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


UPDATE – Big 4 in San Francisco reopened today!

Earlier this year the Big 4 restaurant, open since 1967 at the historic Huntington Hotel, was closed by the new owners for a refurbishment. Today the restaurant reopened and judging by the report and pictures in the San Francisco Chronicle it has not changed much in appearance (mainly the chef and menu have changed). Kudos to the Puccini Group for doing a sensitive refurbishment to the beloved San Francisco classic!


photo by


Big 4
1075 California St, San Francisco, CA
(415) 771-1140
Open daily 5:30pm-11:00pm, Mon-Sat 6:30am-10:30am, Sun 6:30am-2:00pm

Grand Canyon Cafe, Flagstaff, Arizona – CLOSED

If you’re heading for the Grand Canyon or just passing through on Route 66, Flagstaff is worth an overnight stop. There are plenty of motels along the old highway passing through town, some with great neon, but for my money I’m staying at the historic Monte Vista Hotel one block north of Route 66 downtown.


photo by The Jab, 2008

photo by The Jab, 2008


The hotel opened in 1927 by the City of Flagstaff and was community owned until the 1960s, when it became privately owned.


lobby - photo by The Jab, 2008

lobby – photo by The Jab, 2008


The Monte Vista Lounge opened with the hotel, reportedly as a speakeasy until Prohibition ended. Both entrances to the bar, from the hotel and from the street, are fabulous!


photo by The Jab, 2008

photo by The Jab, 2008

photo by The Jab, 2008

photo by The Jab, 2008










Being a historic hotel, some of the less expensive rooms have baths down the hall, but many rooms are larger with baths and they also have suites. I stayed in a small single with bath across the hall. The room was basic, but clean (as was the bathroom) and had a historic feel. Some rooms are named after famous guests from the past.


photo by The Jab, 2008

photo by The Jab, 2008


Besides the cocktail lounge, the hotel also has a cafe/bar called The Rendezvous, which serves as a coffee bar all day from 6:30 am (serving Intelligentsia coffee and tea) but also is a cocktail bar offering classic and craft cocktails until 2:00 am every night. Splendid! Two bars in one classic hotel; now you know why I like to stay here!


photo by The Jab, 2008

photo by The Jab, 2008


Within a short walk from the hotel there are several good restaurants (I particularly liked Swadee Thai restaurant) but a walk down Route 66 also takes you to the neon splendor of the Grand Canyon Cafe, which opened in 1942. In 1945 three brothers, Alfred, Edward, and Albert Wong bought the restaurant with a partner Bill Yee. Amazingly, it is still owned by the Wong family almost 70 years later. Albert’s son Freddy Wong now runs the restaurant with his wife Tina. The menu is a combination of classic American cafe fare (Freddy’s specialty) and Chinese food (Tina’s expertise). So it’s a great place to come both for breakfast or for some Chinese food for lunch or dinner. The chicken fried steak with green chili sauce comes highly recommended. And you can the see by my photo below that it hasn’t changed much in 70 years. I love the original vinyl booths and the lunch counter with jaunty red, white, and black stripes and a green Formica top to match the tables.


photo by The Jab

photo by The Jab


Of course if you’re going to the Grand Canyon, and can afford it, you should stay in one of the historic lodges for a few nights. But you may also enjoy saving a bit of money by staying a night or two in the charming, historic Monte Vista Hotel in happening downtown Flagstaff. And don’t miss the animated neon signs on Route 66 and around town!




Grand Canyon Cafe
110 E Santa Fe Ave, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
(928) 774-2252
Open Mon-Sat 7:00am-9:00pm


Palm Springs Weekend

UPDATE:  Since I wrote this post Lyon’s English Grille has closed permanently and the Horizon Hotel had an ownership change, was closed for extensive remodeling and has reopened as L’Horizon Resort & Spa, a more upscale and pricier hotel.


I’m going to try something different this time and post on the go, in Palm Springs! This may give the reader an impression of my typical weekend excursion.



4:30pm – checked in to the Horizon Hotel, built in 1952 by William Cody in the modernist post and beam style with his flair of using oblique angles. The hotel was commissioned by movie producer Jack Wrather and his wife, actress Bonita Granville as a private retreat for them and their guests, and was restored into a hotel in 2004 using original plans and historic photographs. I love this adults-only hotel but prefer its original name, L’Horizon. Of course!

