I solicited Chefs input as to whether this room would be suitable for Only Daughter.
He smirked ..'What??That sounds like a broom cupboard with no windows above the garage...'
Lets be clear here,there is no such thing as a cheap room at this establishment,we erred on the side of caution however,and chose two mid range rooms.
On arrival we were greeted warmly and shown to the drawing room,complimentary fizz was offered which of course we accepted .This was a very nice touch.Got our stay off on the right foot.
OD's room was in the main building.A large traditionally decorated room ,with a big bed,spacious bathroom with convenient separate shower cubicle.
Our room was in the South Lodge about 50 metres from the main building.The room was nicely decorated, a bit smaller than ODs single occupancy room but with a lovely view over the Loch.
|Pleasant Loch view|
I peeked into the bathroom.I was surprised,it was small and quite basic with an over bath shower.Though to be fair I wasn't overly bothered.
'That explains the fizz' said Chef 'to soften the blow'
On further inspection I noted the presence of a small short and curly just next to the plughole in the bath.Now I'm not saying the bathroom wasn't clean, but I'm afraid this one didn't quite pass the final and most important housekeeping check ;the under sink inspection and the fingertip tip search for stray personal flotsam.
Obviously, a single rogue item such as this can be easily missed,in fairness I periodically harvest enough hair to stuff a mattress from our own family bathroom,but the sight of someone else's public in the bath is an altogether different proposition and indeed very off-putting.
OD giggled hysterically at our obvious misfortune and the thought of her own nicely appointed bathroom.
A nice pot of calming tea in the South Lodge drawing room was in order, OD was despatched to the main building to place the order,Chef accompanied, expressing a desire to have a nose around Lady Claire MacDonald's shop which we had been informed during our brief tour of the facilities was 'open at all times'.
I settled down into the sumptuous sofa in front of the roaring log fire,taking due note of the honesty bar in the corner.
Presently I spied OD through the window on her way down the pathway from the main house bearing a huge hostess tray laden with full afternoon tea accoutrements.
This surprised me somewhat.
We giggled.The tea was lovely,made with leaves and in a nice china pot.
Minutes later Chef reappeared on the pathway.
'Was the shop shut?' I say
'No,but I didn't come all this way to buy a tattie masher'said Chef.
I drew Chefs attention to the Honesty Bar which raised the mood momentarily,then dashed again due to the absence of his beverage of choice.
|Chef at leisure|
(Any tips on Photo-shopping gratefully accepted.)
Following a leisurely afternoon we retired to our rooms to prepare for our evening meal.
Meeting for pre dinner cocktails in the lovely drawing room over at the main house.
Gin Martini with a twist for me,a very sweet purple cocktail for OD and a consolatory G and T for Chef due to the continuing drought of his own favourite beverage.
We were served canapés as we browsed the dinner menu.
There were a few couples dotted around the room on the cosy sofas.
Various guests were escorted through to the dining room,finally leaving us three and a pleasant looking couple with Yorkshire accents,chap sporting a jolly floral Boden shirt.
As we sat in silence the unmistakeable sound of creaking bed springs began to emanate from the room directly above.I caught Chefs eye and gestured upward.
The noise became louder,maintaining a steady but determined rhythmic pattern.
OD cottoned on,glanced delightedly over at the Yorkshire couple who simultaneously burst out laughing.
Chef regained some semblance of composure first:
'They should warn you about that on the internet'
The waiter who returned for our wine order wondered what had prompted the raucous laughter.Perhaps we should have told him.
Chef selected a wine which the waiter presently allowed me to OK..I was mildly surprised,a French tipple isn't Chefs usual choice.
As he returned from
'I didn't order French'
'Oops well you had better go tell them;- they showed me a bottle of Pouilly Fume, that's got to be the best part of £100 in a place like this'
We were shown to our table in the dining room and presented with our correct bottle of budget(£34) Antipodean plonk.We were advised by the waiter to leave it in the ice bucket a wee bit longer to chill.Obviously not a common choice..
OD requested a jug of tap water,I was surprised to see this served in a Laura Ashley style china jug with refreshing chunks of cucumber afloat within.Sometimes I think quirky is good but most of the time its just ....not.
