Sunday, July 8, 2012

1/2Baked Scotland

In furtherance of my goal of publishing half-baked notes aggregating the research I've done and guidance I've received on a given location so that, over time, I can get feedback and incorporate my own experiences to refine these notes, Here's what's cooking in Scotland.  We plan to visit in mid/late August for family vacation.  Any tips are greatly appreciated!

--Rhubarb, the Restaurant at Prestonfield -- this is supposed to have great food and won the AA award for best wine list in Scotland 2011(2012 edition).  see below for sibling restaurant, the Witchery by the Castle
--The Kitchin (Tom Kitchin) -- okay, I'm confused already -- who is better Kitchin or Kitching, both seem to be super hot chefs in Edinburgh(****)
--Restaurant Martin Wishart -- is this Scotland's finest restaurant? That's a claim I've heard and they have a hefty wine list too (****)
--21212/Paul Kitching -- this is the hot address in Edinburgh right now.  Can't wait to try it (and the wine list too)
--Witchery by the Castle - is this the better of the duo at Prestonfields?
--Balmoral -- this has the reputation of being Edinburgh's most prestigious hotel...the restaurant sounds intriguing, though is it stuffy? (Hadrian's is the less formal sibling)
--Hadrian's -- this modern scottish sibling to the high end Balmoral's primary restaurant is also noteworthy.  Is it heavy? May well be lower key though
--Norton House -- just outside Edinburgh and, apparently, amazing word on the wine list
--Cafe Royal -- winner of the 2011 Pub of the Year for Scotland
--Castle Terrace Restaurant (a *** run by a friend of Tom Kitchin's)
--Plumed Horse (another *** for which we won't have time, sadly)

--Blytheswood Square -- hotel of the year for Scotland 2012
Where else should we dine in Glasgow?  Kind of wish we had access to Edinburgh's hot resto scene from here, no?

--Culloden House in Inverness -- creative local cuisine ** in a great hotel, local produce and no jackets required! Book it Danno!
--Boath House in Nairn -- **** with local produce and their own organic produce and honey from hives and gardens on the property (not that I plan to eat honey...okay, a little I do plan to eat, but it portends great things, no?).  More than 125 bottles and I can handle the "No T shirts" dress code!
--Glenmoriston Town House Hotel in Inverness -- *** of refined European cuisine
--Inverlochy Castle in Fort Williams -- this looks pretty kicking with *** for food, more for lodging and a wine list too.  I might have to suck up the jacket+tie requirement and head over there for chow (why is Scotland currently in love with lemon grass?)
-Loch Ness Lodge -- serving large portions of filet of Nessy, I presume? (Maybe not) **
--The Cross at Kingussie in, where else, Kingussie! Female chef ***, 200+ bottles, serves only 20 people...sounds very worth checking out!  How far is this puppy from Inverness?
--The Torridon in, you guessed it, Torridon (and don't confuse it with the Torridon Inn in...Torridon).  Might be too far if staying Inverness. I do respect the "No jeans; no trainers" dress code and the *** rating.

--Kinloch Lodge -- *** & 200+bottles run by cookbook author Lady Claire MacDonald and her husband with an emphasis on local/seasonal and a kick-butt hotel too.  This baby also has a star from Michelin!  This is, in fact, the only Mich Star on the Isle.
--The Three Chimneys & the House Over-By ...herbs & veggies from their own gardens and more than 180 bottles on the list at this Colbost-based ***  Here's what the NYTIMES wrote in 2008 about this place:

"The Three Chimneys is the French Laundry of Scotland, luring food-loving pilgrims from near and far, a destination in its own right. And it was precisely the restaurant I was hoping for, one that can't be replicated outside Scotland."

--Toravaig House Hotel doesn't have a huge wine list but does do modern, local/seasonal food worthy of ** and might be worth a visit.
--Duisdale House may well have the same notes as Toravaig House Hotel...wonder if anyone could settle that coin toss?
--Ullinish Country Lodge is another *** doing modern French in a farmhouse which once housed Samuel Johnson and Boswell.  Not sure the menu sounds like it directly hits my sweetspot, but I'm open minded if time permits.  65 bottle list gets high marks, though it does make me wonder whether that's an ample enough list for my snooty tastes! (Self knowledge can be cruel but admitting I have a problem is, well, pretty easy for me).
--Hotel Eileen Iarmain is on the water, gets ** for traditional Scottish food and has a small wine list.

Moray - Perth & Kinrich
Not sure we will visit this area, but if we do, sounds like we should hit:
--Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles **** cooking from a local who trained under Michel Guerard and boasts 300+bottles.  Apparently this dude picked up the deuce from Michelin too!

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