The Taynuilt: Etive Restaurant with Rooms
- Telephone 01866 822437
- Seasonal times Closed Nov/Dec.
- Bar open Wed-Sun 4-11pm. Closed Mon/Tue.
- Food served Wed-Sun 6-9pm. Closed Mon/Tue.
- Average price £37.50 (Etive - 2 courses); £26 (bar - 2 courses)
- Website www.taynuilthotel.co.uk
A roadside inn, brought back to life by chef-proprietor John McNulty, with an emphasis on enjoyable, inventive and occasionally theatrical modern Scottish dining.
It’s hard not to be deeply impressed with a visit to The Taynuilt: Etive Restaurant with Rooms. The elongated name is a recent tweak, better to reflect the ambitions of chef-proprietor John McNulty who five years ago – aged only 22 – took over the unloved roadside hotel nestled among the dramatic lochs Awe and Etive, with Ben Cruachan looming. The rebrand heralds a refurb too, with restaurant and lounge bar transformed of late mainly by McNulty – considerably assisted by his general manager and sommelier David Lapsley, overseer of an impressive 100-odd bin wine list.
After pre-meal drinks in the pleasant bar, where tables mix with recliners and a mini whisky shop, it’s into the Etive restaurant with rugged stonework blending with watery blue walls and crisp white linen, pleasingly echoing the landscape beyond. Amuse bouches, served at cosy fireside seats, are theatrically presented in a foliage-strewn box with raspberry-infused dry ice from a teapot washing over the morsels: a cheese and herb beignet and a delightful ‘taste of Loch Fyne’ featuring smoked salmon and quail’s egg pillowed by oyster foam.
Starters of scallops with cauliflower veloute, pancetta and truffle oil, and butternut squash and sage ravioli, show a deft hand with both seafood and pasta, while combining flavours with aplomb. A pan-roasted halibut main sets the meaty fillet atop diced potato risotto, the dish bursting into marine life with clams, cockles and mussels, and a heady hit of unheralded wild garlic dropped off by their regular local forager, while duck breast with crisp confit leg is well paired with earthy morrels and pear. From the very compact dessert menu, the theatrics are notched up again with homemade sweets held aloft on skewers to be plucked and enjoyed, including a chocolate and whisky truffle, cranberry and raisin fudge and chocolate tablet.
What impresses most is McNulty’s single-minded and near single-manned vision. Still only young, he works the kitchen alone (except for the KP), squeezing as much as possible out of the extensive local larder and home-making everything except the butter - all the while doing a spot of steady building work. And it’s starting to pay off, with 2 AA Rosettes justifiably awarded last year for a dining experience that it’s worth travelling from Glasgow to savour – and if you do, the journey to Taynuilt will be as stirring as McNulty’s skilful, enticing and hugely enjoyable take on modern Scottish cuisine.
- High point: High-calibre cooking with a wine list to match
- Low point: Minimal on the dessert options
Purchased by the McNulty family in December 2012, this recently refurbished 16th-century coaching inn provides an excellent base to visit the surrounding area and take part in the many local activities such as fishing, hill walking, golf, wildlife tours and much more. Taynuilt is ideally situated on the ancient road to the isles, close to Oban and the ferries to the Inner Hebrides and beyond. The Taynuilt has for centuries been a staging post for travellers along this route. The village of Taynuilt even takes its name from the hotel as Taynuilt in Gaelic means 'house by the burn'. Nestling at the foot of Ben Cruachan, between Loch Etive and Loch Awe, in an area of outstanding natural beauty and steeped in history, the Taynuilt offers the inspired choice location for discovering the West Coast of Scotland, and the hotel, with modern facilities, fine hospitality and superb food is a perfect choice.
Text supplied by third party.
- Provides: Children's portions, Free wi-fi
- Capacity: 20 (Etive restaurant); 30 (bar)