“Mixed; Excellent Ingredients but Inconsistent Execution & Delivery (A Tale of Two Main Courses)”
I frequented An Taigh Osda twice during my visit to Islay.
However despite the meals being virtually identical it was the striking difference in execution and delivery that made one meal excellent and another meal poor.
Both evenings I started with the Brochettes of Scallops & Prosciutto with Chive and Mustard dressing and shaved Parmesan. This very agreeable starter was obviously composed from well chosen ingredients, was well executed and properly served.
The major problem I had was with the main course; the first night this comprised of Medallions of Speyside Venison, Gratin Potato, Roast Plum Compote & Blush Apple Sauce served with Port Game Gravy. This really was a truly excellent dish that I am confident could have graced the finest restaurants anywhere in the world. What really made this dish was the Venison, which was amongst the most flavoursome and tender that I have ever eaten. The quality of the animal from which it came could not be questioned. The Port Game Gravy complemented the meal perfectly.
Indeed, this meal so impressed me that, before leaving and after receiving assurances that venison from the same side of the beast would be available, I arranged another visit to An Taigh Osda the next night.
Regrettably the main course that I was served with the second night was not up to the same standard. The first problem was that the meal had changed slightly to Medallions of Speyside Venison, Gratin Potato, Stornoway Black Pudding & Blush Apple Sauce served with Port & Bramble Game Gravy. The substitution of the Stornoway Black Pudding seemed to be at the expense of one or two of the medallions and smacked a little too much of portion control. I found the Stornoway Black Pudding a poor substitute for the venison. Fortunately the venison was of the same quality that I had greatly enjoyed the night before. The second problem was that the Stornoway Black Pudding did not nearly agree with the Venison as well as the Roast Plum Compote had. The third problem was the token gesture of the green-runner bean served with the meal, sliced width-ways. When slicing this runner bean it would have been evident to the slicer that this bean was ‘past it’, as the green bean had a skin akin to leather. There is no question that this bean was unfit for a restaurant table – and certainly not the clientèle that An Taigh Osda appears to be aiming for – yet this bean was served to me anyway. The fourth error was that the Venison was not cooked to my liking – unfortunately the waitress had forgotten to ask and by the time I remembered the meal was on its way. The errors described detracted greatly from my enjoyment of the second meal.
Being somewhat astounded by the difference between the 2 main courses - I later telephoned An Taigh Osda – however I was assured that the same chef had prepared both main courses (on both evenings).
The desserts served at An Taigh Osda were fine but somehow lacked flair – the first night I did enjoy the white chocolate and passion Fruit Cheesecake however after having being very disappointed with my main course the second night, I opted for the safety of the Scottish cheeseboard.
Due to the considerable variation in culinary execution and delivery at An Taigh Osda, I only feel able to give this restaurant an average rating; the excellence of the venison saving An Taigh Osda from receiving a poor rating.
I also consider that to charge £5.50 per 250ml glass of ordinary table wine is somewhat high.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.