But 'having it all' also requires having a restaurant that is equally the part, a restaurant that is the very best. At Gleneagles, that restaurant is Andrew Fairlie, two Michelin stars and the only restaurant in Scotland to hold that accolade. At under an hour's drive from Edinburgh airport, we were pleasantly surprised just how accessible Gleneagles is.
At the prescribed time, we make our way through the hotel toward the restaurant that sits almost centrally in the old building. We're greeted by name at the restaurant despite not having declared who we were, a parlour trick perhaps, but we love that the staff are focussed on delivering such a personal experience and throughout the night, we are continually delighted by how warm and obliging the staff are in their manner.
Looking at the menu, a conversation from earlier in the week replayed itself when in discussion with another blogger, he had suggested that we were more avant garde than traditional in our food preferences. We conclude it's probably true. Looking at the tasting menu, we see old favourites foie gras and scallops on there giving us pause yet despite these nods to Michelin conformity, the tasting menu still seems to offer up something new and with our singular purpose for being at Gleneagles this meal, we elect for the full eight courses.
The canapes include salt 'n' vinegar cashews which seem a little incongruent with its two star status though a follow on of breakfast radish with curry and lime mayonnaise and salt is more understandable. There's also a deconstructed cocktail, the 'chefs take on mojito' but we feel it doesn't quite capture the mojito essence. After that, we move into the main menu.
Feeling almost like our nemesis now, the Ballottine of Duck Foie Gras with cherries and almond follows and while this is exactly what you'd expect, there's an additional and brilliant surprise: let's call it a foie gras donut (not pictured). It's foie gras, reduced down with port, Madeira and cream, frozen, coated in bread crumbs and quickly fried to provide an explosive liquid foie gras experience with a fried crispy coat. Again, while this was a sideshow to the ballotine, it provides a taste moment that the ballottine in our view simply doesn't and could easily have carried the course by itself.
The main course was nicely differentiated: slow cooked beef cheek, soy and Balsamic jus. This too was cooked to perfection, the beef falling apart when merely grazed with a fork. Nicely positioned and nicely sized, it perfectly fit the bill within the menu.
Dessert was a chocolate cremeux with raspberries and creme fraiche, ice cream. A perfectly good dessert and nicely presented, it still seemed to us to lack the wow factor with the raspberries dominating the plate placing the emphasis on nature and produce rather than kitchen and culinary skill. A raspberry coulis and a nettle coulis added little in our view and as the last major plate of the meal, it was a little underwhelming.
Late, and us tired, we retired to the room taking our box of petit fours with us. The macarons were amongst the best I've tasted and the marshmallows were totally moreish.
Our trips to Scotland these past twelve have revealed a brilliant and creative restaurant scene in and around the capital. While Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles is clearly part of that scene, and this was a good meal, even if the errors that we felt were made on the night were absent, we can't help but feel that the likes of Martin Wishart, 21212 and Mark Greenaway at Hawke and Hunter are going further in delivering original cuisine while also delivering exceptional quality, and it's these names and these meals about which we feel evangelical. Hand on heart then, while Andrew Fairlie at Glenealges delivered an enjoyable evening, with wonderful service by very friendly staff, it is as a meal we think was trumped by the best of its Edinburgh competition.
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