The menu offered a choice of two starters, two mains and two puddings plus cheese.
The diners were mainly couples,gentlemen smartly attired with jacket and tie,(other than us of course)and a couple of fellows sat in the corner who were more casually dressed in combat trousers and checked shirts.
'We're paying for their meal' said Chef.
'What do you mean'
'Government funded scientists dining out at the tax payers expense'said Chef.
I looked over.They looked very comfortable.At one with their surroundings.Bored even.
'No they're a travel journalist and photographer from Conde Naste Traveller' I say.
Further evidence to support my theory was provided next morning when I spotted them down by the Loch with a very expensive looking wide angle lens camera.
'They could be monitoring the sea eagles' said Chef hopefully.
'I think you need to concede defeat on this one'I say..
We were served a small pre starter a,shot glass of soup.Mine and ODs Slightly spiced pea.Chefs spiced red pepper.This puzzled me a bit.They were aware of our allergies(Chefs to fish,mine to gluten)so I couldn't work out why Chef had been given a different soup.Unless the pea soup contained fish stock.
Alternatively the red pepper was the gluten free option and was given to Chef in error.I suppose we'll never know.It was only a small amount so I took a chance and knocked it back.It was pleasant,but not as nice as the red pepper option,which Chef declared delicious.
A young couple entered the dining room and were seated at a cosy corner table .We eavesdropped the waiter offering congratulations and presenting a glass of fizz.
Johnnie Boden caught ODs eye,smiled and winked a knowing wink.
I felt a bit sorry for the honeymooners,they had no idea that half the restaurant had witnessed the sound track to their earlier performance.But ignorance is bliss of course.
Our starters arrived.
Pigs cheek,monkfish wrapped in parma ham with a passion fruit jus.Passion fruit.On Skye.Whatever next.
OD and Chef went for the beef fillet,I had sea bass.
The sea bass was OK.Garnished with deep fried leeks.Try eating these whilst maintaining a ladylike decorum.
'Are you keeping that bit for later?' said Chef...
The beef fillet was OK.Served with mash and a 'blue cheese mousse' which I tasted,I wouldn't have described it as mousse,it was rubbery in texture not very pleasant.Surprisingly,I forgot to take a picture of it.
To finish Chef and OD went for the cheese option,a selection of French and Scottish cheeses,of course with a snifter of Port.
I chose the 'very lemony tart'which I was advised could be adapted to accommodate my dietary problem.
This pudding did not work on any level.
'Personally I like my tarts with a bit of wobble' said Chef..
Perhaps its not fair to criticise a dish which had been altered to cater for a particular dietary requirement.
Its not often I leave anything.
Chef was underwhelmed.
'Do you know what was missing with that meal?'
'There was nothing fresh or vibrant about it'
We asked if we could have our coffee in the drawing room.
Being a non coffee drinker,Chef declared a 'thirst like a dying man crawling out of the desert',at this point OD happened to be nosing around the bar and had spotted a couple of bottles of French lager in the bottom of the fridge which she pointed out to the waiter.He feigned surprise then begrudgingly served a bottle to Chef.
'You do realise you've nicked the Chefs private after service tipple'I say..
There was a charming senior couple already enjoying their coffees.It was a return visit for them,having enjoyed the luxury of Kinloch ten years previously.We chatted to them for a while before they retired to bed.
'Did you notice the lady was wearing pop socks?' said OD
'Yes, and yes I did spot that one was around her ankle' I say.
'You'll be old too one day'I say.
On our return I thought Id have a quick look on Tw*tAdvisor, just to check out the general feel for the place.
I was hard pushed to find anything about the food which was other than complimentary ,though there were a number of gripes regarding the accommodation.(I learnt that the bathrooms for example are due to be upgraded soon).
It was a stunning location,the public areas were lovely to sit in and the staff were very helpful and friendly.
This place has a Michelin star.
Chefs eyebrows were raised.
Perhaps the food just wasn't to our taste.
The following evening we dined in another restaurant.As we were shown to our table we were amused to note the Conde Naste journalists and the Honeymooners seated at adjacent tables.
As OD passed the Conde Naste table and bid her hellos the Photographer winked and quipped
'We'll be in Ullapool tomorrow night,might we see you there too???...................'