If you read our blog regularly you will know that we do not do reviews of restaurants as such but prefer to talk about places we like and then make recommendations. After this trip we can honestly say the for us The Three Chimneys and the House Over-By represents the very best in fantastic food and hospitality. There were little things that may go unnoticed like the way every member of staff knew who we were when we arrived and the way the front of house team actually greeted us as we walked down the little path to the front of the restaurant and personally showed us to the reception in the House Over-By. Things like this may get taken for granted by some people but for us it just reassured us that after nearly 500 miles driving we were about to start a few days of a magical trip. And The Three Chimneys did not disappoint at any time or on any level.
This was my (Tim's) first time to Skye and it is a breathtaking island. From the moment we disembarked the ferry at Armadale and drove through a thunder cloud in pitch blackness at tea time there was drama round every corner. This is what we wanted when booking a honeymoon in Scotland during Autumn. The one thing we couldn't rely on was the the weather so instead we embraced it and we even got to experience a double rainbow.
The real reason we came to Skye (apart from to celebrate the start of our lives together, of course) was to experience The Three Chimneys Restaurant. But first the accommodation:
The House Over-By is a purpose built block that sits only yards away from the restaurant. It is a beautifully designed building that houses 6 luxurious split level rooms. There is a breakfast room and of course a kitchen. The breakfast room enjoys fantastic sea views (as do the rooms) and even has a telescope to watch the seals play at the shore.
|Breakfast Room with a view|
Along side this beautiful display of delights, we were able to choose a hot dish from the kitchen, which changed each day. The choices on the three mornings were were there were; Kippers, Black Pudding with Bacon and Eggs Benedict.
|Kippers with Mustard Creme Fraiche|
|Black Pudding and Bacon with a Horseradish Sauce|
The menu was full of locally produced seasonal food, with the odd exotic dish thrown in. Since we were on Skye in game season, certain things had to be ordered. As well as perhaps the most freshest local seafood ever, we chose local mallard and beef from the menu. Starters on our first night were Hake on Glencoe mussel risotto and Blade of Beef salad. But before our food arrived we were presented with a pre-starter as a gift from the kitchen of a small pot of fish soup.
|Hake on mussel risotto|
|Blade of beef salad|
For main courses we chose the monkfish wrapped in bacon with scallops (all local) and the pan fried breast and confit leg of Isle of Mull mallard.
|Isle of Mull Mallard|
|Monkfish and bacon|
For desert there was no option, but the Famous Hot Marmalade Pudding (gluten-free version made especially). And also the marinated pineapple with rosemary sorbet, cardamon biscuit, coconut ice cream and passion fruit jelly.
|Famous Hot Marmalade Pudding|
The next night we decided to indulge in the seven course tasting menu with the matching "wine flight". It goes without saying that the "Seven Courses of Skye" special showcase menu was very special indeed, and all the wines matched perfectly. But something which we were very impressed with, even before any morsel passed our lips was the fact that there was no need to pre-order this menu. Perhaps, this is the norm at this kind of establishment, but we were impressed!
We were given a copy of the menu (to chart our progress) which was beautifully presented with a wax seal
The full menu had a couple of dishes which were not gluten free, but the waiter explained that everything was made from scratch so adjustments could be made, for example the scallop dish was with a gingerbread crust but the gluten-free version could be made with a hazelnut crust. There was only one dish on the menu that had to be substantially different. Of course, our opinions were sought on these options before they were cooked. Even the wine matches were adjusted!
The "Smoked Fish" course was "Colbost Skink, Marag & Tallisker Crumb, Local Croft Egg Yolk". Colbost Skink is a play on Cullen Skink, as the fish was local, and the Tallisker crumb is a local name for the black pudding. This course was perhaps the most spectacular as the soup came in a small round dish with a lid which was lifted off by the waiting staff to release a wonderful plume of smoke.
