Hear the words “Scottish cuisine,” and the stereotypical offerings of haggis and oats might come to mind. But that was in previous centuries; today Scotland is a land of memorable dining experiences crafted by talented chefs who use the bounty of the local lands and waters in all they create. Scotland boasts its fair share of Michelin-starred restaurants, seven of which are located at members of the Connoisseurs Scotland family of luxury hotels. In short, great dining is just one more reason guests visit these properties … and keep coming back. This year, as VisitScotland celebrates the “Year of Homecoming,” is a perfect time to either start or continue a tradition of exploring all that Scotland offers … including phenomenal meals.
The culinary news from Knockinaam Lodge isn’t “new” at all … it’s been two decades in the making, in fact. Chef Tony Pierce is currently celebrating his 20th anniversary at the property, a small country house hotel located in Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland. This year marks the Lodge’s 23rd with a Michelin star – the longest running star in all of Scotland. Pierce, who fell into the restaurant industry when a friend asked him along to a career day at their local university, worked at three other Michelin star restaurants before bringing his culinary gifts to Knockinaam. The Lodge believes that it’s never too early to learn how to appreciate a great meal and, in that spirit, welcomes children. The culinary team is happy to arrange family dining for guests ages 8 and older at a special early seating; alternatively, guests 12 and under can partake in high tea while their parents enjoy a meal on their own.
In Edinburgh, the Connoisseurs Scotland property billed as a “restaurant with rooms,” 21212, has some news of its own. Award-winning chef Paul Kitching, who leads a culinary team of seven working in an open kitchen in the 38-seat restaurant, was recently named an official “food and drink ambassador” for Scotland. In this role, he’s part of a national campaign aimed at showcasing the country’s culinary contributions to the world’s food scene. The restaurant is named “21212” because when it opened in 2009, it featured a five-course gourmet menu that offered two starter choices, one soup, two entrée options, one cheese course and two dessert selections. Now during dinner service there’s a choice of three starters, entrées and desserts … but the restaurant confirms that the name isn’t changing to “31313” anytime soon. The lunch menu will continue to follow the “21212” formula, and on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings dinner guests can choose three, four or five courses; on weekends dinner will continue to be five courses.
At Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, the favorite number is two – which is the quantity of Michelin stars that chef Andrew Fairlie’s eponymous restaurant has earned, making the establishment the only dining venue in Scotland to bear that distinction. A new development at this restaurant is the acquisition of a magnificent Victorian walled garden that includes its original glasshouses and several mature fruit trees. The garden will provide 155 varieties of herbs, edible flowers, micro-cresses, specialty leaves, heritage vegetables, and an array of fruits and berries for Fairlie and his team. The (literal) fruits of this labor are just now ready for guests to sample, making it the perfect time to book the resort’s “Michelin Star Magic” package, which includes a complimentary room upgrade (subject to terms and availability), full use of The Club facilities, a complimentary glass of champagne at the start of dinner, the six-course “du Marche” tasting menu at Fairlie’s restaurant, and the legendary Gleneagles breakfast the following morning. This package is available year-round; from now through September 19, rates start at £505 per room per night.
What are you waiting for? Experience the best Connoisseurs Scotland hotels have to offer!