THE term award-winning is thrown around a lot these days – used simply to betoken something deserving of praise.

When it comes to food, that description is easily applied by restaurants who have all, at once, been honoured for their work.

It is right that we showcase such fine talent and, sure enough, there are plenty of fine places to dine.

There are great chefs with attentive service and even some in pristine surroundings. But then there's Knock Castle Hotel and Spa.

Nestled in the hills near Crieff, this hideaway not only presents a feast for the eyes on arrival, but the food here truly merits the title of award-winning.

Others clearly agree, in May it won the Flavour of Scotland prize at the Scottish Food Awards, having earlier been awarded Best Hotel Restaurant at the Scottish Prestige Hotel Awards in February.

Ask yourself what you want in the restaurant and then try to find a fault in the offerings at Knock.

Though the food itself takes centre stage, some time should be taken to appreciate the welcoming and accommodating nature of the bar and kitchen staff.

All display a genuine willingness to sweeten their customers' dining experience and are intuitively flexible with the menus on offer.

At Knock, there are three different types: The degustation (tasting) menu; a la carte; and the bar food. All have their attractions, but those of a indecisive disposition can take comfort in the fact they can choose pretty much whatever they like from either to suit themselves.

This flexibility is reinforced by the willingness of staff to accommodate any changes as the patron desires. When I saw my preferred steak would be served on a bed of wild mushrooms...Well, my first instinct was: "Ewwww, yuck", but I showed considerable restraint in merely asking to have the dished served without. The response to me was one which, I feel, most people would really appreciate: "Would you like anything else, instead?"

Let's test the water, I thought. "Do you have any haggis?" I inquired, and let me tell you, it was a terrific suggestion on my part. Not only did the kitchen staff agree, they offered to make it in any way I asked. Quick note: Haggis bon bons go so well with steak.

And the steak itself was superb – there is simply no substitute for good food done well. Every mouthful a treat, and with a symphony of tastes in accompaniment, I doubt many could leave unsatisfied.

All this takes place in a simply ideal setting. An intimate restaurant, but with fine views of the valley around. There is even a few seats outdoors for those seeking an al fresco experience.

Indeed, the grounds itself is a celebration for the senses and those fortunate enough to enjoy the lush lodgings would not be disappointed: All modern comforts but in a tranquil and near-regal environment.

The rooms could be considered a triumph unto themselves, as the four-poster beds, sunken bay-window-side bathtubs and picturesque views prove to be the perfect follow-up to the meal of your life.