Martin Wishart at Cameron House

The subject of my review today is Martin Wisharts Restaurant at Cameron House ,Loch Lomond. Martin was born in Edinburgh and has a further Martin Wishart Restaurant in the city- Eponymous. He started working in kitchens when he was only 15 and trained with the best including Albert Roux, Marco Pierre White and my favourite Nick Nairn . He opened Eponymous in Edinburgh in 1999 , his cookery school in 2007 and Loch Lomond in 2008. Tonight though ,and since 2011 approximately, the Head Chef at Cameron House is mostly the multi talented Graeme Cheevers. Graeme worked with Martin honing his skills at Cameron House as sous chef before stepping up and taking the role as Head Chef. This young Chef is only 28 and to produce food on this level is credit to Martin ,but most importantly to Graeme .

Anyhow back to the experience. I arrived into the main entrance of the stunning Cameron House to a beautiful reception area ,synonymous to a huge hunting lodge in the highlands , stunning and bursting with warmth from an open fire in the hallway . A lovely warm welcome at the Restaurant and we were seated in no time. I passed the most impressive trolley of cheeses on the way in which is a great marketing ploy and worked with me 100%.

When the beautiful slate plate of the sea arrived as a an amuse bouche I knew this was going to be something very special . Little open shells placed tenderly on rock salt and ice, squid ink macarons with caviar ,shrimps and so many other delicately placed jewels of the sea just so pretty and crying out for me to pick up. Totally and utterly a masterpiece ! I opted for the 8 course Taster menu and the first course was a stunning plate of Bergamot marinated sea bream with Oysters hidden in little pearls of bursting citrus and decorated beautifully again ,just too pretty to disturb . Second course was an orkney scallop – huge and bursting with flavours of the the sea, pancetta relish and potato mousseline . But for me the star of this particular dish was a little bon bon of bacon jam , salty and a stunning flavour to accompany the scallop. Third course was a Foie Gras Mousse which looked like an artists easel , with bitter little leaves , seeds and crushed walnut crumb in an olorosso sherry cream – a different level altogether of skill technique , artistry and talent . Fourth course was again absolutely genius , a small fillet of lemon sole with sprouts, parnip cream and a cappacino foam . I simply don't have the words to describe the sheer delicate flavour of this dish and the beauty of and appearance of the cucumber slaw artisticly swirled at the side of the dish – just beautiful. Fifth course was a roasted squab pigeon which was so good I actually forgot to take a picture and had it devoured before coming back to reality ,and the reason I was here in the first place . Sixth course was barbecued Black Angus Beef which I suspect was waterbathed ( A pet hate of mine ) but actually had been seared beautifully and it worked well, along with little morsels of bone marrow, caramelised onions and celeriac . Cheese was the next delight and what a delight . Great to see great big wedges of all nationalities of cheese and very informative waiting staff delighting in the expert knowledge of each one. Would have liked to have seen Homemade bread or biscuits to go along with the cheese instead of the usual offerings ,but the cheese I suppose, quite rightly is the star of the show.

Two desserts to follow and four hours later, which felt like no time at all ,and I was in heaven. I was here for the dessert course and there was two on this taster menu .

First was a chestnut parfait and apple mousse with a whole plate full of little taste bud bursting delights decoratively placed in a bowl . I can not fault any of the little bites on the plate for texture , taste or flavour but just not my idea of a dessert . The second dessert was mind blowing and was more in keeping with a Michelin Star Restaurant such as this . I am a confirmed chocoholic and this was right up my street . Full of skill , artistry , flavours and textures was the Valrhona Chocolate dense style delice with pistachio and marinated cherries , cherry sorbet and dark chocolate aero pieces . This was a grown up dessert and not for the faint hearted.

Not the cheapest meal i have ever had and the service charge, which is not optional, bumps the price up considerably . Did I feel it was worth the price , absolutely no question ,and when you appreciate good food ,prepared well and with the best of ingredients served with expertly knowledgable waiters then the price should not be an issue . I also dont mind paying to have my table for the duration of the evening instead of being pushed out after 1 or 2 hours to allow other diners in . I absolutely adored this meal and the whole ambience and will be back very very soon. This whole dining experience was on a different level to any I have experienced to date .

