“ Address: The Green Hotel / 2 The Muirs / Kinross / Perthshire / KY13 8AS „
It was the first weekend of April. Allan and I had found ourselves in Kinross, a tiny little village in Scotland about a 40 minute drive from where I live. My Dad had gotten us a hotel stay for our engagement/ Christmas present and finally the time had come to use it. As the hotel restaurant didn't look as lovely as we would have liked, we decided to have a bit of a wander down the main road in Kinross called The Muirs to see if there was anywhere else to eat. After about ten minutes we realised there weren't an awful lot of places to go and so we settled on going The Greens Hotel which was a partner of the hotel we were staying in right across the road from it. They have a couple of restaurants but we decided that Basil's would be our choice for the evening.
===The Middle of Nowhere===
Basil's is situated in The Greens Hotel in Kinross. Kinross itself isn't the most accessible place unless you drive or can afford a taxi. There are no train stations near and details of busses are sketchy at best. If you DO drive then the hotel is easy enough to find. Aim for the main road in Kinross (The Muirs) and you'll see it just past their partner hotel (The Windlestrae) where we were staying. As Kinross is fairly small, The Greens Hotel isn't incredibly far from anything else in Kinross. It's a two minute walk from The Windlestrae so we just went on foot from our hotel. If you are driving there are plenty of parking spaces outside the hotel so it'd be fairly easy to get parked.
The entrance is a bit confusing as the restaurant is somewhere in the middle of the hotel. If you go in the doors on the middle of the front side of the Greens Hotel then you pretty much just walk straight ahead to start with and then follow the signs for Basil's. It's all on ground level with plenty of room so the only issue I could see arising would be for those who can't walk very far. I know our friend Mary would have to take it easy making it from the front door into the restaurant but she'd still manage. On the day we went it was very quiet, but that was a Thursday night. I could imagine it would be quite busy at the weekend so you might be sensible to call and reserve a table in advance if you want a seat. If you want to do that you can email them on Reservations@green-hotel.com or call the Hotel on 01577 863467
If you want to use your Sat-Nav to get you there, the address is as follows:
The Green Hotel,
2 The Muirs,
===Who is Basil?===
The Greens Hotel is owned by the Montgomery family who own a lot in Kinross. The hotel is part of a "golf resort" as is The Windlestrae and their restaurant Monty's, a restaurant down by the loch called The Boat House, A bar on the side of the Greens called Jocks. They used to own the magnificent country house Kinross House till they decided it was costing too much for upkeep and sold to a private owner. As far as I can tell and in keeping with Monty's at the Windlestrae, Basil is a member of the Montgomery family; we saw a couple of the names on their "private" tombstones in the very small but public graveyard behind Kinross house. It's an interesting nod towards the family's history but doesn't really mean anything other than that as far as I can tell.
As soon as we entered the hotel we could see that The Greens Hotel was a cut above The Windlestrae. The whole place is incredibly well presented and looked after. The restaurant looks gorgeous with white table cloths, folded napkins and a gorgeous set up near the middle that is clearly used for some sort of buffet set up (probably in the morning for the hotel guests) but otherwise is lovely to look at being covered with flowers. The paintings on the wall are all very serene scenes that may actually be photographs but neither me or Allan could quite tell without getting right up close to them.
Upon being greeted by the waitress, she took us to our tables and seated us. Even better than that, it seems to be their normal practice for them to then unfold your napkin and gracefully wave it out into the air landing it neatly on your lap. I've seen this done in a couple of places (mostly on TV) and it always makes me giggle a little but it certainly made us both feel like we were somewhere a bit up-market.
If you are like me, you'll probably want to check the menu out before you go. The website for the greens hotel does provide a downloadable menu (check here: http://www.green-hotel.com/dining/basil-s-grill/) but beware of getting your hopes up too much. The download includes three different menus and it's up to them on the night which menu they will be using. There are some basics like the steaks which stay the same but some of the more interesting dishes switch out depending on the menu you get. Even the dishes on the menus online can end up getting mixed and matched with ones from the other versions.
As well as the menu changing slightly, the ones online may not match price wise. When I first looked they were set at £23. The menus allow you to choose three courses and a coffee for £25.50 per person. It's a little cheaper on the online menus but not enough that it was a nasty surprise when we got there. Since then the prices have been updated online so we were probably just unlucky catching it on the days it was changing over. The menus that are currently online are a little different from the ones that were up when we went, with some dishes being changed slightly and others disappearing completely.
A different waitress came over to take our orders and rubbed me up the wrong way a little as she seemed very bossy and when I asked Allan what he'd like for dessert she butted in and told us that we'll be ordering that later after the mains. I'm sure she was trying to be helpful but the strange edge to the way she said it made me raise an eyebrow.
