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|Address:||Torlundy, Fort William, Highlands PH33 6SN|
|Tel:||01397 702 177|
|Price: £69.00||Wine: £18.00||Champagne: £48.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 7.15-9.15pm|
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The restaurant at Inverlochy Castle raises my hackles almost immediately. It annoys me when I'm asked to pre-order food anywhere but when you're staying in the hotel and are pressed for an answer on checking in at 4pm it is even more irritating. You are a Michelin starred restaurant, surely you can cope with people ordering food, the first basic skill for any restaurant to master after perhaps showing guests to their tables? I start to bare my teeth when the wine list arrives: plenty on there at around the oooh £3 thousand mark. Not so much under £50. Given that a room facing the carpark clocks in at over £500 a night I struggle to see the need to subsidise the hotel operation through an overinflated wine list. Happily the sommelier is not as pompous as the list itself and when we decide to order individual wines to go with each of our 3 courses we get 5 delicious (and much more reasonably priced) suggestions by the glass. The food, thank goodness, is good. I started with wild salmon on a pea puree with a bacon foam. The fish was delicate but a touch underdone; the foam an almost genius Heston-like touch except that it was more of a dense mousse. My quail was a huge chunk of juicy wonderful meat with intense morels but so rich I couldn't finish it. Although I love fancy food still being filling food, sometimes more is less. The mistakes were small but for Michelin-starred food, at this price up here, it should be faultless. For me, the kitchen only really showed its worth in the pudding: a smile-inducing banana souffle which was original, fun, childhood reminiscence with a grown-up twist. There's no denying the grandeur of the castle, with views out over a small loch and squishy sofas by a fire that's been roaring no doubt since Rob Roy's time. But the atmosphere is a bit stuffed shirt crossed with Emperor's New Clothes. This might be the best place in the Highlands but it wouldn't cut the mustard south of the border where there are better places to spend £200 on dinner for 2.