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Honest and exquisite

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Sharon Walters finds fine food, history and culture during a visit to Parklands Hotel, Perth

I've driven past Perth many times but have never stopped. It never appealed to me. And just how many times have I said that over the years about so many places ?

And in the majority of cases where I have visited I have had great experiences.

None more so than during a recent stay in Perth where I enjoyed a lovely hotel, simply exquisite food and my culture hit with galleries, museums, religion and a great deal of history.

Parklands Hotel is the perfect place for a short break – or longer if you want to get out and about and see the stunning countryside around the city. Hoteliers Scott and Penny Edwards have created a stylish boutique in Scotland's newest city with 15 individually-styled bedrooms featuring state-of-the-art technology. Beds are comfortable, rooms airy and bathrooms well-equipped.

There's a smart bar and for when the weather is good enough, a terrace overlooking the hotel gardens and adjoining park. It's an ideal spot for a drink. In the summer months if you like to dine alfresco the bistro menu is offered on the terrace.

Service

Food is central to the Parklands experience with two restaurants on site and a sister restaurant just a five minute walk away. Bistro No 1 in the Parklands has a nice relaxed atmosphere for dining with almost all tables getting views out over the garden.

I enjoyed a relaxing meal in the Bistro and also two excellent breakfasts with one of the best selections of fresh fruit I've seen. There's a wide choice of cooked breakfasts made to order (I hate buffet breakfasts) and I particularly enjoyed my kippers. Service was excellent on all fronts.

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Also on site is 63@Parklands, which offers a fine dining experience with traditional and new dishes. Executive chef of both restaurants, Graeme Pallister, a Masterchef of Great Britain, has managed to source the best in Perthshire produce.

Along with the seasonal a la carte menu the grill menu offers the best in locally sourced Aberdeen Angus beef marinated and char grilled to enhance the flavour in the dishes.

He is also chef and patron of 63 Tay Street where my dining experience was enough to make the trip up over the border well worth while all on its own.

Produce

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Graeme has an ethos of 'local, honest, simple' in his menus, which are full of the best Scottish produce available. Graeme is a multi-award winner, as are the hotel and restaurants, and deservedly so. But he was not in the kitchen on my visit to 63 Tay Street. He was up at the Parklands checking all was well there. And that says it all of a successful chef.

Years ago I was told by a two-starred Michelin chef his kitchen brigade should turn out exactly the same quality as when he was at the stove. After all, he had to have time off or be absent for another reason. And Graeme has certainly trained his brigades to do just that. I simply could not fault any of my food and neither could my partner and we were particularly taken with a couple of dishes featuring unusual combinations. The hand-dived scallops off Mallaig, curried lentils and ginger flan were simply sensational, as was the white onion risotto, locally smoked haddock, Clava Brie and Shetland mussels. We hardly uttered a word as we savoured the food. And sorry to any other diners who didn't approve of us sampling each other's dishes!

Parklands is on the edge of the city centre and just a few minutes walk away are the cathedral, a couple of art museums and the Black Watch museum, which tells the story of the iconic Black Watch Regiment from 1725. Utterly fascinating and very moving.

Now that nicely fills two days without having to leave Perth. So you don't even have to drive. Relax and take the train.

Factfile:

Parklands Hotel, Perth.

Tel: 01738 622451

Email: info@theparklandshotel.com

Website: theparklandshotel.com

Rates are from £54.50 per person bed and breakfast.

The hotel also offers a number of packages currently including the Perth Dining Experience This package is inclusive of dinner at 63 Tay Street on the first evening and dinner the following evening at 63@Parklands.

Price includes both dinners, accommodation in a standard twin or double and full Scottish breakfast each morning.

Standard rooms are £189 per person with superior rooms an extra £10 per person.

Contact 63 Tay Street on 01738 441451, info@63taystreet.com or 63taystreet.com

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