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Cornhill castle, Biggar restaurant review

Will a Valentine's Day meal cure her reluctant Romeo? Cat Thomson enjoys a visit to an impressive Lanarkshire wedding venue.

For the less romantic among our readers here’s a reminder that Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us.

I hold no truck with any of that sappy stuff, so the other half is under no pressure. I don’t expect a padded card decorated with hearts to drop through the letterbox anytime soon.

That over-sentimental, saccharin-sweet commercialism leaves me cold.

Even if I was a lovestruck Juliet, I’m pretty sure my fella hasn’t got a soppy bone in his body.

Although we have been stepping out for decades now, with two delightful children and a mortgage to show for it, but it is fair to say he is a reluctant Romeo.

In an attempt to cure us of our unromantic ways I’ve made the necessary arrangements for a dinner date at Cornhill Castle near Biggar.

The venue is often employed as a stylish wedding location, complete with a spectacular honeymoon suite.

Luckily for us, the restaurant is also open to non-residents, and on the 14th of this month is offering a special Valentine dinner menu at £24.95 for four courses.

We celebrate in advance of the big day itself, opting to dine instead on St Sebastian’s Day.

He is the patron saint of archers, by coincidence a pastime which is very dear to my other half.

I’m secretly hoping he might be inspired by Sam Cooke’s lyrics, “Cupid draw back your bow.” You never know, perhaps romance is not dead after all.

During our visit, we sample the Sunday roast dinner, £19.95 for three courses or £14.95 for two.

This five-star hotel, an impressive Scottish baronial pile dating from 1851, is situated down a tree-lined driveway.

The main chateau was remodelled by the architect, William Leiper, who created the Doge’s Palace aka Templeton’s carpet factory in Glasgow.

All the omens are good – when we arrive the fella holds the door open for me in a chivalrous gesture.

We are then escorted to the chandelier-lit bar to peruse the food choices on offer. We sip a pre-dinner aperitif before heading into the period dining room, which is dressed in white linen finery.

Hungrily we scoff some bread and butter whilst scanning the wine menu, obviously frequently glancing lovingly into each other’s eyes.

If you are after a spot of indulgence, the champagne list features Lanson Pere et Fils Brut at £60.

As they cater for international bridezillas, there are wine selections from around the globe.

I sniggered at the thought of a doubtful groom to be, selecting a bottle of Dead Man’s Dice, “a deep” and “intense” Australian Malbec.

Or a serial bride quaffing a glass of Boomerang Bay Chardonnay, which is described as “very appealing, with a stylish finish”.

We choose a perfectly acceptable Gulara Shiraz (£6.85 for a 250ml glass) from Australia which provides a fruity hit with mid-bodied flavours.

His nibs opts for the haggis fritter starter topped with a poached egg and cracked black pepper, which is declared well balanced and delicious.

I sigh slightly as I select the only vegetarian starter option on the menu, smoked Applewood cheese bites with salad and chilli sauce.

It tasted exactly as you would expect.

The bed of salad consists of slithers of red onion, rocket and assorted salad leaves.

Glancing out of the window I spot a decorative lamppost and fountain, and an ostentatious helipad sign.

Alas, our ’copter is in for a service otherwise we could have flown here in a jiffy.

The Cornhill is conveniently located close to both Edinburgh and Glasgow on the banks of the Clyde.

The waiters are attentive, and while we wait for our mains, we jealously spy an ample haddock and chips en route to a neighbouring table, as well as an impressive monkfish dish receiving loud praise from our fellow diners.

Truth is it could only ever be beer and beef for Sir Lancelot.

A chunky slab of roast ribeye served with tender root vegetables and a crisp Yorkshire pud – completed by lashings of gravy – equals one happy chap.

A slight bugbear is that the vegetarian main course features yet more cheese.

Don’t get me wrong, j’adore le fromage.

The spinach and ricotta tortellini tastes absolutely great.

It arrives served in a deliciously moreish tasting, creamy white wine sauce, liberally sprinkled with chives.

But variety is the spice of life.

For dessert, I opt for a Cornhill Castle speciality – crumble.

Tart rhubarb is presented under a duvet of sweet crumbs served with vanilla ice cream.

While the fella cannot resist the sugar overload that is tablet ice cream, spooned into a brandy snap basket with an Aladdin-style jug filled with caramel sauce on the side.

My verdict, on both Cornhill Castle and my significant other, though not necessarily in the correct order, is that one is still the love of my life, whilst the other offers great value and is perfectly decent.

Cornhill Castle Biggar

Coulter Road, Biggar, ML12 6QE
01899 220001,

Catriona is a freelance writer based in the Scottish Borders, and a nominee for Food and Drink writer at this year's Scottish Press Awards.

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