It was Mrs Grumpy’s birthday last week. I am reliably told she is 21, again. Being a wise Mr Grumpy and knowing what’s good for me, I booked an overnight stay at Mar Hall because I had heard good things about it. Mrs Grumpy gets a night away and an afternoon at the Spa, and I get the chance to eat out and write this blog; seemed reasonable all round really.
I must point out at this stage that I write about food and drink and my passion for it. I am not the hotel inspector. We duly checked in ahead of time and our room was ready and waiting for us. Mrs Grumpy headed with great joy and a skip in her step down to the pampering zone known as the spa. I on the other hand decided to have a look around and grab a coffee. To me Mar Hall seemed a bit old-fashioned and rough around the edges especially in the public areas. Some might call it faded grandeur. However, when the braid on the armchairs is falling off and the wooden floors have holes in them, as well as metal carpet strips held down with oversized screws creating a trip hazard; well, some might call that tacky. I couldn’t possibly comment.
I sat in one of the armchairs only to find that it had little support left in it and I was almost sitting on the floor. As I struggled to get out of it, the waiter approached. I asked for a Latte. Remembering I had not been here before, I asked for whole milk in my coffee to be told they only served semi-skimmed. Another place that thinks it is acceptable to consider your health for you and place you on a diet. I declined and did without. This place is five-star. This is the first five-star hotel were I have not had my choice of milk served to me and in some places that even includes soya milk amongst a whole tranche of other options. Mr Grumpy mode was now well and firmly setting in.
Mrs Grumpy bounced backed from the spa like tigger until she sat in one of the chairs I just mentioned. She said “Have you seen….?”. I stopped her there and said “I know, it doesn’t get any better. They only serve semi-skimmed milk.” She said “It’s a five-star hotel there should be a multiple choice.” I pulled my best grumpy face. We ordered tea.
We decide to have a look at the menu for the evening. Mrs Grumpy looked at me and I at her, and she said “There was a woman in the spa and she said that there was somewhere nice to eat in Erskine.” I googled it and their menu was not any better so we decided to grin and bear the booking we already had at Mar Hall that evening.
We went for a stroll around the grounds before heading to our room to freshen up for dinner. The grounds around Mar Hall are very pleasant, mostly.
There was a section at the back of the hotel that had beer kegs outside what was the fire exit; unsure about how safe that is but it does look unsightly to the guests.
We had booked a table in the restaurant early in the evening and it being Mrs Grumpy’s birthday we arrived at the bar a little earlier and had some champagne. Mrs Grumpy must have champagne on her birthday. A little later we were escorted to our table for dinner by our waitress, a charming a friendly lady who also presented us with that uninspiring menu.
Mrs Grumpy ordered the double baked St Andrews cheddar cheese souffle to start and I decide to have the warm oak smoked scrabster haddock cake.
When the starters were brought to the table they got the order the wrong way round. Mrs Grumpy was given mine and I was given hers; mix up speedily fixed, we dived into the starters. My haddock cake was very tasty and very fresh and surprisingly light. Mrs Grumpy’s souffle came with a rather tasty salad of sharp green apple, earthy baby salad leaves and candied walnuts, delicious she said.
We had both ordered the grilled fillet of prime dry aged beef, cooked in different ways of course. Mine was ordered medium and Mrs Grumpy ordered rare to medium. I ordered mine with the accompanying veg of mushroom and cooked tomato and Mrs Grumpy wanted the seasonal veg. Both came with the peppercorn sauce.
When the steaks arrived at the table it was immediately clear that the wrong steak was on the wrong plate, so back they went to the kitchen to be re-plated properly. When they came back to the table a few moments later, all was well. Well I say all was well, until the chunky fries arrived. They were precooked, prepacked frozen catering chips. Really, in a place like this and at the price they are charging? I expect that in a fast food chain not in a five-star establishment. I should mention that the ‘caramelised’ shallot on my plate was raw, that is to say, the chef did not cook it. Someone on the pass was not paying attention for these dishes.
We thought about a desert and discussed this with our ever friendly waitress who had smiled all through this meal. I mentioned it was Mrs Grumpy’s birthday. She went away and moments later returned with a nicely decorated plate with some strawberries dipped in chocolate. A nice touch.
Mrs Grumpy ate some of them before I could take the ‘before’ shot. Did I mention that as well as Champagne on Mrs Grumpy’s birthday, she must also have strawberries. This was a nice touch. However, I would have expected the chocolate on the strawberries to have been tempered; after all they do display the glorious Five Star badge outside the door.
We decide to forego desert and asked for the bill. It soon arrived with a couple of complimentary glasses of wine by way of the steak mistake – courtesy of our waitress, thank you very much.
Overall the meal was ok. It was not great. It was much better than I had expected after reading the menu earlier in the day. I do think it is rather pricey for what is on offer.
We had breakfast the next morning and it was fine, not great just fine. We had soggy toast and still no whole milk for my coffee.
Will Mar Hall be gosh noshed? Most certainly not.
Will I go back? No.
Food Champion at Mar Hall.
On a positive note our waitress Sandra was a star. She is a food service champion. She knew the menu and the food being served very well. As usual I asked lots of question and she knew the answers. She understood the steak mistake and was on it immediately.
She was courteous and pleasant throughout our meal and nothing seemed to bother or phase her.
She is the type of asset that Mar Hall needs many more of.