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Issue 39 - Sensational summer dining

Scotland Magazine Issue 39
June 2008

 

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Sensational summer dining

Old Course Hotel St. Andrews, Fife Tel: +44 (0)1334 474 371 Some restaurants just ‘have it’ and The Grill Room on the top floor of St. Andrew’s highest-rated hotel is one of them. All the ingredients for success are there – and it has lately risen like the best of soufflés.

Head chef Paul Hart oversees a skilled team and exciting, classy menus change with the months, seasons and the availability of the majority ‘guaranteed local’ produce used. Chef Hart won a Médaille d’Or in the food awards of The Scottish Hotels of the Year 2008 and the restaurant holds three AArosettes.

The sense of occasion is a major feature. Atop this landmark building, overlooking the most famous golf course in the world, new full-height floor to ceiling windows reveal the natural beauty of the bay and the historic skyline of the ‘auld grey toon.’ The open-plan kitchen means you can watch the chefs at work, if you wish.

The East Neuk of Fife is a wonderful larder – it’s one of the country’s best areas for access to top natural ingredients. Shellfish, especially lobster, is landed locally at one of the picturesque old fishing ports such as Anstruther, Pittenweem or Crail. Soft fruits (the best raspberries on earth) come from the rich fields that elsewhere produce prime dairy foods, beef and venison. All of this is embraced and presented with class in a dramatic dining room – one with a stunning adjacent bar, too, home to one of the biggest selections of Scotch whisky anywhere.

Kinnaird House Hotel Near Pitlochry, Perthshire Tel: +44 (0)1796 482 440 If one could step into a time machine and ask to be taken back to a privileged position in Edwardian Scotland, a time when the Empire was at its zenith and country houses were springing up as escapes from the noise and smoky breath of cities... you might very well end up here. Kinnaird House is at the heart of a well-established estate and sits surrounded by magnificent, tall specimen trees, lawns and country-sporting moors and lochs. The River Tay runs close to the house which sits in a suitably elevated position, surveying the valley.

This beautiful house – for it really does deserve that adjective – feels little like a hotel and much like the original item. The supremely elegant dining room, for example, is decorated with Italianate wall panels painted delicately in situ and depicting the seasons. Tables are generously spaced and perfectly set: the high-ceilinged, chandeliered room is airy and plush. Downstairs – where the atmosphere is even more Edwardian – chef Jean-Baptise Bady prepares meals of the highest calibre, artistic presentation and wise restraint.

From the canapés presented by the roaring log fire in the drawing room, to the handmade petit fours with coffee afterwards, everything is finely done. General manager James Payne is a former winner of the UK Sommelier of the Year title and, be assured, the wine list is not just fascinating but James is on hand to make sage recommendations. And our high recommendation is evident, we hope.

Kilmichael House Hotel Isle of Arran, Ayrshire Tel: +44(0)1770 302 219 Arran is easy to get to and is one of the largest of Scotland’s countless islands. The highest peaks can be seen from much of southwest Scotland; for walkers the island is perfect. Brodick Bay, where you’ll arrive by ferry from Ayrshire, is sweepingly grand and on the northern side you’ll glimpse Brodick Castle.

Deep in Glen Cloy, in a scenic, tranquil and sheltered spot, Kilmichael House sits secure in its superiority as the oldest house on the isle. Heraldry above the entrance hints at the genuine nature of this old property and of the classy good taste within. Peacocks trumpet a welcome. It is a joyfully elegant place, even glamorous and witty, with brightly beautiful sitting rooms – the largest of which has a crackling log fire, fine artworks, a grand piano and deeply comfortable sofas.

Settle down to an aperitif in one of the upstairs lounges and coowner Geoffrey Botterill will chat with you about the dinner menu and take your order. Canapés are served. Guests mingle and chat: it’s a friendly house, long, long accustomed to providing hospitality.

The dining room has a touch of the Italian to it and has large windows looking to the surrounding woodland. Andrew Butterworth is chef and, with sensitivity for flavour and presentation, his dishes are served by immaculately-dressed staff. The style is a delicious meeting of home-cooking and classic fine dining. A summertime delight.

3 more ideas for you Peat Inn Near St. Andrews, Fife Tel: +44 (0)1334 840 206 This year’s reigning Scottish Restaurant-with-Rooms of the Year, the Peat Inn has a fresher, lighter look to it since restyled by owners Geoffrey and Katherine Smeddle. He is a top-class, gifted chef and she oversees a top-notch front of house operation. The food is in the upper echilons of quality and diners will find excitement in both food and wine. An outstanding option near St. Andrews.

Split-level suites are terrific Annandale Arms Hote Moffat, Dumfriesshire Tel: +44 (0)1683 220 013 Proof that really delicious food doesn’t always need to be expensive, the rather traditional tdining room here serves up heartwarmingly tasty food. We’ve savoured supremely good organic Galloway lamb and enjoyed terrific local venison. A bar-style menu is on offer most of the time, but a night in one of the sleek new rooms (with notably excellent bathrooms) and a full dinner is just £25!

Craigdarroch House Loch Ness Tel: +44 (0)1456 486 400 In the most restful of settings, a new Scottish good food story is emerging. Award-winning husband and wife chef and restaurant manager team Martin and Elinor Donnelly are at the helm. A set menu (options available) is served and chef’s measured expertise provides diners with superb, balanced and wildly flavoursome cuisine. The hotel itself is informal, getting better; the food – outstanding Some others worth considering...

The Orangery at Balbirnie House in Fife has a superb dining room and the kitchen team provide top-class, exciting food of the highest calibre. Fussy critic Johanna Blythman recently gave it a ‘10/10.’ The Three Chimneys on Skye is just one of the outstanding places in which to dine on that scenic isle in summer. This year it won awards for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Toravaig House and Ullinish Country Lodge also offer top-quality eating. John Kelly at the Bosville Hotel is another top island chef and in high season the Chandlery Restaurant is a very busy place. On the isle of Mull we love Highland Cottage – and on Coll, the Coll Hotel’s Gannet Restaurant is a high point for away-fromit- all sophisticated casual dining.

In Edinburgh, The Bonham’s restaurant has a sleek new look: Michael Bouyer is a chef who has a real touch with flavours. In Glasgow, Hotel Chef of the Year Paul Tamburrini serves terrific food in the wonderfully stylish and witty Hotel du Vin Bistro. Michael Caines Restaurant at ABode Glasgow is also a confident top-tip. Bon appétit!