The dining experience at Toravaig House Hotel is simply sublime and on our visit amply justified the hotel's 2 AA Rosettes. All dining at Toravaig House takes place in the Iona Restaurant. This is subdivided by an internal wall pierced by two arches, giving an already intimate and attractive space additional flexibility and creating a semi-private area at one end. A corner of the restaurant is home to a small bar offering a range of drinks. You can read our hotel review for Toravaig House here.
The hotel serves both lunch and dinner, and the restaurant, which can seat 26, is also open to non residents: though booking is strongly advisable. The heart of any stay at the hotel is dinner. Your dining experience starts in the lounge, where you can peruse the six course table d'hôte menu and wine list while enjoying a selection of canapés. When you move through to the restaurant you are offered a choice of homemade bread rolls, and an amuse bouche: in our case an extremely nice Jezebel goats cheese and apple.
The menu changes from day to day, so a detailed account of a particular dinner can only be an indication of the sort of food you might expect. What seems unlikely to change is the exceptionally high quality of the preparation, the care to source locally wherever possible, the wonderful presentation, and the great service. This is art on a plate, but never overdone: the food is always given space to speak for itself.
When we visited the menu offered a choice between two starters, two mains, and two sweets plus cheese. Our starters were "Perthshire quail breast, rainbow chard, carrot and Madeira reduction"; and, to show that there is a world beyond excellent Scottish produce, "pan seared swordfish, Israeli cous cous, beetroot and kohl rabi." Both were delicious, as was the soup course of "celeriac veloute with vanilla bean" that followed. The taste of vanilla coming through the celeriac was little short of divine.
It is a sign of an especially good meal when, afterwards, you find it difficult to come to a view about which course was best: and another when you get to this stage in a review and realise that the ready supply of superlatives is diminishing fast, while the need for them is not. The main courses we enjoyed were, as they should have been, the focal point of the dinner. The "west coast cod, salt cod brandade, black olive tapenade, and saffron butter sauce" was amazing, but then so was the "Loch Harbour pork loin with Stornoway black pudding, golden beetroot puree, purple carrots, chestnut mushrooms and merlot reduction."
We then enjoyed a pre-dessert course of cranachan, before embarking on the desserts themselves. The "dark chocolate brownie with griottine cherry, hazelnut and mint soil" was truly magnificent. Meanwhile, the cheese selection was exceptionally good, and a particularly nice touch that we suspect we will begin to see used elsewhere was the names of the cheeses in the selection written on the slate on which they were served.
The superb dinner at Toravaig House will have given you high hopes for the quality of the breakfast. However high your expectations, they will be surpassed. The first course is served at your table and includes fresh fruit salad and home made muesli, plus excellent porridge. Main course cooked options include Mallaig smoked salmon and scrambled eggs; smoked haddock with poached egg; Mallaig kippers; and Toravaig House kedgeree. You can also choose from the usual elements of a traditional Scottish breakfast, which is also excellent, and superbly presented. You can read our hotel review for Toravaig House here.