My latest dinner jaunt was uphill to Dunblane to visit the Doubletree by Hilton Hotels at Dunblane Hydro. The weather was horrible, but it only took us about 40 minutes to get there due to the new motorway. Within this beautiful hotel is The Kailyard restaurant. I was told that celebrity chef Nick Nairn had consulted with the team to develop the menu, so given that I'm a fan of his, I was very excited to try the food!
The hotel and restaurant are both beautifully decorated with a classy but traditional Scottish theme. It's like a posh hunters cabin - lots of wooden features, tartan upholstered furniture and stags on the walls. The lights are set low to give a cosy, romantic meal feel to the place. The staff are so happy and friendly - they couldn't look happier - you feel instantly welcome and they're always nearby checking in on you. Top service.
Tarbert & coley fish cake with Asian slaw, coriander and sweet chilli dressing - The fish cakes were lovely! The fish cakes were as they should be - crispy and crunchy on the outside and light, fluffy and sweet inside. What really interested me was the Asian slaw; at first I thought it was noodles. The carrot and cucumber are sliced into tagliatelle like strips and are tangled in twists beneath the fish cakes. I thought it looked so cool.
Minted pea soup with crème frâiche and sippets - I'd never heard of sippets before! We excitedly waited on the soup arriving so we could make the discovery: croutons! You learn a new thing every day! The pea:mint ratio was spot on - neither overpowered the other and the soup had a great flavour. It was also perfectly thick and purée like. The crème frâiche and croutons gave a little tang and some crunch in addition to giving the soup a striking look.
Roast spiced fillet of pork served with creamed cabbage, caramelised apple and green peppercorn sauce - This was absolutely stunning. The flavour from the pork alone, never mind with a mixture of all the components, was just mouth watering. The pork was juicy and tender and had a good kick from the peppercorns without being hot. The creamed cabbage and block of potato added a comfort, and the caramelised apple gave it the sweet and tangy kick. When I go back I'm definitely going to order this, it was incredible.
Pan fried Scrabster hallibut, herb mash, wilted spinach, Avruga caviar and chive butter sauce - I could summarise my opinion by saying "yum". This was recommended to me by the waiter who described himself as liking his food from the sea. I identify with that. Halibut has a strong taste for a white fish but its truly lovely. The herby mash, with buttery sauce and the fish was just gorgeous. I've never tried caviar, and I'm aware that Avruga isn't actual caviar, but it gave an almost tangy element to the sauce. I loved it. I was almost totally filled due to the mashed potato, but dessert beckoned me!
Passion fruit Crème Brûlée with chocolate chip shortbread - I blogged about a passion fruit creme brûlée a few months ago, and my only complaint was that although it looked amazing, the seeds made it difficult to eat. The Kailyard have produced one that had all the tropical tang and flavour, but no annoying seeds! My only complaint was that it wasn't totally set. It was delicious and I cleared the dish.
Warm apple tart tatin with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream - This. Was. Fantastic. I could have eaten my weight in it! It was everything you want in apple tart tatin - sweet, soft pastry with tangy soft apples. The cold melted ice cream with gooey sauce on top just made it.
Overall I can't really fault The Kailyard. We thoroughly enjoyed everything - the Nick Nairn signature dishes and the chef's own alike. I will definitely be back for more, and I'm temped to give the hotel a shot and sample their breakfasts!
Nice location and lovely setting. Housekeeping slightly below standard. Recently refurbished yet bed and bedding seemed pretty old. That saying, huge improvement on the last night spent here 3 years ago when the bedroom was no bigger than a cupboard and wallpaper hanging off the walls.
Good choice for breakfast but get down early as long queues for for dining room.
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