Restaurant review

Grant Arms Hotel in Monymusk’s Sunday Roast

Sometimes timing is everything, and when you get it wrong, it can go wrong.

It had been a while since I had a few of my school friends together, so I arranged to meet them for Sunday lunch. I’m not the biggest roast fan, but they love it so they figured it wouldn’t kill me on a Sunday to indulge them.

The Sunday I picked at the start of September seemed to be the worst as Monymusk in Aberdeenshire was riddled with cars everywhere. There was no parking available at the Grant Arms Hotel – where we had arranged to meet – no parking in the surrounding streets, and, to make matters worse, no one seemed to be leaving.

Outside the Grant Arms Hotel in Monymusk, Aberdeenshire. Photo by Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

I was incredibly confused as to why such a picturesque village was overrun with vehicles. I knew the Sunday lunch there had received rave reviews from my foodie friends, but was it really that good?

When I finally managed to grab a space at the opposite end of the village, I noticed many mountain bikers and was informed on entering the building that indeed a big bike event mountain was taking place locally.

The Grant Arms Hotel

As I walked through the door, I found the dining room on the right. It was full when we arrived and my friend and I were seated quickly and given the menu to review. On Sundays you will only find the Sunday lunch options – beef or chicken with all the trimmings with a pudding for £29.95 pp.

We both asked for water for the table and after finding out there was no diet coke we ordered a lemon Sanpellegrino instead.

The Grant Arms Hotel
Full Sunday lunch operates at the Grant Arms Hotel in Monymusk. Photo by Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

It’s a casual dining room with tartan rugs and a few paintings on the wall. It’s simple and cozy, and there were rather large wine glasses already placed on the tables.

The third in our group arrived and she too had had trouble parking and had “abandoned” her car.

The food

We all loved the half roast chicken and the 25 day aged Scottish sirloin so we decided to split and order two for the chicken and one for the beef. After seeing large cutting boards filled with meat and vegetables flying around the room, we had to try both.

The wait wasn’t too long before one of these boards graced our table. Right in front was the full stuffing, the biggest casserole filled with cauliflower and broccoli cheese gratin I’ve ever seen, and a big bowl of beets.

The Grant Arms Hotel
Sunday lunch set up with unique table and glassware. The plates were not on the table when our reviewer visited. Photo by Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

After the meat and other dishes on the platter which included roasted carrots and parsnips, large Yorkshire puddings, pigs in blankets and a stuffed bowl of roasted new potatoes, was the red wine jus and several ramekins of French, Dijon and English mustard. I hadn’t seen so much food on a table in a long time.

Immediately we got stuck grabbing all different dishes and passing them around like it was Christmas Day.

The Grant Arms Hotel
Some of the sides served with the roast. Brussels sprouts were not served and are not usually included in the Sunday roast. Photo by Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

The chicken tore from the bone and was incredibly juicy. The meat was tender and very well cooked, the crispy skin was peeling off. The beef was cooked to perfection, as any good beef joint should be, and had little to no fat, which was appreciated. It was tender and I think it was all our favorites because of the flavors and juices.

Although I’m usually a fan of tatties, I found these to have been cooked a bit too long with their wrinkled skins exposed. I love crispy roast potatoes and these were less so. This is the gratin that I loved the most. The cheese dish had formed a slight crust on top after being in the oven and that slight crunch with the softer vegetables was delicious.

The Yorkies were large and well cooked and tasted much better than the ones I make at home. They were crispy but soft and with a little beef jus and red wine they made the perfect bite.

The Grant Arms Hotel
Red wine jus poured over the sirloin beef with all the trimmings. Photo by Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

Like the tatties, I felt the stuffing had seen better days as it was very dry, but the pork sausages wrapped in bacon made up for that as they were delicious. The roasted root vegetables, which had been cooked in thyme, garlic and balsamic vinegar, were also excellent.

Our plates were stacked, but we still didn’t feel like doing much damage. I had suggested, because we had dessert coming up, that maybe we should consider getting some of the food to go. The whole group agreed so when we couldn’t eat any more we called the servers to ask if our request could be granted. “A lot of people take it home, that’s no problem,” she replied.

Returning with three individual boxes, she took our dessert order and returned to the kitchen.

Two of us opted for the dark chocolate delight while the third fancied the Eton mess with summer berries.

The Grant Arms Hotel
The chocolate delight with raspberry sorbet. Photo by Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

Again, it didn’t take long for them to appear and both looked quite inviting. The raspberry sorbet with the rich chocolate goes well, but I think I preferred the sorbet because it was refreshing but not too tart. Fresh berries topped the deliciousness but the batter didn’t crumble like I had hoped and was much softer and chewier.

The Eton mess was served with a large piece of meringue on top with strawberry sauce. The whipped cream and meringue were soft and the coulis balanced it all out wonderfully. It was light, fluffy and everything you would want after a heavier main course.

The Grant Arms Hotel
The Eton Mess had a touch of summer berries. It was one of two desserts available. Photo by Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

We tweaked as much as we could and said goodbye to the team that looked after us so well.

I paid the bill and spoke with Frederic Vasquez, the original owner who had spent most of the day in the kitchen. He kindly gave us some pastries from the closing cafe to enjoy when we got home, all of which were lovely.

The verdict

It was the meal that kept on giving.

Whilst initially I thought £29.95 was a little pricey for two courses, when I realized how much food there was and the leftovers had lunch for the three of us the next day I couldn’t discuss the price.

The venue is not licensed to sell alcohol, but you can bring your own wine if you agree to pay the £5 corkage fee per bottle.

I may not be the biggest fan of a Sunday roast, but this experience certainly made me question that.

My last advice? Don’t go to Monymusk for lunch when half of Scotland’s mountain bikers have set up camp. But if you do, persevere until you find a spot because the food is so worth it.


Information

Address: 25 The Square, Monymusk, Inverurie AB51 7HJ

P: 01467 651777

W: thegrantararms.com

Price: £95.35 for a Sunday roast for three with dessert each and a soft drink each (Sunday lunch with dessert per person is £29.95)

Scoring:

  • Food: 4/5
  • Performance: 4/5
  • Surroundings: 3/5

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[Grant Arms Hotel in Monymusk’s Sunday roast]

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