Monachyle Mohr Hotel - Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Perthshire, FK19 8PQ
5 course meal £47
Everything about the Mhor had exceeded all expectations, the complimentary homemade shortbread was buttery and textured, and service was faultlessly friendly, atmospheric morning mist and view as standard and not one interior design faux pas! With all but one box ticked, I was pretty certain Lewis would not disappoint on the main event.
I was fairly happy to trade in the gortex for chiffon and heels but a bit too overzealous for dinner to commence. So much so that we had to wait for our table and ended up catching the rest of the sunset with a glass of crisp white and a trio of nibblets. The creamed salmon balancing on the blue potato crisp was devoured in a oner so too were the others, but not to worry we were escorted to the ivy coloured dining room just in time to embark on the rest of the well crafted feast.
After a gander at the menu I was giddy. The mini courses sounded food enough to eat as a main – how could you not want more than one oyster and razor clam finely diced and dressed in garden herbs? Perhaps because your head is telling you that you have four, potentially five other plates ahead of you before you flop into your bed and into the finishing line. Thank you wise old head for stopping me from having one and not three of the freshly baked mutli seed buns, leaving more room for my pork belly confit starter and apple snaps and for a bite of Andrews open wild garlic ravioli.
A refreshing shot of blended mint, pea and lettuce later we were primed for the next round. The famed Scottish beef in the short rib form went to Andrew and I went surf with sole and romesco sauce. The fish was milky and delicate but amply jazzed up by the nuttiness of the sauce, the velvety Shetland black potatoes and the bite of the sprouting broccoli.
I eat anything once, but return for flavours I know I like or a combination of, that I might like more when put together. Banana, is a grey area, I tend to eat it for nutritional value but not really for flavour. The desert was tricky territory, a slightly grown up twist on a banana sundae - vanilla parfait and homemade banana marshmallows with chocolate lattices. Another round of applause for Lewis, it was spectacular! Waxy banana was banished and in its place were aerated clouds of tropicalness, cushioned between familiar vanilla notes and brought to attention by shadowy dark cocoa.
Sweet cubes of homemade chocolate fudge and Scottish tablet arrived with our espressos, and sent our taste buds adrift on waves of silky sweetened cream. Obesity would have surely beckoned if faced with a box of these. With bellies satisfied we retired to bed taking our cheeseboard with us, to have with some home mixed Negroni's! As that’s the beauty of having a destination restaurant at the bottom of the stair case, a couple of dozen steps to looser clothes and a feather down bed.
I would have quite happily detoured from the main road for an hour or so to sample the above, the drive and backdrop to the glorious food is a third of why I recommend the Mhor in spadefuls. The second is the spot on food (and impeccable thoughtful service) and the fact that a meal of that calibre cost me a mere forty something British pounds!
Lewis has made the best of his seclusion amongst the glens by pioneering the use of local produce and the slow food movement which he holds at the core if his food. Resulting in the best ingredients cooked honestly. It's as if all the culinary components were long lost friends joyously reuniting on the plate, bouncing off each other merrily without the need to vie for attention. This is Monachyle Mhor’s forte, to plate up flavours made for each other but in an uncomplicated way, simply because the ingredients don't need it.