The Kirklands Hotel, Kinross


The Kirklands Hotel

20 High Street, Kinross, KY13 8AN

01577 863313

Kirklands Frontage

The Bill

A la carte

Small Bites £7.00 (3 for £19.00) 

Mains £13.95 - £21.95 (Small portions are available for some dishes)

Desserts £5.50 - £6.95


The Score

Cooking  4.5/10 | Service 3.5/5

Flavour  3.5/5 | Value 5/5

TOTAL 16.5/25 

I hadn't been to Murrayfield Stadium for a very long time. Being aware that food is now a major part of the offering at major sporting events, I was curious to see what was on offer. We're a more cosmopolitan lot these days. Life, I was certain, must have moved on from the tinned salmonella burgers and burnt onions, plus chips being served with everything.

Well, yes and no. The steak rolls and burgers at the first van I encountered looked OK, as did the pizzas next door. Then there was fish and chips, and chips with anything. Oh, look, a Greek place. Gyros, and kebabs, and chips. The prices on all the vans had been changed, the entrepreneurial Greeks charging £8 for a portion of chips. Then my heart leapt - briefly - as I spied The Scottish Grill. What this meant was that you could have a venison burger with your chips instead of fish or a steak pie.

This came to mind as I surveyed the menu here in Kinross. You would never guess this was once a coaching inn. It dates back to the 17th century. Walking through the sleepy streets today, it's hard to imagine that this was once the county town, importantly situated  on the Great North Road. Equally hard to credit the vintage of the building. Owners Shona and Anthony Clifford acquired it in 2007, and have just finished their second refurb. (Whisper it, but I think I preferred the last version.) But whatever your taste, it's a bright, modern, welcoming space.

As you may have guessed, I was less sure about the menu. The Small Bites notion is a good one, especially at lunchtime. It allows gannets like me to share with a nibbler like D, who rarely goes beyond the starter section of any menu. But take soup and mussels out of the equation, and the other seven choices were either fried or wrapped in flaky pastry. We ordered two portions of each of the salt and pepper scampi, salmon, leek and potato fritata (sic) and vegetable spring rolls.

Scampi - quite decent, but mixing hot curry powder and mayo is a bit in your face. The frittata was served cold and was probably the tastiest offering of the day. The spring rolls, sadly, were a car crash. They had quite possibly been in the fryer twice - one had a large blister on the side - and the wrapping overwhelmed the filling. There was a chilli sauce, one of those inoffensive sweet ones probably out of a jar.

Looking again at the main courses, my Murrayfield analogy may be a little unkind. After the statutory fish and chips one could have had mussels or bao buns (both served with fries), a choice of two salads and a rice bowl, or steak. I didn't fancy salad, and my eye spied fish tacos. Not that long ago, I enjoyed glorious fish tacos in London, a tartare with avocado and lime and crunchy bits. Wonderful, and not a fryer in sight.

These were Baja Fish Tacos. No, I didn't know either: nor did our waitress, who took no steps to find out. Well I now know they emanate from Baja California in Mexico, and feature deep fried fish. In fairness they weren't bad. Decent bits of fish, well fried, and they had tried their best with the little pots on the side. Green sauce was a pleasantly limey creme fraiche type thing, and the guacamole was very good. The salsa on the other hand...  In addition to tomato and red onion, you need chilli, coriander and lime. Two out of five is not great. The coriander and lime chicken salad was billed as coming with a lime and dill dressing. It had some perfectly nice chicken on a bed of leaves. Sadly, both L and I failed to find evidence of either lime or dill.

Now, you may recall my saying I might have been unfair? Well retract that, as I've just reread the Sides section. Surely, you're thinking, he could have found some wholesome or refreshing accompaniments. You do have ten to choose from. The list begins, Beef Brisket & Pickled Onion Loaded Fries, Guacamole & Salsa Loaded Fries and continues in the same vein. A total of eight different types of fries. And the other two? Hand Cut Chips or Onion Rings.

I was terrified to look at the Dessert Menu, having convinced myself that it would contain doughnuts and deep fried Mars Bars. In fact, a choice of seven nice sounding standards, including the slightly terrifying Chocolate Fudge Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sundae.

Maybe they're just providing what the public wants, but the springs on the stagecoach heading north will be creaking more than a little after you've gone through the menu here.

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