===Honey and flies ===
Thankfully the other waitress that had seated us and served us most of the night was really nice and we had a bit of a giggle with her throughout the evening. Before we received our starters we had noticed that the kitchen door had an incredibly loud creak when it was closing that went on for about a minute after someone went through. The fact it sounded so loud speaks as to how quiet the restaurant was even with the music playing softly in the background. When we were offered a choice of warm bread rolls I also jokingly asked if they had any WD40 for the door and the waitress had a bit of a chat with us about how she left it in her other suit.
As for the rolls we both went for the wholemeal rolls and slathered them in butter. They were lovely, soft and warm in the middle and just the right size to take the edge off my hunger while we waited on the starters. They tasted delicious. About half way through munching them Allan started to smile and pointed behind me, I turned and saw the waitress who had served us frantically trying to drip some cooking oil on the hinges on the door without much success. You probably had to be there, but the sight of it was quite funny. When she came over to give us our starters, we thanked her and she started laughing that we'd seen her doing it. Thankfully it worked too so the creaky door was no more. Now THAT'S good service.
I also noticed that they were giving out colouring sheets and pens to any children that came in and were making a point of making the kids feel a bit special by speaking to them down on their level so I'd say that kids are definitely welcome here even though the place looks pristine and for adults only.
===Start the munching===
For starters I ordered the Goats cheese panna cotta with sun blushed tomatoes rocket leaves and a balsamic reduction. The dish seemed small, but looked delicious. The panna cotta sat in the middle of the plate with a few leaves underneath. The tomatoes circled the outside with the balsamic reduction drizzled in three triangles pointing outwards from the middle. The panna cotta was lovely and creamy and a little sweet (but not overly so). The tomatoes were quite sharp in contrast but the flavours worked really well. The rocket and the balsamic reduction finished the dish off perfectly. The mixture of flavours was well thought out and beautifully presented leaving my mouth watering wanting more. I was quite excited for the rest of the meal at this point as it was obvious the chef's were good from this one dish.
Allan decided to go with the Scottish Oak Smoked Salmon & cream cheese roulade with Avocado coulis and mixed Shisho cress. A wafer thin slice of smoked salmon was wrapped around cream cheese and sat neatly on top of the cress. The Avocado coulis was dotted around the place in small amounts so you could dip into it if you wanted to and not be forced to eat it, which was just as well as Allan didn't really like the coulis. I had a dip of it and quite liked it though, so it's not that it was bad, just a case of personal tastes. He scoffed his salmon roulade, however, and said it was absolutely perfect. Both plates cleared and two happy guys.
For the main course I had fully intended to go with the pigeon since I'd never tried it before, but just before our orders were taken I saw them bring out the braised lamb shank to another table and my mouth uttered those words when asked what I wanted instead. The lamb shank came in a redcurrant and rosemary glaze with wild garlic and thyme mashed potatoes and roast carrots. The lamb I received was massive and balanced neatly on my mash without getting too much of the glaze on them. It was perfectly cooked too. The fat was falling apart in my mouth and the meat was cooked but a dark reddy-brown colour (the way it should be) and full of juice and flavour. The glaze didn't interfere with the flavour of the meat too much but there was plenty on the plate for you to dip any chunks of lamb from the middle of the shank into if you wanted to and, trust me, you'd want to as it was delicious. It's nowhere near as sharp as I had expected it to be, instead presenting a lovely mildly sweet flavour to your taste buds. The mash wasn't overpowered by the wild garlic and thyme either. I began to struggle a little with the size of the dish near the end of it, but afterwards I wasn't actually incredibly over-stuffed like I have been in other places. Another ideal dish!
Allan decided to stick with fish for his main course and went with the "classic fish and chips" which was a pan seared cod fillet with chunky chips, pea shoots and puree and béarnaise sauce. The waitress who had rubbed me up the wrong way felt the need to let him know it doesn't come battered in case he got upset about it when it arrived in a way that made me wonder if she heard herself speaking to people. Probably just being helpful...hmm. I felt a little bad when I saw the size of the portion he had as it was a lot smaller than mine. The fish was cut into a square of about three inches by three inches. The chips were countable on 6 fingers and were arranged in a mid-jenga-game style tower on his plate. Thankfully after he finished his plate he did admit that the portion was actually the perfect size as he felt full but not to bursting. He also said that it was the nicest fish he'd ever had, even beating the one he'd eaten in a top notch hotel in London so that's high praise from him. Two more courses that were thoroughly enjoyed. I even managed to get Allan to try lamb for the first time and he said it was nice. I can't say the same for the fish I had to try in return but I really do hate seafood so that wasn't a surprise.