William Cody aka “Wild Bill” designed many other important buildings in Palm Springs, including residences for Walt Disney and Frank Sinatra and commercial buildings such as the Del Marcos Hotel (still open, and highly recommended) and the Huddle Springs Restaurant (sadly demolished in 1991 for a proposed hotel that wasn’t even built).



Huddle Springs Restaurant, William Cody, 1957 – photo by Palm Springs Preservation Foundation



Lord Fletcher's - image by The Jab

Lord Fletcher’s – image by The Jab


6:00pm – dinner at Lord Fletcher’s (sometimes called Lord Fletcher Inn) in Rancho Mirage. Opened in 1966, it was the first restaurant on what is now called Restaurant Row on California highway 111. The restaurant is filled with antiques, art, bric-à-brac, and artifacts in the Olde English style, all collected by Ron Fletcher in England. The restaurant is still in the same family, now run by Mike Fletcher, Ron’s son.



image by The Jab


There are three rooms: the pub, with a fireplace and a large collection of Toby character mugs, the main dining room, which shares the fireplace with the pub, and the Shakespearean dining room that is decorated with dozens of 200-year-old etchings depicting scenes from Shakespeare’s works. The restaurant is jammed full of things to look at, in the best way possible, and there is nothing new or tacky to distract the eye (apart from a small TV behind the bar). No mini white lights – thank goodness!; all the lighting appears to date back to the 1960s.


main dining room, Lord Fletcher's - image by The Jab

main dining room, Lord Fletcher’s – image by The Jab


Shakespearean room, Lord Fletcher's - image by The Jab

Shakespearean room, Lord Fletcher’s – image by The Jab


The menu is what you would expect from an Olde English restaurant – meat and fish dishes prepared in the classic way. Their specialty is prime rib of beef, which comes in two ways: the Lord’s Cut without a bone (about one pound of meat!) and the King’s Cut, served with the bone. For serving the dishes come out with covers and are placed on folding trays and served – a nice touch that you don’t see in restaurants very often anymore. Entrees come with homemade soup or salad, tossed tableside.



Lord’s cut of prime rib w/Yorkshire pudding, spinach and creamed horseradish – image by The Jab


The sand dabs Queen Anne sounded enticing, but I had to try the prime rib, which was excellent. The spinach was not creamed style so it was a bit dry, but I mixed in a little creamed horseradish and voilà! The potato leek soup I had was very delicious and served piping hot. Also excellent was the house made bread served with a large ramekin filled with butter. The service was very good. I asked for more au jus and was promptly served a large sauce-boat of it. They have several Fuller English ales available in the bottle. Perfect accompaniment to prime rib. Try to save room for the rice pudding, made in-house daily.


fireplace, Lord Fletcher's - image by The Jab

fireplace, Lord Fletcher’s – image by The Jab





view from my patio at Horizon Hotel - image by The Jab

view from my patio at Horizon Hotel – image by The Jab


9:00am – complementary continental breakfast (Le Continental breakfast, if you please!) on patio outside room (pic above is the view from the patio).

1:00pm – brunch at The Tropicale, a newish restaurant that has been decorated in a great swanky 1950s tropical style. And it has terrific food to boot. Lucy and Ricky Ricardo would have felt right at home here!

5:00pm – Martinis poolside by the fire pit at the Horizon Hotel!

7:00pm – pre-dinner cocktail at Lyons English Grille. This Olde English restaurant was opened in 1945 by the Lyons family. David Lyons is owner, and to my knowledge has been since the opening! Jeff Lyons is the manager. Previous co-owner Arthur Lyons, a successful writer of crime novels and nonfiction, member of the Palm Springs City Council, and co-founder of the Palms Springs Film Noir Festival, passed away in 2008.

UPDATE – Lyons English Grill closed in 2014 and was gutted of its Old English decor (except for in the foyer), reopening as Mr. Lyons in 2015.

entrance to Lyons - image by The Jab

entrance to Lyons – image by The Jab


Similar to Lord Fletcher’s in decor, but perhaps a bit more “over the top”, and I mean that in a good way. Coats of arms, heraldic flags, suits of armor, large stained glass portraits and scenes, art, Toby mugs, and much bric-à-brac. Much of the decor was collected by David Lyons, who is originally from England.


main dining room at Lyons - image by The Jab

main dining room at Lyons – image by The Jab


There is the main dining room of large vinyl booths and tables, and the piano bar dining room with wonderful sparkly red vinyl high-backed chairs and red vinyl booths. Tuxedo-jacketed, bow-tied waiters will be at your service in either room.


