Hotel dining can be a real leap of faith. Will the food be up to scratch? How about the wine? And will there be a gaggle of noisy tourists, in ill-fitting anoraks, destroying the ambience? Happily, absolutely no need to worry at the Inchyra, we had a fabulous time!
In fact, our rather indulgent dinner was delicious to say the least, with service and atmosphere to match. The management even insisted we stay the night, and carry on our love affair with white wine into the wee hours.
Actually, hang on, they may not have suggested that last part …
No, that was definitely us.
Anyhoo, let’s start at the beginning …
The Macdonald Inchyra was once a manor house, that’s been transformed over the years into a hotel and spa. Within easy reach of the Kelpies, Linlithgow Palace, and the Falkirk Wheel, it’s also well placed should you be travelling to or from Edinburgh.
After checking in – lovely room BTW: comfy armchairs, kingsize bed, massive bathroom – we considered whether to hit the gym, or have a dip in the pool. Naturally we soon came to our senses, and went in immediate search of champagne.
Though moments after placing our order, the very personable barman returned with complimentary snacks and bad news: Our choice of bubbles, the Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Brut, was completely out of stock.
“No!!!!!!!!” we screamed loudly, and in slow motion.
But … adept at crisis-management, he kindly offered us a couple of cheeky glasses on the house, while a worthy alternative was quickly chilled.
Soon we were pondering [ or should we say ordering ] a second bottle of fizz, and turning our attention to why we were invited here in the first place: to review The Inchyra’s award-winning steak restaurant.
For a start, the menu is filled with temptation, the staff are lovely [ hello Ben the waiter ] and we love the decor. At its centre, one of the manor’s original stone walls, giving dinner just the sense of drama we so appreciate.
Our only slight concern is the music. Someone’s clearly looped a playlist that sounds like budget piano by candlelight. While prolonged exposure could prove fatal, fortunately everything else about this restaurant is perfect.
We begin our journey by sharing three entrees. Kicking off with the Macsween Haggis Bon Bons which are beautifully crisp and crumbly, served with an equally lovely Arran mustard mayonnaise.
We then move gleefully on to the Stornoway black pudding scotch egg with piccalilli & mustard cress. A delicious, rich contrast of flavours, the Social Bitches are indeed pleased with their choices.
But the absolute standout is the Grilled garlic flatbread with hummus and nut-free pesto. Made entirely in-house, it’s an absolute delight. Especially the pesto, which is wonderfully rich and salty in taste.
Needless to say, each tantalising mouthful inspires an “ooh,” an “ahh” and sometimes a “yes, that’s it, don’t stop” from us both.
Come the main course, Isaac ventures down an oh-so-familiar path, and orders the lamb – his ultimate test of a good menu. Happily, he is not disappointed.
The Herb crusted Scotch lamb rack with Paramentier potatoes and a mint salsa verde is an absolute triumph. Perfectly cooked, its flavours not only honour tradition, they also bring something new and decidedly piquant to the mix.
Meanwhile … I take great pleasure in devouring 300 grams of Ribeye Steak with a rather lovely red wine sauce. Cut from the centre of the rib, and delicately marbled throughout, it’s the kind of steak that slowly melts in your mouth.
Yes, this too feels like a sensual experience, especially when paired with the hand-cut chips – created with the perfect quantities of salt and oil – along with a carb-tastic mac n cheese and gorgeous cheese mash.
While most people would have lapsed into a food coma by this point, we boldly and bravely carry on. Bring the dessert menu, we insist, and more wine!
Though frankly, thank goodness for our insatiable greed, for it leads us to yet another happy discovery: this restaurant also makes the perfect ice cream sundaes.
This seemingly simple dish is so often sullied by an unimaginative mix of ingredients, or even worse: mock cream [ the Social Bitches shudder at the thought. ] But not here at the Inchyra, oh no not here …
Both the Black Forest Sundae, with its mouthwatering cherries and generous chunks of chocolate brownie, as well as the equally stunning Peach Sundae are a wild ride of tastes. Utterly, utterly satisfying, this meal definitely ends on a high note.
Well, we say “end,” but the truth is we went on to drink several more bottles of wine, and have a bit of an eighties sing-song [ oh the shame! ] but that’s another story.
All you need to know is, we were extremely happy to be back in the very same restaurant just a few hours later: relishing a delicious breakfast, the friendliest service EVER, and the kind of joy only a moist black pudding can bring.
Reviewed in June 2019
Macdonald Inchyra Hotel & Spa
0344 879 9044