The Dunkeld House Hotel in Perthshire faced criticism from a Visit Scotland inspector who spoke of “unfriendly staff” and long waits for food.
A popular spot for locals, some took to social media, surprised at the poor review of the luxury hotel.
However, some readers on our site said the review was consistent with their own experience at the hotel.
To find out for ourselves, Courier journalist Poppy Watson and I headed along to test out the offering.
So what did we think of the food and the service at the Dunkeld House Hotel?
Dunkeld House Hotel: the service and the food
Since our visit, Dunkeld House Hotel has been acquired by new management, Crerar Hotels.
And while they wait for another review from Visit Scotland, they have been awarded a four-star rating by AA inspectors.
On our visit, the hotel’s bar was quiet, though it was a weekday lunchtime.
We were led to a table for two by the window, with a lovely view over the water.
While we eyed the menu, my lunch date noted that the menu was expensive. With the beautiful surroundings, it did feel like we were paying for the venue a little.
But time would tell whether the food was worth the price.
Excited by the delicious-sounding mocktails on offer, we both went for one of those – a whopping £10 each.
There was 10-minute wait for our mocktails, and the waiter did spill the drink slightly as he set it down.
Having worked in hospitality myself however, I didn’t see this as bad service. I once poured a full drink over a child’s headphones. Mistakes happen.
How were our £10 mocktails?
While Poppy begrudged paying £10 for “fruit juice”, the drinks were pretty to look at.
Just £4 less than the alcoholic cocktails, were they bang for their buck?
My Virgin Mule (with ginger beer, lime, orange juice and mint) was refreshing and tasty, though to Poppy it tasted like Berocca.
For me, the flavours combined to give a nice kick to the drink.
Poppy’s mocktail, the Feregia Martini (feregia, strawberry puree, lemon and lime, sugar and aquafaba) was the clear winner between them.
It was very fruity and bright, with a fresh strawberry on the side. The velvety texture and sweet flavour meant it was very easy to drink, and quickly.
Our cocktails arrived at the same time as our order for our mains was taken and there was a bit of an awkward wait for us to be served, and the barman had to wait holding the tray.
As we sat, the hotel got slightly busier.
During our wait, something crashed loudly in the kitchen, startling myself and Poppy.
Were our salads worth the wait?
There was, though, a rather long wait of 21 minutes for our starters to turn up.
However, when they arrived, we were both delighted with our dishes.
Every element of my Caesar Salad with chicken (£15.50) was perfectly prepared. The chicken was succulent, the lettuce crisp, a nice bite to the croutons.
The sauce was flavourful but not too heavy or sickly, a common trait of Caesar Salads.
The parmesan flakes over the top added a sharpness to balance out the plate.
Poppy’s Blue Cheese, Candied Walnut and Cranberry Salad (£18.50) was worth the steep price.
While I was surprised that it cost nearly £20 for a salad, especially without meat, Poppy raved about her dish.
The blue cheese was creamy and delicious, the flavour not overpowering. The leaves were fresh and crispy and the walnuts added a satisfying crunch.
Both salads were a generous portion.
Despite the lack of diners in the bar and lounge, there was a nice atmosphere. There was chilled music playing, including an instrumental jazz version of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car.
Dunkeld House Hotel burgers: brilliant or boring?
We weren’t offered cutlery with our main and had to ask for some.
Thankfully, we were supplied it, because neither of us would have been able to handle the huge burgers without cutting them in half.
My venison burger (£23.50) was top class, the juicy patty just oozing with flavour. The meat was cooked to perfection, and not at all chewy or dry.
Topped with delicious gooey cheddar and charred, salty bacon, there were plenty of strong flavours going on.
The caramelised onion chutney added a delicious sweetness to the ensemble.
The bun was slightly soggy at the bottom but that’s simply the curse of having tomato in a burger.
Poppy’s plant based vegan burger (£21.50) was equally tasty.
The fries on the side were hot and crisped to perfection.
Inside the burger, the portobello mushroom was both juicy and flavoursome. The patty itself was really tasty with a nice meaty texture.
She wasn’t the biggest fan of the bun, but the patty more than made up for it.
Poppy went so far as to say: “It was the best vegan burger I’ve ever had”.
The Visit Scotland review called the staff “unfriendly” and I wouldn’t agree. Although there were a few awkward moments and some long waits, the staff were friendly and seemed invested in our comfort.
The food was excellent and, in our opinion, worth the pricier cost.
Address: Blairgowrie Road, Dunkeld PH8 0HX
T: 01350 727771
Price: £99 for two starters, two mains and a two mocktails
- Food: 4/5
- Service: 3/5
- Surroundings: 5/5