The Cellar

20170204 141731Today's Lunch extravaganza came in the form of The Cellar in Anstruther . Anstruther is located in the heart of the East Neuk. For those of you not familiar with this area , its in the kingdom of Fife . Anstruther is only 10 miles from St Andrews and boasts many a reason to visit , none less than being one of the biggest and prettiest fishing villages on the East coast . It also has Award winning beaches ( If you are brave enough to face the biting east cold wind) . Surprisingly us scots are hardy, as there are more ice-cream shops here than some sunny tourist destinations !

Anyhow as usual I am sidetracked by this lovely little seaside village which is extraordinarily well kept, clean , peaceful and proud. I loved everything about Anstruther.

The Cellar is a Michelin Star Restaurant which has been around for about 40 years as a leading restaurant in the East Neuk , but in 2014 a local Anstruther man -Billy Boyter and his family took over ownership .

Billy has a 15 year history of working in some of Scotland's best Restuarant's and now has achieved Michelin Star status with his own, and more importantly back to where he is from – Anstruther.

On entering through tiny brick lined cobbled arch ways it was not unlike dining on the Amalfi coast in Italy – Tiny little nooks and crannies packed with Scottish artifacts adorning all the maze like entrance . A roaring fire was awaiting me where I sat and waited to be seated in the main dining room. The dining room is brick , candlelit , and felt just like a Cellar but warm and tastefully decorated . I absolutely loved everything about the décor , ambience and temperature of this room, not tightly packed together like sardines either.

The lunch menu consisted of 5 courses and was very reasonably priced , again not pretentious .

I started with a mouth watering Smoked Haddock and potato Mousse which was wrapped in the lightest crisp , like a spring roll shape only a thousand times better to taste .

The second course was an old favourite of mine – A Venison Haggis bon bon with a slither of pickled pear .

The main was simply exquisite and made my taste buds dance around madly – Pollock with a brown butter sauce which was served with pea puree and crispy kale ,Kelp and soft leeks – I loved the fact that all the different components on the plate were all easily recognisable and not drowned out by one another – brilliance no less!

The dessert was not my idea of a dessert ,but I simply can not fault all the ingredients that married together expertly on the plate . There was Chocolate cream as a base Jerusalem artichoke ice cream and calamansi ( Small citrus fruit similar to a lime/Lemon ) , lovely white chocolate aero type pieces and crisp wafers to decorate. A Very Michelin dessert , light and refreshing for a lunch menu .

All in all an excellent lunch and one restaurant I will definitely return too when I am off duty !

The Gannet

The Gannet Restaurant is located in Finnieston , Glasgow . This area of Glasgow is chock a block with eateries and you are spoilt for choice if dining out, living, or working around here . It's almost become the dining destination of the West and quite rightly so .

The Gannet looks very trendy and inviting from the outside , but this wasn't always the way it looked pre 2012 . This was an old tenement building badly needing some TLC until the two peters and Ivan took over the reigns and transformed it onto one of Glasgow's thriving “Best places to eat List “

A very warm welcome awaits you at this Urban style Restaurant ,with dull ,moody lighting and stone walls .

I was curious about the name – The Gannet ,and never found out the reason behind the name if any but its on my to do list .

I was sat at a table overlooking the barman expertly shaking every cocktail and pouring every real ale known to man before our very informative waiter overheard my cries for help . ( Forgot my reading glasses ) He promptly produced a large wicker basket full of reading glasses for me to choose from , now that's service !

I loved how the menu simply stated exactly what they were offering without any pretentious additions of the English language ,that many may be unsure of .

I also loved the fact that absolutely all the beers offered were Scottish real ales in Bottle form (No draught lager/beer here . The Scottish Artisan Beers and lagers are absolutely brilliant and not shouted about as they should be – Truly loved the waiters knowledge and enthusiasm for these beers too.

I started with Scottish seared Scallops with housemade Haggis and celeriac puree . The scallops tasted like they had just been hauled out the sea and the haggis was exceptionally light and not too strong flavoured ( As can be with homemade haggis) – Wonderful !

My main was described as slow cooked Border lamb and the shoulder which was perfectly crispy , had a beautiful succulent flavour . It was served with a wild garlic cannelloni,fennel puree and a cockle salsify.The Chefs here certainly know how to make a plate look attractive and as I always say – You eat with the eye !

The main attraction for me, and what I was actually here to review was the desert course .

