The Scottish Steakhouse: A meat based love affair

It isn't too often that Ben and I travel outside of Edinburgh in search of the next best restaurant. Edinburgh really is an up and coming food hub, with new spots popping up practically every week, so there's always bound to be a restaurant on my list of places to try. But there's something quite romantic about hopping on a train and escaping the city, if only for an evening.

So when I won a Valentine's Day meal at the Scottish Steakhouse in Falkirk, I jumped at the chance to explore one of Edinburgh's many neighboring towns. And, as an added bonus, this would be the first time that Ben and I would go out to eat on Valentine's Day. We usually prefer to cook a romantic meal at home, but putting the responsibility on someone else for one of the year's most pressure-filled nights was a bit of a relief (especially after last year when I completely failed at making creme brulee...).

Armed with hungry stomachs and absolutely no knowledge on how to get around Falkirk, Ben and I boarded a very reasonably priced ScotRail train and made our way in the opposite direction to everyone else at Waverley Station. While Edinburgh was gradually filling up with couples from the suburbs aiming to celebrate V-Day in the capital, we were headed out to the significantly quieter nearby towns.

We pulled up in a taxi to the old Scottish manor house turned hotel which the restaurant was located in, excited to see where this adventure would take us.

Faced with a menu full of Scottish classics, and the task to choose the most blog-worthy dishes of all, we went ahead and ordered two very different starters. Since steak is a rather rich and filling main dish, and I wanted to be able to fully appreciate it when it came time to dig in, I chose a lighter starter of Shetland mussels. Soaked in a briny broth, but kicked up a notch with a hint of chili, these mussels were the perfect start to what would later end up being a much heavier meal (from which I would undoubtedly roll home).

It was a starter that is as equally Scottish as cock a leekie soup, but not quite as intensely Scottish as Ben's choice of starter. A hard boiled egg surrounded by meaty haggis, that is then breaded and fried- it could only be a the infamous Scotch Egg. Despite its decidedly unrefined reputation, this particular Scotch Egg at the Scottish Steakhouse was not executed with a heavy hand. In fact, it had a lovely presentation and was paired with ribbons of pickled vegetables.

But what really shines here are the steaks. I mean, it is a steakhouse after all. Still, there have been times where I have had a meal at a steakhouse and been disappointed with their meat- the quality, how they cooked it, and what they paired it with. But this was no such steakhouse.

It's practically blogging 101 to not order the same thing as your dining partner at a restaurant. But after having been told that our first choice of the two-person sharing steak was not available, we had to make a spur of the moment decision. Ben and I both ordered the sirloin- cooked medium-rare for me, and rare for him. The slight, if ever-so essential, difference between a rare and medium-rare steak proves a difficult task for many. But the kitchen staff at the Scottish Steakhouse are clearly well-versed in this distinction.

The sizeable piece of meat was flavorful from end to end, and would have been just as enjoyable on its own as it was with our sauces of choice. For me, bearnaise sauce was the obvious choice- despite its refined name it is the perfect excuse to dunk a piece of steak into a cream sauce without reservations. Ben paired his sirloin with the less rich, but equally addictive, peppercorn sauce. A big, juicy grilled tomato and a slightly charred mushroom also featured on our plates. But the real winner in terms of sides were the hand cut chips. Fluffy on the inside, and fried to a crisp on the outside, these chips were out of this world. No ketchup necessary.

There is only one way to end a steak dinner, and that's with a big heaping portion of something chocolatey. Ben called dibs on the chocolate brownie, but since it was paired with a cherry coulis (not quite my favorite), I let it slide. This fudgy brownie, while a quintessential steakhouse dessert, was not anything beyond the standard, however.

My chocolate journey took me down a different, and far less exciting path. Most of the desserts listed were surprisingly non-chocolate so I got my fix from the "make your own sundae" option: two scoops of chocolate ice cream with marshmallows and a salted caramel sauce. It was pleasant, without a doubt, but I could have done with a few more chocolate-based options.      

We utilized almost every form of transportation known to man that night- especially when we had to take a replacement bus back to central Edinburgh instead of the train. But despite the great lengths we went to to make our way to and from Falkirk, it was worth it to end up in a restaurant where dozens of couples weren't squeezed together in a crowded restaurant on Valentine's Day. In fact, this just might have been the best possible night to go out to eat anywhere but Edinburgh.

While Valentines Day can prove a daunting task, the Scottish Steakhouse makes it easy to have a romantic night out, without all the hectic hubbub that comes with the most romantic night of the year.

Thank you to the Scottish Steakhouse for hosting us! You can find more information and their full menu here

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