Blackaddie Country House Hotel offers a truly outstanding dining experience that, in our view, easily surpasses the 2 AA Rosettes it held at the time of our visit. It was certainly no surprise to us to hear that owner Ian McAndrew won the award of Chef of the Year in the 2016 CIS Excellence Awards. The hotel is making its name as a destination for those in search of the very best in fine dining in Scotland, and its reputation can only grow as more people come to appreciate what it has to offer. Even better, it achieves its exceptionally high standards without ever being fussy or overly formal: this is fine dining in the setting of the comfortable atmosphere and accommodation of a hotel built on a domestic scale, where the welcome is warm and friendly. You can read our hotel review for Blackaddie Country House Hotel here.
The quality of the dining owes everything to the drive and vision of Ian McAndrew, half of the team who own and run Blackaddie. Ian was at one time the youngest Englishman to gain a Michelin Star, and has written three best selling cookery books. Perhaps more importantly he brings to Blackaddie a passion for presenting diners with the very highest quality food, sourced as locally as possible, and prepared with great skill. And when it appears before the diner the food is beautifully presented. This is art on a plate, though without ever becoming overly fussy and certainly without ever getting in the way of your enjoyment of the food itself. And as we note at the foot of this review, it is wonderful to find a chef as enthusiastic about breakfast as he is about dinner.
Given this degree of passion, it is no surprise to find near the front of the menu a page listing many of the suppliers of the products you are eating including Glenkens Eggs in New Galloway. the Loch Arthur Creamery near Dumfries and Marrbury Smokehouse in Newton Stewart; as well as local shops. This is carried through to individual meal menus. It is not uncommon to find Stornoway Black Pudding on a hotel breakfast menu. This is the first time we seen this taken one step further, with, the menu tells us, Charles McLeod's Stornoway Black Pudding available (and exceptionally nice it is!)
Various dining options are on offer at Blackaddie. Dinner can be ordered from the fine dining or the table d'hote menus, and booking is highly recommended. Lunch can be provided by advance arrangement. Private dining can also be arranged for groups of up to 24. The highlight of the dining experience is undoubtedly dinner.
The menu changes on a daily basis, to ensure guests never get bored with what is on offer. When we visited the fine dining option commenced with delicious canapes of salmon tartare and gazpacho. On going through to the restaurant we were served with a choice of three different homemade bread rolls, and then an appetiser of roast calves' sweetbreads. The choice of starter was between a salad of confit corn fed chicken and a salad of crab with grapefruit and crab bisque. Both were outstanding. The fennel ice cream with fennel leaf and fennel pollen that followed was simply sublime. Both mains were also superb: here we had a choice between roast fillet of halibut and loin of roe deer. The sweet course lived up well to the high standards of what it had to follow. The banana roast and cake, with salted peanut ice cream and chocolate was delicious. The excellent selection of Scottish cheeses on offer were all from the local area, and as an illustration of Ian's attention to detail, even the accompanying oatcakes were homemade and outstandingly good.
Whether we actually needed the lovely petits fours that came with the coffee afterwards is debatable, but we certainly enjoyed them. It is unusual to be able to say that every single element of a meal was perfect, but that was what we found with dinner at the Blackaddie Country House Hotel. Add in efficient and friendly service and you have the ideal dining experience.
We'd been told that Ian McAndrew takes breakfast at Blackaddie as seriously as dinner, so arrived in the breakfast room next morning with very high expectations. We were not disappointed, and subsequently emerged having enjoyed a truly outstanding breakfast: a breakfast it would be difficult, if not impossible, to better anywhere. You can tell a lot from the way a chef approaches porridge and scrambled eggs (no, not together), and at Blackaddie both were simply perfect. You can read our hotel review for Blackaddie Country House Hotel here.