Balquhidder is 35 minutes drive north of Callander but feels about a million miles from anywhere. Peace, tranquillity and beautiful surroundings. The Lewis family have two venues in the area – Monachyle Mhor and Mhor84. Monachyle Mhor is a 14 bedroom boutique hotel set in a 2,000 acre estate on the shores of Loch Voil. Our budget didn’t quite stretch to the Monachle room rate so we opted for two nights in sister venue, Mhor84. The motel opened two years ago and has seven simple rooms and a restaurant and bar.
We were greeted warmly by staff on arrival and had a lovely surprise awaiting us; a glass of fizz that a friend had arranged to welcome us with. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the £80 room but I was suitably impressed with the Scandinavian-chic minimalist room.
On our first night we had dinner in Mhor84. The dining room, like the rest of the motel was quirky and relaxed.
To start with I went for the haggis croquette with turnip, potato and whisky sauce while my husband opted for half a dozen Loch Creran Oysters. Both got a big thumbs up. The oysters were fresh and the haggis had just the right amount of peppery kick.
For our mains we both opted for venison; I went for the venison curry while Mr GvF chose the venison haunch. I think the venison haunch just won the battle of the mains. It was perfectly cooked and the anchovy mustard was delicious. The venison curry with cashew nuts and saffron rice was really flavoursome but the meat could have been a little more tender to make it even better.
On to the desserts. With my sweet tooth I opted for the chocolate brownie with ice cream. It was so rich and fudgey and definitely one of the best desserts I’ve had this year! The cheese board was fine but I noticed there wasn’t as much emphasis on provenance as there had been with the rest of the meal.
The presentation throughout was good, portion size was generous and staff were friendly. Overall, an excellent meal which came in at around £80 including drinks. The bar was a lovely place to relax afterwards for a nightcap though being a gin-enthusiast I’d love to see a wider selection of Scottish gins next time I visit.
Breakfast at Mhor84 was fantastic and featured fresh sour dough bread from the family bakery in Callander. I went for scrambled eggs on sour dough toast while my husband opted for the full cooked breakfast. A great start to the day and just look at that view from the breakfast table!
Guess what else they have at Mhor84? Cakes! Delicious, homemade cakes! The weather was quite wet during our break so after a visit to Loch Katrine we retreated to the lounge area for a game of Monopoly and a huge chocolate hazelnut meringue. Bliss (apart from the fact I was thrashed twice at Monopoly)!
Our second night in Balquhidder featured dinner at Monachle Mhor which has a set price of £55 per person for three courses. Next time I visit, I’d love to see an option with matched wines for each course. We enjoyed a glass of champagne as an aperitif with some delicious amuse bouche while browsing the menu in the bar.
We were then taken through to our table, where I tried my first ever oyster, courtesy of the chef, which was in a shallot and 10 year old Glengoyne whisky dressing. And what views to enjoy my first oyster; breath-taking even on a dreich Scottish evening!
For starters, Mr GvF chose the monkfish tail with Parma ham and cauliflower while I went for west coast crab with black pudding. Both dishes were well-presented and did not disappoint in the flavour-stakes.
Our mains were outstanding – lamb for me and duck for my husband. Both dishes were cooked to perfection and the accompaniments were perfectly matched.
Our deserts were a pineapple tarte tatin topped with homemade ice-cream and another chocolatey one for me! The chocolate ganache with coffee ice-cream was really good but I think the chocolate brownie at Mhor84 was still the winner for me.
Whilst both restaurants used high quality, locally-sourced ingredients, we noticed a step change in the level of complexity and presentation at Monachle Mhor. Monachyle is definitely in the fine dining category but this doesn’t take anything away from Mhor84’s relaxed gastro-pub feel. Both venues are truly an escape from everything and I’m looking forward to a return visit to Balquhidder; next time we may even have saved enough for a night away in a gorgeous room at Monachlye Mhor!
Girl Versus Food