Scotsman Review
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November 12, 2023

Killiecrankie House, Perthshire, restaurant review - seasonal lunch from Michelin recommended boutique hotel restaurant

This award-winning restaurant now has a Saturday lunch menu. Rosalind Erskine visited for a celebratory afternoon.

I think my mum told me that she wanted to visit Killiecrankie House to celebrate her 70th birthday before she’d even turned 69.

The house, which has been a private home and a B&B was reopened in 2021 by Matilda Tsappis and her husband Tom as a luxury retreat for food lovers.

The whitewashed house, which sits in its own grounds within the village of Killiecrankie in Perthshire, is now home to five bedrooms, an 18 seater restaurant with open kitchen, a lounge and a cocktail bar.

The couple moved from London to Killiecrankie to realise their dream of opening their own restaurant after running their popular supper club, Elia London. Tom trained at Leiths and was the first recipient of two of its coveted annual awards and Matilda runs front of house and is the restaurant sommelier.

Matilda’s approach is to offer a combination of ‘classics’ vs ‘off the beaten track’, including wines from her family vineyard; Treaty Port in China; a beer made in collaboration with local brewery, Wasted Degrees; soft drinks from Bad Gal Boocha and Rapscallion plus tea and coffee from The Rare Tea Company and Glen Lyon Roastery in Aberfeldy.

About a year and a half after my mum’s request, I booked her, my sister and I in for their Saturday lunch after spotting it was an option.

Before this, Killiecrankie House only opened for dinner, with the option to stay overnight in one of the fabulous bedrooms.

A set five course lunch is now on offer on Saturdays, starting from 12pm for drinks before food is served around 12.30pm.

It’s priced at £65 per person and there’s the option for a range of paired wines as an addition. We drove up a week or so after the terrible late autumn storms, on a wet and windy Saturday morning - the likes of which still don’t dampen the beauty of the area, especially in autumn.

On arrival we were greeted by Matilda and shown through to the bar. The entire downstairs is painted a deep blue (I’d hazard a guess at Farrow and Ball Stiffkey Blue), with dark wooden floors and eye-catching light fittings from Pooky, including two stunning light pink chandeliers in the bar.

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Killiecranie House
The cocktail bar. Picture: Alex Baxter

The white marble topped bar is home to a range of Scottish spirits, including the newly released Hearach from Harris Distillers, and there’s a small but comprehensive cocktail, mocktail and wine list. I chose the bramley apple mocktail - a seasonal, deeply flavoured drink - while my mum went for the Robinsons Revenge cocktail - an alcoholic take on the squash of the same name.

After our drinks we were led through to the dining room, which has simple dark wood chairs and tables, and a view of the open kitchen. Lunch kicked off with an amuse bouche of a mushroom panisse - a melody of mushrooms - seps, chanterelle powder and black pepper mayo on a chunk of soft bed of the polenta-like panisse.

This was followed by snacks of salmon cornetto and dripping fried porridge. The cornetto, as the name suggests, was presented like a small ice cream cone but instead of Mr Whippy, the dark seaweed cone was topped with a pale pink, rich salmon belly mousse. The softness of the mousse complimented the crunch and saltiness of the cone.

The dripping fried porridge - served as perfectly rectangle bricks, sprinkled with cheese - is their take on the porridge drawer (when families would cook batches of porridge and keep it in a drawer ready to be cut and eaten).

This version consisted of oats, onion, pickled walnut and Isle of Mull cheese. Softly flavoured, it was a comforting almost nostalgic dish that was finished all too soon.

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The next dish was the intriguing looking squid cooked in its own ink. Small chunks of black North sea squid were topped with black ink crackered with dots of wild garlic emulsion sitting vibrantly on top of the darkness.

A deeply flavoured, almost sticky dish that’ll be remembered long after it has been finished. Then it was on to potato risotto with brown butter, mussels and seaweed. A light dish, the risotto was hidden beneath a topping of seaweed and crispy potato skin rubble, with the smoked mussels giving it a subtle depth.

After this it was on the main course which for everyone else was venison served with preserved blueberries and beetroot but for us pescatarians was kohlrabi with brown butter, mustard custard, crispy leeks and side of Hokkaido-style milk bread with seaweed and herb butter.

The thin slices of kohlrabi (an underrated veg, in my opinion) had been stacked into a round tower, with its moat of pale yellow, savoury custard. On top were the crispy leeks with a side of vibrant, mild leek tops.

The bread was picture perfect - two small connected loaves of slightly sweet, pillow soft bread topped with nigella seeds.

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The butter too was like a work of art with its liberal topping of herbs and flowers. Before dessert there was a ‘slightly unconventional’ cheese course simply titled blue murder and apple which looked more sweet than savoury.

A sorbet of apple sat centre stage, underneath which was an oat granola, the blue murder cheese all of which was topped with grated blue murder.

More subtle on the cheese front than you might expect, the whole thing was a good marriage of texture and light flavour.

Finally dessert of sherry vinegar, beetroot, rhubarb and rose was served in a beautiful round, white bowl. The vibrant pudding was a balance of sweet and savoury with a deep pink leaf sugar decoration hiding the smooth sherry vintage posset and a deep sauce of beetroot and rose.

After lunch we headed to the living room for sweets that included madeleines, irn bru gummies, canelé and melt in the mouth toffees (complete with edible wrappers).

Killiecrankie House offers a home from home dining experience, from the ever evolving menu to the personalised touches such as choosing after dinner music from the record collection to the printed menu and playlist that you’re given to take home. The house has been decorated in a calming, modern style, without taking away from the character.

It’s an ideal spot for a celebratory meal - that you can book without needing a year and a half notice - with dishes that utilise local, seasonal ingredients cooked with imagination and flair (I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled at next year’s Michelin announcements).

Killiecrankie House, Pitlochry, UK
Killiecrankie House, Pitlochry, UK, PH16 5LG
01796 473213
Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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