REVIEW : Airds Hotel, Port Appin dinner

I love eating out and a good burger or a pizza makes my taste buds jump for joy but there is a section of my heart and my belly that is reserved solely for fine dining and my taste buds tingle at the thought of well executed, perfectly plated food.

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I was staying at the Airds Hotel in Port Appin which is an award winning hotel and restaurant. They hold Three AA Rosettes and a Recommendation in the Michelin Guide 2020 for their fine dining.

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As we came down stairs, we were ushered into the lounge to sit by the fire to enjoy pre-dinner drinks. We ordered a Picpoul de Pinet, not because it particularly matched any of our dishes that evening, but because its a wine we both like.

The waitress poured us two glasses and took the bottle to our table reserved in the restaurant.

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Whilst sipping on our wine and being hypnotised by the crackling fire, we are served some canapes. These are a representation of the dishes that we would be served, visually stunning and downright delicious.

Scottish Salmon and Pickled Cucumber.

Pork Cheek Bon Bon.

Gruyere Cheese Puff.

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The dining room is contemporary styled with muted neutral tones and splashes of blues and crisp white table clothes. It’s a nice sized space that has a welcoming yet cosy ambience even with the large floor to ceiling windows that run the length of the front of the restaurant. The view dominates the room; but what a view! Over the stunning gardens, down to the shore and out over the water.

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The sunsets here would no doubt be spectacular - for us it was misty and rainy, but that in itself holds a special kind of beauty. The restaurant is also romantic and would be the ideal place to treat someone special.

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But I know you are all dying to know what we ate.

There are two menus here at Airds restaurant. There is the A la Carte menu or the 7 course Seafood tasting menu. The Seafood tasting menu promotes that very best of Scottish seafood and the exceptional seafood found in particular on the West Coast. You’ll find Inverawe Smoked Salmon, Loch Fyne Langoustines, Tarbert Scallops and Scrabster Hallibut.

We decided to choose dishes from the A la Carte menu as we felt it showcased the largest variety of Scottish produce.

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Amuse Bouche - Mushroom and Truffle Risotto with Parmesan Crisp.

A well balanced dish where two earthy elements didn’t fight for the spotlight. The mushroom flavour came through first with the truffle on the back note. The risotto was soft but not overdone and the much needed parmesan crisp added the crunch and the saltiness. Superb!

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Starters - Pan Seared Tarbert Scallops with Dill cream and semi dried orange.

Scallops were soft and silky. The orange had caused the edges of the scallops to caramelise, adding to the sweetness of these juicy pieces of seafood. Delicious.

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Raviolo of Pork Cheek with an apple, soy and ginger dressing.

This dish is deceiving. It doesn’t look particularly appetising although it is plated up well with bright pops of colour however, it was delectable. The pork cheek was succulent and soft and the pasta was wonderfully thin, almost transparent. The dressing give each bite a wee kick or hint of heat from the ginger.

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Mains - Pan-fried John Dory fillets and Crab Gnocchi with roasted red pepper jelly and cauliflower.

John Dory is an immense fish with delicate white flesh and a firm yet flaky texture. This was cooked to perfection. The red pepper jelly was sweet and the crab gnocchi was like eating pillows of yumminess. A fabulous dish and one I would order time and time again.

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Mains - Roast Fillet of Pork with Confit Belly, Israeli Cous Cous, Sweetcorn puree and Creamed leeks.

The pork was well seasoned and cooked well; tender and slightly pink in the middle and the confit of belly pork just fell apart. The cous cous, sweetcorn and creamy leeks all added to the different textures in this dish. A very accomplished, well thought out dish.

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Pre-dessert - Lemon Meringue Tart on a biscuit.

This is possibly one of the nicest, freshest and tastiest palate cleansers I’ve had in a long time. And so so pretty too.

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Dessert - Pear Crumble Souffle with toffee and ginger ice cream.

Please note this is how you do dessert!. Souffles are so easy to get wrong and super difficult to get right and oh my Airds restaurant has knocked this out the ballpark! Outstanding.

The pear yumminess lies at the bottom of the ramekin and once you’ve finished admiring the well risen souffle you almost don’t want to spoil it. Dive it, dig your spoon in all the way to the bottom and scoop up all that pear and some of the souffle cloud - I guarantee you’ll be in dessert heaven. The ice cream is nice too, but plays second fiddle to the star dish of the night.

Seriously good!

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Dessert - Scottish Strawberry Parfait with jelly, meringue, yoghurt and black pepper sorbet.

Strawberries and black pepper are a classic combination and work so well with this dish. The flavours here are subtle but I always say that a clean plate is the sign of a good dish, and this plate went back to the kitchen empty.

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We finished off our wine and finished our dinner off with some Petit Fours.

Pistachio Marshmallow, Vanilla Fudge and a Granola Bon Bon. These were light and I loved how the textures went from super soft (marshmallow) to soft (fudge) and soft and gooey with a little bite (granola bon bon).

Dinner at Airds Hotel is open to residents and non residents; and you can stop by for morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner; just make a reservation first. Dinner can also be paired with wines if you so choose.

The food here is fabulous and very worthy of those three AA rosettes. The food is executed and presented well and the Chef’s skill and knowledge most certainly shine through. I love the showcasing of Scottish produce from the seafood to the venison, beef and lamb.

The staff are tremendous and treat you like royalty. They have a great knack of making you feel like you are the only diners in the room even although there are other people in and they seem to appear just when you need them.

I cant praise Airds hotel enough and I highly recommend an overnight stay and dinner, or at the very least go for dinner. The hospitality of Robert and his team will make you want to return.

Read my review of my overnight stay here

Airds Hotel, Port Appin, Argyll PA38 4DF. Tel : 01631 730236 www.airds-hotel.com

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I was invited by The Airds Hotel review their menu. Food and drink were complimentary but the views are very much my own.