Sunday lunch is one great British institution. Brian Stormont visited Murrayshall Country House Hotel to see how they have transformed their food offering.
The classic Sunday lunch, a quintessential British celebration, is something that has maybe become slightly lost in recent years.
However, with more than a year having been spent in completely different circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people have been returning to tradition – and taking the opportunity to get out and enjoy Sunday lunch when they can.
Just one of many establishments to have embraced the concept of Sunday lunch, Murrayshall Country House Hotel in Perth has made it a key part of their dining experience.
Prior to the second lockdown which began in December last year, the hotel launched a new menu and, with that, came the reintroduction of Sunday lunch and the reinvention of their afternoon tea offering, too.
Murrayshall is embarking on a £15 million investment in the property, with potential for about 250 jobs as they expand the room capacity, bring in a spa and leisure facility, lodges and glamping pods.
Bringing Sunday lunch back
Calum Crichton, sales manager, says the food and beverage offering at the hotel will be a key part of things as the new developments take shape, with Sunday lunch one of the first initiatives in that.
“Sunday lunch is something that we have really been keen to bring back. We have had a change in managers and we are going to be experiencing a change in direction with all the developments surrounding the hotel with the investment,” he said.
“We are trying to make a proactive step in making changes to our food and beverage operation and I think Sunday lunch is a critical part of any good hotel brasserie or restaurant.
“It’s been really, really good to see it grow. It’s been incredibly popular with our members from the golf club which has been fantastic.
“The brasserie wasn’t always a brasserie, it was white tablecloths and Sunday roast used to be carved at the table. Then, for however long, it wasn’t done at the hotel. It was something that the new general manager Gary (Silcock) and I were keen to bring back – and head chef, Craig (Jackson) – who has put together a really, really good offering – and it looks stunning.”
So, what’s their Sunday lunch like?
My wife and I visited Murrayshall when the area was in Tier 3 of Covid-19 restrictions. All social distancing and safety measures were in place and being observed by staff and guests alike.
Served in their stylish brasserie, Sunday lunch is most certainly a joy. You are made to feel welcome as soon as you make your way through to the well-lit dining area which has lovely views over the adjoining golf course.
To start, I couldn’t resist trying out Simon Howie’s haggis, neeps and tatties pie with whisky sauce, while my wife, Karen, opted for the chicken and duck liver parfait accompanied by peach chutney and warm brioche.
Our helpful and knowledgeable server informed us that all their meat is supplied by Perthshire butcher Simon Howie, and all of the other ingredients are also from local suppliers. This was music to my ears as it is always fantastic to hear about businesses cutting their food miles and supporting local producers.
The pie was so tasty and so clever. A third of it was each of the ingredients with half of the top covered in a delicious shortcrust pastry, so you could see the delights awaiting you. The whisky sauce was the ideal marriage of flavours and I was left wishing there was more.
My wife loved the parfait and was slightly surprised at how well the peach chutney worked with it. Her plate was duly cleared, too.
Roast turkey was a tempting choice on the menu but, for me, it had to be the braised Scotch beef cheek.
Having eaten sumptuous beef cheek on a couple of occasions previously, I wasn’t to be disappointed.
Served with black garlic potato terrine and a red wine and shitake ragout, this was an absolute joy. The meat simply melted in your mouth, was seasoned to perfection and again I was left wanting more.
Karen chose the slow roast sirloin of Scotch beef, Yorkshire pudding, dripping roasties, honey glazed root vegetables and thyme gravy. There was also some mashed potato cleverly hidden underneath a beautifully crisp Yorkie.
My better half told me that the beef was also expertly cooked and the gravy, of which there was plenty, just heightened the pleasure of the dish.
Butteriest shortbread for dessert
For dessert, we both opted for the winter berry crème brulee which was served with buttery shortbread – and it was some of the butteriest shortbread I’ve ever tasted, but retaining that amazing trademark crunch of a guid piece o’ shortie, as we Scots would say.
The brulee was perfect in my opinion. I am not the biggest sweet tooth, but this was the kind of dish that could convert me – creamy, baked custard combined with slightly tart winter berries, there was nothing not to enjoy about the final act.
The packed dining room alone was an indication of how successful Murrayshall’s mission to bring back Sunday lunch had been.
However, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding – and Sunday lunch at the Perth hotel is certainly something I believe they will have on their menu for a long time.
Details: Sunday lunch is served between 12.30pm and 2.30pm, two courses £25, three courses for £30. To book call 01738 551171 or email email@example.com