Dinner in the Dungeon

After a lovely birthday tea celebration in the Orangery and some pampering at the Aqueous Spa, it was evening time at Dalhousie Castle and time for dinner!

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Included in our package was a 3 course dinner at Dalhousie Castle’s Dungeon Restaurant.

“Awarded 2 AA Rosettes, our menu is a modern interpretation of classic Scottish dishes cooked and prepared in a classic French cooking style, whilst using locally sourced produce.”

We had been hosteling and adventuring for the past 2 weeks, so it was nice to be pampered a little bit at the castle and we were excited to get dressed up for dinner!

We were instructed when we checked into Dalhousie Castle to head to the Library 30 minutes prior to our dinner reservation for drinks. Walking in, we immediately noticed how cozy it was. Ioana and I both LOVE reading and although we didn’t have a chance to actually sit down and read in this library, we could definitely see ourselves enjoying a good read and a warm drink here! (On our next stay, for sure!)

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We settled into a couch in the Library and were presented with some menus. We ordered our drinks (A nice rosé) and perused the dinner menu. Instead of ordering at the table, they took our orders for dinner here, even before we headed down to the actual Dungeon Restaurant. This meant the kitchen had adequate time to prepare our food, whilst we lounged in the Library with our drinks.

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We were also served a selection of hor d’oeuvres whilst we lounged in the Library. We enjoyed our time drinking our wine, chatting with other diners, hearing their travel stories and enjoying the warm and cozy ambiance of the Library.

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After about 30 – 35 minutes, we were led down to the Dungeon! (I guess hundreds of years ago, I wouldn’t be saying that with enthusiasm!)

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It was a really neat setting for a restaurant. The barrel vaulted ceilings, the exposed bricks, with suits of armour, swords and shields on the walls… So now we can say we have dined in a dungeon! How many of you can say that? 😉

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The restaurant was not packed to the rafters that night – it was a Monday night afterall. But there were several other parties dining already. The tables were spaced out nicely and you didn’t feel like you were intruding on others’ conversations or bumping elbows with others.

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The decor here was definitely more formal than when we had our Afternoon Tea in the Orangery earlier in the afternoon.

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Blurry picture 😦

Before we get to the food, here’s a disclaimer. We totally did not take notes while we were eating dinner that evening. And we also forgot to take a photograph of the menu… Hence one year later, we have a vague idea of what we ate, but we could also be completely wrong! We definitely have learned our lesson!! So here goes nothing…

For my starter, I went with the Roast Plum Tomato Terrine with a basil salad. Tomatoes and basil are the perfect combination in my books, so I really enjoyed this starter. The terrine had an nice, smooth texture and mouth feel. The balsamic and chutney pulled the dish together. All the different flavours and textures on the plate worked together to create a very enjoyable starter.

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Here’s Ioana’s starter… which we think was the Glazed Perthshire Lamb Sweetbreads with balsamic and parmesan!

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We picked the same main course this evening – the Pan Fried Wild Scottish Pollock with caper butter. (Ioana was saving her first taste of Haggis for later on in the trip!) The fish was cooked well – not overdone and fell apart easily. The sauce and the caper butter complimented the fish well – gave it more flavour but did not overpower the dish. There could have perhaps been more vegetables on the plate (there’s the dietitian side of me coming out!), but overall it was a quality dish!

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After our dinner, we were presented with a complimentary pre-dessert treat! I won’t even guess at what was on this plate – besides the mini madeleine, that we know for sure! (Although it could have been a crazy flavour, which we have since forgotten… 😦 )

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Then came our desserts – our favourite part of any meal! We were glad the portions of the starters and mains were not too large, or we wouldn’t have room for dessert!

Ioana had the Iced Apple Parfait with Toffee and Walnut Sponge. The apple flavour was very refreshing and balanced out the sweeter flavour of the toffee. The crunch of the walnuts also added another texture to this lovely dessert.

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I went with the Dark Chocolate Delice. The dark chocolate delice was delicious – smooth, rich and indulgent! There was also a bit of ice cream to add a different flavour and mouth feel, compared to the delice. Yum!

