Monachyle Mhor – Review
The Boy and I have been milking our anniversary. There was a steak dinner last weekend at Porter and Rye and this week we cashed in an Itison voucher I’d bought to stave off the winter blues and headed North to Monachyle Mhor for a wee break. I’d heard great things about this little pink boutique hotel on the shores of Loch Voil in Perthshire and particularly about the food and it really didn’t disappoint.
The drive itself from Glasgow was an absolute treat, it was one of those stunning winter days where the hills are just bathed in rosy golden light and everything you look at is like an over enthusiastic love letter to Scotland. As soon as we’d dumped our stuff we made the most of the setting sun with a coffee outside and a wander down the road.
Monachyle Mhor is a quirky little boutique hotel, we were in one of the House rooms with a loch view, white floors, walls and ceilings to showcase a set of antlers, a cosy tweedy couch and a ladder to nowhere. Moment of the weekend went to The Boy who, after a few too many rum and gingers climbed up it and was surprised when he smacked his head on the ceiling.
After behaving like the uncultured oiks that we are (putting on the cosy bathrobes, rolling around on the giant bed shouting, admiring the awesome shower and eating all the free shortbread) we got ready for dinner and headed downstairs. I love the decor here, it’s all muted, cool tones and interesting features, making the most of the uninterrupted view. The bar is a snug little cabin with a great array of drinks and a fire where we settled after dinner with an ameretto and a heated game of scrabble.
All the food here is sourced as locally as possible, with a lot of it coming from their own farm and you can tell. Aside from the 3 main courses we were served canapés (cod beignet, haggis fritters and a star turn from a tart, deep mouthful of roasted cherry tomato with a sourdough crisp), amuse bouche (a light, foamy espresso cup of leek and potato soup with an acidic caper and date dressing I’m dying to try myself and an oyster with shallot and lemon dressing which instantly invoked childhood summers poking sea anemones in rock pools. In a good way) and, with our coffee petite fours (little madeleines, rich chocolate truffley things and a super sweet homemade tablet).
As you might gather if you read this food blog often enough I can’t pass a good scallop by so it was a no brainer for the starter, a sweet, perfectly cooked Isle of Mull scallop with a tiny, delightfully crispy chicken wing, a rich, deep chicken consommé, and a couple of disks of purple potato which, to be honest, wouldn’t have been missed if they’d been removed. It was super tasty but I’m a greedy hallion and I really think it could have done with the tatties taken away and an extra scallop added.
The Boy opted for Aberfeldy wood pigeon with Tamworth pork belly and celeriac slaw. The pigeon was iron rich and the right side of rare and complimented really well by the crispy, light sliver of pork belly and the creamy celeriac slaw.
Next up it was fish for him, Scrabster Halibut with courgette, Rooster potato, caper and lemon. I’m not a massive fish fan but he informs me it was light, tasty and tangy but that he wished he’d ordered my beef.
I went for Monachyle Mhor’s own Highland Scotch beef, smoked potato and Savoy cabbage. It also came with a really wonderful, rich, thick sauce (and the right amount of it too, I hate an under sauced dish) and a little crispy bon bon. I couldn’t figure out what was in it so asked the waitress and it turned out to be bone marrow. I really loved this dish. The beef was proper tender and cooked and rested to the exact right shade of pink. The potatoes were creamy and smoky and, for a slightly OCD diner like me who likes a bit of everything on every forkful, married together perfectly with just the right amount of each element for every bite. My one criticism was that neither main course was piping hot when they got to us, only lukewarm. They tasted so good there was no way we were sending them back though!
As with most fine dining they’ve nailed the portion sizes here so we had just the right amount of room left for dessert. We shared a mango bavarois with hazelnut dacquoise (I’ve just had to look up both those words – similar to pastry cream and layered dessert cake respectively) and pomegranate jelly – refreshing, light and attractive. And we also shared a delightfully gooey and rich little chocolate fondant that came with poached pear and kumquat puree, it was a bonus getting to have half of each but I wouldn’t say either of them quite reached the heights of the previous two courses.
The staff were as attentive and friendly as you would expect from a place like this, really helpful when it came to questions about the dishes or menus and relaxed enough to steer clear of even a hint of stuffiness. We spent the evening drinking in the bar playing board games and I haven’t felt that relaxed or satisfied in a long time.
I’m breakfast obsessed, best meal of the day and all that so was looking forward to what this place would offer, so much so that we were down first. Some might say keen, greedy is probably closer to the mark… It was a three courser, home made scones fresh out of the oven with butter and marmalade, warm, sweet and crumbly, half a grapefruit each and then I went for the smoked salmon and scrambled egg and The Boy opted for the full Scottish. The highlight of which was a really delicious roast tomato covered in pepper and garlic.
The smoked salmon and scrambled egg was as good as it looks, the eggs were unctuous and wobbly without being underdone and cosied up perfectly with the smokey sweet soft salmon. After that we were all set up for a long walk and the drive home.
Monachyle Mhor is well worth a visit, our Itison deal meant we got the room for £90 but it’s the food you’re really there for and pay for. Dinner was £55 each for 3 courses, we also had a bottle of wine and several drinks and I’d say it was really worth the money. Chef Tom Lewis is doing an amazing job doing local food treated with the utmost care and respect, this is a boutique hotel showcasing the best of Scotland both in location food.
8 Hallion points out of 10 for this.