“ Address: Carrbridge / Inverness-shire / PH23 3AT / Scotland „
During our last visit to the Scottish Highlands in May this year, we stayed at a B&B in Carrbridge. We therefore needed to find somewhere to have an evening meal. The owner of the B&B suggested the Dalrachny Lodge Hotel, and booked us in there for meals on two nights.
Although the Dalrachny Lodge is a hotel, we did not stay there, so cannot comment on the accommodation; this review is about the restaurant which is open to non-residents.
Dalrachny Lodge dates from 1845 and comprises of a huge house set in 16 acres of land on the banks of the swiftly flowing River Dulnain. Previously a hunting lodge of a large country estate, it is steeped in history; King George V stayed here, as well as many other members of the royal family.
On arriving at the lodge, the visitor is immediately struck by how impressive it is. The house dominates the grounds, looking stern and imposing; almost as if King George V was still in residence. The interior has been restored and decorated in a style sympathetic to its history, too. The rooms have very high ceilings, and long windows giving a grand drawing room effect.
Upon arrival, we were shown into the lounge. The hunting lodge theme is immediately evident, with its animal skins draped over the settees and the mounted deer heads adorning the walls. There are also many items which appear to be antiques; old clocks, ornaments and gorgeous paintings which give this room a wonderful atmosphere.
The atmosphere is completed by the period log fire; this was lit when we went (early May) and was lovely to sit in front of after our walk in the cold Highland air. If you get tired of looking at the paintings, the view of the Cairngorms out of the windows is just as impressive.
After a short while (and a drink), we were shown to our table in the 'Stalker's Bistro Bar'; the hunting theme for the decoration continued here, too. As the name suggests, this restaurant is set out as a bar, with a mouth watering array of liqueurs and whiskeys on show. The room is quite small, with about eight tables, giving quite a cosy feel; subdued lighting helped with this, I think.
This room also had some large, stunning, oil and watercolour paintings on show. These are mainly of the Highlands and Highland wildlife. They were originals, looked very expensive, and helped give the room a pleasant ambiance. The tables were quite impressive, too; made of old, dark, heavy wood.
The menu has a real 'Highland' feel; haggis and neaps, venison, Scottish salmon and steak are all available. Over the two nights, we tried five different dishes; all were excellent with good quality ingredients expertly cooked. Vegetarian options were available, too.
My favourite was the venison casserole, with big chunks of venison in a rich sauce (I'm getting hungry writing this!). On both nights, the food was delivered quickly after ordering.
The dessert menu also had some Highland specialities; 'iced drambuie and hazelnut parfait' and Scotch 'Cranachan', for example.
Our only complaint about the food was the portion sizes, they were a little on the stingy size and could have done with being a bit larger.
Prices were very reasonable, the meal on the first night cost about £70 for three of us including drinks and £60 on the second night. I think that this was extremely good value considering the quality of the food.
The service was also excellent. The serving staff were friendly and attentive, but not intrusive. One of our party is quite fussy; her requests for different condiments were met quickly and with a smile.
Another of our party took issue with the dead animal décor. Our table was situated next to a particularly poignant example; a small deer's head was mounted with two large calibre shotguns pointed directly at it, only inches away! We had to move seats so that she did not have to look at it (it did not bother me at all, as evidenced by my venison meal, however!).
We were not rushed at all whilst having our meal and could enjoy ourselves at a leisurely pace until we had finished. After our meal, we were able to retire to the lounge again, for final drinks before making our way back to the B&B.
Both meals that we had at the Dalrachny Lodge were really enjoyable. This old hunting lodge, with its period decoration was a stunning place to have a meal and captured the atmosphere of the old Highland estate beautifully. We plan on visiting the Highlands again next year and will definitely be eating here. If you're in the area and looking for somewhere to have a meal, I can highly recommend it.
A Country House Hotel set in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.