail customers in their shop.

Our advertised “light” lunch there was anything but, but I do think it was my favourite meal during my stay. A spread of these products was cooked up by Colin and helpers just before our arrival, and it was exquisite. There were subtly spiced potted shrimp cooked with mace, nutmeg, butter, cayenne and lemon zest, still warm and wobbly smoked salmon and leek quiches, velvety mackerel patés and the biggest scallops I ever did see.

We watched one of the fishmongers, Gus McKenzie, deftly fillet a whole host of sparkling fish and prepare our scallops before lunch. From Loch Broom and plucked from the water just hours before, the latter were grilled, served on Stornoway black pudding from Macleod & Macleod*, and doused in a little buerre blanc. Simply put, the most impeccable morsel of food I’ve had in some time.

* Note: this is the best black pudding that is available, anywhere. And confirmed by people who know a lot more about black pudding that I do. I’ve had it a few times since, and nothing comes close. I think they ship to the rest of the UK.

Gleneagles restaurants & bars


The grandest of the restaurants at Gleneagles, The Strathearn is a time capsule transporting guests to a dining experience from a bygone era. Holding firmly onto the days when French food was fancy, service was silver, and half of the menu was cooked at the table, the restaurant is an ode to the grown up gastronomy of our yesteryears.

Expect dulcet notes from a grand piano played in the corner, and your dinner to arrive under those grand silver domes. There are alabaster columns, art deco lighting fixtures, and old-fashioned three-pronged candlestick holders that look a lot like Lumière from Beauty and the Beast. Crêpe Suzettes are flambéd, smoked salmons are sliced, and beef wellingtons are carved - all at the table, with great theatre and showmanship.

The menu is a mix of French and British classics and boasts the bounty from Scotland’s cold waters, some of which is supplied by George Campbell & Sons (see above). Think oysters from Argyll, Hebridean crab, Scottish lobster and langoustines and the ubiquitous smoked salmon. 

There’s a lot of locally sourced meat on offer too - foie gras, lamb from the mountains, venison, chicken, game from the moor, steak and the evening roast from the trolley. On our visit it was the beef wellington, and it was as spot on as it can get. Dry flavoursome pastry, beef pink throughout - quite wonderful.

Three courses including dessert is £60.00, four courses including dessert is £70.00.

The unrivaled epicurean endurance test that is the Gleneagles breakfast is also served in The Strathearn each morning - more on that here.


An altogether more casual experience, Deseo focuses on Mediterranean-inspired dishes in relaxed and family-friendly surroundings. Expect to find an array of tapas, pastas, pizzas, regional plates such as Escalope “Milanese”, charcuterie, and cheeses.

At the rear of the restaurant you’ll find a food emporium. Here, they showcase the ingredients used in the kitchen, as well as boasting a fridge packed with prime cuts of pure pedigree Scotch beef from breeds such as Belted Galloway, or the indigenous Highland.

Local butcher, Simon Howie, has created a meat version of a wine list; the “breed book” gives diners the opportunity to select their beef in the same way they would a fine wine or whisky, and there’s a different “guest” breed featured weekly.

Game Dinner

We dined at Deseo twice during our stay. Our first experience was at the chef’s table in the food emporium. The focus of this meal was game, and we were joined by Gleneagles Director of Food and Drink, Alan Hill, as well as the man who supplies Gleneagles with this meat, Neil from Ochil Foods.

Shooting since the tender age of 11, Neil regaled us with stories of hunting seasons, the coveted and rare delicacy of woodcock, the leanness of venison (only 4% fat - lamb is 28%, beef is 40%), and the ongoing challenges of encouraging supermarkets to get over the occasional presence of lead shot in the meat, and stock more game.

Paul Devonshire, Gleneagles Executive Sous Chef, was tasked with cooking our game dinner that evening. There was delicately flavoured partridge carpaccio with a herb encrusted and deep fried quail’s egg, pheasant in a life-affirming broth with a hint of chilli and ginger, succulent grouse breast marinated in double cream and thyme and topped with fried julienned leeks, hearty venison and hare with Stornoway black pudding (there it is again - the best), and an apple bavarois to finish. The accompanying wine flight, bottles plucked from the hotel’s 17,500-strong cellar, made for a solid marriage.

The Chef's Table Experience costs £720 for a table of eight and includes your own chef, waiter and menu offering.

Truffle Lunch

Round two at Deseo was a celebration of that fantastic funghi we love to stick our noses into around this time of year, the truffle. 

Cooked for us by Gleneagles Executive Chef Alan Gibb (he was with us at the fishmongers, remember), we were treated to a black truffle pizza with parmesan and basil, scrambled Arlington eggs with white truffle, a truffled macaroni cheese with capers and parsley, and a sensational chicken dish with winter truffles, fluffy potatoes, chicken liver, carrot and cauliflower - like a poshed up and proper impressive roast. Truffle, truffle, truffle.

A fantastically pungent lunch, and only two hours after an epic Strathearn breakfast. A bit of a struggle, but we managed to muddle on through - it was too good to pass.

Andrew Fairlie

We didn’t get to eat here (gutted). But we did receive an exclusive tour of the kitchen during preparation for an evening service. It’s a small and intimate venue, with just 17 tables, and it boasts the only two Michelin stars in Scotland, which it has retained since 2006.

They only offer evening dining, and they have a one-year-old kitchen garden off-site on private land, the location of which is kept a secret. Three full-time gardeners tend to it and supply the Andrew Fairlie kitchen with most of its produce.

We were informed that one of the highlights on both the a la carte and degustation menus is Andrew's signature smoked lobster, relinquishing an intense smokiness from a twelve-hour infusion over whisky barrels. I'll take two.

If you want a table, book (way) in advance.

The Blue Bar

Alan Hill also joined us at the hotel’s The Blue Bar, a unique edition to the Dormy Clubhouse. This is a covered outdoor luxury, with sumptuous Bentley leather seating that heat up, emblemed blankets and a roaring fire pit. 

Open by invitation only, this is the place to retire to post slap up meal, smoke a fine Cuban, and chat with friends into the night. The bar is stocked with Johnnie Walker Blue Label, and some regular guests keep their own bottles, tagged with the owner’s name, behind it for each time they visit.

A big thank you to all those involved in what was a truly splendid couple of days spent with great people, in a wonderful part of the world. 

The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland PH3 1NF
T: 0800 704 705 (UK Freephone) or 1 866 881 9525 (US Freephone)

Related posts
SCOTLAND: Gleneagles, Perthshire - Hotel Review

Deseo on Urbanspoon
The Strathearn on Urbanspoon

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