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The Red House and The Dalmore Inn - Coupar Angus and Blairgowrie

By Sharon Wilson

Mr Bite has watched a cheetah demolish a wildebeest on the hotel telly. A couple of hours later he mentions it as he watches me devour Medallions of Lamb. I am back in my happy place - a buzzing restaurant with delicious food cooked by a chef; in this case, the restaurant is The Dalmore Inn, Blairgowrie.

We are mid-way through a wonderful meal; he has a whale of a battered fish on his plate along with crispy chips and mushy peas doused in vinegar.

Our home for the weekend is The Red House Hotel in nearby Coupar Angus. It is a functional hotel with leisure facilities, bar and restaurant. Our room is spacious with all mod cons. We feel very safe as every precaution has been taken to reassure guests, e.g. hand sanitiser everywhere, masked staff, regular cleaning, keys and TV remote in plastic bags, outside seating. The food is nothing to write home about but The Dalmore Inn down the road in Blairgowrie shares owners and is a different gastronomic beast altogether.

I have Garlic Prawns on a delicious Caesar salad for starters. Anchovies, croutons, roast garlic, fresh lettuce and Parmesan crisp is a substantial meal in itself, but too tasty to show restraint. Now pink, juicy lamb is complemented by authentically sloppy risotto with skinny asparagus and a rich, sweet tomato confit.

Mr Bite had Chicken Tikka Spring Rolls for his starter. Nice pulled meat with a good curry flavour swaddled in brittle filo. A bottle of exceptional local beer, Head East from the Dunkeld Strathbraan Micro Brewery is perfect with both his starter and main. Citrus and gooseberry, mix with some sweet creaminess. It has all the qualities of a good Sauvignon Blanc. He is heaven, so am I.

It is not just the food; it is the pure joy of being back in a restaurant with friendly staff and a convivial atmosphere. The Dalmore is contemporary Scottish in style, smartly done with an eye on textures and a palette of muted earthy tones.

Mr Bite can't handle pudding, but I am pulling out all the stops. Who could resist Bee Pollen Parfait with raspberry compote and oaty shortbread? We had walked up the iron age hill fort, Dunsinane earlier, famously referred to in Macbeth and the startling red berries chime with Shakespeare's blood-soaked verse. Shortbread is rustic and melty.

The Dalmore and The Red House are in the heart of berry country and situated conveniently for many day trips and walks. Dunsinane Hill is in the Sidlaw range, with panoramic views to both the Tay Bridge and the Cairngorms. A scone and cuppa in the Three Witches Tearoom in nearby Burrelton will refresh. This area is perfect for a staycation. Only a couple of hours from the central belt and rates are from £65. Can heartily recommend.

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