Located within 34 acres of the most beautiful grounds and situated near the quaint Scottish town of Dunblane, is the renowned Cromlix hotel. This stunning Victorian mansion owned by acclaimed tennis player Andy Murray has been extensively refurbished to combine modern luxuries whilst respecting the home’s historic past. The five-star hotel boasts fifteen luxurious bedrooms including five suites and a traditional Gate Lodge which is situated nearby the property.
I was recently invited along to experience lunch at their esteemed Chez Roux restaurant and couldn’t wait to experience my very first Cromlix visit. As our car snaked along the narrow tree-lined country road on a crisp sunny day, it wasn’t long before the stunning property came into view. The mansion exuded a typical Victorian exterior with grey stone, small turreted roofs and charming sash windows trimmed in a sage green hue.
On arrival we were greeted by an extremely polite member of staff, welcoming us to Cromlix and guiding us towards the restaurant. Personally for me, it’s this kind of first impression that counts and paves the way for the type of customer service you expect. The reception area exuded a traditional and homely ambience, with scattered oriental rugs, a dark wooden staircase and a marble fireplace. As we had some time before our reservation we were seated in the hotel bar to enjoy pre-lunch drinks and nibbles. In complete contrast to the entrance, this impressive space emitted a more airy feel. Intricate traditional features were embellished with a hue of pale blue, accented with elegant gold murals of blossom trees, birds and animals. Numerous wall mirrors accentuated the space and light and reflected the pops of dark blue and yellow tones from the scattered velvet seating. Delicious truffle crisps, velvety hummus and voluptuous olives were the perfect selection of small bites before lunch.
Situated adjacent to the bar, the Chez Roux restaurant is housed in a stunning glass-walled conservatory. This not only allows light to flood the space but provides an uninterrupted view of the hotel’s beautiful surroundings. The space is punctuated with colours of sunny yellow and light blue emanating from the surrounding seating and accessories. An open-plan kitchen enables diners to view the talented chefs who are continuously hard at work creating a selection of delicious and intricate dishes. As well as a relaxed lounge menu, the restaurant also offers an elegant lunch menu focussing on seasonal locally sourced produce wherever possible. As I was driving, I unfortunately had to skip the enticing wine menu and headed straight for the starters, which for my rumbling stomach wasn’t a problem at all.
For my starter, I was presented with layers of pink Scottish Oak Smoked Salmon, delicately piled in the centre off the plate. This was accompanied by a quenelle of Balfron Crème fraîche, a scattering of salad leaves and a segment of lime all encircled with a delightful Sauce Bois Boudran. The salmon was beautifully fresh, its melt in the mouth texture infused with a delicate smoke that wasn’t too overwhelming. Paired with the creamy crème fraîche with a squeeze of lime was tantalisingly appetising. I especially liked the hint of tarragon in the Bois Boudran sauce that is renownedly used by the Roux brothers.
My partner opted for the Roscoff Onion Tart, Elrick Goat’s Cheese, Hazelnut Purée and Verjus dressing which I of course had to try. Imagine the intense heartwarming caramelised taste of French onion soup, encapsulated in a crisp butter pie crust and that is certainly what you get with this starter. The delicate tang of the Elrick goat’s cheese (made in Lanarkshire) added another dimension and I especially enjoyed the delicate addition of hazelnut making it a perfect comforting dish.
For the main, I opted for the Pan Seared Gressingham Duck Breast. When it came to the table my eyes lit up at the sheer beauty of it. The breast was intricately sliced and fanned out over a vibrant layer of yellow butternut squash purée, its pink meat so enticing. I sometimes worry about duck breast being overly fatty but this was perfectly cooked, the tender and moist morsels melting in my mouth. The Pomme Fondant was crispy and buttery on the outside and soft in the middle which paired well with the Al dente green vegetables.
My partner opted for a fish dish which consisted of a beautifully flakey and delicate fillet of North Atlantic Cod. Even on its own, I could have devoured its entirely as I haven’t tasted something as fresh for a while. Similar to my dish, the plate was full of contrasting colours providing a feast for the eyes as well as the palette. Underneath the fish lay a chickpea ragu, delicately spiced providing a subtle heat and added texture. A vivid green Kale Pesto added a nutty, herby and uplifting, fusing perfectly with the other ingredients.
Thoroughly satisfied with the previous dishes, I was about to renounce dessert but my intrigue (and love for sweet things) got the better of me. Before I knew it I was ordering what sounded like the perfect flavoursome sweet ensemble; White Chocolate, Pistachio and Morello Cherry Mousse. When it arrived it met every expectation. Perched on a swirl of meringue lay the light green mousse bejewelled with a glistening scoop of the most delicious cherry sorbet. The delicately nutty and sweet mousse was delectable on its own but the tart juiciness of the sorbet was a stunning pairing. Dollops of intense cherry coulis and a delicate pattern of chocolate provided additional flavour with an artistic flair.
My partner chose the more traditional approach of Madagascan Vanilla Créme Brûlée. Cracking through its sugary crust revealed a creamy concoction speckled delicately with black vanilla seeds. Dipping the accompanying Homemade Shortbread in the smooth dessert and combining it with the tart Mixed Berry Compote was the perfect union.
After lunch, I took the opportunity to explore the property and grounds further (and walk off all those glorious calories I consumed). Wandering the stairways I was surprised to see a set of impressive organs jutting through the wall. Investigating this further, I discovered that the hotel has its very own chapel exuding a calming ambience with historic features and beautiful stained glass windows. Continuing through the property I came across the Study, Garden Room and impressive Billiards Room each exhibiting their very own special charm.
Roaming the grounds I discovered their quant vegetable gardens as well as their rather attractive resident chickens. Being owned by Andy Murray you can’t expect the hotel to not to include aspects of tennis. Adjacent to the hotel is a large tennis court where guests can enjoy private lessons by renowned coach, Daniel Alexander Reed.
Being my first visit to Cromlix I was thoroughly impressed with the hotel and of course its impressive Chez Roux restaurant. The bright open ambience, the faultless yet discreet service and the exquisitely composed dishes provided the perfect culinary experience. It is easy to see why diners continue to come back and I look forward to the day I return to explore the hotel even further.
Blu Blazer Guy Rating:
Ambience – 4/5
Customer Service – 4/5
Food – 4/5
Location – 5/5
Presentation – 5/5