Thursday, 12 April 2018

A wonderful evening to start our odyssey

Shieldaig Lodge Hotel

We didn’t stay the night here, just came for dinner.  It was early April, the sun had been shining and it was now a fine evening.  At the hotel it was a simply perfect evening with the hospitality, knowledge of staff, the bar, lounge and dining room, and the view all coming together to make it one of the best for us.

We started off with a drink in the bar, which is very impressively stocked with spirits.  Not just whiskies – although they have many of those – but gins too, ranging from one distilled just around the corner to those made much further afield.  But they don’t just stop at being able to describe the flavours of these, they also know which fruit to use (lemon, line or orange, for example) and which tonic, if any, goes well.  She was a very knowledgeable bar manager indeed! 
When our table was ready, we were taken through to the lovely dining room.  This, like the rest of public rooms of the hotel, has recently been refurbished very tastefully.  The decor and decorations are in keeping with the outside of the building which is typical of an old highland hunting lodge.  It has been done sympathetically and very well.  They put us at the table in the bay window so we had  a perfect view of Loch Gairloch with yachts at anchor and seals cavorting in the water.  

The set-price menu is not extensive – three dishes to choose from in each of the three courses, but there’s sure to be something that’s right for everyone and we overheard a discussion about what they could provide for a child off the menu, too.  They’re happy to vary things since everything is cooked fresh and according to one’s taste.  The brought a canapé first – not mentioned on the menu and very nice.  Neither of us can remember precisely what it was ...  but it was well presented and tasted lovely.  We then both had scallops and salmon starter – three very plump locally caught scallops which tasted lovely and probably came from the very loch we were admiring.  Lois then had the Pollock, which was mouth watering and Ian had the ribeye steak.  The steak was not served in a way that Ian has ever had ribeye steak before; rather than the usual standard steak shape, this was served as two large chunks of steak.  It looked odd to me (but that’s probably more of a reflection on me!) but tasted absolutely terrific.  It was tender and tasty, not at all chewy.  It could truly be savoured.  Both dishes were served with a thoughtful and well presented selection of vegetables and potato – not simply chips and/or salad.  Finally Lois had fruit crumble with icecream and Ian the cheese platter followed by tea and coffee.  We had a bottle of good wine, too, which was quite pricey but well worth it.  Everything was cooked very well and served well too  - the two waiting staff worked the room well together and as a team, offering conversation when wanted and just waiting at other times. 

The people who own, manage and work in this hotel think about their offer and that really shows in their attitude and the experience they provide for guests.  One of the best experiences we’ve had.

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