The Mull Chronicles: Mishnish Hotel, Tobermory

My stress levels had been at an all time high over the past few months.  Taking on several new things at once is usually great, until it all goes wrong at the same time too.  Being an emotional soul, I ranted at my sister one evening saying how I needed to escape people and basically my life.  Luckily, my pleas were heard, and my wonderful sibling booked us away to Mull for a spa break.

We both have a fascination with the islands, driving and general exploring.  Mull is perfect for all of these things if you find yourself nodding to the above!  Although we went in February and a lot of places were closed for the season, the views are breathtaking and we still managed to cram loads into two days!



After a merry jaunt over on the ferry and settling into our hotel, we decided that we would go out for some cuisine instead of eating in the hotel.  The two restaurants my sister had chosen were closed for the season, and hope was running low.  Luckily, I found that the Mishnish hotel in Tobermory was open for business.

We drove along, and discovered that the hotel is actually the yellow building on the seafront that Tobermory is famous for.  Upon entry, I was slightly disheartened by the place.  There was a pub to the right, and the restaurant in to the left.  The entrance way wasn't particularly welcoming or lavish to suggest good food.  There was one waitress working the place, who was lovely.  She showed us to our table at the window, looking out on to the seafront (not that we could actually see anything since it was pitch black!).




The menu for me had a few amazing choices, so I picked my meal fairly quickly.  One small observation is that their specials board is very small and we struggled to see what they had (picture above proves it).  Nonetheless, we managed to fathom out what was available to eat.

To start, Sharon and I both had pan seared Isle of Mull scallops...




What I love about being on an island is that all the food is fresh and in season.  These scallops were plump and meaty, coated in a delicious paprika and garlic cream sauce.  Nestled on a bed of crispy dressed salad leaves, this was a fantastic starter and really changed my perception of the restaurant.  The food was beautiful and presented very well too.

For the main course, my sister had langoustines in a garlic and herb butter...




Both my sister and I get freaked out by fish that still has its eyes.  Considering the utensils she was given in anticipation of this dish, we were both relieved when the langoustines came already opened with the meat bared and ready to delve into.  Sharon also got a cute little basket of fries to accompany this, as technically it was meant to be a starter from the special menu.  The langoustines were fresh and tasted delicious, although Sharon didn't taste as much garlic as she would have liked.

For my main course, I decided to have venison medallions with chive mash and a redcurrant reduction...





I absolutely loved this.  The venison medallions were cooked to order, so rare for me, and had not a lick of fat on them.  The redcurrant sauce was perfectly sweet to go with the rich meaty flavour of the venison.  The chive mash was slightly bland, but the meat was so good that I was actually not bothered.  The broccoli and carrots were served al dente and were nice and fresh.  I would definitely get this again; it was absolutely phenomenal.

Nothing goes with red meat quite like a glass of red too...



After two wonderful courses, we were full but intrigued by a dessert.  I decided to go for chocolate and drambuie mousse...




This was delicious.  The chocolate mousse sat atop the mixture of chocolate sauce and drambuie.  It was served in a teacup which I did find odd but I think any bigger a portion would have been too sickly.  I did really enjoy this dessert, but would have hoped that the drambuie was mixed into the mousse rather than it being separated.  Still amazing though!

Sharon opted for caramel apple pie...




This was a homely, sweet pie and was garnished with a summer fruits jus.  The caramel layer enveloped cooked apples and was on a bed of sweetened pastry.  Sharon absolutely loved this and I have to admit that it smelled beautiful.  A great twist on a classic!

Once we were both stuffed and officially satisfied, we decided to get the bill.  For the calibre of meal, we were expecting a fair whack of money: we paid just under £62, which is a staggering £31 a head!  For a three course meal and wine, that is amazing value for money.

Have you visited any of the isles and think there is somewhere to top this?



Contact Details:

The Mishnish
Main Street
Tobermory
Isle Of Mull
PA75 6NU

Tel: 01688 302009

Website: www.mishnish.co.uk

Wheelchair access: Yes

Roadtrip Feast - Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, Cairndow

January is infamous for being the most depressing month of the whole year.  The enticing thought (although highly cliche) of "new year, new me" wears off and you realise that, yep, you're the same person you were in 2013.

My foxy family had a bit of a low Christmas experience, so January rushed in without most of us particularly noticing.  Desperately needing to escape, my sister and I left the dreary realms of Motherwell and headed for the hills.

Loch Fyne is such a beautiful place, and we had always discussed going to the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar which sits facing out into the loch and mountains.  





