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Restaurants & Bars

Scotland (incl. altnaharrie inn. Probably best food in country)

yvonne johnson | Dec 10, 200004:04 PM    

Stayed three weeks in Scotland last month, but first something from last year. Last summer, before I became a chowhound, I stayed at the Altnaharrie Inn. I’ve heard nothing to suggest it’s changed over the last year, so I must place this wondrous establishment on the chowhound record. (Search revealed no mention of it on these pages—a gross omission.)

The Altnaharrie Inn (01854-633230), Ullapool, west coast of Scotland is run by husband and wife Fred Brown and Gunn Eriksen. A friend of mine described Brown as a man who has created an inn that serves as a temple for his wife’s cooking. And the food is worthy of worship. Mushroom soup with crayfish, then lobster, then calf with various mushrooms (mushrooms a theme that night), then absolutely wonderful cheeses (I was about to burst and couldn’t give the deserts a fair shot). What makes this place so special is that it’s small (room only for around 15 diners), the accommodation in little crofts is sumptuous and tasteful, a little boat from the inn collects you from Ullapool and takes you across loch Broom to the inn, and the food is really terrific. The breakfast (if you’ve got room) included venison sausages. It’s pricey (200 pounds per person, food included), but for the very special occasion it is heaven on earth.

Back to my stay last month:
The Olive Tree, Queens Road, Aberdeen. Mediterranean influences. Excellent smoked chicken pate with pomegranates, and nicely dressed greens. Good fresh fish with saffron, and on another night with lavender oil.

The Marcliffe at Pitfodels, North Deeside Road, Aberdeen. Everybody in the NE of Scotland is raving about this place. I was very disappointed. Sandy, tough scallops, overcooked halibut, smoked venison app nothing to write home (actually I was home!) about. An interesting main was lamb with cabbage stuffed with black pudding, but it was a bit much. The hotel is in an attractive location and the lounge is comfy.

Norwood Hall, Cults, near Aberdeen (01224-868951). I recommend it highly. This is a Victorian mansion by the river Dee (yip, the royal one, and not that far from Balmoral Castle). Tasty fare for lunch: really yummy fish and salads. (This might be a nice place to stay.)

*The Peat Inn, near St Andrews (01334-840-206). The tiny village is named after this inn. 3 intimate dining rooms. Really good, big scallops (from Loch Fyne), shrimps (from the fishing village of Crail), pigeon. And the home made rolls are the best--round, weighty and covered in flour. Rooms in newish extension are neat. You get your own duplex, with a little sitting room upstairs. Good breakfast delivered to your room.

Other odds and ends form last year:
Eddracilles Hotel, Scourie—there are few places to say up here, the food is OK, accommodation adequate but not great. Magnificent view though.

The Dower House, Muir of Ord (www.thedowerhouse.co.uk). Very capable cooking, and nice place.

Dornoch, Castle Hotel (the name escapes me) on main street. Avoid at all cost. Looks indeed like castle from outside, but the place hadn’t been decorated since 1950s, and cigarette smoke hadn’t been aired out from around same era.

By the way, the british automobile website is good resource for hotels:
www.theaa.co.uk

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