As you would expect from a country house hotel with 2 AA Rosettes the focus of the dining experience at Bunchrew House is on dinner in the large and extremely attractive dining room at the west end of the house. With two huge bay windows this offers magnificent views over the gardens and over the Beauly Firth. But before we move on to talk about the excellent dinners on offer, it is worth spending a moment looking at other aspects of dining at the hotel. You can read our hotel review for Bunchrew House Hotel here.
Those staying at the hotel or simply visiting to dine can enjoy light lunches from a menu that extends from home made soup to a Summer Isles smoked duck salad. Meanwhile there is a sandwich menu that is available from early morning to late evening; and also available throughout the day and and evening are the tea cake menu and the afternoon tea menu. As if this was not open ended enough to meet most appetites, there is also a 24 hour snack menu offering a range of sandwiches.
The high standard of dining achieved at Bunchrew House Hotel is very much down to the efforts of the head chef, Walter Walker. Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible: some from the hotel's own gardens, while wild mushrooms are foraged in the grounds. Many other ingredients are sourced within the Highlands, including scallops hand dived on the west coast and wild game.
The dinner menu changes daily and when we visited offered a choice of three starters, three mains and three desserts for a fixed price including an amuse bouche. Our amuse bouche was guinea fowl with apricot stuffing and was an excellent curtain raiser to the rest of the dinner. For starters we chose "slices of roasted duck accompanied by filo tartlet of duck confit and lentils with red onion glaze"; and "tartar of salmon and scallops bound with yoghurt and couscous finished with golden mango dressing and sakura cress." Both were delicious. The choices on offer when you visit are likely to be different, but this gives a sense of the style of dishes on offer.
On the same basis, our main of "roast saddle of Highland venison with local haggis potato scone, caramelised red cabbage, French beans and a rich rosemary sauce" was excellent. Equally good was the "baked fillet of halibut, braised fennel, chili and lemon risotto and a cherry vine tomato sauce": or perhaps, arguably, it was even better. Those are good arguments to have over dinner! The dessert of "home grown rhubarb tart with a marscapone vanilla cream" was extremely good (and included rhubarb picked in the garden the previous day), and selecting the cheese option meant picking four from a fine list of Scottish and other cheeses. The presentation of the cheese board was outstanding and it came with a superb chutney and an apple beautifully sliced to resemble a swan. Sometimes it's the small things that can have the greatest impact.
Greatly enhancing the entire dining experience was the very high standard of service. Especially noteworthy was the way the pace of different tables of diners was allowed to lead the pace of service, meaning that those wishing to do so could opt for a leisurely dinner, while others could move through the courses more swiftly.
Breakfast is served in the dining room, and all elements are delivered to your table. Cooked options include poached haddock, locally smoked salmon and Mallaig kippers: plus all the elements of the traditional Scottish breakfast. You can read our hotel review for Bunchrew House Hotel here.