The restaurant at the Ardanaiseig Hotel occupies a large part of the rear of the main floor of the hotel and offers attractive views out over the gardens to Loch Awe and beyond. The hotel has a well established reputation for fine dining which, despite what might at first sight appear to be a fairly remote location, draws diners from a wide area. The outstanding quality of the food on offer is recognised by the Ardanaiseig's award of 3 AA Rosettes, and on the basis of our experience this is an award that is amply justified. You can read our hotel review for Ardanaiseig here.
A range of meals are on offer. There are two options for those wishing to lunch. A daily changing three course set lunch menu is served in the dining room, offering some mouth watering dishes. Meanwhile, a light soup or sandwich lunch is available in the library bar.
Afternoon tea is served daily, and you can select from a range of options including shortbread tea, cream tea, and for those who missed lunch (and are happy to risk spoiling their appetite for dinner), the full tea. The hotel also serves children's high tea: children under 10 are not allowed in the dining room during dinner service. A packed lunch menu is also available, offering three different options at a range of prices.
But the heart of the dining experience at the Ardanaiseig Hotel is the daily changing five course set dinner menu. The hotel has gone for a fixed menu approach in a deliberate quest to ensure that it maintains its high standards on a consistent basis. Alternatives to the courses on that day's fixed menu can be made available, but we'd strongly recommend going with the chef's choice wherever possible.
By definition, a daily changing fixed menu means that every day will be different, but when we visited the meal commenced with canapés (including a lovely ceviche of sea bass) and drinks in the library bar, followed by an amuse bouche of scallops with chili and lime dressing in the restaurant itself. The courses on the menu comprised pan fired fillet of cod; best end of Argyll spring lamb; a pre-dessert of chocolate soup; and a choice of glazed Amalfi lemon tart with strawberry and marscaponi cream, or plated Scottish cheese to conclude. Then coffee and petits fours are served at your table, in the library bar, or in your room.
The hotel's reputation and dining awards mean that we approached our dinner with very high expectations, and those expectations were fully realised. What was particularly nice was the way the service perfectly complemented the food: professional, friendly and efficient (especially worthy of note on a day when a power cut meant the food lift from the kitchen was not working and service was by candlelight). Diners were allowed to set their own pace, which meant those wanting to linger over their food could do so without feeling rushed, while others could move through their courses more swiftly. This is exactly how the very best restaurant service should operate.
Breakfast is served in the restaurant or via room service. A self service starter course of fruits, yoghurts, croissants, cereals and freshly squeezed juices is followed by the cooked course served at your table. Options available include smoked haddock or salmon with eggs, grilled kippers, or a simple boiled egg and soldiers. Or you can go for the full Scottish breakfast comprising all the usual ingredients and eggs cooked to your liking. Breakfast at the Ardanaiseig is taken every bit as seriously as dinner, and as a result everything from the fruit and fruit juices to the toast and home made preserves is exceptionally good. And we can heartily recommend the fried breakfast as one of the very best you are likely to encounter anywhere. You can read our hotel review for Ardanaiseig here.