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Issue 27 - Restaurants with rooms

Scotland Magazine Issue 27
June 2006


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Restaurants with rooms

Lochside Lodge and Roundhouse Restaurant Bridgend of Lintrathen, Angus Tel: +44 (0)1575 560 340
On the border of Perthshire and Angus and so happily handy for Perth or Dundee, Lochside Lodge with its attractive Roundhouse Restaurant won The Scottish Restaurant with Rooms of the Year Award 2006 in April. And well deserved was this recognition, too. The place is a gem.

This issue we’re looking at real restaurants with rooms, a particular type of accommodation and food experience Scotland does well. We strongly recommend that you give them a go – especially, of course, if delicious dining and a sense of place are your first priorities.

The restaurant at Lochside is indeed round and is full of rustic – and yet nowadays sophisticated – character. In winter, log stoves burn. In summer, the location, in gorgeous rolling Angus countryside, adds to the special feeling of the place. Graham Riley is a Master Chef of Great Britain and has taken part in many competitions during the years; you can be assured of fine, imaginative dining with the emphasis upon superb local fare. When we last stayed it was the outstanding game we best recall.

Gail and Graham have owned and run the establishment for the past six years or so and it keeps getting better. New suites have been added and they really do offer contemporary, spacious luxury with many added indulgences. Cream leather sofas, huge bathrooms, deep beds, chocolates, big televisions, fresh flowers and local art. Breakfast in the old steading is great fun.

Grants at Craigellachie Ratagain, Wester Ross Tel: +44 (0)1599 511 331
Màm Ratagain may sound like some sort of scary Irish relation but is in fact the steep hill traversed by the Bealach Ratagain pass from Shiel Bridge to Glenelg in Ross-shire. The views are stunning. Ratagain village straggles alongside Loch Duich and faces famous peaks, the Five Sisters of Kintail.

“Very fine food in a little paradise,” wrote French guests the day we stayed in 2006. And that just about sums it up. Accommodation is offered in two stylish and extremely well-equipped rooms in the main house, while a bunkhouse and a family-friendly chalet are also available.

Dining is in the contemporary, quality restaurant seating up to 16 where jazz and cool tunes play softly and the setting adds piquancy to the cuisine. Anarrow blackboard strip along one wall offers daily specials – on the day we stayed this included fresh Loch Eishort mussels cooked in porridge oats, beer and leeks (£6 starter).

Your hosts are Liz and Tony Taylor and we’ll eat our sporrans if you tell us of anything other than open, kind and warm hospitality from this lovely couple. He is a keen chef; she is front of house – you’ll meet them both.

Wendy Barrie, our colleague at ScottishFood, simply calls it “a real find,” and such it is. You won’t stumble across this place by accident – it takes a bit of finding. But then, so does anything worthwhile. And as a romantic escape, it presses all the right buttons.

Windlestraw Lodge Walkerburn, Peeblesshire Tel: +44 (0)1896 870 636
Windlestraw is one of the highest hills in the lush, rolling Border countryside and it is from this summit that Alan and Julie Reid took the name for their beautiful restaurant with rooms near Peebles.

In what’s known as ‘cashmere country’ thanks to the area’s long association with this most luxurious of Scottish export, Windlestraw is a strikingly detailed and rather alluring Edwardian period house originally built for a wealthy textile family. Today, Julie – with a real sense of colour – has redesigned the small hotel with lightness and elegance, bringing out the Arts and Crafts period characteristics. And yet it somehow feels contemporary. Smart!

Alan is a renowned Borders chef and, indeed, trainer. So we expected good food; and we got it.

Popular with every reviewer who has been from, we’d recommend you try Windlestraw (which is less than an hour from Edinburgh) if you appreciate attention to detail and homely stylishness.

The McIntosh Room with its big brass bed and luxurious fabrics is a first-rate room to call your own. Relax before dinner in the airy, open-plan lounge with fire – or take a snifter in the bar (with intricate ceiling) or candlelit conservatory.

Windlestraw terrine with quail, duck and venison might be a starter; supreme of free range guinea fowl filled with Dunsyre blue cheese on a pear and cider sauce an innovative main. Prune and Armagnac crème brûlée with shortbread for dessert? Tempted?

MORE ‘R’ with ‘R’
Here are three more ideas for you
CREAGAN HOUSE Strathyre, by Callander Tel: +44 (0)1877 384 638
In ‘Rob Roy Country’, there’s a warm welcome waiting at this charming, grand old Scots farmhouse with baronial hall dining room. A truly homely restaurant with rooms: Gordon Gunn puts heart and soul into his cuisine, and wife Cherry leads the small front-of-house team. Holds AA red stars and a GoldPlate.

THREE CHIMNEYS & HOUSE OVER-BY Isle of Skye Tel: +44 (0)1470 511 258
Certainly one of the most famous Scottish restaurants, the House Over-By was added some years ago now to The Three Chimneys and offers designer accommodation in the wilds of Skye.

New head chef Michael Smith is a superb, calm chef and you’ll enjoy his food as much as you will the smart rooms.

THE CROSS AT KINGUSSIE Kingussie by Aviemore Tel: +44 (0)1540 661 080
Scottish Restaurant with Rooms of the Year 2004, The Cross is now in fact better than ever. Book room four, a riverside double with a balcony! Tranquil setting for easygoing sophistication. Food with the ‘f-word’: flavour. AAWine List of the Year for Scotland 2005/6. David and Katie Young are sweet hosts.