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After a lovely dinner in the Dungeon Restaurant, we went for a ramble around the castle. We peeked into various rooms, looked at the paintings and photographs on the walls and learned a bit more history about Dalhousie Castle and Clan Ramsay.

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Love the curtains, the ceiling, the windows the chandeliers, the carpet… basically loved everything!

We continued down a hallway and came upon this:

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Everything set up for the wedding that Andrew, the Castle Steward and Piper, was telling us about earlier this afternoon.

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As it was getting late, we headed back up to our room for some sleep. We also didn’t want to run into any… “special guests!”

It is said that Dalhousie Castle is one of the top 10 haunted castles in Europe. Among the sightings of animal ghosts, butler ghosts and some even say the ghost of Sir Alexander Ramsay, perhaps the most famous is that of the “Grey Lady.” The Grey Lady is also known as the ghost of lovelorn Lady Catherine of Dalhousie. She is said to haunt the castle, wandering through doors, hallways, guest rooms and the Dungeon. Guests and staff alike have reported seeing glimpses of her, feeling her ghostly antics and other strange, paranormal experiences.

To avoid meeting Lady Catherine, however nice she may be, we headed back up the stairs and into our room, hoping she would stick another part of the castle tonight.

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Since we only had one night’s stay at this beautiful hotel, we were definitely not leaving early in the morning! We were determined to enjoy as much of Dalhousie Castle and its beautiful grounds before we left. Stay tuned for more of our stay in our next post!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

Birthday Afternoon Tea at Dalhousie Castle 

Almost exactly a year and 2 weeks ago, we were in Edinburgh for Ioana’s birthday. What better way to celebrate than a stay at the historic, luxurious and beautiful Dalhousie Castle!

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First up in the birthday celebrations was Afternoon Tea!

Tea was held in the Orangery – which had a lovely view of the greenery surrounding the castle. In addition to serving Afternoon Tea, the Orangery also serves a contemporary menu for lunch and dinner in a ‘relaxed bistro’ setting.

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The Orangery was lovely – it had large windows all around, that let in the autumn sun. We got a table right by the window so we could bask in the sunshine.

The Orangery is more relaxed than the Dungeon Restaurant, which we would be visiting later that day. I might call it casual elegance? It was decorated in a simple, yet beautiful manner. I liked that it had a bit of a rustic feel, with the exposed bricks and the simple but pretty fresh flowers on each table. Yet, there were also chandeliers hanging from the ceiling for a touch of elegance.

Love the pretty pink carnations!

Here was the menu for Afternoon Tea in Fall 2015. I’m sure the menu has changed since then. Has anyone been to Dalhousie for Afternoon Tea recently? How was it?

We took a look at the tea menu and after much pondering, finally decided on our teas. (Good thing we got a standard tea set of sandwiches, scones and sweets! If we had to choose… oh boy! 😫)

Soon, our teas arrived. Ioana had the Sapphire Earl Grey and I chose the Darjeeling. The teas came with this – something we had never seen before. A tea timer hourglass. We were instructed to look at our respective tea timer to know how long to steep our tea for.

After a couple sips of tea, the Tomato Consommé with Basil arrived. It was a chilled soup, which was very refreshing and flavourful. I love basil – so I thought that was a lovely way to start off our Afternoon Tea. It was also nice to get a chilled soup as it was getting quite warm inside the Orangery – a bit of a greenhouse effect with all the glass windows!

Next, our sandwiches, scones and sweets arrived on a very contemporary stand – definitely different from what we were expecting… But we thought the wooden stand matched well with the setting of the Orangery.

Here’s the food. It’s funny because every time we go for Afternoon Tea, we look at it and always think it’s not THAT much food. Yet… we never end up finishing the entire tea service!

I did ask for some vegetarian substitutions, so some of the food we got was different from the menu above.

