Now I’ll have to admit it’s unusual for me to eat at national chains, much preferring the smaller local establishment who have the ability to source ingredients from their own area.
That said, don’t think me a snob, I’ll rarely turn down a free meal, and, in this case was actually looking forward to trying out the festive menu at Beefeater Grill to see how it stacked up against other southside eateries.
And I have to say, it is right up there performance wise holding its own against its competitors — a very pleasant surprise.
Met on entry by a very efficient manager in the guise of Alastair Cook, we were seated promptly at a table in the open plan dining area.
Now remember, this visit was on a Thursday evening and the place was jumping, which tells you something, particularly when there’s no walk-in trade passing the door.
Drinks orders taken, there was no real need for the menus as we were road testing the new festive menu which had been pre-ordered, however I did have a look at the full menu available throughout the month of December, and it contains a fine mix of food to suit all tastes, including a special menu choice for the kids too.
I think it’s important to point out at this time that the staff here are exceptionally friendly, keen to please, and, it has to be said, surprisingly knowledgeable of dish ingredients for staff working in a national chain whose food is bought centrally and shipped around the country to each kitchen. Our own server, Emma Louise was on top form and never fumbled once over my incessant questioning about sauces, dressings and the like. Well done Emma Louise, you get today’s gold star!
Our starters included; chicken liver and herb pate, crispy garlic and herb crusted mushrooms, and pulled beef and Yorkshire pud slices.
All the dishes were large enough to satisfy even the largest of appetites — even a greedy Glaswegian who’s no stranger to a plate of hot food! The pate was served with a nice sweet fig chutney and two full slices of toast, quartered, with a good dollop of butter.
The pulled beef went down a treat and not a sound came from the two gannets, oops, sorry young adults sitting opposite me, other than the lip smacking as the dish was polished off — clean plates all round.
My choice of mushrooms was disappointing it has to be said. These were six little button mushrooms in a crispy coating that you can buy in the freezer section of your local supermarket. And had it not been for the duo of dips, a BBQ and herb mayo they would have been unremarkable. It has to be said that presentation was excellent however with a mix of wooden boards, kilner jars and the like.
Mains were up next, with our choices of double steak festive burgers, fillet steak Rossini and a vegetarian enchiladas. Again, the first thing that stood out was the size of the portions. Large enough to to satisfy even the greediest food reviewer!
The burgers looked the biz, a towering stack of meat patties, smoked crispy streaky bacon, slices of Brie, tomato, red onion, lettuce and a cranberry sauce - all served in a brioche bun and a side portion of coleslaw and thin fries.
Interestingly the restaurant offers free refills on the fries. Checking with staff, apparently someone managed eight, yes that’s right, eight portions. My lot couldn’t even finish the single portion supplied.
The meat was well cooked, of high quality, very little fat or gristle, just enough to help flavour the burgers when grilled.
The enchiladas were supplied with two small corn cobs, which one son said were delicious, before he started wolfing down the soft, yet spicy offering that was the main deal. On enquiring the cobs are dressed in a chilli and lime coating which provides a different taste altogether.
Sweet, sour and spicy all at the same time. The enchiladas were well-filled and topped with a salsa style dressing.
My 8oz fillet was cooked as ordered, (rare), and sat on three thin ciabatta croutons which were surrounded by a sufficient quantity of beef jus containing a reduction of red wine. The fillet was topped with two small roundels of pate, and was served with two good sized squares of potato dauphinoise, a half grilled tomato and a flat field mushroom.
Again this was a right good plateful of food. OK, you’re never going to get the worlds best steak, however I’ve had a lot worse served to me over the years.
So it was just time for the desserts to be served, and our choices were chocolate melt-in-the-middle pudding, Apple and cherry crumble, and Matchmakers orange sundae.
Unfortunately there was another disappointment here with the choc puddings, which, when broken open, had no fondant in the middle! The two who had ordered this choice both found they had the same problem, and that the sponge was actually quite dry, despite the dollop of vanilla ice cream and the salted caramel sauce. I’m reliably advised these are about to be removed from the menu.
The sundae was served in a Knickerbocker Glory style glass and was finished by son number one who said it was perfect.
Both my good lady and I opted for the cherry and apple crumble. Wow, what a portion again, so much so — and this was a first — I couldn’t finish it. The tartness of the filling worked very well against the sweet buttery crispy crumble, and a nice touch was the small bowl of clotted cream served on the side.
Testament to how popular this place is, if you want a table for Christmas Day, Boxing Day or Hogmanay you better be quick as the 300 covers available are almost sold out already.
It’s power to Beefeater’s arm that they’ve managed to get this so right when you consider all they’re up against trying to ensure consistency across hundreds of units across the UK.
Whilst it’s no Michelin awarded restaurant, it’s not pretending to be either — what you will get is a more than adequate plate of tasty food, well priced, and all topped by first class service.
Manager Alastair can be proud of all that’s happening at The Castle And it’s a well-deserved 8/10 from me.
Available all day every day - 1st - 30th December excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day
CHRISTMAS DAY MENU
Available on 25th December 2015 only - £49.99 p/p
BOXING DAY MENU
Available on 26th December 2015 only - £24.99 p/p
Greenlaw Crookfur Road
Tel: 0141 955 7901