“ Address: Carlton Hotel / 187 Ayr Road / Prestwick / KA9 1TP „
My sister in law recently visited us for a pre Christmas celebration. She is going to America over Christmas, and so we decided to have a meal to celebrate before as she would not be here for the big day. She asked that we booked had a carvery, and so searching we came across the Carlton hotel which offered just that. We made a reservation which was very easy to do, and they promised to have two high chairs available for my youngest children. We originally booked for 4.30pm, but we realised the day before that actually we would need to make it a little earlier due to my shift being earlier than I had thought. The restaurant is open Sunday - Thursday 12 noon till 8.30 pm.
On arrival the Carlton hotel looks very grand. With a large modern building, matched with lovely decorations it really did look amazing. My children enjoyed looking at every they had to offer including large Christmas trees and lovely light draped everywhere. The staffs were very welcoming directing us to the restaurant, and again once inside the restaurant we were taken to our table straight away. It was laid out beautifully with Christmas crackers and Christmas related accessories. There were no high seats ready, but as soon as we asked they were brought to our table quickly. We were then offered drinks, and when they were delivered to our table we received our adult menus. It was extremely quiet in the restaurant. With our party of seven and a family of four beside us it was a little strange sitting in the silence of the room. This did not affect the good atmosphere the staff made sure we were well looked after, and it was actually lovely to be able to enjoy each other's company without having to speak up. The decor is deep red, but with a lot of light shining through the huge windows. This makes it both warm and welcoming while not being too dark.
We went for the three course meal which was £13.99 a head. A 2 course meal will set you back £12.99 while a one course meal is price at around £11.99 which we thought was fair value. There was also a children's menu at £7.95 for a three course meal. This is presented on a lovely Christmas colouring page along with crayons to keep children occupied. I was a little disappointed with the children's menu as most of it seems loaded with unhealthy options but it pleased my children. The starters were served within 10 minutes which we were happy with. I went for the prawn cocktail as did my sister in law. We had a choice of four starters one being soup of the day, but there was nothing I was overly excited to try. I was a little worried about ordering the prawn cocktail as the menu stated it contained Melon which I thought was a little unusual. My husband went for the garlic mushrooms which he really enjoyed. They were that good that after trying them my sister in law actually ordered some for herself. My Prawn cocktail was nice, a fair size portion with enough salad and dressing to compliment the prawns. The melon was served at the side which was very happy about as I am not overly keen on them.
My children decided they would have the garlic bread. We were not really impressed with the children's options they all seemed a little fatty. This was the only dish they finished completely and they did really enjoy it. For the main course my sister in law and I choose the carvery option. My husband decided on haggis, neeps and tatties from the set menu as he is not a fan of carveries. The children all had the same sausages chips and vegetables. My husband's food was the first to arrive at the table shortly followed by the children's. I helped the children cutting their food first before I went off to the carvery to choose my pickings.
The cavrery had a choice of turkey, gammon or beef for a meat selection. We were able to choose what we wanted with a choice of three pieces of meat in total. I chose turkey as I am not keen on the other two unless I have cooked them myself. The server kindly served three large pieces of turkey, added 1 Yorkshire pudding and then the rest of the picking was down to me. There was a huge selection from different types of potatoes, any vegetables you can think of, macaroni cheese, salad and a lot of other pieces. I must admit for me there was too much to chose from. By the time I had got halfway down the line of options I was lost. In the end I went for safe options which included carrots, sprouts and potatoes. I was a little worried about the gravy as I like it made to a certain consistency, and as it had been sitting obviously it wouldn't be as fresh as I hoped. I was really surprised to find this was actually the best part of my meal.
Of course the true test came to eating and I'm afraid it was very poor. The vegetables were extremely undercooked, so I found them to be hard and tasteless. Again the Yorkshire pudding was as hard as a rock and I was actually unable to even cut through it so I gave up. The roast potatoes were ok but a little cold. The best part of my meal was the turkey and gravy. Usually I find meat to be a little dry when eating at a carvery, but this was just cooked to perfection. As was the gravy still very hot and threw consistency was perfect. My sister in law found the same problem with her carvery. She chose the gammon and turkey which like me she really enjoyed. She choose vegetables and macaroni cheese to accompany her food but found them all to be undercooked and tasteless. She also commented that her macaroni cheese was freezing cold. Safe to say at the end of the main course both our plates sat barley touched.
Again I was a little disappointed with the children's meals. The servings were huge for a two, three and five year old although they would be suited to older children I suppose. My problem is the food just looked like a meal I would through in the oven if I am running out of time in the evening. Both the sausages and chips looked poor quality to me, and my children seemed to agree as they barely touched their main courses. There was a good selection of vegetables which seemed fresh enough so this was the only part of the meal that was actually eaten. My husband's haggis neeps and tatties were a lot better. It was a very generous size and he really did enjoy it. He said everything was cooked to perfection with each taste complementing the other. Not that I can comment as it's not my cup of tea so I did not try it. Pudding is my favourite course yum. All three of the adults chose the chocolate cheesecake with an orange sauce. My children all had the chocolate fudge cake with ice cream. Again the children's portions were oversized and they only managed a little. Their cake really was amazing once they arrived at the table we all wished we had ordered the same. There was a perfect balance between the sauce and the sponge, and it just crumbled perfectly. Our cheesecake was very nice too. We did fine the orange sauce a little over the top, but it did compliment the chocolate nicely.
We did receive fantastic service while dining here. Over the course of the meal we had three different servers. Two for our food as we were eating while the shifts changed, and then the bar man who dealt with drinks. Now I like to think I am an easy customer, but Sarah on the over hand is a nightmare. She is very picky and particular about what she eats and what she wants which means they received a number of requests through the meal. They were happy to ask the chef to change the cheese on her starter, put more lime in her drink and the changing it to a taller glass. They dealt with her perfectly when she asked for a breakdown in all the ingredients used in all dishes including what's in the salad. Our food was always served very quickly especially between courses, and they were always around when we needed more drinks or assistance. The food was always quick to arrive at the table after ordering, and they even recommended a cocktail when I could not make up my mind which was lovely. They were kind to the children telling them how lovely their pictures were, and all had perfect manners while serving us. My husband and I had our heads in our hands with all the requests from my sister in law, but they were more than happy to help. The toilets were visited a few times while we were there; my children had to go three times. They are very easy to find, but you do have to walk back through the bar to reach them. Inside was very clean modern and fully functional. There are parking spaces outside of the hotel free for customers so if you are driving it is perfect. Local buses actually stop just down the road from the hotel, and with Prestwick international airport just a few miles down the road it is in a prime location.
Would I recommend?
I would recommend this restaurant if you are eating from the set meal on the menu. All the food we received from the kitchen was perfect, except the child's which I did not think there was much choice for. The portion sizes are very generous especially as it is so cheap per head and the food on the whole was nice. The carvery was a huge let down and I would never choose that option again. I always find carverys a little hit and miss so I am not sure why I continue to try and find something I like, but on this occasion it was really disappointing. The service from the staff was more than we could have asked for and they definitely made the atmosphere in the restaurant.