Champany Inn, Linlithgow, Scotland

On a recent trip to Scotland (my second visit) I rented a car (first time driving on the left) and white-knuckled my way around Perthshire and the lower Highlands for a few days. My first stop (only 20 minutes from the rental agency at the Edinburgh airport) was the small town of Linlithgow for lunch. Perhaps you have never heard of Linlithgow before? Well, you may have heard of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was born in Linlithgow Palace in 1542 (the palace was built in the 15th century, rarely used after 1603, and gutted by fire in 1746. But the walls still stand).

 

photo by The Jab, 2014

photo by The Jab, 2014

 

photo by The Jab, 2014

photo by The Jab, 2014

 

The Champany Inn consists of a 16-room inn, the main restaurant in a pyramid-shaped building, the bar, the Chop and Ale House in the long building, and a wine shop. Some of the buildings date back to the 16th century. The restaurant and inn are younger, having opened about 30 years ago, but they feel older than they are because of the classic country inn decor.

 

photo by The Jab, 2014

photo by The Jab, 2014

 

photo by The Jab, 2014

photo by The Jab, 2014

 

The Champany Inn is a steakhouse tried-and-true. Co-owner Clive Davidson (he runs the restaurant with his wife Anne) selects Aberdeen Angus beef and ages the carcasses for three weeks before their in-house butcher hand-cuts the steaks. Mr. Davidson even designed his own charcoal grill, adding a smoker to smoke beef, salmon, and cod (all starters on the menu). Cuts offered on the menu include sirloin (aka strip loin or New York), ribeye, porterhouse, t-bone, bone-in fillet, Chateaubriand (for two), and prime rib (for two). As you can see by the menu below, there are other options besides steak.

 

photo by The Jab, 2014

photo by The Jab, 2014

 

The Champany Inn offers a two-course set lunch Mon-Fri for £25.50 and a three-course set dinner Mon-Fri for £42.50. On my visit I opted for the set lunch, which I often seek out when traveling in Europe because most restaurants have it (in some countries, like Spain, they must offer it by law) so you can eat very well in fine restaurants for a fraction of the cost of dinner. However, I have some tips for doing so.

 

Le Continental’s Set Menu (Prix Fixe) Tips

 

  • Try to look up a sample set menu online to get an idea of the prices and options (or walk by the restaurant – most have the menu on display in front). Some restaurants offer a two-course set menu of starter and entrée OR entrée and dessert, while some offer a choice of either a two-course meal or a three-course meal.
  • Look at the dessert menu before you decide. Sometimes you may not be hungry after the entrée if it’s large (often the case in most restaurants in Spain and the UK), or the dessert offered isn’t that special (such as ice cream or sorbet). But if you are in Scotland and see sticky toffee pudding on the dessert menu, get it!
  • Only order the set meal if you really want the dishes offered. Look at the regular à la carte menu, and if something there looks like a must-try, such as a famous house specialty, don’t pass it up just to save a few dollars. Sometimes you can order a starter and an entrée, or just an entrée, for not much more than the set lunch and you may be happier you did when you leave. After all, you traveled a long way, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity. In the case of the Champany Inn, I was going to consider the set lunch only if a steak was offered as an entrée, because it’s a steakhouse (it was, so I ordered from the set lunch).

 

photo by The Jab, 2014

photo by The Jab, 2014

 

I was greeted by a gracious lady who I think was Anne Davidson, the co-owner, and seated at a nice table set with a lovely old-fashioned cooper plate, silverware, and linens. The service was superb throughout my luncheon. I was offered two house made breads, a darker bread with nuts and a white bread (both excellent).

 

photo by The Jab, 2014

photo by The Jab, 2014

 

For a starter I had the Champany salad of lettuce, chicken livers, and bacon, with a simple vinaigrette dressing. (For some reason I like chicken liver, but not beef liver.)

 

photo by The Jab, 2014

photo by The Jab, 2014

 

Of course, I had a steak for my main course. It was a sirloin on the bone, perfectly done, and served with the best, crispy French fries (oh, sorry, chips in the UK), a mushroom cap, and very fresh cherry tomatoes. Usually horseradish is offered with beef in the UK, and I love it with beef (preferably not creamed style).

 

photo by The Jab, 2014

photo by The Jab, 2014

 

If you are ever in Scotland, Edinburgh is a must-visit city, and if you go there you should take a train or a taxi out to the Champany Inn for the best steak in Scotland. Actually, I found the restaurant by searching online for “best Aberdeen steak in Scotland”!

 

Champany Inn
Linlithgow, UK EH49 7LU,
United Kingdom

Phone: +44 1506 834532
Restaurant open Mon-Fri, lunch 12:30pm-2:00pm, dinner 7:00pm-10:00pm, Sat dinner 7:00pm-10:00pm, closed Sunday, reservations required
Chop & Ale House open Mon-Thu, lunch 12:00pm-2:00pm, dinner 6:30pm-10:00pm, Fri-Sat 12:00pm-10:00pm, Sun 12:30pm-10:00pm, no reservations accepted

 

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Rogano, Glasgow, Scotland

My apologies for the three-week (!) gap in posts. Le Continental was enjoying a vacation at the Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale, which of course included several visits to the Mai-Kai, as well as dining at old favorites Joe’s Stone Crab and Puerto Sagua in Miami Beach (posts on those coming soon). But today I would like to profile a beautiful restaurant I visited in Glasgow in 2012 in anticipation of my upcoming return to Glasgow this fall.

