The restoration of the Best Western Crianlarich Hotel to a fully functioning hotel open to passing visitors has changed the culinary map of the Highlands, introducing a new and extremely attractive option for anyone looking for anything from light snacks through bar meals all the way to full on fine dining. It came as no surprise to us to hear that the hotel had been awarded an AA Rosette for its dining shortly after our visit. Hotel guests or anyone else who wishes to drop in during the hours of service can also enjoy the truly outstanding breakfasts. You can read our hotel review for the Best Western Crianlarich Hotel here.
A number of dining options are available. The hotel's lounge service offers visitors a selection of homemade scones, shortbread and cakes which are available from before the end of breakfast service until mid evening. Light snacks become available at the start of lunch and continue through the afternoon, and when we visited included a range of fine sandwiches and baguettes.
The hotel's most popular dining option is its bar menu. When we visited this was available from 12 noon to 9.30pm every day, and the hotel hoped to be able to maintain this length of service through future winters as well as in the high season. In many ways the description of "bar menu" does less than full justice to a menu that many bistro style restaurants would be very proud of, and which when we visited included 10 starters, 13 mains and 7 sweets, plus a separate children's menu. Starters included everything from "haggis neeps and tatties" and "cullen skink" to "baked goat cheese" and "chicken liver parfait". Mains ranged from venison burger or casserole to battered fish and chips, chile con carne and two vegetarian options.
The final dining option at the Crianlarich Hotel is in many ways the most exciting one. This is the fine dining menu served every evening in the hotel's dining room. The menu changes monthly to reflect the best that each season has to offer and is available on a fixed price two or three course basis. We visited during the first week in which the fine dining option had been available at the hotel, and at a time when the new kitchen was only two weeks old and the kitchen team was still being formed. But no allowances were needed for any of this: we were served outstanding meals that would have done credit to a restaurant with a large collection of dining awards.
We chose from a menu of 5 starters, 5 mains, and 5 sweets. The starters of "roast breast of wood pigeon" and "pan-seared west coast king scallops" were equally superb, with excellent ingredients and careful preparation complemented by the high standard of presentation. The "roast loin of Perthshire venison" was a fine main course to follow. A more unusual but equally enjoyable main was the "poached monkfish with wild garlic and ginger on squid ink pasta and vegetable spaghetti with fresh sorrel cream". The rhubarb and ginger brulee and cheese dish provided a perfect close to pretty much perfect meals.
And in some ways we have saved the best until last. The breakfasts on offer at the Crianlarich Hotel are some of the best, and best value, you will find anywhere. The attention to detail and drive for quality which exemplifies all the food at the hotel is certainly in evidence when your breakfast arrives. The options on offer include everything from kippers or smoked salmon to continental or vegetarian breakfasts. Plus of course the traditional Scottish breakfast, the elements of which arrive freshly and perfectly cooked to order using the best quality ingredients. Add in superb service that goes as far as topping up your fruit juice at the table and you have a breakfast to remember: and to plan future trips around. You can read our hotel review for Best Western Crianlarich Hotel here.