If you arrive at the Cairndale Hotel feeling hungry, rest assured that you are unlikely to leave feeling the same way. There are a number of dining options available. At the heart of the dining experience is the Reivers Restaurant, which is open daily for dinner and occupies a beautifully decorated space off to the side of the hotel reception. This comes complete with a grand piano and can, by the simple expedient of opening folding doors, be doubled in size. The Forum Cafe & Bar is on the floor below, adjacent to the spa & leisure club, and is open from fairly early morning until the evening. The hotel also offers afternoon teas and a cocktail area in the "Secret Garden". You can read our hotel review for the Cairndale Hotel here.
Dinner in the Reivers Restaurant is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, combining outstanding food and excellent service. The restaurant is named after the reivers: raiders who specialised in cross-border cattle and sheep rustling and who contributed for centuries to the lawless reputation of parts of the Anglo-Scottish border. What must be a contender for any "best presented menu" award notes that local ingredients are incorporated into the dishes on offer where appropriate and it is nice to see this carried through into the food that arrives on your plate.
When we dined there were five starters plus a soup of the day on offer; followed by a choice of six mains and five desserts, if you include the (excellent) trio of Scottish cheeses. For starters we opted for Caesar salad and Barony smoked salmon. Our introduction to the dining experience was very pleasant indeed. Both dishes were generously proportioned and delicious.
The main course options included pesto risotto, a slow braised shank of lamb and a fillet of sea bass. We opted for a pan roasted haunch of local venison with rosti potatoes, red cabbage, roast celeriac and a shallot port jus; and a grilled 8oz Scottish sirloin steak served with chips, tomato, mushrooms and peppercorn sauce. Both dishes were absolutely outstanding. A debate in a restaurant about whether the venison dish you are actually eating is the best venison dish you've ever eaten is probably pointless. It's hard to think past the immediate experience to be able to compare it objectively with past dinners. But it says much that the venison served at the Cairndale Hotel is a contender for that prestigious award. The steak was also pretty special!
Dessert choices ranged from a selection of Taylor's of Biggar ice cream to the cheese dish already mentioned: via a passion fruit cheesecake, a steamed ginger pudding and a vanilla creme brulee. The trio of Scottish cheeses on offer were Lockerbie Cheddar, Strathdon Blue and Glenmorangie Brie: a lovely variety of styles and flavours served with biscuits, grapes and chutney. The steamed ginger pudding came with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce and was absolutely delightful.
The Forum Cafe & Bar offers homemade desserts and cakes as well as bar snacks. The pre-booked afternoon tea experience includes a choice of main courses, selection of homemade cakes and scones, freshly brewed tea and coffee.
Breakfast at the Cairndale Hotel is served in the restaurant and is excellent. The starter course is self served and comprises fruit juices, pastries and fruit or cereals. The main course comprises all the elements of the Scottish breakfast, served at a buffet - though whether self served or delivered to your plate for you depends on how busy the hotel is. Either way, the food is fresh and delicious, showing that buffet breakfasts can work very well if properly thought out. Poached eggs and porridge are available to order, as is smoked salmon and scrambled egg on toast. You can read our hotel review for the Cairndale Hotel here.