Monday, 4 November 2013

The Three Chimneys

A visit to The Three Chimneys has long been on my Bucket List whilst a trip to Skye was on Foodie Loons. What better than to combine both to celebrate my 41st Birthday. 41 is officially the new 21 dontcha know. We booked back at the beginning of June but even then there was no Saturday night availability for accommodation so we opted for a Friday night staying at their House Over-By. The next choice that faced us was the option of dining at The Kitchen Table. I loved the idea of this but was slightly concerned about sharing a table with strangers but threw caution to the wind and booked it anyway. In for a penny, in for a pound. Rather a lot of pounds to be honest but we hoped it would be worth it.
We were so lucky with the weather on our whole trip over the sea to Skye and arrived at The Three Chimneys mid afternoon to check in. We were given a warm welcome and shown to our room and served tea, coffee and muffins. Delighted to discover a well stocked mini bar, fantastic coffee making facilities and a comfortable and well equipped bathroom and bedroom with lots of local Skye touches in the furnishings.
Before dinner we headed through to the lounge for a drink and met up with our fellow Kitchen Table diners. A couple from Malta and a Scottish couple who own a tour company. Despite the fine display of whisky on show we both opted for G&T's with Botanist and Caorunn respectively. Then it was time for the main event as we were escorted from the house over-by, through the restaurant and into the kitchen.
A substantial wooden table with seriously heavy chairs was waiting for us. Wax sealed scrolls held our "Seven Courses of Skye" menus with the main ingredients for each dish all being sourced in Skye and Lochalsh. Slightly disappointed to discover that Michael Smith had the night off however Kevin MacLean clearly has no problem stepping into his shoes.
We were literally right in the kitchen and in the middle of the action. First surprise was how quiet it was. No Gordon Ramsay style shouting and swearing going on. Not even a "Yes Chef" to be heard. Everyone had their role and station and knew exactly what they were doing. All very cool, calm and collected and working with such precision, dedication and skill. We were encouraged to take lots of photos, get up and about to see what was going on, ask questions and perhaps even get a sneaky taste along the way.

Before we even got to our first course of Skye there were a couple of pre-starters. Breadsticks and Cheese Scones with a salmon dip followed by a tiny bowl of Shellfish Bree. This soupcon of soup was one of my absolute favourite parts of the meal. The first course proper was a Prawn Loch Ness Monster of Loch Dunvegan Langoustines with Tattie Scones and Bridget's Organic Mesclun.
A veritable feast of Seafood was being stored in the refrigerated drawers right next to our table and we watched Crab, Scallops and Lobster all being prepared. It was slightly disconcerting to see the lobster still moving even after it had been cut in half. Not disconcerting enough that would put me off eating one. Alas none to be found within our seven courses.
Smoked Fish was next with a fantastic creation presented in a lidded glass bowl. When served the lid is removed by the waiting staff and out comes a puff of smoke. Very clever. Colbost Skink, Marag Dubh & Talisker Crumb, Local Croft Egg Yolk.
The Crab course was a Vol au Vent of Loch Barcadale Crab, Spiced Apple and Mull Truckle. Number 4 should have been oysters but despite a number of attempts they just don't do anything for me so instead I went for the Lamb alternative. Blackface Haggis Pasty with Anthony's Neeps.
Our table companions from Malta opted for the Loch Harport Oysters with relish as they had been looking forward to some since arriving in Scotland but hadn't been able to find any. Biggest laugh of the night for me was seeing how I was described on the kitchens booking sheet. No mention of blogging or birthday. Just the important stuff.
Time to step up to the hotplate for the Scallop Course. No way was Kevin letting us loose on the cooking but the girls were allowed to serve up. Scallop shells on a bed of sand from Coral Beach. Sconser King Scallop with 'Cabbie Claw', Bacon and Pepper Dulse. I put my quenelling, sprinkling and accurate placing skills to good use but apparently I need to speed up a bit so it doesn't all get cold. We got to do the only bit of shouting at this point in the proceedings "Service Please" then quickly rushed back to our table so the dish didn't arrive before we did.
The Kitchen Table experience provided us with a fantastic insight behind the scenes as to how a world renowned restaurant actually works. Absolutely everything has been made from scratch with much of the hard work and prep having been done throughout the day in anticipation for the lunchtime and evening service. As the orders tailed off the chefs turned to preparation for breakfast and the following day's meals with never ending attention to detail.
It was the boys turn when it came to dishing up the the Venison. I reckon Foodie Loon was a wee bit heavy handed with the sauce so the photo may not be a true representation of what this dish should look like. Saddle and Haunch of Lochalsh Venison with Gingerbread, Brambles and Crowdie.
At last we had reached our seventh course of Three Chimneys Hot Marmalade Pudding Souffle, Drambuie Syrup and Mealie Ice Cream. No electric mixers here just very strong arm muscles, a big whisk and a shiny copper bowl. Whilst the Marmalade Pudding lived up to its reputation the highlight for me was undoubtedly the fabulous Mealie Ice Cream. Amazing taste and mixture of textures.
As if we hadn't eaten enough there was still more to come with Petit Fours and Talisker Tablet to accompany our Coffee. Followed up with a wee nightcap of The Three Chimneys Cocktail an orangey whisky combination reflecting the signature Maramalade Pudding. Time to retire to the House Over By with very happy and very full bellies.
After such a huge feast the night before we were really in no need of breakfast. But having seen it being prepared the previous night and the fact that Kevin was back in early to cook it we felt obligated to indulge. Hubbie opted for smoked salmon and scrambled eggs whilst I had the Kipper Omelette. It was absolutely fantastic. The toasted oatmeal creamy kippers were a breakfast taste sensation. Combined with granola, bread rolls and fruit scones we went on our way absolutely stuffed.
We both thoroughly enjoyed our whole time at The Three Chimneys and The Kitchen Table. Definitely an experience never to be forgotten. The kitchen, front of house and waiting staff only added to the fantastic food experience. The chefs welcomed us into their kitchen even although we undoubtedly got in their way. The banter was great and they were most generous in answering our questions and sharing their knowledge. For us it was a one off but they are doing this every single night. If you have the opportunity to eat there grasp it with both hands. Thoroughly deserving of its accolades and reputation. Whilst our seven courses were amazing I would have happily had just three. Shellfish Bree, Kipper Omelette and Mealie Ice Cream.

8 comments :

  1. What a fantastic experience, I'm sitting here drooling. And a belated happy birthday.

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  2. Brilliant post, glad you had such a great time! I'd love to go even more now! not sure how I'd be described on the sheet though! :-)

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  3. What a wonderful opportunity - and how marvellous that it turned out to be so great! I'm more than a little bit envious. :)

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  4. Sounds amazing Claire. I didn't know they had a kitchen table - now I want to go even more! Wonderful post! Vohn x

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  5. What an experience and belated Happy Birthday x

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  6. So pleased to read about your whole experience. Fantastic! Thank you for the marvellous write-up which will be extremely special to all those who were involved that night.

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  7. Thank you for a wonderful mouth-watering read!

    Kathleen

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  8. OK, I didn't burst with envy, but it looks utterly amazing.

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