Here’s what we had:

Spiced Crabsticks on Milk Brioche Roll, Smoked Chicken Tartelette, Salmon Rillette – Filo

Cucumber on Farmhouse White, Home Roast Ham and Rocket on Farmhouse Brown, Hens’ Egg and Cress on Farmhouse White

Fruit and Plain Scone, with local preserve and clotted cream

Gateau Opera, Cream filled Meringue

Raspberry Cranachan

Dundee Cake, Citrus Meringue Tartelette

Nougat, Dark Chocolate and Praline Truffle, Macaron

We started with some of the sweets, because we noticed they were starting to melt in the warmth of the Orangery. I love nougat, so having this at tea time was a special treat – as I don’t think I’ve ever had Tea where nougat was served!

Next, we went with the sandwiches. This was one of my substitutions as I don’t eat meat. Taking out the meat and replacing it with cheese works for me any and all the time!

A nice refreshing cucumber sandwich…

Egg salad – one of my favourites! And also my staple during this trip, whenever we stopped at supermarkets or a café for lunch…

Onto the scones – a plain and a fruit scone. These were paired with “Local Preserves and Clotted Cream”! I went for the Strawberry, while Ioana went with the Black Currant. I will have to say that we liked the scone we got in the Orkneys (stay tuned for that!) better than the ones here. These ones were good but a bit more doughy.

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Last but definitely not least, the sweets!

The Gateau Opera was a really decadent cake. The cream layers were rich and the top layer was delicious, chocolatey goodness!

This is the Raspberry Cranachan – something we had never heard of before. As per Wikipedia (always a super reliable source…😝)

“Cranachan is a traditional Scottish dessert. In modern times, it is usually made from a mixture of whipped cream, whisky, honey and fresh raspberries, with toasted oatmeal soaked overnight in a little bit of whisky.”

Since we haven’t had this before, we didn’t have anything to compare it to. It was almost like a yogurt parfait but richer – with whipped cream instead. We might have to find a recipe and try making this ourselves! Anyone got one to share?

This is the Citrus Meringue Tartelette – it was a light, simple but tasty treat, with a nice crust.

The aftermath… we tried really hard to finish everything but we just couldn’t!

We had a lovely Afternoon Tea celebration for Ioana’s birthday! 🎉🎂☕

But the celebrations weren’t over just yet. We were off for our spa treatments, which were included in the package we booked. We each got a one-hour spa treatment and were free to use the rest of the spa facilities afterwards. It was a quiet day, so we had the spa all to ourselves. We took our time enjoying the foot baths (we definitely needed that to pamper our feet after all of our walking, exploring and adventures!), the Turkish style steam bath, a sweating room and lastly, spent some time lounging in the sunny Tepidarium.

After all of that relaxation and pampering, it was time to get dressed for dinner! We would be dining in the dungeon that evening! Pretty cool to be able to say we have dined in a dungeon.

Stay tuned for more on this beautiful castle and some tasty food in our next post!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

The Splurge!

While we were planning our Ireland and Scotland trip, we noticed that we would be in Edinburgh on Ioana’s birthday.

And that called for a celebration! So we searched for something special to do… something that would give us an excuse to get dressed up on a backpacking trip 😆 We thought of going to a nice place for Afternoon Tea, going for a nice dinner somewhere or a spa day, but those were all things that we could do at home. We wanted something a bit more special – since we were in Scotland after all.

When we came upon a package deal from Dalhousie Castle, we knew that would be our splurge for the trip!

The deal cost £300 for 2 people and included one night bed and breakfast stay, 2 spa treatments, use of the spa facilities, a 3 course dinner for 2 and drinks at the Dungeon Restaurant. We thought it was a good deal for a splurge, considering what was included in the package.

Plus! This was our chance to stay in a real CASTLE! Dalhousie Castle – a castle that reportedly dates back to the 13th century and holds the title of the “Oldest Inhabited Castle” in Scotland. If only those bricks could talk!

We excitedly booked our stay for Dalhousie Castle. We were looking forward to taking a break from staying in hostels and pampering ourselves for one night!

