May 20 2011 Perthshire Advertiser Friday
WITH all the goings on at LWL HQ – organising this year’s summer break to the Caribbean, coaching teenage family members through exam time and hosting a Royal Wedding party – best girlfriend and I decided a night away was in order. Not wanting to venture too far, but looking to “get away from it all”, we chose the Royal Dunkeld Hotel for our overnight sojourn.
Upon arrival, we were met by friendly, welcoming staff and a decor that mixes traditional Scotland – tartan, sketches of animals and local scenery – with more modern items.
We decided that before dinner we would go to our room and check out the digs. Queen Victoria is said to have stayed in the hotel during her reign, and if it’s good enough for the monarchy, it is certainly good enough for the Lady Who Lunches!
The room we were given was huge, light and freshly decorated, with plenty of space to lay out the various clothing options for the evening ahead. The hotel has recently been through a makeover and upgrading and it definitely helps make the place pop.
After changing and flicking through the channels on the spanking new flat screen TV, Jools and I ventured down to the cafe.
As well as having a more casual bistro-type setting, the hotel has a formal dining room. But we opted for the more casual experience, which had the same warmth and atmosphere as the bedrooms had earlier.
To start, I chose the pate and oatcakes – the juxtaposition of the creamy smooth pate on the rough, homemade oatcakes was just right, and the accompanying chutney gave a sharp sweetness to the dish. Jools reported that her red pepper and tomato soup was delicious and she was planning on digging out a recipe for it when she got home.
We both jumped at the chance for shoulder of lamb as our main course. It came, thick wedges of lamb on top of a bed of roast potatoes and vegetables, swimming delightfully in thick, brown gravy. The lamb was so soft and tender that it was breaking apart at the places where it dangled over the edge of the potatoes. It was enthusiastically devoured, and declared a dish of perfection when the waitress returned to clear our spotless plates.
As we waited for our cheese board dessert – Jools told me about her decision over whether to visit a friend in Canada or a relative in Australia for her holiday this year. I listened and offered advice on flight times, temperatures and the best place to go for nightlife in both countries.
We were interrupted by the arrival of the cheese board – which I am happy to report came on an actual board, not a plate. Too many people offer a cheese board on their menu, but few present it on a handled rustic chopping board. There was a wide selection on offer - blue, smoked, cheddar and brie – and it was nice to pick at it slowly while we chatted.
After dinner we wandered through to the bar, which is definitely a “local” for the residents of Dunkeld. There are guest ales on offer and plenty of people to chat with.
At the end of the night, Jools and I stumbled upstairs to bed, having put the world to rights and emptied the bar of it’s rose wine. The beds were a welcome sight and sinking into them, I settled into a great uninterrupted night’s sleep.
Whether it’s for a meal or a night’s stay, the Royal Dunkeld Hotel is definitely worth a stop.
Venue: Royal Dunkeld, Atholl Street, Dunkeld.
Vibe: Former Coaching Inn is now a modern comfortable hotel.
Service: Fast and friendly.
Verdict: Whether it’s for a meal or a night’s stay, the Royal Dunkeld Hotel is definitely worth a stop.
Cost: £30 per person B&B.
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