I chose the milk chocolate feuilletine with orange and whisky ice-cream .Not exactly what I was expecting in a feuilletine but it was quite simply one of the best desserts I have had so far in this process . The textures , flavours and crunchy nuts and pralines built into a dense chocolate brick were absolutely right up my street . The whisky and orange ice-cream did not have a strong flavour of either whisky or orange but in fact went very well with the feuilletine .I have ranked it top score in my journey so far. It was a well executed dessert which I would go back tomorrow for in a heartbeat .

Great Chefs , Service , surroundings , atmosphere and price – What's not to like ?


The Peat Inn

The Peat Inn is a charming little Restaurant with rooms located about 6 miles from the golfing town of St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland. The capital city,Edinburgh is about an hours drive and Dundee about 30 minutes . Its a great location for exploring all of the above in Michelin style. The village of Peat Inn actually derives its name from the Inn itself which has stood in its present spot for about 250 years . The Peat Inn has always had a great reputation for hospitality and the town growing up around the Inn itself is a lovely historical story . Anyhow I digress as usual , nowadays the Inn is owned and run by husband and wife team Geoffrey and Katherine Smeddle. Geoffrey is the Award winning Michelin Star Chef/Patron at the heart of the Kitchen.

I had eaten at The Peat Inn around 10 years ago and its one of the Restaurant's I talk about to this day,so the anticipation was high .

I was welcomed in to the cozy reception room with a welcoming roaring log fire before stunning looking little hors d'oevres were served .

Next i was taken to my table passing a further two unique dining rooms ,to be seated at a lovely open bright dining room with a stunning view over the Fife countryside . Alpacas were grazing moodily in the background on this very foggy cold winters day.

Amuse Bouche was simply sublime – A venison haggis with neeps and the creamiest tatties , oh my !!. There was a huge basket of simply brilliant sourdough breads and raisin malted bread and this was before my starter …..

My starter plate was Home smoked monkfish with avocado cream and ginger soya , almost like a tartar but more creative – refreshingly light and you could taste the sea.

My second course was the 12 hour slow braised beef with Mousseline potato,parsnips,pearl onions and a red wine jus. Can I just begin by saying,anything I write about this main course will not do it justice,not even close. The beef was blackened and fell from the fork like butter , the taste ,flavour and texture the like of which I have never tasted before . I honestly will now talk about this dish for the rest of my life – pure genius.

But I was here for the dessert course and what was to follow did not let the rest of the meal down ,Hot mandarin souffle with dark chocolate and rum sauce .

The souffle was as light as a feather and as perfectly formed and risen as I have ever seen. The theatre was provided by the lovely waitress who opened the souffle expertly without deflating and pouring in the most decadent hot chocolate. Simply brilliant execution of a difficult dessert to pull of to perfection .I finished with handmade chocolates which again were the best I have tasted to date . I simply cant recommend this Restaurant highly enough . A thoroughly deserving Michelin Star to a Chef who creates and makes absolutely everything you see and taste by hand . Long may you reign.





Dinner at Stravaigin

Friday night and the 2nd of our Michelin and Bib Gourmand reviews in Scotland, was Stravaigin in Glasgow . Stravaigin is located in Glasgow's trendy West end near Kelvinbridge . Dont be fooled by the surroundings or nearby eateries that this is just another pub/come diner - You would be very very wrong !

Stravaigin means to roam or wander about and derives from the Ulster /Scot generation of settlers. The Chefs here utilise their namesake in creating their imaginative menus using only the best and very freshest of Scotland's Larder. They even have their own small holding farm in Lochlibo , south west Glasgow where they grow and nurture some of their most unusual ingredients .

Stravaigin is a sister Restaurant to the well known  "Ubiquitous Chip" in Ashton Lane dating back to the days of Ronnie Clydesdale in the seventies. They are  still a famiy run affair with Chef Colin Clydesdale at the helm.

Anyhow i digress as usual , i was here for the food and i was not disappointed . You are led downstairs into a rustic dining setting passing the Chefs pass as you enter the Restaurant . I absolutely loved the decor and informal dress code was a must , no pretentiousness here .

Every single waiter and waitress that we met was charming , informative and eager to stress the love of working at Stravaigin.

I started with quite possibly one of the best first courses i have had in a long time - Smoked Salmon Tartare . It had a very subtle horseradish mousse with hints of orange and crunchy pomegranate. I actually cant express how delicate and beautifuly balanced all the flavours were - bursting with individuality . Superb. My main course was a snobs disdain with another fish course ( But its January -think of my diet ) and it was Sea Bream in a bean cassoulet . It was also excellent but the photographs would not have done it justice . The dessert course was separated with the most amazing lemon sorbet . Dessert was a caramel tart with all components on the plate handmade ( As you would expect but dont always recieve ) The apple and cinnamon ice cream was inspired . I have to say i am not surprised that a Bib Gourmand rating has been given to this eaterie every year since 2012.

