The names are synonymous with luxury. Cameron House on Loch Lomond is a five-star Scottish institution and Martin Wishart is renowned as one of Scotland’s finest Michelin starred chefs. So what better place to take a fine dining foodie break than at the home of his Loch Lomond restaurant?
The exterior of Cameron House on Loch Lomond
We drove through some serious weather as we headed extremely slowly westward on a wet and windy M8 after a long and challenging week at work. If it hadn’t been for the promise of what lay ahead I may have insisted upon turning back and heading for the comfort of our sofa and a hastily purchased fish supper. But we’ve sampled the delights of Cameron House before and it would have taken more than hell and high water to stop me reaching our destination on the shores of Loch Lomond.
On arrival we swept into our gorgeous room with the promise of a view of the iconic loch that lay beyond the evening mirk and gave ourselves a quick spruce up before heading for the Cameron Grill restaurant for dinner. This was just what the doctor ordered. A selection of smoked and cured salmon from the delightful salmon bar proved the perfect precursor to a big and bold bottle of Malbec and two juicy steaks with triple cooked chips and all the trimmings. The Cameron Grill’s open plan kitchen means you may even catch a glimpse of your hunk of Scottish beef before it reaches your table. Then it was off to the ridiculously comfortable bed for a restful night’s sleep.
Loch Lomond sea plane
The morning dawned slightly brighter and brought with it a stunning view of the loch complete with sea plane bobbing around by the jetty. After perfectly executed eggs Benedict we were driven to the Carrick Spa. We headed out for a wander around the loch prior to our spa experience, which was rudely interrupted by a shower of hail which sent us running for the shelter of the Carrick Country Club for a quick cuppa before an afternoon of pampering. My ultimate favourite spa moment was watching another hail storm swing in across Ben Lomond while soaking in the toasty cosy rooftop infinity pool. ‘Bring it on’ I said as the hail stones quickly melted in the bubbly water around us. Scotland has nothing in her varied repertoire of ghastly weather that can dampen your spirits when you are already soaked to the skin and enjoying the stunning views up on the roof! I was lucky enough to have a facial as well as enjoying the various thermal experiences in the Carrick Spa. The ESPA products and my lovely therapist combined to ensure I left feeling fabulous and our delicious light lunch made sure that we left space for a meal that we had been looking forward to for quite some time.
Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond was awarded a Michelin star in 2011. When you are in the hands of the experts we always feel that it is better to leave as many choices as possible to them. We plumped for the six course taster menu with wine to match. This is not so much a meal, but an event; an extravaganza of food if you like. The service here is second to none and it was a nice touch that they offered to guide us through the menu before the meal or allow each course to be a surprise that they would describe to us as it was served. Being big kids at heart, we opted for the surprise option, the anticipation only adding to the enjoyment of each perfectly presented and delicious dish. The Sommelier spoke us through each wine providing us with a European odyssey with a brief sojourn to Japan to sample a very pleasant Akashi Sake. Despite being a Borders’ lass and enjoying the tartare of Borders roe deer very much, my favourite dish was the positively wonderful roasted breast of goosnargh duck with red cabbage, quince, sprout tops, leg pastille, knot root and salsify. Oh, but then there was the cheese – how to choose a few from such an incredible selection? Again the waiter guided us towards some favourites and some cheeses that we wouldn’t normally opt for. The man was quite simply a genius. Pudding was salt baked golden pineapple with mango and passion fruit cremeux and lime and toasted coconut sorbet. This totally tropical treat hit the mark with its salty, sweet and tart flavours creating a palette cleansing taste sensation. For people who take pleasure in their food, this really was a treat and a half.
We waddled off back to our room to enjoy a restful night’s sleep via the Great Scots bar for a dram and a cocktail respectively. Surrounded by paintings of Scotland’s finest we reflected on what had been a relaxing break away and the perfect antidote to the stresses of work and family life and, of course, the horror of the M8 in a torrential rain storm.
By Morag Bootland