Desert was another course where I had fully intended to order something else. I was going to go with a vanilla crème brulee but then I saw it come out to another table and it was tiny. At that point, as Allan was torn between two deserts, we decided to get the two deserts he was torn between and pop them in the middle of the table to share. As such we had a chocolate tart with cherries and sorbet along with a cheeseboard that came with Stilton, Bree, Gouda and another cheese that could have been Edam but we weren't certain. The cheeseboard came with a few "savoury" biscuits, strips of celery, a small bunch of grapes and a little apricot and orange chutney.
I started with the cheeseboard which I tend to find you can't really go wrong with. Everything was delicious though they probably could have provided a few more biscuits. I find I can't stand the taste of stilton without something to dilute the flavour. The sweeter biscuits on the board did this perfectly but there were only two small ones and a large chunk of stilton. I found myself having to ration the biscuits so that Allan had some left to enjoy his cheese with. Not a sharing desert really but also not quite enough biscuits for the amount of cheese you get even if you aren't sharing. Other than that though, everything tasted delicious and worked well together. At one point Allan sent one of the grapes flying off the table accidentally and was unable to find it. The waitress that we had been giggling with floated past and calmly swooped to the floor to pick it up giving us a wink and quietly saying "No one saw a thing" as she walked to the kitchen to dispose of it which made us both smile.
The chocolate tart was brilliant. It had a thin crust that was somewhere between pastry and biscuit and a solid centre of dark chocolate. It wasn't too dark, however, and a lovely sweet flavour was obvious the sorbet was nice and refreshing next to it and provided a sharper side to the dish that worked brilliantly with the chocolate tart. Both of us enjoyed the deserts just as much as we had enjoyed the starters and mains.
===Mocha Cappu Latte ya ya?===
Desert finished we had noticed that the menu also gives you a coffee and "petit fours" which baffled us. I'm not usually a fan of coffee at restaurants as any time it's been included in the menu it's been your normal watery black coffee which doesn't sit very well with my stomach. When the waitress came back I asked if I could have a Latte which she said was fine so I was quite pleased with that. Following on from my lead Allan requested a Cappuccino. At that point we were told we could have it at the table or we could go to the lounge area just outside the restaurant so we decided to go get a comfy seat there. The lounge area is basically a large conservatory that surrounds a central courtyard. It's full of very deep and comfy leather sofas and looks.
While we were waiting on our coffee the bossy waitress came through to find us frantically with the card machine asking me to come with her to pay the bill. She seemed a little miffed when I told her we'd pay after we'd had our coffee. We then overheard her talking to the other waitress seeming a little put out and trying to get her to swap duties so she could bring us the coffee. Thankfully the nice waitress won the toss and she brought them to us. And my, what a great coffee it was.
As it turns out "petit fours" is French for small oven and basically means a little sweet in this context. The coffee came served with two squares of tablet which was absolutely mouth wateringly beautiful. I saved mine till after my coffee so I didn't knock the sweetness out of the latte. Allan's cappuccino was also perfect so that's another course well done even if I had felt a little rushed by bossy boots.
===A little detour===
Toilets were soon due an inspection so I asked the waitress where they were. Just down the hall and on the right she said, which would be fine if I was a girl. The men's were actually on the left. They were a really odd layout almost like a maze with an entrance at two sides with long thin passages, offshoots and turns. Other than that though, they were lovely. Clean, bright and fresh the way they should be. I can't imagine someone in a wheelchair being in them due to the narrow passages however it probably was big enough. That and I spotted an actual disabled toilet next to the ladies. To top it all off, they played music in the bathrooms drowning out any unpleasant sounds from your fellow bathroom goers (an often overlooked aspect of making a toilet comfortable) A full thumbs up for the loos!
So, in total we'd had three courses and a coffee with tablet each. Both of us had had a soft drink with our meal. Needing to test out the bar, I also had a tequila and orange juice which was lovely. They have a fully stocked bar and an extensive wine list too if you like that sort of thing. Overall we were just under £58 all together coming in at £29 each. For the quality of the food and (most) of the service, I would say that's fantastic value.
From start to finish the food was delicious. I'd be tempted to say it's one of the best meals we've had out in a long time. The quality of the food was outstanding, the menus were interesting, the staff were (mostly) really friendly and had a great laugh with us. The price was very decent for what we got and the surroundings were beautifully relaxed. We felt well looked after as did the kid a few tables over who received glowing praise from the staff for her efforts at colouring in the sheets. Overall we had a lovely evening out that I'd definitely recommend if you are anywhere nearby. Five stars from me.