Colessio was so good we returned and below are even more photos...
It is often said “ Good things come to those who wait”.
Stirling has waited a long time for Colessio, but is it any good?
First impressions are positive, with the beautiful restoration of the exterior of the old hospital building. Once you step through the front doors however you are hit by a wave of sumptuous modernity, a monochrome palate and more sparkles than the local Swarovski shop. Natalia, who looked after us most of the evening, also sparkled as she welcomed us and showed us to our table in the Grill Room.
Some will hate the interior, that leaves no trace of any original features and opens up the whole of the ground floor into one huge space. The bar, reception and restaurant flow into each other naturally, but great interior design with high back chairs and thick carpets prevent this becoming a vast echoey void. Clever arrangement of furniture and some booths along one wall create plenty of cosy spaces for couples or groups to dine with some privacy, whilst still enjoying the atmosphere of the restaurant.
We were promptly shown menus and drink orders were taken, service was as polished as the cutlery and glassware, I was suitably impressed, which is no mean feat. The menu is comprehensive, with traditional Scottish, Scottish fusion, some European, a smattering of oriental and a soupçon of American. If you can't find something you like on this menu, you should probably not be allowed to eat out... ever.
We went for the Mushrooms Auld Reekie and Aromatic Shredded Duck Bon Bons to start and a Roast Lamb Rump. It seemed a requisite that whilst in the Grill Room we also ordered a steak and as my best buddy had never had a Rib Eye we went for one of those. Service remained friendly and efficient as water was topped up and a short wait later the starters arrived at the table. The shredded duck Bon Bons were an interesting creation and by their very nature quite dry. Luckily a dipping bowl of Peking sauce helped keep things moist and provided a contrast of spice and sweetness to the rich flavour of the duck.
The mushrooms were presented in their own cast iron pot and the smell of garlic wafted up as the lid was taken off, a great little presentation trick. The pot must also have been a visual illusion, much like Mary Poppin's bag, because no matter how many mushrooms I ate I never seemed to get any closer to the bottom. The rich cheese sauce was a great accompaniment to the mushrooms and the smoked flavour really combined well with the garlic.
Natalia continued to impress with her service skills as did all the serving staff. Checks were made, plates cleared, glasses refilled and things were obviously running just as smoothly in the kitchen as the main courses arrived after just a few minutes.
The Lamb was a lovely pink colour and the dish as a whole was beautifully presented, with the bright coloured Mediterranean vegetables standing out. The lamb was a quality cut, that was perfectly cooked and the basil jus, which I worried may overwhelm the flavour from the meat, was perfectly balanced. The champ mash was creamy and had great flavour from the spring onions liberally mixed in with the potato.
The steak was again a quality cut and the traditional sidekicks of onion rings, tomato and mushroom were all present and correct. But this steak is a bit different to most restaurants because it's been cooked over charcoal. Luckily someone hasn't set up a barbecue in the kitchen, if anyone remembers watching 'Hotel' on the BBC back in the nineties you'll remember that idea never worked very well.
No, the Grill Room are the proud owners of a Josper grill. It grills the meat over charcoal at 300-350 degrees centigrade so the meat stays tender, whilst being cooked quickly and gains all the wonderful flavours of the glowing embers. If it weren't for the twelve grand price tag I would have one in my kitchen! The result was one of the best steaks I have tasted for a long time, I got a very small sliver to try, I regret not ordering it for myself now.
Service remained excellent throughout the meal and I was even persuaded to try a dessert, which is an achievement, but when a Jammy Dodger Baked Alaska appears on a menu, how can you say no? So I didn't!
The baked Alaska arrives in it's own pan, fresh from the oven. Careful it's hot! The piped meringue was nicely crisp on the outside, but soft and fluffy nearer the middle and perfectly insulated the rich creamy vanilla ice cream. Oodles of strawberry jam and a soft spongy base rounded out a fantastic dessert and a great meal.
Three courses, with a steak was a touch under £60, plus drinks and a tip, so this isn't a cheap dinner, but you get value for your money. Not just from the quality of the ingredients, you pay for the talented kitchen brigade and their fancy grill. You pay for the quality of service, the posh glasses and the “black and bling” interior. Above all you pay for this gem of a building, a stones throw from Stirling Castle, to have been brought back into use in such a dynamic and opulent fashion. So it's worth every penny.
And definitely worth the wait...