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The Old Churches House Hotel, Dunblane

Dunblane is a pretty town. Local shops, river walks and a cathedral in a leafy square. Next to the cathedral is the quaint Old Churches House Hotel which also has a restaurant. As the storm clouds gather one Tuesday evening, we get to our window seat just as lightning cracks the sky and thunderbolts herald a downpour. How dramatic!

Safely settled I admire the smart interior of navy walls, beamed roof and flowers. Restaurant operator is Maison Belles Kitchen who, based on our meal, know what they are doing.

The menu looks uninspiring to be honest; a roll call of burgers, fish ‘n’ chips, tagliatelle. But we soon discover that such dishes when utilising fine produce and cooked with skill can be elevated to the highest level.

Haggis Tempura with Whisky Sauce and Smoked Salmon Salad comprise our starters. Both the offal and salmon are good quality, sumptuous and spicy respectively.

The whisky sauce has a fine consistency and pure, clean flavour. Ditto the blue cheese sauce served with Mr. Bite’s Rib-eye. Cooked rare we observe how such a fine cut just keeps on giving. Bite after bite never becomes hard work when the mouth is full of flavour and juicy, ruby flesh dissolves.

Meanwhile I enjoy a Fillet of Sea Bream toasted golden on the outside but retaining moist, succulent meat. A variety of wild mushrooms mingle with seasonal peas. Pea purée and new potatoes taste intensely of themselves and of summer.

A chef/cook that can present such precision over four courses is sure to be too conscientious to fall at the last hurdle, so we know we are in for a treat with desserts. Chocolate Delice with a tumble of homemade honeycomb and banana ice-cream (a fave) last all of two minutes while I enjoy Mango Panna Cotta. Even a macchiato and square of sugary, creamy tablet for after afters hit bullseye.

My one, only, wee gripe is that the wine list is small although two glasses of house white, Le Havre de Paix Blanc are very palatable.

The storm passes and we are replete and happy. If you fancy a day out, you could do a spot of shopping, a river walk, visit the cathedral, have a pint at the Tappit Hen on the square and then top it all with a nice meal at The Old Churches House.

Compliments to the chef and staff from us.

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