While mostly empty when we first enter in the early evening, the place filled up steadily over the course of the following hour giving a certain buzz to the venue. The buzz however can never quite escape the hotel restaurant feel given that enough tables are occupied by business colleagues/guests of the hotel who are talking shop rather than the relaxed easy chat of friends on a night out. The decor too is functional and a little corporate but offers some art and vases sprinkled around the place to soften the view.
On food, a specials menu with a fair range of choice of still attractive dishes is offered at under £20 for two courses and £22 for three which has to be considered good value while an a la carte offers of course a wider choice of premium plates.
For the starter I chose from the a la carte menu the John Ross Scottish Smoked Salmon, wild rocket, caper and red onion dressing. Must admit, don’t really know who John Ross is though back home a Google search reveals that John Ross has been producing smoked salmon in Aberdeen since 1857 and is a holder of a Royal Warrant for supplying the Royal Kitchen for the past 20 years. Priced on the menu as a starter at £13.50 this is not a cheap option and I wonder what can justify the price but I have to say, it was absolutely first class salmon. With a delicate smoke and a wonderfully smooth texture to the salmon, I really did enjoy this dish and was sad to finish. Smoked salmon as a starter can often be so insipid but here it was a star, I was quite surprised. Fresh (hot) wholegrain toast was served alongside and the salad was fresh, crisp and nicely dressed providing a very favourable start to the meal.
The pheasant was cooked well, not tough or chewy and had good gamey earthy flavours that made me want to wash it down with a youngish Haut Brion (which I sadly didn’t). The leg is advertised as comfit where I assume they meant confit though I’m not sure it was either, rather, it seemed roasted with the rest of the bird which was fine as it was still cooked adequately. The veg was okay, the puree well prepared though sweet potatoes are not totally my thing (can’t blame them for that) while the addition of sultanas in the cabbage also added some juicy sweetness. I can’t claim to have had extensive experience with pheasant but this was not a bad offering.
The other main, the wild mushroom risotto was done reasonably well and came with a bundle of unannounced extras like roast chestnuts and some serious veg on top. Tasty but presentationally could have been a little better offered.
Overall verdict: would be happy returning as it offers as good a balance of quality and value as anywhere in the immediate area.
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