Visitors Who Eat and Shop Locally Help Village Economy
The trouble with writing about food around Lochearnhead and beyond is drooling on to my computer as I type.
No shop bought biscuit in the cupboard will substitute for the local home made cake and tray bake flavours in cafe's, unless from a packet of MHOR Bread's shortbread of course but more about local produce in my next blog. We are talking cafes, restaurants AND take-aways here. #EatLocally
Self Catering gives you freedom of choice to eat in or out. Consider our local choices of cafes, table d'hote and food connoisseur restaurants plus take-away menus. Guests often ask us to recommend eateries so I tell Fraser that he has a duty to take me out to eat often, whether new establishments or staying up to date with the evolving local menus within a 20 mile radius and beyond.
So, lets start locally. The closest pub food is the Clachan Cottage Hotel ably managed by Rhoda and her team. In Scotland there has been a shortage of chefs, especially in rural places. "The Clachan" has had its challenges though they still manage to turn out comfort food favourites like burgers, steak pie and fish and chips with a changing specials board to add variety and vegetarian options. The latest news is that they have 3 new chefs lined up. Hooray! Grab a coffee or light lunch after using the water sports hire services in the same building. Top tip! The Loch Earn Wakeschool shop underneath the hotel, also sells delicious take-away coffee and ice lollies in summer. The hotel is only 150 metres from the garden gates, so no driving if you are able. #eatlocal #sustainabletourism. NB - A pet friendly hotel.
Then there is the short romantic lochside stroll home. Take one of the cottage torches in winter if the moon is hidden as there are no street lights this end. Trust me it is pitch black. We like it that way. If we wanted street lights we could have moved to most other areas. You see cars coming easily in the dark due to head lights...even if they are electric and silent. Dark skies are great for star gazing. The lit Briar Cottages sign does help to guide you back as does Blawn Wi The Wind sculpture, up and until around 11pm.
Guests that eat out often like change and variety. Discover The Golden Larches near the turn off to Balquhidder. A good value menu with a restaurant in the conservatory on the A84. They also offer breakfast, snacks and a takeaway menu.
Mhor84 is at the Balquhidder turn off further south on the A84, signposted for Rob Roy's Grave. Chef owner Tom Lewis and family created this quirky motel that serves all day food.
Try their home brew ale. The home made soups never disappoint. Fresh ingredients are used to make tasty variations of home cooked favourites whether you opt for breakfast, macaroni cheese for lunch or seasonal specials like locally sourced pork or langoustines. They are also known for their gourmet burgers. Try the thick cut slices of beef with seasonal root veg and the "MHOR..kshire" puddings for Sunday lunch. Scrummy cakes come from their MHOR Bread bakery in Callander. Some people are fans of the giant merinques, chocolate brownies and various tarts. I can never see past the chocolate and hazlenut flapjacks. I am usually the driver so I appreciate their elderflower press bubbly to drink too. No matching chairs, tables or crockery here, which adds to the fun and charm. Interesting objects and pictures are displayed against white washed walls and sanded floors. Eat in or out on the deck on dry days.
If you are a foodie and know your fine dining follow the road to Balquhidder, past Rob Roy MacGregor's burial ground at Balquhidder Kirk all the way up to Monachyle Mhor boutique hotel. This is also owned and run by the Lewis family. Stop for coffee or book in for a fine dining experience. A few famous people have dined here. We hate to name drop but are happy to whisper names when you stay at Briar Cottages:). The food is delicious offering fine views of the Braes O' Balquhidder. Stay by the fire in winter or listen to the birds and sheep bleating alfresco. Look out for special food events there and art installations on the BLiSS trail.
Strathyre village has a popular award winning cafe called the Broch Cafe. It has become so popular, with limited indoor seating and extensive outdoor seating that it has now opened up the Broch n Roll stop on site, for takeaways. If you have time, try the soups, breakfast rolls, paninis and cakes. They serve Luccaffe coffee here which is delicious if you are a "good coffee" fan. If you don't have time... grab a roll and take-away beverage instead. In the cafe you will find genuine home baked cakes. No ready made scone mix in sight. They are truly crafted by hand. I do like a tuna melt panini followed by the Malteser tray bake myself. I am not ashamed to say that I have also tried the scones, flapjacks and carrot cake... all in the interest of tourism research of course. You can also have a game of Petanque at The Broch cafe which is fun! Simply ask to use the equipment. The cafe is conveniently situated between the A84 and National Cycle route 7.
Also in Killin, you will find the Courie Inn, The Capercaillie and The Killin Hotel. Fraser claims that he had over 20 pieces of scampi at The Capercaillie once and all of our guests now count and compare when ordering. They are famed for generous portions. Check out the menus at the Ardeonaig Hotel, tucked away on the road that goes around the back of the Falls of Dochart. Follow the south Loch Tay road through forest for about 8 miles.
Susan Stuart runs the Four Seasons Hotel where pets are more than welcome. In fact Finn the dog is often on reception to greet you! They are currently offering light refreshments in the snug bar.
There is also a cafe with a takeaway kitchen inside the Strathyre village shop where you may meet locals having a "blether" and a cup.
Moving further east Comrie and Crieff have their fair share of wee gems to eat in. The Deil's Cauldron specialises in Mediterranean and Scottish Cuisine. Husband and wife team Katy and Brian will look after you. Choose a fixed lunch menu or a la carte in the cottage style restaurant with stone walls. Sunday lunches are delicious and in an intimate setting that almost feels like someones home dining room.
The Royal Hotel is a luxury boutique Hotel with charm, offering locally sourced produce and sound cooking techniques putting a modern twist on classic dishes. We love to sit in The Garden Room with its roof light or by the fire reading the papers and magazines in winter with a coffee and a dram or pint (I am on the coffee of course :).
If you enjoy Indian food you will love the Ghurkas Indian and Nepalese dishes, whether sitting in or to take away. Don't be put off by the small, clean, basic table set up. The food is delicious.
The family run Meadow Inn is exceptionally good value for pub grub. Well presented food favourites with a family friendly service.
Pop in to Cafe Rhubarb on Crieff High St with its large corner window so that you can watch what is going on in the street. Laura and Martijn attract many locals and repeat visitors who love their cakes, crepes, waffles, friendly chat and service.
Keep an eye on The Steading Cafe owned and run by Gourlays -Crieff's high Street butcher and events organiser. Pop in for coffee, soup, rolls and sandwiches though monitor facebook for their fixed evening meal nights like "Steak Night" or BBQ.
Another popular cafe is Deli Ecosse in Callander. They also offer Gluten and Dairy free options.
In additon to take-aways already mentioned Lutis woodfired pizza and pasta parlour goes down very well with fans. Callander is 14 miles away but dont worry about the food getting cold....you will probably devour it long before you get back to the cottage as the wafting woodfired smell will tease you!
A little further afield, don't go past The Smiddy at Blair Drummond or The Buttercup Cafe in Doune. Both excellent choices for breakfast or lunches and afternoon cakes.
I could go on and on with recommendations. If this lot does not work for you I can recommend more places and further afield. See our website eating out guide too. Better get the dinner on now. Having smoked haddock (finnan haddie) from the Crieff Fish shop. Will tell you more about their choice of fish and seafood plus other local produce next time. Happy noshing. Enjoy our local scran.
FOOD 2: Local Produce blog coming soon #shoplocal