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Achray House Hotel - A Perfect Gourmet Getaway
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Achray House hotel
St Fillans,
01764 685320

Perthshire is known as a foodie county. After all, it hosted the first farmer's market in Scotland twenty years ago which was started by local farmer Jim Fairlie.

The area and Scotland’s natural larder is the focus of Achray House Hotel - a restaurant with rooms overlooking Loch Earn. As well as tasting the food you can indulge in walking, fishing, and cycling in the stunning countryside. At dinner a couple of gents were tucking into scallops and halibut and one of them tells us that he caught a 'Rainbow' earlier.

We are sitting in the traditional dining room which has an open fire . Laura Muirhead and Panu Lethi bought this country house hotel in January and appointed Chef Filip Verhoyden soon after. We note their respective influences during our stay.

I am drawn by the classy display of real flowers in the bar/reception area and Laura tells me she uses a local florist.

Filip has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in Belgium mostly as a sous chef and has farmed goats and kept bees in South Africa. He has ambition and is clearly delighted with the natural bounty at his fingertips.

The halibut I enjoy on my first evening is from Gigha. An olive crumb is sprinkled like caviar with a pop of flavour here and there. A venison starter is seared perfectly to keep it satisfying and juicy. Vegetables like beets, fennel, cucumber, horseradish, Jerusalem artichoke all have a role to play subtly complementing meat, game and fish dishes.

Soups for starters had set the bar high. Mr Bite has veloute of mushroom with an intense concentrated flavour of fungi while I enjoy mussel soup - nectar for a shellfish lover; a creamy rich bisque with plump orange meaty mussels and puddles of glistening chive oil on top. Later for pudding I have a Nordic style red berry soup too.

When it comes to cheese - served in the French way with Port and before dessert – we enjoy three local ones - Lady Mary, Strathearn and Wee Comrie. 

There is a good range of wine by the glass and I fall for the Larry Cherubino Hen & Chicken, Chardonnay, 2018, Australia; gently-oaked and versatile enough to see me through a few courses over two nights. A crispy classic gooseberry-driven Sauvignon Blanc, the only deviation for the meaty halibut.

The owners have big plans for Achray House Hotel so watch this space.

A cosmopolitan 'Barcelona-style' wine bar is planned for later in the year as is a bar menu, wine tasting dinners, a vegan tasting menu, and a chef’s table which will have views of both the Loch and the kitchen.

There's much to do but the small friendly team are excited about the challenge of creating a perfect gourmet getaway.

We had a very enjoyable and memorable weekend away - highly recommended for some well deserved R & R.

(S. Wilson)

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