Boys Eat Scotland visit Knockderry House
I absolutely love late September. As the days start to shorten it’s time to prepare for winter, stocking up on logs for the fire, red wines to drink, candles to burn and thoughts turning to hearty stews and crumbles to cook. It’s the time of year to add some extra hygge to our lives, where the curtains get shut, the fire gets lit and you cosy in for the winter.
Before hibernation we had a visit to Knockderry House in Argyll planned and were really looking forward to staying at this stunning 19th Century wool merchants house now owned and cared for by Murdo and Beth. Twitter hashtags such as #foodlovers #romance and #timetoescape all added to the sense of anticipation as we drove towards the village of Cove on the shores of Loch Long. Knockderry with its turrets and towers is only an hours drive from Glasgow but feels like a world away with its open loch views and dramatic castle perched nearby.
Our luxurious bedroom at Knockderry House
Our room for the evening was a fabulous loch facing master bedroom with our very own turret bathroom. Its the type of room that simply hugs you as you enter with its truly spectacular four poster canopy bed, loch views, slipper bath, fireplace and hospitality tray with leaf tea and freshly ground coffee, homemade truffles and Tunnock’s teacakes to enjoy. It wasn’t long before we kicked off our shoes, relaxed and enjoyed our luxurious home for the night.
The slipper bath, just had to be tried, so with plenty of hot water, bubbles from Arran Aromatics Citrus Shores and sunglasses on I lay back with the autumn sun streaming though the window and enjoyed watching the boats tack back and forth on the loch outside – pure bliss.
Dinner at Knockderry House
Knockderry prides itself on it’s warm welcome, hospitality and its food so with two ticks in the box already we were looking forward to dinner. Pre-dinner drinks are served in one of two cosy lounges and we opted for our usual Friday night Scottish G&T as we choose from the 2 AA rosette restaurant menu. The £39 menu is a four course 5/5/5 affair with amuse bouche to start and optional cheese course (£7.50) if you can fit it in!
The wood panelled dining room with intricate detail, stunning Jekyll and Leiper Fireplace with roaring log fire and tasteful fairy lights made this a beautiful room to enjoy dinner in. Our fireside table was perfect; cosy without being overly warm and close enough to the window to enjoy the setting sun. A few lit candles would have continued the romantic ambience after the sun had set – one can never have enough hygge at this time of year.
Wine chosen, an amusee bouche of smoked trout on a homemade tattie scone soon arrived and was a tasty start to the meal. Raymond’s smoked haddock gratin, saffron potato pearls, smoked Arran cheddar and crispy quails eggs arrived and was one of the best starters he’s had this year. It was a wonderful dish; the firm chunks of fish covered in a rich creamy sauce full of smoky flavour and topped with a perfectly cooked crunchy quails egg.
My roast quail, pickled ceps, cherry gel, Stornoway black pudding and pancetta jus was a vision on the plate and tasted equally good. Seasonality is at the heart of Knockderry’s ethos and head chef Jonathan Evans uses rich autumnal flavours to make this a perfect September dish. Murdo being a Leodhasach has excellent taste when sourcing black pudding to use in the kitchen – as a fellow black pud lover, I was in my element!
For his main course Raymond chose trio of beef; bavette, cheek and oxtail, sweetcorn purée and burnt onion gel – a tasty combination of meltingly tender beef in a rich jus. The dish was thoughtfully put together and beautifully presented – the beef cheek pastie was especially good.
I was attracted by the Earl Grey smoked trout, crispy rice noodles, asparagus, bitter raspberry and beetroot. On reading the description I thought that this would be a cold dish, so was pleasantly surprised when the dish arrived hot. A good sized chunk of delicate smoked trout sat on top of some extra crispy noodles and asparagus puree. The trout and flavours were perfect but I found the hard noodles a bit of a challenge.
We couldn’t manage a cheese course but left a wee space for dessert. Raymond chose mini pineapple tarte tatin, chilli and pineapple carpaccio, coconut milk jelly and passionfruit sorbet. It was a refreshing combination of tropical flavours with the flecks of chilli giving it added oomph.
I chose the white chocolate roulade, macerated strawberries and white chocolate sorbet. It was like a sophisticated take on a 1980’s Artic Roll, but 100 times nicer. Sometimes white chocolate desserts can be overly cloying even for a sweet toothed loon like me but this had perfect balance with the strawberries keeping things in check. Sponge replaced the meringue in the roulade but beautifully light dots of strawberry meringue were scattered throughout.
Breakfast at Knockderry House
Our room was extremely comfortable and after a sound nights sleep in our fabulous bed, we woke to another beautiful day in Argyll. Breakfast is served in the same room as dinner and the log fire was lit – such a nice way to start the day.
Fruit juices and a continental selection were laid out buffet style and we also had a cooked breakfast menu to choose from. Raymond had a delicious homemade granola with compote and yoghurt to start with and I went for the porridge (after having porridge envy on our recent steam train journey to the Borders).
Raymond chose eggs benedict with soft poached eggs, toasted breakfast muffin, Parma ham and Hollandaise sauce which was light and tasty.
I went for the traditional Scottish breakfast with options of Ayrshire bacon, Cumberland sausage, plum tomato, flatcap mushroom, homemade tattie scone, Stornoway black pudding and a choice of soft poached, fried or scrambled free range eggs. As I’m not a lover of tattie scones or plum tomato chef kindly swapped them for a wee bit of haggis! Everything was really high quality, hot and very tasty with a perfectly soft and runny egg.
We were sad to be leaving Knockderry House after our short visit but will definitely return in the future. You really feel at home in this wonderful country house that Murdo, Beth and their excellent team have created with style and lots of passion. If you are looking for the perfect luxury weekend break or longer holiday in Scotland then Knockderry is a fabulous place to stay. While being within easy reach of Edinburgh and Glasgow you are also just 20 minutes from Loch Lomond and all the walking, cycling and sailing that you could wish for.
How to find out more about planning a visit to Knockderry House
Knockderry House Hotel
Argyll and Bute
T: 01436 842 283
Facebook: Knockderry House
Many thanks to Murdo and Beth for inviting us along to experience their wonderful Country House Hotel.[/su_gmap]
We have lots more hotel and restaurant reviews on our Boys Eat Scotland Blog. Check them out here