Little’s Restaurant, Blairgowrie
Blairgowrie, ‘The Berry Toon’, is a pretty Perthshire town with a square and the river Ericht running through it.
There are lots of traditional shops in the town including a fishmonger, Fish in Blair, ‘sister-monger’ to Fish in Crieff. Willie Little is the owner of both and the former, used to be a restaurant, ‘Little’s’. Mr Bite and I enjoyed a meal there several years ago, it was a bustling, popular eatery that has now relocated, a bone’s throw away, across the roaring river, in the expanded premises of a former church.
Blairgowrie also marks the start and finish of the 70-mile-long distance walk ‘The Cateran Trail’. I have goaded Mr Bite to walk the trail with me and as we heave rucksacks onto our backs at Riverside Road, we glance across to Borrie’s Bar which also forms part of the new restaurant along with a microbrewery. We see people enjoying drinks on the terrace in the sunshine and, with this carrot dangled, we start walking.
It is five days later that we can admire the new Little’s from the inside. . Heating comes from below in the form of underfloor heating and from above by celestial, saucer-shaped heaters. The words depicted on the giant stained-glass window, Endurance, Fortitude, Self-Sacrifice and Courage have a special resonance following our adventure.
I order a classic Gin Martini ( I earnt it) and Mr Bite has Little’s Craft Pale Ale. The beer complements his starter of Baked Crab with Willie’s Stout Welsh Rarebit, the hops cutting through the rich, indulgent dish. My home-Smoked Steelhead Trout is served with a soft blini and crème fraiche.
In the short documentary (see below)
made about the renovation, it is pointed out that due to Willie’s background he can source the freshest and best produce. This shows in our main courses of Herb Crusted Halibut with Dauphinoise Potato and Tomato Fondue and John Dory with Cabbage, Bacon and Rosti Potato and Butter Sauce. What also shows is that the chefs understand the secret of cooking fish is, first and foremost, not to spoil it. Herbs, gently spiced tomato, cabbage and bacon are all there to enrich the fish. A sie of seasonal Glamis asparagus spears are fat and juicy.
Good fish restaurants often have tempting dessert menus and at Willie’s Mr Bite and I share a heavenly Sticky Toffee Pudding in a sea of caramel sauce decorated with fruit, fragments of honeycomb and a ball of divine vanilla ice cream.
As we chat Mr Bite tells me about the bar, Borries. It is named after David Borrie who was ‘a grumpy cobbler. Borrie surprised the community in 1885 when he left a fortune in his will to erect this Riverside Methodist Church.
I admire Willie’s sourcing of produce, his approach to developing his business, his appreciation of local tradespeople and heritage and the skilful dishes executed by the kitchen team.
Moreover, I look forward to the next opportunity to eat at this beautiful restaurant (S. Wilson).
Little's Restaurant - Riverside Road, Blairgowrie, PH10 7GA - 01250 875358