The next course was "Crab" and again was another example of the excellent locally sourced seafood. It was "Loch Bracadale Crab 'Flory' with Green Apple, Nasturtium & Mull Truckle". We since learnt that the wonderfully tasty layer of jelly on top of the crab, was a seafood essence jelly, the concept of which seems so extravagant!
The "Oysters" course was the course that no adjustments could be made. This was "Loch Harport Oysters, Rare Black Isle Beef Sirloin, Mustard leaf, Pickled Onion, Parsley & Anchovy". The Oysters in this dish were breaded and fried. The gluten-free course was fresh Oysters with a cucumber relish, with creme fraiche and herring roe.
We then opted for the cheese board as an additional course before the "Souffle". The "Cheese" course was a selection of "Highland Cheeses with Our Oatcakes", served with quince chutney and grapes. Then the "Three Chimneys Hot Marmalade Pudding Souffle with Drambuie Syrup & Mealie Ice Cream" finished off the meal.
The showcase menu was fantastic. So many examples of the local produce cooked to perfection. Highlights for us was the Colbost Skink and the Venison. We were looking forward to trying some Scottish game as we were visiting while it was in season, and this exceeded our expectations. The Colbost Skink was rich and flavoursome, without the smokiness being overpowering. The Cheeses were also a highlight, and ever since then, we have been on a mission to find a similar sheep's milk brie. The wine matches completed the meal for us. We had some wines which we would have never chosen ourselves, and with each new glass, the waiter explained where it was from and how it would complement the food. We'd definitely recommend going for the showcase menu if ever presented with the option. The meal, the wine and the whole experience was fantastic.
On our third night we decided to chose from the standard menu (is it really standard?). The only dilemma we found ourselves in was the wine choices. We had noted the expertise of the sommelier and really enjoyed the advice and explanations given to us about the wines so far so decided to let him guide us again. As Fran eventually chose the Malaig Lythe (Pollock to you and I) and I picked the lamb, this was deemed a suitable challenge for the evening's sommelier - which this time was Richard (they all seemed to be experts). As we were looking to match our wine for a 3 course meal, Richard first suggested ordering 2 half bottles - great idea. He also explained that as a restaurant they are very particular about which wines they stock in half bottles and that they were all superb.
To find a wine that could match both white fish and lamb was a challenge and he did say a perfect match wasn't really possible but did come up with a fantastic suggestion of a Rhone Valley Crozes Hermitage and an Alsace Trimbach Pinot Blanc
The Alsace was to go with the starters of Ham Terrine and Aubergine and Raisin Salad. The Rhone Valley was to go with the main courses of Steamed Lythe and Lamb with Lamb Haggis. I think the point of the Rhone Valley choice was that it was a white wine that was so deep it almost tasted red, therefore somehow able to complement a fish dish and a lamb dish.
|Aubergine and Raisin Salad|
The starters were a bit different to what we would normally order. I enjoyed the Aubergine which was dramatic in it's presentation and fruity with an almost Moroccan feel to it.
|Smoked Haddock and Ham Terrine |
with a Quails Egg
All the dishes were stunning in fact, especially the lamb which was rich and savoury, with the haggis so refined it was almost a light accompaniment but packed full of flavour. The fish was perfectly cooked, being flaky and light with a rich, buttery, fishy sauce.
|Lamb with Lamb Haggis|
|Steamed Malaig Lythe with Squid|
and Clam Butter
The last breakfast was another opportunity to take pictures of the stunning location. Very crisp and clear. We couldn't leave without trying the porridge with a wee dram, even though whisky isn't really our thing. The porridge was lovely and warming, perfectly accompanied by the sugar and cream. Still not sure about the whisky though, even if it was local Isle of Skye whisky. Sorry!
The Three Chimneys most definitely deserves all its accolades in our opinion. The skill of the chefs, the locality of the ingredients, the luxury of the accommodation and the location truly all add up to a wonderful place to eat and stay. Just need to start saving up for an anniversary trip....