What i actually loved the most, as a confirmed foodaholic, was the absolute relaxation to be able to enjoy food at this standard in a relaxed , unpretentious way and not overcharged for the privilege either . Absolutely brilliant from start to finish!strav2

Afternoon Tea at Sherbrooke Castle

A glorious sunny afternoon in the middle of Autumn took me to the Stunning Sherbrooke Castle Hotel . The middle of November can sometimes be a weather catastrophe for driving in Scotland but not today . Sherbrooke Castle Hotel is a magnificent Baronial building sitting high up overlooking the leafy suburbs of Pollockshields in Glasgow. I was amazed at how you can be driving through a concrete jungle and motorway one minute and then seconds later in a very picturesque part of Glasgow. On entering this lovely building ( Which has ample parking hidden away at the back not to distract from the view of the Hotel) you are hit by the lovely scottish tartan flooring and wood which surrounds the grand reception area. Very welcoming staff then escorted us to our Table. The view from the table was just lovely and the staff discreet but efficient . Crisp cotton white tablecloths and highly polished and immaculate Teapots and crockery , just loved the attention to detail on the tables . For this Tea we recieved a glass of Prosecco along with choice Loose teas and a lovely display of Sandwiches , Cakes and scones. I have to say that the sandwiches were some of the best i have tasted to date , very very fresh and moist with a lovely salad garnish and roasted fried vegetables crisps. The second layer consisted of tiny little scones with a lovely jam and to my surprise clotted cream , again very good. The cakes were excellent ,fresh and a good selection. This was not the cheapest at a discounted price of £24 for 2 but i have paid double this for not nearly as good . I would highly recommend the Sherbrook Castle Hotel for Afternoon Tea and for an all round great experience in the heart of Glasgow.

Knockderry House Hotel

Today was a wee breather in what seems like an eternity of torrential rain in the west coast of Scotland. I hesitantly ventured out around the Clyde estuary to a tiny little place called Cove and to the stunning Knockderry Hotel . Knockderry is situated on one of the most stunning sea lochs on the west coast of Scotland and boasts a 2 star rosette rating . It also has its own Marina for those long lazy days out sailing when you just need to anchor up and take in some shore time. This hotel is quite simply stunning and immaculately well kept. I absolutely love the tartan , open coal fires and authentic wood engulfing its every corner. The grounds overlook some of the best scenery in scotland and you could lose yourself just gazing out at the small boats and sailing yachts gently meandering by . Let me begin by tempering this review by stating that i I have eaten here in the evening about 5 years ago and the service and cleanliness again were outstanding as was the evening meal but i was here today to review the Afternoon Tea .

We were very warmly welcomed into a beautifully appointed dininig/bar area where all the tables were dressed for lunch or Afternoon Tea in crisp white linen tablecloths . There was roaring coal fire ( July !! ) which was beautiful to look at and great for tourists but sweltering to eat in sadly. We were sat at an enviable location in the window overlooking the Loch. Our waitress was quick and efficient and we were soon served with our choice of bagged tea in a teapot and two stands of sandwiches and cakes. They looked absolutely beautiful as did the stunning stands . The sandwiches sadly felt like they had been made up hours beforehand and left to sit in a hot kitchen, hard on the outside and cheese rubbery on the edges. The sundried tomatoes were dried out to a crisp and unedible . the salmon sandwiches were nice. The plain scones tasted lovely with a crumbly texture and lovely flavour and the blueberry jam was devine . Sadly the sultana scones were raw in the middle and flat . The cakes were a mixed bag with 2 tiny slice of Ganache squares which just melted in the heat and really unless firmer would never really have worked. The macarons simply were unedible as soft and gooey and not at all like a Macaron ! The chocolate brownie tasted nothing like chocolate and nothing like a brownie .  The cakes that were brilliant were the shortbread rounds which just melted in the mouth , the sticky toffee cake which was one of the best i have tasted to date and the vienesse biscuits which were excuisite . So in short, although my arrival was announced beforehand ,this was not the best experience for Afternoon Tea i have had but for me the location , hotel , staff and simple traditional elegance here would make me return time after time .

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