Do you ever have one of those pinch-me moments, when you’re standing in front of something and you just can’t believe that you’re actually there? That pretty much sums up how I felt as I wandered up the drive of the Gleneagles Hotel towards the towering building. It didn’t help that I had just painstakingly parked my car in possibly the fanciest car park I’ve ever been in – with the most Range Rovers I’ve ever seen in my life – and that just in front of me there was a couple donning fancy hats exiting their chauffeur driven vehicle to bagpipes. Yeah. It was a pretty surreal moment.
Gleneagles is situated in Auchterarder, a small Perthshire town that’s about an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and just short of an hour from Glasgow. The sprawling five-star hotel is the height of luxury, which is apparent from the moment you step through the door. Home to no less than three championship golf courses, a spa deemed worthy of multiple awards and the only restaurant in Scotland to hold two Michelin stars, Gleneagles can talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to high-end travel. It’s a seriously stunning place, with jaw-dropping views of the Perthshire countryside, and I can only dream of staying in one of their 232 luxury rooms.
If you follow any Scottish bloggers on Instagram, like I do, you’ve probably noticed one of the newer additions to Gleneagles’ dining repertoire – The Birnam Brasserie – and perhaps more noticeably, their brunch. Last Sunday, Lis and I took the beautiful journey up the A9 to pay The Birnam Brasserie a visit and see what all of the fuss surrounding this brunch was about. Upon first entering the Brasserie, I was instantly struck by the Parisian decor, with beautiful tiled floors and an abundance of greenery. The main room is dominated by the central island, where the main buffet and bar is situated, and the seating sprawls out from here. My favourite part was undoubtedly the dessert room, but we’ll get into that later…
Brunch at The Birnam Brasserie takes place on the first Sunday of every month, with an abundance of brunch-time favourites in an incredibly elegant setting. Set to a score of easy-listening tunes from a DJ and the sound of clinking glasses, it makes for a very indulgent way to spend a Sunday. At £37 per head, with an additional £25 per head to include a drinks package, you’d expect nothing short of wonderful, and I think Gleneagles delivers. Diners are welcome to their fill from the central buffet, alongside dishes from the main menu and a further selection of desserts, too. Alongside the buffet, you’ll find a station dedicated to brunch-time cocktail favourites such as Bellinis, Mimosas and Bloody Marys. I can’t remember the last time I ate quite so much, but it was just too good to resist.
The buffet boasts a fantastic choice of seasonal Scottish produce, with an abundance of fresh seafood dominating the bar. I’m not really one for seafood, but I was delighted with the selection of continental charcuterie, colourful salads and an array of cheese and fresh bread. I certainly had my fill of cheese, with the creamy Brie de Meaux being a particular highlight. Special mentions also go to the watermelon and feta salad, one of my all-time favourite salad combinations, which had a beautiful peppery dressing that complimented the sharp cheese and vibrant melon to a tee.
I was conscious not to eat too much at the buffet, as I knew I had my main meal to look forward to. The main menu for the Birnam Brasserie brunch offers a selection including Truffle Macaroni Cheese, Moules Mariniere, Chicken Schnitzel and – my personal choice – Steak Frites. The steak was a beautiful cut of meat, incredibly tender and cooked to absolute perfection. It had a slight peppery dressing, which I hadn’t expected, but it added an extra dimension to the standard steak flavour. I wasn’t as keen on the chips, which seemed to be coated with a similar dressing, as I’m a huge advocate for classic chips with steak, but Lis loved them.
Dessert, however, was undoubtedly the main event. One of the attentive waiters brought over a tray proffering an abundance of French-inspired desserts, including a mouthwateringly rich salted caramel brownie, almond tarts and caramel and pecan meringues, to name just a few. These delicate little desserts were absolute perfection, and I probably should have stopped there, but there was a dessert room – equipped with a dedicated pastry window – waiting for me to explore. This room was easily my favourite, steeped in natural light and packed with greenery that gave a near tropical vibe. Decor aside, it was here that we found the infamous Pick ‘n’ Mix table, alongside the aforementioned pastry window. Lis ordered delicious, fluffy pancakes that were freshly made in front of us whilst I set about sampling the chocolate orange macarons and Nutella filled doughnuts that lay before me. The doughnuts may look understated, but they were irresistible, to the point that I ended up making more than one return trip to restock. By this point, we were ready to roll home, and I was especially grateful for my decision not to wear constricting skinny jeans that day. We weren’t, however, going to leave without tucking into the Pick ‘n’ Mix, so stocked up on a bag of delights for the car journey home. I’m not one to ignore Flying Saucers, that’s for sure.
I can’t write this without mentioning the incredible service from the staff on the day, who were seriously attentive, warm and welcoming. Nothing was too much trouble, and it felt like they were anticipating your every move. The second my water glass was empty, someone was on hand to fill it up from a fresh bottle, and it was apparent that they were striving to ensure all guests had the best possible experience. As important as the food is, the service can make or break the experience in its entirety, and this was the cherry on top of an already impressive meal.
But is it worth the money? Completely. As much as I’m a foodie at heart, it still pains me to pay over the odds for a meal. Brunch at Gleneagles, in my honest opinion, is worth every penny. The food is delicious and the atmosphere is perfect for a lazy Sunday brunch with family or friends. The service is top notch, which you’d expect from such an acclaimed hotel, which just makes the overall experience that much better. I’d do it again, in a heartbeat.
Now excuse me whilst I persuade Paddy to take me back one day…
Our experience at Gleneagles was complimentary – read my full disclaimer here