Located on a prime piece of tourist real estate, yet still managing to retain a hideaway charm, Monteith’s aims for modern contemporary cuisine, to please both tourist and local tastes.
Decor is a mix and match of eclectic pieces, from traditional tweed or leather covered straight-backed chairs, with Chesterfields in the bar area, to contemporary chic plastic chairs. Leather-bound books in the dining area are offset against a modern bar with stylishly under-lit bar shelves. Does it work? I’m not sure, really, but it’s certainly interesting.
Open all day on Saturdays and Sundays, I found the place populated by a slightly odd mix, on my visit. Aside from me, sitting unobtrusively across from one of those stylish plastic chairs, was a table of ladies lunching before bidding one of their number adieu at the nearby train station (judging by the bags, anyway), a table of talkative, mature American tourists, and a hen party of ten rather restrained revellers. I assume their quietness reflected collective hangover pain.
Service was welcoming and friendly, with the lovely waitress clearly used to making light and pleasant tourist chat. However, the poor girl was left to run the room largely on her own, which meant balancing the competing demands of hens, tourists and me, leading to the service being rather slow.
When the food did arrive, further disappointment was in store. The broth of pearl barley and ham hough that I chose to start with was essentially a wet pearl barley risotto. As such, it looked really rather promising. Sadly, it was dramatically underseasoned, and even once condiments had been requested and applied, it was entirely bereft of flavour.
Surely the rare roast beef, which I’d ordered to follow, couldn’t be quite so limp, could it? Oh, but it could! What, pray tell, is the point of calling the dish rare roast beef if when you serve it up it’s a large hunk of over-done beef?
The trimmings to the dish were pretty depressing, too. The gravy was overly sweet. This was compounded by the inclusion of roasted vine tomatoes, which seemed somewhat out of place, to me. The beans, carrots and broccoli were fine, but the potatoes, so often the saviour of a failing roast dinner, were a complete non-event. And the Yorkshire pudding was ordinary at best.
Far from being a contemporary take on Scottish cuisine, these dishes did nothing but reinforce the bad stereotypes that have too long plagued our national culinary image. Flavourless, overcooked pabulum is the only phrase that seems to adequately encompass the failings across both courses.
If I had visited Monteith’s on a Friday evening to sip a mojito in one of their armchairs, or in their lovely little outside seating area, I think I would have been a happy man. Sadly, I chose to eat there and was served two extremely poorly executed dishes. As such, give the place a try for cocktails, but I would caution you in the strongest terms possible against eating there.
Blythe scores Monteith’s
1.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
2.5/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 11.5/20
Today’s quester was: Blythe
I ate: broth, “rare” roast beef
I drank: water
I wore: brown trousers
Total bill: £18