 

photo by shige-wallpaper-images.com

photo by shige-wallpaper-images.com

 

Rogano opened way back in 1874 as the Bodega Spanish wine cellar, but it was renamed Rogano later, after the manager James Henry Roger took over ownership with an anonymous silent partner. The name came from ROG in Roger plus ANO from “another” = Rogano. It was a men-only bar until Don Grant took over in 1935 and remodeled it into the restaurant it remains today. He was inspired to model the interior after the lavish Art Deco interiors (designed by the Bromsgrove Guild) of the RMS Queen Mary, which was built in Clydebank, Scotland, in 1930-34 for the Cunard Line as its flagship transatlantic ocean liner (now dry-docked in Long Beach, CA, as a hotel that is highly recommended by Le Continental). When Don Grant passed away in 1957 his daughter Valerie and her brother Donald took over the restaurant until the 1980s, when it was sold to Ken McCulloch, who restored it. Since then it has gone through a few corporate owners, so it is a small miracle that it has survived practically intact for almost 80 years. Over the years the restaurant has hosted many celebrities, including Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor.

 

oyster bar, photo by The Jab, 2012

oyster bar, photo by The Jab, 2012

 

The restaurant consists of three areas: the oyster bar, the main restaurant, and the downstairs café.

 

oyster bar, photo by The Jab, 2012

oyster bar, photo by The Jab, 2012

 

The Oyster Bar is a casual walk-in bar with some tables and counters that serves a fairly low-cost menu (under £10) of oysters, seafood plates, and sandwiches, from 11:00 am until 12:00 midnight daily. This is where I slurped down some superb oysters and chased them with Champagne on my visit in 2012. It is a beautiful space in mostly original restored woods with bas-relief murals, decorative vents, and etched mirrors on the walls.

 

Oyster Bar, photo by The Jab, 2012

Oyster Bar, photo by The Jab, 2012

 

The main restaurant has more of the same gorgeous Art Deco decor as in the Oyster Bar, with starched linen covered tables and upholstered banquettes for seating. The restaurant is more formal with lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner service (reservations highly suggested).

 

Dining Room - photo by The Jab, 2012

Dining Room – photo by The Jab, 2012

 

The restaurant menu is more extensive (and pricier), mainly local seafood with a few steaks and other meat dishes also offered. Specialties of the house include a fish soup, Scottish or Irish oysters, filet of sole, grilled langoustines (small lobster or scampi) with butter, lobster Thermidor, and a grand Scottish Fruits de Mer platter of mussels, langoustines, oysters, prawns, pickled herring, smoked salmon, smoked mackerel, and crab. There is a 3-course prix fixe menu special from 6:00pm-7:00pm daily except Saturday, a tasting menu with optional wine pairing, and a separate vegetarian menu.

 

langoustines - photo by Tripadvisor.com

langoustines – photo by Chris997 on Tripadvisor.com

 

Downstairs is a casual café with a smaller menu and lower prices. But the decor isn’t original 1930s Art Deco like on the main floor. Instead the room is new Art Deco with walls of dark wood covered with framed black and white photos of famous people from the past. Le Continental would prefer to dine in the main restaurant or oyster bar with such details as the following pictures show.

 

photo by The Jab, 2012

photo by The Jab, 2012

 

photo by The Jab, 2012

photo by The Jab, 2012

 

photo by The Jab, 2012

photo by The Jab, 2012

 

Which Champagne bottle size do your prefer?

 

photo by The Jab, 2014

photo by The Jab, 2014

 

 

Rogano
11 Exchange Pl, Glasgow, Lanarkshire G1 3AN, United Kingdom
phone +44 141 248 4055
Open daily – lunch 12:00pm-2:30pm; afternoon tea 3:00pm-5:00pm; dinner 6:00pm-10:30pm
Oyster Bar open daily 11:00am (noon on Sunday) until 12:00 midnight (bar menu until 11:00pm)
Cafe open daily 12:00pm-11:00pm

 

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The Cafe Royal, Edinburgh, Scotland

Last year I had the pleasure of visiting Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland, and I realized that I had neglected to post about my visit there when I covered my Europe trips on the blog last year.

On a side street near the central train station, the Cafe Royal in Edinburgh is probably the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the city (though I have not verified that), and perhaps its most beautiful. It opened in 1863 in a Parisian style building by Edinburgh architect Robert Hamilton Paterson, moving from its original 1807 location nearby.

Cafe Royal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cafe Royal

 

 

 

The opulent Victorian and Baroque interior is filled with original carved wood paneling, ornate plaster ceilings, stained glass windows, and Doulton ceramic murals from Edinburgh’s 1886 International Exhibition of Industry, Science and Art.

Cafe Royal inside 2

In 1965 Woolworth bought the building and planned to replace the restaurant with an expansion of its store, but a public petition saved the building, which was then listed on the National Register in 1970.

Cafe Royal inside 1

The restaurant specializes in oysters, seafood, and traditional Scottish meat dishes, and the bar has a selection of local real ales on tap and a good whisky list. For an elegant dinner in Edinburgh it will be worth seeking out this restaurant.

The Cafe Royal
19 West Register Street, Edinburgh, Scotland EH2 2AA
Phone:  0131-556-1884
Open Mon-Wed 11am-11pm, Thu 11am-12am, Fri-Sat 11am-1am, Sun 12.30pm-11pm

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