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Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles Review

Visited June 2022

Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles

Being the only restaurant in Scotland to currently hold two precious Michelin stars (held since 2006), as well as strong ratings in the other major UK restaurant guides, Restaurant Andrew Fairlie can with some justification claim to be the best restaurant in Scotland. Former Chef Patron Andrew Fairlie sadly passed away in January 2019, but the restaurant still proudly carries his name and continues to receive rave reviews from the general public and restaurant guides alike. I was therefore fully expectant of a high quality meal as I rocked up with my wife for dinner, on a very pleasant June Monday.

The Gleaneagles Hotel where the restaurant resides sits in a large complex of various buildings and championship level golf courses, but there's a good sized car park very close to the main hotel which wasn't too difficult to find. We then made our way to the main hotel entrance; I had absolutely no idea where we were going but a very nice gentleman on the door kindly accompanied us to the restaurant. We were slightly early for our reservation and unusually for a restaurant of this level there's no lounge area (although there are other bars of course within the hotel), so we waited outside the restaurant for a couple of minutes on the provided seating.

After a short wait, the restaurant host for the evening arrived and we were shown straight to our table in the dining room. As expected, it's a luxurious space with wood panelling, art on the walls and comfortable seating and indeed, our corner table was very spacious for two people. What the restaurant doesn't have is windows, so don't expect any natural light, not that I really found that an issue personally for dinner.

On offer for dinner is a tasting menu and also a full carte menu; interestingly (and unusually), they seem happy for different diners on the same table to order either option. For us it had to be the tasting menu and I opted for the "standard" matching wine flight; there is a more expensive wine flight option available if you're so inclined. The wine list is fairly weighty as you'd expect and there's a good range of other drinks including a sizeable cocktail list. The non-alcoholic section isn't massive, but there were three mocktails and offerings like Seedlip also, so it could have been worse. My wife tried the Pina Colada mocktail first during our meal but said it was far too sweet, so she stuck with the Seedlip after that. For myself, my usual Hedrick's and tonic to start was just fine.

Our meal began fairly rapidly with a range of quick-fire pre-dinner nibbles. These were pleasant if not particularly memorable, and included some turnip, cheese gougeres and a veloute served in a little bowl secured by magnets to a slanted plate (the magnetic bowl and plate combination being the most interesting part of the dish to be honest). Our dinner proper began with the craw clab, served with razor clam and caviar. This was a pretty plate and perfectly edible, the dish as a whole did lack of bit of punch flavour wise though. It was around this time we were served bread; for a restaurant of this standard, it was a pretty uninspiring offering of a single slice of sourdough with a lump of butter, albeit we were offered an extra slice later on during the meal.

Next up was the highlight of the meal however, a superb dish of fois gras with rhubarb and pistachio. The plating was neat (albeit it felt a little date dated) but the fois gras was delicious and worked very well with the sharp rhubarb. The accompaniments, including little slices of brioche toast and a flavour packed liquidy bon bon were lovely also.

We were quickly brought back down to earth however, with a substantial slab of halibut served on a hollandaise base. It was such an unspectacularly basic dish for a two star tasting menu that I'm struggling really with what to say; perfectly edible but very dull. The same could really be said of the next dish of ziti pasta gratin, served with madeira and truffle. The pasta was not executed well, the filling was under seasoned, just all round it was a dish with no pizazz whatsoever.

The signature smoked lobster and lime and herb butter was another substantially sized dish and tasty enough, and the final savoury main course of herb crusted lamb with a lamb bon bon was actually far better than the three previous dishes, albeit still way, way behind the best meat-based tasting menu dishes I've eaten in my time.

We were offered cheese which we declined, mainly due to being pretty full thanks to the generous portion sizes, but I was very (very) surprised to see no pre-dessert appear, despite there only being one dessert on the tasting menu. I genuinely can't remember the last time that wasn't present on a Michelin star level restaurant tasting menu (particularly a menu with only one dessert).

The lonely dessert of chocolate parfait with yuzu and pistachio was actually very pleasant but again despite some nice elements, it did lack the plating finesse I'd been expecting for a two star dessert. And that was it for the food, we finished with a couple of perfectly decent cappuccinos which were accompanied by three very tasy petit fours, including a little chocolatey lump and a mini choux bun. Getting the bill did take a long time, but I appreciate the staff didn't want to feel like they were rushing us out of there, so I can forgive that.

Overall, although we enjoyed our evening, I left slightly shell shocked in all honesty. Service throughout was very good; all the staff were friendly and warm and the menu pacing was solid too. The wine flight was good also, it was pretty safe but the wines were well matched and all well explained, my only niggle would be none of the wines were poured at the table as I much prefer. However, none of that could compensate for the food which was way, way below the level I'd been expecting. I've been fortunate to have a number of meals at two Michelin star restaurants in the UK over several years, but this was the least inspiring food by a country mile I've ever had at a restaurant of this level.

Michelin of course are well known for politics and sentiment when it comes to restaurants retaining stars, but the food I ate was nowhere near two star level in my opinion. Interestingly, although this used to be one of the most expensive two star restaurants in the UK, given how so many other restaurants have massively increased their prices in the past couple of years (and this restaurant hasn't), it's now actually one of the cheapest two star tasting menus around. Regardless, lower than average pricing and big portion sizes don't compensate for the disappointing level of food here, so although I wish the team all the best for the future, this isn't an experience I have any desire to repeat.

Dress Code

I think it's officially "Smart Casual". I went in a shirt and smart trousers which I think is about right, but there's no need for a jacket.

Top Tip

Large car park on site.

Guide Ratings

The food here is nowhere near two star level in my opinion. I think if a brand new restaurant launched serving this menu, they wouldn't win a star, but there's just about enough here to retain one star for me.
Ratings Michelin Guide AA Guide Good Food Guide
At time of review Michelin StarMichelin Star AA RosetteAA RosetteAA RosetteAA Rosette 8
Our view Michelin Star AA RosetteAA RosetteAA Rosette 6

Group size: 2 adults. Total bill: £473.