Popped in for lunch with two friends while visiting Campbeltown recently, and was impressed by the recent changes made to this old hotel, which stands near the harbour, in what is a prime spot, in this picturesque, town. I stayed in the town in the late seventies and remember the Royal as being somewhere you went for a pint or two of beer of an evening, but not to enjoy the cuisine. I was told that it has only reopened recently after extensive refurbishment and is pitching itself towards the American golfers market. It certainly has been refurbished to a very high standard but has managed to retain the character of the old building unlike another establishment, I visited locally, on my reminiscence visit. Unfortunately, the dining experience was not as impressive. The staff are stiff, over- formal and appear "over- trained" and lacking in warmth. The food on offer was varied and reasonably priced with the surroundings but did not deliver on quality. The cauliflower soup was grey in colour and was of puréed cauliflower consistency, not soup- like. As for the paninis? Is no-one in Campbeltown able to bake or buy in quality bread suitable to providing the usual fillings associated with paninis nowadays? To be authentic a panini should be at least delivered on a Mediterranean type bread, not the cheap, mass produced, subway- type rolls on offer here, which are likened to those microwaved paninis on offer in a certain cut- price airline we all know. People have to work really hard these days and their money has to go far. I suspect the local people will visit out of curiosity and go elsewhere for a cheaper alternative. It remains to be seen whether the rich Americans keep it going- I would advise them to live- in but eat elsewhere.
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