1 October 2009
After filling out stomachs once again, we made our way to our next hotel which was An Lochan, Tighnabruaich on the Kyles of Bute. Previously known as The Royal Hotel at Tighnabruaich, An Lochan is a grand old Victorian building some modern touches.
Upon arrival we were greeted by John, the very friendly hotel manager who seemed to work every waking hour and yet was still always cheerful. He seemed to be so excited that he had a couple on their honeymoon that he couldn’t wait to tell us that they’d be giving us “a wee bit of complimentary fizz” to help us celebrate!
When we arrived, there was a small wedding about to take place. Everyone was waiting for the bride to make her entrance down the stairs and looked a little disappointed to see Suzy and I make an appearance instead! To avoid getting in their way, we went for a little walk down towards Tighnabruaich and then went back to the hotel to check whether anyone had uploaded any of our wedding photos to Facebook! They had, but the Internet connection was practically non-existent, so we viewed a couple of them and then got ready for yet another slap-up meal...
Suzy: Langoustine Ravioli with Carrot & Courgette Salad, Tomato & Dill Vinaigrette and Shellfish Foam
Tony: Pan Seared Scallops with Black Pudding, Apple Puree and Curry Oil
Suzy: Loin of Gloucester Old Spot Pork with Caramelised Apple Sauce, Wilted Curly Kale, Roasted Black Pudding and Saffron Mash
Tony: Taste & Texture of Aberdeen Angus Cross with Fondant Potato, Fine Beans and Truffle Sauce
Suzy: Glazed Lemon Tart with Vanilla Poached Strawberries and Mascarpone Ice Cream
Tony: Summer Berry Pudding with Elderflower & Champagne Sorbet, Berry Coulis and Crisp Mint
My starter was absolutely perfect. The hand-dived local scallops were juicy and went really well with the classic combination of black pudding and apple puree. The curry oil was a nice touch for a bit of spice too! Suzy was a bit disappointed with her langoustine ravioli as the other items on the plate were a little over-powering for the delicate flavours of the langoustine.
Again, my main course was out of this world. I love dishes which include beef done two ways. The differences in taste and texture really complement each other. I first enjoyed this style of dish at The Supper Club (now closed and known as Moran’s) and this was even better than I remembered it. I think the truffle sauce was the winning factor. Suzy was a bit disappointed with her pork though. It was good but nothing special. (And I think she was just a bit jealous of my meal!)
After desserts (both of which were great) we had a quiet drink in the cosy Shinty Bar at the back of the hotel.
For breakfast, Suzy had fruit and yoghurt followed by kedgeree and I had cereal and a full Scottish breakfast, complete with black pudding and haggis!
We then spent the day in the small town of Dunoon. One of the few places to visit in Dunoon is Castle House Museum, which is right next to a viewpoint which offers some great views of Dunoon and across the Firth of Clyde towards Gourock.
The museum is contained in a few rooms of the house and offers all sorts of information on the surrounding areas and exhibitions about local history. (Some of the exhibitions do look like school projects but that just adds to the authenticity!)
On the way back to the hotel, we took a few more photos of the views of the Kyles of Bute and then had a very quick visit to the tiny Tighnabruaich Village and Port before going for a walk down the stony beach before dinner.
Suzy: Carpaccio of Venison with Caramelised Shallots and Rocket & Parmesan Salad
Tony: Platter of Garlic Roasted Langoustine caught by Arthur in the Kyles
Suzy: Spicy Beer Battered Fillet of Halibut with Salt & Vinegar Chips and Tomato & Shallot Salad
Tony: Pan Seared Fillet of Seabass with Fine Ratatouille and New Potatoes
Suzy: Summer Berry Pudding with Elderflower & Champagne Sorbet, Berry Coulis and Crisp Mint
Tony: Coffee Crème Brûlée with Milk Ice Cream and Pistachio Biscuit
Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed everything, especially the huge langoustine on my starter, although I was a bit disappointed with the size of the fillet on the main course. And once again, Suzy thought the venison was over-powered by the rest of the flavours on the dish and thought the fish and chips was nice but average. It’s a shame really as the hotel is great and the food was good, but I think we had much higher expectations given the standards at the previous hotels we’d visited and the fact that An Lochan has received several awards and acknowledgements. The desserts were both really tasty again though. After finishing those, we retired to the Shinty Bar again for a “wee dram” before bedtime.
For our final breakfast in Scotland, Suzy had fruit and yoghurt again, followed by smoked salmon scrambled eggs on toast and I had cereal and kedgeree. Then we made our way back to Dunoon to catch the ferry across to Gourock so that we could make our way back to our last destination, this time across the border in England...