Boys Eat Scotland – Lunch at Barley Bree Review:
A weekend without a plan can be bliss sometimes so we decided to take a drive out of town towards Perthshire – ok it was a run in the car and we’re turning into our parents. First stop was a walk around the Hermitage near Dunkeld – looking beautiful in the spring sun with the smell of pine and fresh air filling our lungs it was a real tonic. We didn’t really want to leave but we had booked a table at Barley Bree restaurant in Muthill for lunch so we drove there through the Sma’ Glen, my head filled with happy childhood memories of eggy pieces from Tupperware and flasks of tea.
We arrived in the lovely village of Muthill just in time for our booking and were shown to our table in the classy dining room that belied the village pub exterior. The interior maintains its coach house heritage with exposed stone walls, wooden beams and floor boards with added warmth from lots of candle light and a lovely wood burning stove. The welcome was also warm and the lunchtime set menu had enough on it to make choosing difficult. The drinks menu was also quite accommodating and as the designated driver, I was glad to find an alcohol-free Brewdog Nanny State on the menu-hoppy and refreshing.
After perusing the menu and placing our order, it was nice to be offered some home-made bread to nibble on – usually the first thing to be sacrificed to the economics of the set menu. Our starters arrived quite swiftly; mine the smoked ham hock terrine, pickled quail egg, baby onion, gherkin and salad and Donnie’s the west coast mussels and crayfish tail, soba noodle, chilli, coriander and Thai broth.
The smoked ham hock terrine was a work of art on the plate and it had a lot going on for such a simple dish including the puce coloured quail’s egg and a tart swirl of pear and dots of fresh tasting wild garlic pesto. It was also delicious. Donnie’s juicy mussels were given the star treatment and arrived sans-shells with the crayfish tails, coated with a slick, fragrant broth topped with a seaweed crisp. He loved every mouthful.
For mains I ordered sea bream fillet, fennel & tomato pavé, baby chard and lemon jelly while Donnie ordered the corn fed chicken breast, puy lentils and heritage carrot. My fish was light and delicate and the lemon jelly was sharp and refreshing with the sweet tomato and fennel pave providing a nice accompaniment. It was a lovely dish although the fennel flavour could have been a wee bit stronger.
Donnie’s chicken was very succulent with an intense jus and earthy puy lentils giving the dish a rich flavour – the carrot puree was a nice sweet addition. We ordered a side of perfectly crisp and fluffy chips which turned out to be totally unnecessary but ideal for mopping up the delicious jus.
After such an enjoyable starter and main we felt it rude not to give dessert a chance to shine and we weren’t disappointed. I couldn’t resist the chicorée crème brulée and it was a generous portion with a rich, coffee flavoured crème with a satisfying crackle of caramelised brown sugar. Donnie went for the dark chocolate délice, sorbet and charred pineapple – it was a perfect combination of silky smooth chocolate, crunchy chocolate soil and a tangy sorbet.
Perhaps we should have quit while we were ahead but pushed the boat out and ordered the coffee and petit fours for an extra £3.50. These proved to be the only very minor disappointment in the whole meal consisting of two squares of shortbread and two small truffles – the coffee was very nice though.
Barley Bree is owned by French-trained chef Fabrice Bouteloup and wine-expert Alison Bouteloup and it’s clear that they have put a lot of their experience and love into this restaurant. The set menu has enough variety and French flair to keep anyone happy and there were plenty of other diners on a Saturday afternoon drawn to the exceptionally good quality and value on offer.
The trip to Muthill is worth it to enjoy this award winning restaurant and also to visit this lovely part of the world and if you fancy a longer visit they also have some newly refurbished rooms.
Set lunch menu is £15.50 for 2 courses and £19.50 for 3 courses
If you have dined at Barley Bree let us know how you got on. Similarly if you liked our Barley Bree review, please feel free to share with your friends.
Barley Bree Restaurant with Rooms
6 Willoughby Street