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The array of plates on display in the entrance hall celebrating Ballathie House's long annual run of 2 AA Rosette awards shows that fine dining has been taken seriously here for many years. They also raise considerable expectations and it is a pleasure to be able to report that our own, which were very high, were surpassed. Head Chef Scott Scorer places his name at the foot of the dinner menu and our most recent visit suggests that here is a chef intent on delivering the best possible dining experience. You can read our hotel review for Ballathie House here.
The elegant dining room at Ballathie House occupies a large part of the rear of the ground floor of the hotel, offering views down to the River Tay and across the rising ground on its far side. There is also a private dining room for groups or functions, and the main dining room can be divided to allow one third to be used as a separate room. The overall feel of the dining experience perfectly matches the country house ambience of every other aspect of a stay at Ballathie. Both lunch and dinner are served. The hotel serves lunch every day, and Sunday lunch at Ballathie is a particular event that attracts those in search of fine dining from across Perthshire and beyond. Guests may also opt for a bar lunch, and there is a room service menu available.
Dress for dinner is smart, ideally with a jacket and tie for men. The experience starts with drinks in the drawing room or the bar, in both cases in front of a fire on colder days, while you look at the menu and the extensive wine list. The dinner menu on offer changes daily, thus ensuring that those staying for a week's fishing are not confronted with a duplicate offering during their stay. One item on the menu is a fixture. The fillet of Scotch beef comes from cattle reared on the Ballathie estate and is always available. Given how much we enjoyed the beef, this is no great hardship.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Dinner itself commences with an amuse bouche, which we found quite delightful. For starters we went for the Ballathie Waldorf salad and the seared king scallops (remembering that the menu does change daily). This was followed by a choice between cream of mushroom soup and elderflower sorbet, both in their very different ways extremely good. For mains we had the Scotch beef already mentioned, with hand cut chips, tomato fondue and shallot rings; plus a loin of lamb served with pomme puree, lamb sweet breads and a mint and parsley salsa.
The sweet menu offered four enticing choices plus cheese. The deconstructed Ballathie rhubarb cranachan was a nice twist on an old favourite, while the hot chocolate fondant with Scottish whisky cherries and black cherry sorbet was declared by one of the team (the one with the particular liking for sweets) as the best dessert they had ever eaten! Coffee and petits fours followed in the drawing room. The dining experience was enhanced by the extremely high quality of service on offer, with courses being beautifully paced. One detail typifies Ballathie's approach: nowhere else have we ever been presented with a choice of three butters on the table, salted, unsalted and smoked.
Breakfast at Ballathie House is a particular joy. In daytime, the views over the River Tay from the dining room can be fully appreciated, but your attention will soon return to the excellent choice of food on offer. Fruit, porridge and continental options are all available, as are kippers, salmon and smoked haddock; black pudding from Stornoway; and back bacon and sausages sourced locally. Whatever your plans for the day, breakfast at Ballathie House will set you up perfectly for them. You can read our hotel review for Ballathie House here.