We were shown to our table by a very nice waitress.  The atmosphere is really idyllic, so you immediately feel relaxed and comfortable.  I loved the place mats that they had too:




Blogger is being annoying and not uploading the picture the way I took it, so sideways will have to do.  Basically, all the place mats had different quotes on them from famous stories, each to do with the sea and seafood.  Really clever and interesting idea!

The food was truly fantastic.  To begin, I had the salmon selection...



Two different types of smoked salmon fillet, simply served with a fresh lemon, capers, red onion and a salmon mousse.  I loved that the lemon came in a gauze pouch, meaning you got all that amazing fresh citrus juice without the worry of seeds and bits all over the meat.  The salmon mousse was my favourite actually, slathered on to bits of bread that we got when we were seated.  It was a light, fresh starter and the quality of the fish was incredible.

My sister decided to go for the chowder...



Thick chunks of haddock, potato and leek served in a rich and creamy sauce.  The bowl was also huge, to the point I'd to grab a utensil and help... and even I was at a loss.  It was so beautiful tasting: not too fishy, with a nice smoky undertone.  Be cautious if you are out for a big meal though, as this in itself is really comforting and filling.

For the main event, both my sister and I went for the Gigha halibut...




Now I'm not a big fan of chorizo, but this was amazing.  Chunks of chorizo mixed in with chickpeas in a tomato and basil sauce.  The fillet of halibut crowned the mixture, with it's own parsley butter garnish.  This was a really hearty meal and warmed me right to me toes - perfect for January!  It wasn't too heavy to eat either, so I felt satisfied when I finished it.  This was my first time eating halibut and I can definitely say I'll be eating it again - should it be to this standard, of course!

Loch Fyne is definitely somewhere you would go for a special occasion, or a blow out.  As the seafood is so fresh they are pricey, but I would say worth it.  For the two of us to have two courses each and a couple of drinks we were £70.  A delicious meal, but a big hit to the bank card if you're not prepared!



Contact Details:

Loch Fyne Oyster Bar & Restaurant
Clachan
Cairndow
PA26 8BL

Tel: 01499 600264

Website:   http://www.lochfyne.com/

Wheelchair access? Yes

Perfect 'Plaice' for a Chippy - The Ashvale Restaurant, Aberdeen

Have you ever been so hungover that it even hurts to think about physically moving?  I have.  This, my friends, is a short tale, of how a chip shop saved me from the depths of treacherous hangover that knew no bounds.

Picture the scene - your two best friends come to visit you in the Silver City. You stock up on snacks, champagne, wine and gossip to ensure they have a fabulous time.  You decide to visit numerous bars and clubs, drinking Jager Bombs like they are the elixir of life.  Rolling in the door at about 6am, a heavy drunken sleep bestows itself upon you.  Sounds great?  It was.  Until about 5pm.

My friends decided to leave for their journey home late afternoon, and I was suffering terribly.  I longed for a traditional fish supper from The Ashvale, which to this day is still the best chippy I've ever had.  I live on the same road as the chippy, however the thought of leaving my jammies was gut wrenching. So?  I had one delivered.




The very kind staff at The Ashvale understood my predicament, and even delivered the food free of charge to me.  The tangy smell of salt and vinegar hit my nose, and it almost cured me on the spot.

Fish wise, a standard fish supper is a massive fillet of haddock.  They do offer a jumbo haddock, and even one called "The Whale" however normal people would be happy with this.  A light, crispy and sweet batter encases the fillet of flaking fish.  The chips are absolute perfection: slightly crisped at the ends, but ultimately fluffy and saturated with vinegar inside.

A fish supper of the standard size is just over £7, which I think is excellent considering the high quality fish fillets used for each and every meal.  There are chippies all over the place that serve up flimsy fillets of cheap, 'matured' fish, shall I say, which they will charge the same price for.

What's more, you can sit in the restaurant too if you decide not to be a reprobate such as myself.  The staff are friendly, but even better is that the service is superbly quick.  My dad treated me to a sit down chippy when he visited and we were definitely not disappointed.

I believe that the fact The Ashvale has won awards (for 25 years!) speaks for itself, and it's just got the double thumbs up from Foxy.  Definitely one to get on your hit list.




Contact Details:

The Ashvale Restaurant & Takeaway
42-48 Great Western Road
Aberdeen
AB10 6PY

Tel: 01224 596981

Website: http://www.theashvale.co.uk/

Wheelchair access: Yes