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Blackaddie House
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Blackaddie House
Blackaddie Road,
Sanquhar,
Dumfriesshire,
DG4 6JJ
01659 50270

Snow was falling as we approached the traditional stone 17th century house. The rolling hills of Dumfrieshire were blanketed white and the River Nith bubbled in the background. Scotland in winter is truly stunning and what better way to enjoy it than by eating well and cosying up in front of a real fire with a dram. All this is on offer at Blackaddie House.

From the first bite of homemade shortbread we knew we were onto a winner. Ian and Jane McAndrew have an impressive history of cheffing and housekeeping respectively that has culminated in this present venture of several years. 

We were here to sample the £55 'Fine Dining' menu and it transpired that attention to detail, skill, experience and good produce would define our 'gourmet break'. 

All the food was homemade and for dinner we started with a delicate onion bhaji canapé, a shot of sparkly gazpacho and good bread. An 'appetizer' of rich spinach and parsley risotto with a molten chicken wing and crisp well-seasoned onion ring followed. 

There are no shortcuts to kitchen experience and this is evident in Ian's food. The stock giving depth to Mr Bite's fricassee of mussels, prawns and shrimps with leeks and caviar, my pristine silky cauliflower pannacotta and then a savoury fennel ice cream, a perfect cheffy palate cleanser. The foie gras sauce for my cod and the sticky deep jus on Mr Bite's beef; sauces, stocks and skill applied to good produce elevate 'food' to cuisine.

I was personally delighted with the crisp roasted baby gem that accompanied my main course of cod. Lettuce has been eschewed for trendier leaves in Britain but turn to a good French or Italian cookbook and you will find an abundance of recipes. Ditto parsley which Ian also used - the tightly curled kind. 

Pudding was a spectacular thick creamy lemon posset with cinnamon doughnut, cool sweet coconut sorbet in lacy brandy snap plus a shot of homemade lemonade for me. A Scottish cheese board with sublime candied walnuts for Mr Bite plus homemade biscuits and chutney. We had to turn down petit fours and plead forgiveness. 

Freshly squeezed orange juice, local free range eggs and smoked salmon (Marrbury Smokehouse) kept the end well up at breakfast. No perfunctory shortcuts and chef was back in the kitchen. Maybe he had slept in one of the hotel beds, I certainly had one of my best ever sleeps and woke up to that winter white view. 

Dumfries and Galloway is a precious and beautiful part of Scotland and well worth the hour's drive from Edinburgh. To boast a chef of Ian McAndrews's standard is gilding the lily. He was one of the youngest chefs back in the day to receive a Michelin star and currently boasts two rosettes. Suffice to say anyone in the know rates him highly and he is name checked amongst Britain's top chefs. 

Don't expect a snob though he is one of those jovial down to earth types that simply loves feeding you good food. 

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