Could Boclair House be the next big thing?
Boclair House is probably best known to most as former offices of East Dunbartonshire council that pretty building beside Asda in Bearsden.
But a few years ago the building was sold off and in stepped Manorview who have been busy assembling a portfolio of hotels on the periphery of Glasgow for a number of years now.
Just like their investment in the Busby hotel (VOWS awards wedding venue of the year 2016), a significant sum of money has been spent turning Boclair into something special so this is probably their most ambitious venture yet!
Opened in April of last year, Boclair House Hotel is looking not just to establish itself as a boutique hotel and wedding venue - for they have plans to be a foodie retreat too. Their bar/restaurant is called Annabel's, I'm not sure if this is in homage to Annabel's club in London but it certainly looked swish inside and is less quirky than the interior of Carter's restaurant at the Busby.
I was there for the 8-course tasting menu with the option of 4 matched wines, 1 port and 1 cocktail, for an additional £20. They have a regular a la carte menu too but with me being an indecisive omnivore I was happy to indulge in the tasting menu with all the matched drinks. Hic!
1 Homemade breads
Course 1 was a simple affair to begin, three different types of bread: Sesame seed, honey oak and sun-dried tomato & Parmesan with walnut butter on the side. I must confess that I only had a nibble of these, saving myself for what was to come...
"Nibbles" consisted of an espresso's worth of butternut velouté - thick, warm and creamy, with a light Parmesan cream cheese cookie - like a dainty cheese pastry, and a haggis and apple bon bon which I enjoyed, the combo of butternut, Parmesan and haggis seemed a bit random at first but worked well. A good balance of savoury and sweet.
3 Smoked venison with brambles, raisins and apricot
Course #3 was where things got interesting. I found this rather festive as there was lot of fruit and the meat was lightly smoked, but it was the little coriander shoots that completed the dish for me (I love fresh coriander!).
This was matched with a glass of Waipara Hills pinot noir (one of my favourite varieties of red), which was redolent of a plummy, alcoholic Ribena. It was pretty smooth, once left to breathe, but a wee bit acidic on the tongue and warming on the throat.
4 Beetroot and gin-cured salmon
Pink-purple hues from the beetroot gave the salmon an otherworldly vibrancy but sadly I couldn't detect any juniper. The salmon was so soft and smooth though - a sushi chef would be proud! Keeping the sushi-feel going was a wasabi mayo and a remoulade, that while made from celeriac and mustard shares certain characteristics with Japanese horseradish.
This was paired with Giocheremo con I Fiori dei Beati from Abruzzo (try saying that after you've had a few!), a pleasant white with detectable sweetness, acidity, some oakiness and mineral qualities.
5 Foraged mushrooms, truffle, egg, warm brioche and Parmesan emulsion.
A good mix of mushrooms on a thick brioche bread topped with an egg which was a bit overdone - not quite hard boiled but just past the runny stage. Which isn't much of an issue but a runnier egg combined with the brioche would be much better. If I were to criticize I'd say that this course was a bit too bready, a thinner brioche would've been better, but there were coriander shoots again so I was still happy!
This was paired with an Anima de Raimat Blanco from Costers del Segre in Spain, with a freshly-cut grass aroma, I enjoyed the sweet smoothness of this wine.
6 Duck breast butternut squash pearl barley
This was proper winter comfort food for me. I love confit, in this case duck leg confit wrapped in a savoy cabbage leaf. This was a big portion full of saltiness (a good thing) with split peas (our new favourite thing to make soup!) and barley which is so often underused despite being a perfect winter ingredient.
This was paired with Château de Barbe, Côtes de Bourg. It had quite a punchy aroma and was rich, robust, a little dry but massively drinkable.
7 Cheese served with Sandeman vintage port 2010
After the promising lead-up, the cheese course lacked presentation. The three cheeses were all British representing three different styles: Isle of mull cheddar, Shropshire blue and Arran mist Brie. Served with chutney and mixed crackers. Thumbs up to room temperature cheese but thumbs down to the Jacob's crackers. Served with a glass of Vila Nova De Gaia's finest. Saúde!
8 Buttermilk panna cotta
I usually prefer stodgy desserts like chocolate tarts, cheesecake or crumble for pudding but after 7 courses I was grateful for something light! This was delightful - lots of vanilla and really creamy.
It was served with a blueberry clover club cocktail. I love French Martinis so this was the next best thing!
To finish there was coffee and petit fours. Good coffee and excellent little truffles I might add.
I highly enjoyed my visit to Boclair, in fact it ranks as one of my favourite meals of 2016. The food was mostly excellent and the drink pairings were all to my liking. Service was friendly and non-intrusive, the music was smooth jazz/piano jazz and the toilets are gorgeous! Suddenly Bearsden is on the food map!
Bear in mind that my reservation was at 7pm but I didn't finish until 10:30 so it's a long night, obviously if you eat off the regular menu you'll be quicker, but why would you want to do that when you could have a sumptuous 8 course menu!?
Recommended for date night and special occasions. The cost of the tasting menu is £39 which is actually pretty good. Add on the matched wines and you're talking £59 a head.
A new tasting menu will begin on Friday 27th January.
Before leaving I happened to mention that this was the best meal that I'd had since visiting Turnip & Enjoy earlier in the year and was told the head chef, John Redmond only recently joined from Turnip & Enjoy. So how about that!? Find our review of Turnip & Enjoy here.
Edit: please view our follow-up visit here.
+ambience ideal for a romantic meal
+ decadent toilets oooh!
- Jacob's crackers
Boclair House, Milngavie Road, Bearsden
Boclair House is less than a 5 min walk to Hillfoot station, the second last stop for trains to Milngavie. Trains are every 30 mins from Glasgow Queen St costing £3.50 return (off-peak) and the journey takes 22 minutes so it really isn't that far from Glasgow at all. Trains leave Hillfoot for Queen Street at 13 minutes past and 19 minutes to the hour.
Phone: 0141 942 4278
Disclaimer: I was invited in to fill my face with delicious food in exchange for a review but I swear on Freddie's life that it's all true. Boclair House is one to visit in 2017.
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