After a relaxing train journey from Edinburgh to Perth - I was met at the station and we made our way along traditional stone walled lanes to the grand Gleneagles Hotel. The surrounding scenery doesn’t quite prepare you for the impressive setting and architecture of one of the world’s most coveted 5 star resorts, currently owned by ‘Diageo Plc’ and also a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. Set in 850 acres of Perthshire countryside, Gleneagles is home to three of the top Scottish Championship Golf Courses and a wide range of exciting outdoor leisure activities.
We were here to host a vertical tasting and training for the staff and assist them to find the best matches with the current menu at a long lunch - to be held in the conservatory, off the Strathearn Restaurant. Gleneagles has an international reputation for excellent cuisine and fine dining. Each of the restaurants has its own style, but their trademark is the use of the finest fresh produce available locally in Perthshire and Scotland, as well as from specialist suppliers abroad.
After the wine tasting; we moved through the Strathearn Restaurant - where half the staff (waiters & sommeliers) at the tasting - took care of all our needs throughout the long lunch - and yes the other half joined us.
But before we enjoyed the first course; Guillaume Gorichon - head sommelier took me on a guided tour behind the scenes, through the wine and food stores, the kitchen areas and then the temperature controlled, glass-walled fine wine cellar, where they have wines that you generally only see at a Sotheby Auctions. The wine list has over 700 wines to choose from and some very special wines at that, and to finish a collection of some of the rarest malt whiskies in Scotland.
Whether you are dining for lunch, or dinner you will experience the very best of Scotland's fare with a touch of the unexpected. A detail that I was very pleased has lasted - is the dress code, not too formal, as smart casual is accepted, but no denim or shorts, so it encourages you to prepare for the experience you are about to have. On this occasion we didn’t dine in the ‘Andrew Fairlie’ restaurant: which is a two Michelin-starred restaurant, where every detail has been carefully planned to create a truly special experience, from the original artwork on the walls and stunning decor to the specially selected French cheeses and locally-grown herbs. The signature dish 'Smoked Lobster', which involves smoking lobster shells over old whisky barrels for up to twelve hours.
After lunch we quickly visited ‘Deseo’ a Mediterranean Food Market restaurant, offers informal, delicious dining, which is perfect for a quick bite. It was a pleasure to meet all the highly trained staff and get a very personal insight into what makes the cuisine and service leading edge.
So whatever your preference a casual bite or a world class dining experience - if you find yourself in the heart of Scotland - try to book at Gleneagles - one of world’s most coveted establishments.