Half a year ago this place re-opened having been in terminal decline for several years. In that time something extraordinary has happened; the building is gradually being restored and is fresh and inviting again, the place is busy with customers for food and drinks, the staff are charming, there's an unrivalled selection in the area of local craft beers and drams, and the whole place has a buzz again (though maybe that was last night when Scotland nearly beat England at Wembley).
Underpinning the 'resurrection' is some fantastic work in the kitchen. I work periodically in the area and escape to the Hotel to eat, and I don't remember ordering anything which tasted less than amazing. The menu isn't huge - maybe 8 starters and mains now - but the chef has a knack for blending flavours perfectly, and for cooking local produce to perfection. Tonight I had the butternut squash and pesto soup; the pesto gave a beautiful, garlicky note to the sweet, warm squash. The other night I had some exquisite pan-fried salmon, served with the sweetest, juiciest Mull scallops, mussels and in a broth of new potatoes and some other stuff. An absolutely brilliant one-plate meal.
A special mention for the ice cream; they make their own here in a huge variety of flavours, and the flavours are astonishing, deep and intense. Special mention goes to the apple, raspberry and banana/caramel - I've tasted nothing like it. And you have to give Bobby's Monday night quiz a go, if only for the banter ;-)
Prices are maybe a wee bit high for passing trade, but for cooking at this level it's worth it. Sorry if this is a bit of a foodie ramble, but this is one very happy wandering minstrel!
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