I’m going to admit something: I am a pre-meal menu checker. I will not go somewhere new without giving their food a good going over online first. It’s not because I’m a fussy eater or have any dietary requirements – I just like to know what to expect.
So I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at the dinner menu for The Kirklands Hotel in Kinross before booking, because alongside some of the more traditional country hotel fare, there were a few curveballs.
Where the inspirations for the menu come from, I’m unsure (there was some Mexican dishes, Far Eastern, UK staples) but it meant there would be a good chance of something a bit special.
The Kirklands Hotel
The thing I loved when I walked in the front door of the hotel is how bright and light it was. And with the darkness setting in so early in December, a bit of brightness is definitely needed!
As it’s an old, thick-walled building it runs the risk of being a bit dark and dreary, but the decor and lighting has been designed to make you feel warm and welcome.
The bar is modern and as it faces the front door it is what people see first when they walk in and it’s clear special attention was paid to that when creating the space.
There are a few different spaces for eating – I assume that separate rooms have been partially opened up to create one big space – so it doesn’t feel like you are sitting in a massive and very loud dining room.
The walls are adorned with local touches – a map of the Kinross area on one wall, pictures of local landmarks, art by local people – but not in a way that looks twee.
We got a cheery welcome from the front of house staff, which just made the whole atmosphere even brighter and sitting at our table, we were off to a fantastic start for the evening.
The food at The Kirklands Hotel
But onto the food. As usual, my other half and I negotiated each course (“if you get that, then I’ll get this and we can share”), ultimately landing on the chorizo queso and the buffalo cauliflower bites (£7 each, or you can get three for £19 if you want a more tapas-style meal rather than starters and mains).
The bites may have been the standout of the night. They were fluffy and tasty and full of flavour thanks to the buffalo sauce. Normally served with garlic mayo, my other half asked for barbecue sauce instead (I know, but surprisingly it worked well).
The queso dip, served with tortilla chips, was good – nice chunks of fried chorizo hidden within the cheesy goodness. It was topped with jalapenos, which I would have asked to have taken off had I known before but they were easy enough to scoop off. If I had one criticism, the queso didn’t taste particularly of the chorizo, they were like two separate flavours. Maybe a hint of paprika in the dip would have linked the two together a bit more.
For mains, other half went for the steak tacos (£15.95), whereas I was feeling something a bit more cosy and rustic so I had the roasted pork loin (£16.95).
The tacos looked amazing – smothered in a chimichurri sauce and served with pots of homemade guacamole, salsa and an unusual sour cream-type sauce.
The three tacos were stuffed full of the well-cooked steak and salad, but the chimichurri was a wee bit overpowering and had a sour flavour that wasn’t the most pleasant. It was one of those dishes we chalked up as “was nice to try, but probably wouldn’t have it again”.
However the roasted pork loin, served with sage mash, bacon creamed cabbage and mustard gravy was PERFECT. The pork was beautifully moist, the bacon creamed cabbage so flavourful and just a perfect amount of gravy to give flavour and not drown out the other flavours.
And lastly, dessert. Another round of negotiations landed at sticky toffee pudding (£6.50) and chocolate brownie (£6.50).
The brownie was rich and dense – too rich for other half, who swapped over to the sticky toffee pudding. But I love those gooey, thick brownies and with the mint choc chip ice cream on top it was so yummy and moreish.
The sticky toffee pudding had plenty of the toffee sauce on top and the vanilla ice cream cut through the super-sweetness of the pudding. It was also a good size (you need a proper slab of sticky toffee, not a sliver or a wee dollop) and overall it was a great dessert.
Our visit to The Kirklands was a good one, although some of the food didn’t live up to other dishes. But we applaud the team in the kitchen for being bold and doing something a bit different to every other hotel and restaurant out there.
And it won’t put us going back to try another of their daring dishes!
A. 20 High St, Kinross KY13 8AN
T. 01577 863313
Price: £74.25 for three courses and two soft drinks (a gratuity was also added automatically)
Check out our other restaurant reviews.