A spectacular spring day in Scotland the other weekend...blue skies, sunshine to perfectly set off the stunning scenery. Even better as we were off on a wee road trip to Monachyle Mohr for spot of Sunday lunch. Monachyle Mohr is a boutique hotel and restaurant in the heart of the Trossachs, near Balquhidder, a little Scottish village. It is family run with the adjacent farm, with Tom Lewis of Great British Menu fame heading up the kitchen. It is in a picture perfect setting past the banks of Loch Voil at the end of the Loch Monachyle.
It is a working farm and is looking at more sustainable ways of farming, reducing the number of cattle, introducing more traditional breeds and looking at the whole cycle from nature to the plate. Recent arrivals are Tamworth Cross pigs for bacon, ham and pork for the hotel and restaurant, plus as an added bonus they scoff the the green waste from the kitchen,chickens provide the eggs for guests' breakfast. Around the hotel deer, game, grouse and pheasant roam and the lochs provide salmon, trout and Arctic char...a veritable bounty from mother nature.
It was such a beautiful day we were even able to sit outside for a pre lunch proseco in the sunshine!
To start for me Arctic Char, Shetland Mussels, Brown Shrimp, Razor Clams and Braised Baby Gems. The Arctic Char was light and fresh, the tiny Shetland mussels sweet little morsels so different to our larger New Zealand green lipped mussels. The brown shrimp adding another layer of texture and sweetness, and the razor clams, something I have never had before, somewhat like calamari. The real surprise for me was the braised baby gem. I have always shied away from braising lettuce, hot lettuce has always just seemed a little odd to me. However, these were delicious, so much more flavour than just thrown on a plate, quite a revelation for me. It was a delightful plate courtesy of the sea.
Also on offer...Citrus Cured Salmon, Fennel, Pink Grapefruit and Watercress and Pan Fried Lambs Liver, Black Pudding, Saute Potatoes, Black Caper and Parsley. I was very tempted by the lure of black pudding but thought I should venture forth to try some new flavours, and very glad I did.
Being Sunday lunch there was of course roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, very tempted as a lover of Yorkshire pudding. I could eat a whole tray of them with a little gravy, salt and pepper. The beef was perfectly cooked and tasted of beef...I mean really, really tasted like beef.
Again wanting be a little more adventurous I went for the Scrabster Cod with Fennel Pollen, Artichoke, 'Barigoule Flavours', Shetland Black Potatoes and Lemon. What are barigoule flavours...well, they would traditionally be served with artichokes and made up of carrots, shallots, celery, garlic, thyme and white wine so an elegant accompaniment to the fleshy cod. This was a delightfully light and fresh main course, subtly fragrant from the herbs and lemon, and importantly leaving plenty room for dessert.
Dessert was a sharing affair as just too difficult to decide when a 10 yr Old Glengoyne Whisky Tart, Blood Orange, Bitter Chocolate and Rhubarb Bavarois, Jelly, Lemongrass, Rosewater on offer.
The rhubarb ensemble was most definitely pretty in pink, the bavarois a perfect creamy texture full of rhubarb flavour, the jelly delivering a punch of tart rhubarb and the little sprinkles on top of the jelly like angel dust from my childhood that crackles on your tongue. The sorbet was scented with fragrant rosewater and the lemon grass foam a nice little hint of the exotic and worked amazingly well with the rhubarb medley and the rosewater.
And the whisky tart was elegant simplicity, the creaminess cut by the bright splash of bitter orange, however the star for me was the bitter chocolate, it was everything you would expect, rich, dark and decadent just as it should be.
To finish a little cheese plate, the perfect ending to a superb Sunday lunch, heavenly food and great service, friendly and welcoming. So if you are ever in the vicinity, a drive through the Scottish countryside alongside crystal lochs and majestic mountains and a visit to Monachyle Mohr is well worth the trip.