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After a busy Day 2 in Edinburgh, we were ready for a bit of relaxation and luxury on Day 3! But first, we had to get to Dalhousie…

Dalhousie is a little ways outside of Edinburgh, near the town of Bonnyrigg. But it is accessible via public transit – we took Bus 31 towards Bonnyrigg and got off at Brixwold Bank. The bus journey took about 30 minutes. From there, it was a 15 min walk down the B704 to Dalhousie Castle.

Or you could always take a cab there, especially if you have lots of luggage. We were able to leave most of our luggage behind at our hostel, since we were only staying at Dalhousie for one night.

So, with our small day bags in hand, we headed off to the bus stop on North Bridge.

It was another lovely fall morning in Edinburgh. While we waited for our bus, we got another chance to admire the views and architecture of the buildings around us.

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Calton Hill just looks beautiful from any direction!

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The Balmoral and its clock tower

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We boarded the bus and tried to confirm with the bus driver that our stop was on his route. He unfortunately wasn’t sure! Fortunately for us, another passenger informed us that we were on the right bus. He was even kind enough to let us know when our stop was coming up!

Once we got off the bus, we started the leisurely walk towards our castle – yup, I said ‘our’ 😉

There were helpful signs along the way. The walk wasn’t long, hilly or difficult but the sidewalk is very narrow on parts of the walk, so if you have large rolling suitcases, taking a cab might be a better idea!

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Here we are – turning into our Castle!

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Definitely felt like we were approaching a fine estate!

We even made a new friend on our way to the Castle. This friendly horse was just grazing leisurely in a pasture by the road.

Here’s the first glimpse of the Castle from the road…

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And once you rounded the bend towards the Castle, you are greeted with this…

It just gets better as we drew closer and closer to the red brick building.

Here is Dalhousie Castle. What a beautiful Castle – with the design, the ivy climbing up its walls and the flag of Scotland flying proudly atop the Castle.

Now… there was another reason we chose Dalhousie Castle. It has a wee Canadian connection!

Dalhousie Castle was the previous seat of the Earls of Dalhousie – chief of Clan Ramsay. In the early 1800’s, George Ramsay, the 9th Earl of Dalhousie, was the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia (a Canadian province) and later was also the Governor General of British North America. While he was in Nova Scotia, he founded Dalhousie University – which exists to this date. Once we found this little Canadian connection, we knew we had to stay at Dalhousie Castle!

The decision to stay here was also made easier by the romantically beautiful castle! The photographs on the website are great, but to see it in person was even better!

The beautiful drum tower, which is reportedly the oldest part of the current castle.

After checking in, we were scheduled to celebrate Ioana’s birthday with Afternoon Tea!

We were a little early though and they weren’t open yet, so we decided to take a stroll around the castle.

We had the pleasure of meeting the Castle Steward and piper – Andrew, who was so welcoming and friendly. He told us a little bit about the castle and its history, the wedding that was to be held here the next day and applauded me on the correct way I pronounced Edinburgh! (Who knew!)

Since it was a gorgeous day, we wandered outside for a glimpse of the castle grounds.

Here is the Orangery – where we would be having Afternoon Tea later on.

To continue the tradition started in Ireland, there was also to be some gazing at Dalhousie!

Just gazing…

And more gazing…

Since we decided Afternoon Tea would be our lunch, we had only eaten one meal that day so far. By this time, we were feeling a bit hungry! Good thing when we were walking down the Royal Mile to the bus stop this morning, we were tempted to purchase some shortbread cookies at a souvenir shop! Ever since I was a little girl, Walkers has always been my go-to for shortbread (I’m guessing some nostalgia and childhood memories factor into this decision!) And this pack wasn’t just ordinary shortbread – they were mini Scottie dogs! Cute – almost too cute to eat!

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But we were hungry… so to tide us over until Afternoon Tea, we broke open a pack of the Mini Scottie Dogs and enjoyed some shortbread in the sunshine, with a view of the castle grounds.

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We couldn’t resist taking more photographs of and with this beautiful castle.

After a couple more selfies with our Castle as the backdrop, the Orangery was open and it was time for the celebratory Birthday Tea!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!