Blair Atholl is a beautiful village located on the southern foot of the Cairngorms National Park, Perthshire. Famous for its whisky and Blair Castle, the village is also home to a handful of independent craft shops and hotels. One of the newest additions is The Loft Country Kitchen and Restaurant, which is run by partners Jennifer and Stuart.
The country kitchen is located just off the village’s main road, and The Loft, as its name suggests, is housed in a building whose roof space overlooks the scenic River Garry and stunning moorland hills. It would be easy to say that the views of The Loft make this restaurant special, but that would be doing disservice to the passion and service exuded by hostess Jennifer and chef Stuart.
We were greeted immediately by Jennifer with a radiant smile and friendly welcome and seated in the window of a snug room at the back of the restaurant. From here we could admire the fading blue sky that contrasted to the dark orange and brown heathers of the moorland. The restaurant has an earthy colour scheme that carefully reflects the moorlands surrounding it, as it uses slate greys, natural woods, salmon pinks and creams throughout. The magical view was offset with fairy lights that shone on the railings of the loft’s balcony and it was easy to imagine sipping wine there on a balmy summer’s evening.
The Loft Country Kitchen and Restaurant seamlessly mixes the contemporary with the traditional and this is also reflected in its menu. For starters it had to be Dunkeld Smoked Salmon Cured in Lagavulin Whisky. The salmon was sumptuous with just a hint of Lagavulin whisky served on a cool and vivid bed of beetroot. The contemporary twist to the dish came in the form of an avocado puree and micro salad which cut through the earthiness of the beetroot. The dish encapsulated all the earthy colours you’d expect to encounter in the glens and having done a number of walks during my stay at Blair Atholl, I would liken the dish to the ‘Queen’s View’ overlooking Loch Tummel, because it was stunning and left a lasting impression.
For the main course I had Stuffed Pheasant Breast Roulade which was wrapped in prosciutto that encased a Wild Mushroom and Oat Stuffing. The pheasant was Perthshire sourced like the salmon, and was just as tender and flavourful. The mushroom and oat stuffing had a lovely nutty flavour and a wonderful thick, gooey texture. The pheasant was served with creamy Dauphinoise potatoes and a dark and rich, red wine jus. I ate every last little bit.
Finally, the Scottish cheese board was a revelation: Dunsyre Blue, Morangie Brie, Isle of Kintyre Smoked Cheddar and Caboc. The Dunsyre Blue was deliciously strong and creamy and I could have eaten three more servings of it. Thought to be the oldest Scottish cheese, the indulgent Caboc was like eating chilled, slightly salted double cream, whilst the Kintyre Smoked Cheddar was just as rich as smoked cheeses from the continent, and was perfectly complimented with a red grape to balance out its heavy flavour.
The Loft is a genuinely lovely place, Jennifer’s enthusiasm is infectious and she enquired multiple times about our stay, whilst Stuart’s menu uses the finest Scottish ingredients but is remarkably great value for customers. This demonstrates the thought and care taken into getting The Loft just right for their customers, which is clearly what drives the couple. You really would be hard pressed to find an establishment as fine and friendly as The Loft in Perthshire, Jennifer and Stuart have recently celebrated their first successful year serving delicious Scottish food in Blair Atholl, and it is likely to be the start of many more to come.
For more information please visit their website: http://www.theloftrestaurant.co.uk/