Bar dining room at Lyons - image by The Jab

Bar dining room at Lyons – image by The Jab


Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to dine there this time. The menu is mainly hearty English fare prepared classically, such as prime rib and steak that are aged on the premises. The prices are less expensive than Lord Fletcher’s, so it’s a good choice if you are on a budget (they offer early bird specials nightly) or if Lord Fletcher’s is closed (Sundays and Mondays). But you should try to visit both, as they are equally wonderful in atmosphere. If I had time I would have tried the aged New York Steak at Lyons since I had prime rib at Lord Fletcher’s.


Sir Winston Churchill - image by The Jab

Sir Winston Churchill – image by The Jab


8:00pm – My favorite restaurant and bar in Palm Springs is Melvyn’s, a place I dined at on my second visit to Palm Springs in 2000. Melvyn’s originally opened in 1975 at the Ingleside Inn, which was built as a private estate in the 1920s and later became a small inn that catered to an exclusive clientele of movie stars, politicians, and prominent businesspeople. Melvyn Haber, a businessman from New York, purchased the Ingleside Inn in 1975, restoring it and opening Melvyn’s restaurant and the Casablanca lounge and piano bar. Since that time the inn has again hosted celebrities and politicians.


image by David Lansing (


Melvyn’s is a fine dining restaurant with elegant decor and atmosphere. It is dark and soothing – the perfect amount of light, day or night, as there are no windows in the dining room I was seated in. There are four dining rooms: the Ruth Hardy Room, the Garden Room, the Carrie Birge Room, and the Renaissance Room, where Sinatra used to dine, and where I dined on this visit. I didn’t want to bother other diners with a flash so my picture is pretty dark.


Renaissance Room - image by The Jab

Renaissance Room – image by The Jab


The menu at Melvyn’s is true Continental, and quite extensive. They offer several dishes that are prepared tableside, some that are flambéed (steak Diane, steak au poivre, bananas flambé, cherries jubilee, and crepes Suzette). Steak Diane was Sinatra’s favorite, and it has long been a favorite of mine, since my mom made it for our family back in the 1960s. The classic version: thin beef tenderloin medallions, sautéed in butter, with a simple pan sauce of shallots, mustard, and a demi-glace, flambéed with brandy. Melvyn’s also adds Worcestershire sauce and garlic, which is fine with me. No mushrooms, thank you very much.



steak Diane tableside – image by The Jab

The service was wonderful. Attentive, gracious, and friendly. It was easy to strike up a conversation with my veteran waiter. He notified me that in Palm Springs it is impossible to open a new restaurant with flambéed dishes these days as it is illegal to do so! Only old places like Melvyn’s can continue to serve flaming food. Such a shame! It makes me appreciate such places all the more. I think the Iron Gate in Belmont is the last restaurant left in the Bay Area that serves flambéed dishes (since Buena Vista closed)!

After your dinner at Melvyn’s be sure and visit the famous piano bar the Casablanca Lounge for after dinner drinks and dancing.

One final tip: people eat early in Palm Springs (at least in the older restaurants), so plan accordingly. Lyons English Grille offers early bird specials nightly except Tuesdays from 4:30-6:30pm.

Lord Fletcher’s
70385 California 111, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 328-1161
Open Tues-Sat 4:30pm-8:30pm, closed Sun-Mon

Lyons English Grille
233 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264
(760) 327-1551
Open Mon-Sun 4:30pm-10:00pm, closed Tuesday

200 W Ramon Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92264
(760) 325-2323
Open Mon-Fri – lunch 11:30am-3:00pm, dinner 6:00pm-11:00pm
Sat-Sun – brunch 9:00am-3:00pm, dinner 6:00pm-11:00pm

The Broadmoor Hotel’s restaurants, Colorado Springs, Colorado – REMODELED

On the occasion of Le Continental’s second anniversary I took a couple of weeks off, but I’m back with my first restaurant post of Le Continental’s third year. Thank you for reading, commenting, and especially for visiting the fine establishments I’ve included on these pages.

