I try to venture outside Edinburgh as and when I can and last week I managed to visit The Grill Room at Hotel Colessio in Stirling.
First impressions – it’s grand! Its Victorian exterior makes a bold statement and stands proud on the winding street that is Spittal Street, close to Stirling Castle with delightful views over the Forth Valley. A delightful backdrop for any graduation celebration or wedding!
On entering the foyer area, you immediately set foot into the The Grill Room restaurant to your right and their piano bar to the left and although the reception desk is right in front of you, it’s not intrusive in a large reception/check in desk sort of way. I really like this set up as it’s very open and welcoming and doesn’t close off the bar and the restaurant off to non-hotel guests.
After our very warm welcome, we were seated in one of the plush and very lush white booths. The interior is striking – all black and white. Quite bling but beautiful. The carpets and the seating are quite luxurious and I can understand why it would be a popular destination for ‘ladies that lunch’.
The staff are friendly and efficient, some might say over eager. We had lots of check-backs and visits to top up our drinks! (not a bad thing). We were offered a cocktail on arrival but as I was driving it was mocktail time for me which they accommodated happily.
We went for the French Martini. This was a wee dessert in glass. Thick and sweet but quite boozy! A goooo-d way to start a Friday lunch.
The Fake Mojito was excellent too. Lots of lovely fresh mint and the perfect choice as I could continue to top it up with sparking water throughout lunch. (yes I should have traveled there on the train!).
There are 2 lunch time menus. One is the Express Lunch menu – a starter and a main for £10 or the A La Carte menu. We chose from the A La Carte Menu. So many tempting delights on this menu – Scottish Seafood and Corn Chowder with Jersey Royal Potatoes and Leeks; Scottish Seared Scallops with Apple and Artichoke Puree, Crispy Bacon and Peas and Nut Brown Butter or the Stornoway Black Pudding with Charred Asparagus, Crispy Poached Egg and Lemon Hollandiase.
To help us decide and provide some more time to ponder over the menu, our bread platter arrived and we tried oh so hard not to tuck into it….. but the bread was fresh and warm, the butter soft and salted and the balsamic vinegar was thick and tempting. Yep, it was gone in 30 seconds.
I usually always order Scallops if they are on the menu but this time I was swayed by description of the Mushrooms Auld Reekie. It’s Garlic Button Mushrooms in a Smoked Cheese Sauce with a crispy Garlic Ciabatta. I’m just going to put this out there – I would travel to Stirling for this dish alone!! Oh my goodness. It was EVERYTHING you want in a dish. Garlic – check. Cheese – check. Super gooey cheese – check. Small soft mushrooms – check. Smokey cheese sauce that you can dip your bread into – check. Here’s a boomerang video of it https://twitter.com/TartanSpoon/status/888490530648272898
My dining partner tucked heartily into the Chorizo, Pomodoro Steamed Mussels with Crusty Ciabatt Bread. The mussels were large, fresh and plump. The sauce was a bitter sweet tomato base with 10/10 dunkability! My only slightly small gripe was that both these dishes weren’t piping hot!
Now the mains was a tough call. You’ve got Burgers, Fish and Seafood and Steak to choose from; and each dish sounds utterly scrumptious. You could try a Chateaubriand for two or the Whole Lobster, or go for the Lobster Mac n Cheese, or the Roasted Chicken Breast with Haggis Risotto. We went for the Lamb and the Burger (don’t worry, I pimped it up!).
The lamb dish was the Harissa Roast Lamb Rack n Rump with buttermilk and herb mash, roasted marinated vegetables, feta crumble and salsa verde. The lamb chop and fillet were superbly cooked even though my dining partner had requested it be cooked well done (no hint of pink). It was tender and soft and carried the flavour of harissa well. The feta nor the salsa verde added anything to this dish and could easily be removed but the olives and mash were fabulous.
I ordered the Grill Room Steak Burger with Garlic King Prawns. After ordering this I sat wondering how on earth are they going to balance King Prawns on top of a burger! Needless to say they didn’t. The garlic and chilli prawns were served in a lovely copper pot to the side of the large wooden platter laden with chips, coleslaw, sriracha ketchup and the burger.
The burger was dense (it was a steak burger after all), thick and juicy. The chips were the star of the show here. Hand-cut and they tasted like potatoes! The coleslaw looked a bit sad though, I think it may have been placed under the lights on the pass and dried up a bit. All in all, a good tasty burger. The prawns were cut butterfly and grilled with quite a hint of chilli and lots of garlic. A nice take on surf n turf.
Dessert was another difficult choice to make but we made it and ordered the Lemon Posset and the Godfather Affogato.
The Lemon Posset with amaretto ice-cream and raspberry definitely delivered on the lemon tang front. We were in awe of the bowls!
My affogato was my dessert and coffee hit all at once with added whisky and amaretto liqueur. Both desserts were a lovely way to end a ‘ladies that lunch’ lunch.
I was there to review the food so never managed a peek at the rooms but I do believe that they are fitted out to the highest standard. The Hotel Colessio was originally a hospital and then Forth Valleys NHS headquarters so quite a transformation!
The Grill Room is producing great food in a beautiful restaurant setting in a stunning location. I don’t know Stirling too well, but if I found myself back there and hungry, this would be my first port of call.
Hotel Colessio, 33 Spittal Street, Stirling, FK8 1DU Tel : 01786 448880 www.hotelcolessio.com
My Spoon Award : Gold 9/10