Applecross Inn

View from Sand, Applecross
The second stop on our West Coast holiday was the Applecross Inn, accessed by driving over the 600 m ( Bealach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle) from Lochcarron. The day we did it the cloud base was around 300 m, so we crossed the pass in a dense fog.

The Applecross Inn is a typical coastal pub and hotel, staffed by friendly and welcoming people. On the Wednesday night we were there the bar was buzzing with campers, walkers, locals and people staying in the inn. We had to wait around 10 mins for a table, but the owner got us a table by the windows looking out at the rain! The seafood is superb, landed locally and really fresh, treated well by the kitchen.

Local prawns (langoustines), garlic & herb butter, crusty bread, salad.

Crab salad (dressed crab, smoked salmon, marie rose sauce, langoustines), crusty bread, salad.
Local mackerel, new potatoes, salad.

Sticky toffee pudding, ice cream.
Apple & plum crumble, custard.

While we were there, we went for a refreshing afternoon cuppa in the Potting Shed Cafe in the walled garden of Applecross House. The garden has been restored over the past few years and it is amazing to see what they can grow in this sheltered spot.

Ardanaiseig

Ardanaeiseig Hotel

We stayed at Ardanaiseig for 2 nights at the start of our West Coast holiday, and arrived on a beautiful late afternoon after having walked up The Cobbler.

From the outside the hotel is a somewhat shabby Scots baronial house built in local granite. Inside, it feels like a highland country house. Our room was spacious and comfortable with antique furniture, and a great view over Loch Awe to the Argyll hills.

View across Loch Awe from Ardanaieseig Hotel

We had dinner both nights. Each night had a fixed menu, which meant that the kitchen could concentrate on putting out high quality food. The highlight for me was the dessert on Monday – coffee, doughnuts and iced double cream – this was a coffee creme brulee topped with cappuccino foam, with a solid doughnut and double cream ice cream. And it didn’t skimp on the portions either.

Monday

Amuse bouche: Crab spring roll
Butternut squash veloute with pancakes
John Dory with artichoke
Best end of lamb, aubergine puree, garlic crisps, garlic foam, courgettes and white beans
Pre-dessert: passion fruit minestrone
Coffee, doughnuts and iced double cream
Coffee & confectionery

Tuesday

Amuse bouche: Ballantine of quail with red onion and black pudding
Veloute of Jerusalem artichoke with truffle shavings
Ravioli of goats cheese with red pepper coulis
Sea bass, potato scales, mussels in saffron sauce
Pre-dessert: stawberry jelly
Chocolate fondant, white pepper ice cream, raspberries
Coffee & confectionery.

And I must also mention breakfast!

Fresh fruit, nuts, dried fruit, cereals
Croissants, pains au chocolat, toast
Full Scottish – beef sausage, bacon, black pudding, tomato, mushroom, potato scone, poached egg
Smoked salmon and scrambled egg

Ardanaiseig does some things really well – in particular the warmth of the hotel is matched by the warmth and friendliness of the staff (many of whom seem to be Aussies on a RTW trip). The rooms are comfortable and spacious, if a little quirky, and the food is intelligent and well presented.

The hotel could be even better – the dining room would benefit from someone supervising and mentoring the front of house staff, the food could make more use of seasonal ingredients (butternut squash in June?), and they could plant up the beautiful walled garden with veg to provide that really local flavour to the kitchen.

Beinn Eich & Doune Hill

Cobbler and Beinn Ime from Doune Hill

I had a cracking solo walk on Tuesday, up Beinn Eich and Doune Hill, just to the west of Loch Lomond. I started from Glenmollachan farm.

Snow on top, but not so much that walking was difficult. As the wind was from the NW/NNW most of the walk was sheltered. The worst bit was the descent into Glen Mollachan and the first 2km walk along the floor of the glen before hitting the landrover track. And this was due to the terrain.

Cracking 360 degree views from the top, NW towards the Arrochar Alps, NE towards the southern Highlands, SE over Loch Lomond and S down the Firth of Clyde.

And I even managed to bag a trig point for Ruth. I’ll let you work out the grid ref.

Trig point on Doune Hill

Urban Angel, Edinburgh

Really great breakfast in Urban Angel this morning – a surprisingly light basement cafe at the bottom of Hanover Street.

Homemade organic meusli with greek yoghurt and fresh berries.
Crunchy, tangy, fruity. Mmm.

French toast with bacon, fairtrade banana and maple syrup.
Brilliant bread – sort of light wheaten, really tasty bacon (presumably from a happy pig) and caramelised banana. Yum.

Oh, and nice website design too…

Hat tip: Peter Irvine in Scotland the Best – Best for Sunday Breakfast.

The Kitchin, Leith

After eating at Martin Wishart last September, we were keen to try out his near neighbour Tom Kitchin in Leith. So we bridged the East-West divide and went over to Edinburgh, wandered round Harvey Nicks and made our way to The Kitchin.

The restaurant is in an old quayside building in the old port of Leith, overlooking the new administrative offices of the Scottish Government. Calm and contemporary interior with dark wood and sage paint inside, warm and welcoming. Service friendly, knowledgeable and attentive (although at times too attentive).

Nibbles: Pissaladiere (Provencal pizza) & choux pastry stuffed with beetroot relish.

Amuse bouche: Parsnip soup, fresh apple, parsnip crisps.

Scallops: Pan-fried Orkney scallops with fregola pasta.
Pork and Langoustine: Roasted langoustine tails from Anstruther with boned and rolled pig’s head served with a crispy ear salad.

Hare: Hare with foie gras, cabbage & bacon farcie, butternut squash puree, celeriac puree, chestnuts and shallots.
Venison: Roast saddle of venison from Invercauld estate, with roasted apples from Moira’s garden and chestnuts,
served with a beetroot and celeriac gratin and a juniper berry sauce.

Cheese: Scottish and French cheeses.

Rhubarb and Yoghurt: stewed rhubarb, citrus yoghurt sorbet, cheesecake mousse, chocolate sauce, pecan crumble.

Coffee and petit fours.

All washed down with a nice D’Arenberg Laughing Magpie shiraz/viognier.

Unlike in Martin Wishart, the whole meal was coherent and worked well together. The starters were the highlight of the meal providing the best complement of flavours and textures. The venison was tender and worked well with the rich sauce. The hare was really dark and tasty, and came with a fairly powerful and concentrated reduction that could have been a touch lighter. But that’s the only minor criticism of an excellent meal.

Definitely a place to go back to, particularly as it’s only an hour or so away. I wonder how their Summer menu differs from their Winter menu. Planning already…