Recently I was looking at photos from my 2008 visit to Colorado and remembering a wonderful meal I had at The Tavern steakhouse in the historic Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, so I thought I would look up the restaurant and see what its current status is. I was happy to find that the Tavern is still there, but saddened to hear that they remodeled the amazing Mayan Room only this year. Here is a photo I took of the Mayan Room during my visit.


Mayan room details

Mayan room, 2008 – image by The Jab



The Broadmoor Hotel was opened by Spencer Penrose from Philadelphia in 1918 at a cost of two million dollars. It was designed by the New York architecture firm Warren and Wetmore, designers of New York City’s Grand Central Station, Ritz-Carlton, and Biltmore hotels. The grounds were designed by the Olmstead Brothers, who designed Central Park.


Early photo of hotel and gardens. Image by Broadmoor History facebook page.


The Tavern restaurant (opening date unknown) was remodeled in 1939 and still has many of the original architectural elements on the ceiling and walls. As far as I was able to find out online, it has not been remodeled in this year’s renovations.


Tavern at the Broadmoor – Image by


bottle chandelier

bottle chandelier – image by The Jab

There are some interesting details at the Tavern, like the lighting fixtures made from old bottles. Spencer Penrose was strongly against Prohibition, so he purchased and stored large quantities of liquors and wines before the law went into effect. In 1933 when Prohibition ended he moved his stockpiles to the hotel. Many bottles from his collection, some quite rare, are on display in the restaurant and in adjacent hallways.


booze bottles on diplay in the Tavern

image by The Jab


more bottles line the hallways

image by The Jab


Chateau Lafite, Pernod, Bacardi, etc

image by The Jab



How about a 1903 Chateau Lafite?



1955 Cristal anyone?

image by The Jab






Or perhaps some 1955 Cristal Champagne?







When the Tavern was renovated in 1939 the Tavern Lanai was built next to it, probably in a Hawaiian motif. Hawaii was popular destination for Spencer and his wife Julie so it became a popular theme at the hotel in the late 1930s. in 1938 the Lanai suites were added in the back of the hotel and in 1939 the Hawaiian Village rooftop garden and nightclub opened with live Hawaiian entertainment.


Hawaiian Village – Image by Broadmoor History Facebook page



In 1953 the Tavern Lani was enclosed and remodeled into a mid-century modern version of a an ancient Mayan temple, called the Mayan Room, and the patio at the tavern was enclosed to become the Garden Room, which had plants, trees, and a fountain with two live flamingos! The flamingos occasionally leaped on tables with dining patrons so they had to be moved to the hotel’s zoo (yes, it even had a zoo!). Both of these rooms have been remodeled this year.


The Mayan Room before 2013 remodel – image by



In 1961 the hotel expanded greatly by building a nine-story south tower, crowned with the elegant Penrose Room, which is still open and has been a AAA five-star restaurant since 1977. Jackets are still required for gentlemen diners.


Penrose Room, 1977 – image by


Penrose Room, 2011 – image by Elizabeth Dorney at


Also in 1961, the modern conference center called the International Center was opened, which included the Golden Bee, an original turn-of-the-century English pub that was in storage in NYC for many years until it was shipped to the Broadmoor and reconstructed.


image by


image by


The Golden Bee was most likely relocated because on my last visit there was no International Center anymore, but the pub was still there with all of its hand carved mahogany woodwork. Just last spring it was enlarged and renovated, but from the pictures it looks like it still has much of the original decor and a ragtime piano player still performs.


Main hotel bar, 1961, still there but remodeled – image by Broadmoor History facebook page



Even if you can’t afford to stay at the very expensive hotel, it’s very much a worthwhile visit to walk the grounds and have a meal at The Tavern, Penrose Room, or the Golden Bee, which all still retain much of their classic decor and atmosphere. And there are many fabulous nearby attractions to visit, particularly the cog railway to Pikes Peak (once operated by the Broadmoor), Garden of the Gods, and the town of Manitou Springs for its vintage arcade and small town charm.



Yours truly enjoying a 16-ounce t-bone steak and a Manhattan in the Tavern, 2008 – note the mini silver ice bucket to keep the rest of your cocktail chilled, a touch I really appreciate! –  image by The Jab


The Broadmoor Hotel
1 Lake Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80906
(719) 577-5775
Tavern open daily 11am-11pm
Penrose Room open Tue-Sat 6pm-9pm, closed Sun-Mon
Golden Bee open Sun-Th 11:30am-12:30am, Fri-Sat 11:30am-1:30am