Dinner Bed and Breakfast at Aultbea Hotel on the North Coast 500.
The Aultbea Hotel was the second last stop on our North Coast 500 tour and the biggest surprise. We were greeted by a stunning sunset over Loch Ewe and by the equally lovely Ballal who together with his partner Robin bought the hotel three years ago.
I think it’s fair to say that they have transformed this former village inn into a welcoming and stylish place to unwind. You feel like you have arrived somewhere special with Aultbae’s contemporary stripped back floors, exposed stonework, subtle lighting and impressive attention to detail.
Our double room has windows facing out to Loch Ewe where you can quite happily watch the sun going down and the seals go by. The beds are extremely comfortable with decent pillows, cotton sheets and the sounds of the loch guaranteeing a good nights sleep. The good sized bathroom has double sinks so no fights in the morning – generic toiletries are provided but it would be nice to have something a bit more Scottish.
Dinner in Aultbea Hotel’s Fat Whippet restaurant.
We were dining in the Fat Whippet restaurant but you can also enjoy a less formal menu in the Convoy Tavern where you are more likely to find said dog snoozing by the log burning stove. Both menus make extensive use of the abundant locally sourced ingredients.
The restaurant is an elegant space with dark wooden floors contrasting with the muted decor beautifully lit with candles and a funky Edison bulb candelabra. There was a friendly buzz about the place and it’s definitely somewhere that encourages you to linger and enjoy the relaxed, friendly service and good food.
The menu changes with the season plus they have a daily market fish option so if you’re dining over a couple of nights you won’t get bored. My starter of treacle cured fillet of Highland venison (£8.95) was a sweet taste of Halloween with its candied pumpkin and added crunch of toasted hazelnuts. The rowan jelly gave the dish a splash of colour and a lovely tart flavour.
Donnie went for the Loch Ewe hand-dived scallops (£10.50) that were caramelised on the outside and he cut through them like butter. The trio of fat molluscs fresh from the loch were surrounded by crunchy nuggets of soft black pudding and topped with slivers of tart apple – he loved them.
For mains I had the market fish which was demi-cured fillet of grey mullet that was then pan fried until golden and served with candied butternut squash, chestnuts and a turnip fondant. The fish had a light earthy flavour that went well with the seasonal vegetables and the crumbly chestnuts were an unusual and delicious accompaniment.
Donnie couldn’t resist the grouse (£19.75), perfectly moist in the middle served with delicious crunchy savoury confit leg, tart foraged fruity brambles and a rich gravy. The game chips added a nice crunch and all credit to chef Rupert Shakespeare and his team for creating such visually appealing and tasty dishes.
The pudding menu sounded suitably autumnal and we shared the poached peach that sat precariously on top of an ice cream and toasted marzipan island surrounded by raspberry coulis, almonds and fresh berries. It was a satisfying end to our meal and we were both in awe of what the boys have managed to create in the heart of Wester Ross. Their hard work, passion and vision are creating a unique Highland hospitality experience focussing on high quality product, service and attention to detail.
We had a glass of whisky by the wood burning stove in the comfortable Convoy Tavern and were soon feeling very sleepy indeed. We slept soundly and when we woke the thought of breakfast wasn’t immediately appealing after our feast the night before.
Tempted by an interesting breakfast menu.
Our tastebuds were soon peaked by the breakfast menu which included lots of hot dishes to choose from in addition to a full Scottish. Four days into the North Coast 500 and we were almost full-Scottished oot so I ordered the pancakes with bacon and maple syrup while Donnie went for the slightly healthier eggs benedict.
They were both absolutely delicious and along with our cereal, pastries and homemade preserves from the country table they set us up for the next leg of our journey to Gairloch and onwards to Torridon.
We enjoyed our stay at Aultbea Hotel immensely. It’s the perfect base for exploring Wester Ross and some of the most stunning sections of the North Coast 500. It’s also the perfect place to relax, enjoy the hospitality and indulge in some great food using the best of Scotland’s larder. We can’t wait to go back and use Aultbea Hotel as our base to explore more of the north west Highlands.
How to find out more information and book a stay at Aultbea Hotel
Tel: 01445 731201[/su_gmap]
Thanks to Aultbea hotel for letting us use a couple of photographs from their Facebook page and also for inviting us along to sample their wonderful hotel.