Ballintaggart. Where do I start?
From the moment we arrived, we were made to feel at home. The Perthshire farm turned B&B extraordinaire was immediately welcoming. A short one and a half hour drive from Edinburgh, Ballintaggart is owned by Rachel and Chris Rowley, together with Andrew (Chris’ brother).
In a past life, the couple ran the successful Edinburgh supper club, Charlie and Evelyn’s Table alongside their busy jobs. However, after working in financial services for a number of years, and through all the ups and downs associated with that, Chris decided that a change of career was essential, for both his own happiness and that of his family.
In 2014, Chris left his corporate role for a different challenge; his first job as a chef at one of our favourite Edinburgh restaurants, The Gardener’s Cottage. After nine months, the couple along with their two children made the move to London to enable Chris to undertake formal training at Leith’s School of Food and Wine.
One year later, after successfully completing the diploma course, and gaining valuable experience on the London restaurant scene, the couple once again relocated to Scotland. This time opting for an all the more rural location.
In September 2016, Ballintaggart was born. The farm is now an in-demand B&B, and while they wouldn’t class themselves as a restaurant, the food that the kitchen produces is truly astounding. Chris designs the ever-changing menus (both breakfast and dinner), reflective of the seasons and increasingly, the produce grown on site.
There are only two bedrooms at Ballintaggart, and as you would expect, they are beautifully finished – as is the guest lounge, complete with open fire and filled with Glen Lyon coffee and homemade cake. (Definitely my kind of room!)
After a sharing board featuring Great Glen Charcuterie and in the name of research, we opted for the full dinner tasting menu alongside another couple staying at the farm. Together, we ate at the grand antique dining table, alongside four guests from a nearby village. Some people can be deterred by communal dining, but it’s at places like Ballintaggart that you meet like-minded people – and fellow foodies.
All the dishes brought out of the kitchen were perfectly balanced and complemented one another beautifully. A starter of potted wild rabbit, sourdough and piccalilli was first up, followed by a small by mighty pie filled with home-grown leek and whisky washed bacon. The fish course was Scrabster cod, Isle of Uist crab, garden herb crust, cauliflower purée and hispi cabbage, closely followed by an alternative cheese course of Inverloch goats’ cheese, goats’ cheese curd, figs, blood orange marmalade and pine nuts. The pudding was the cherry on the top and my absolute favourite pudding of all time. Apple crumble soufflé, spiced anglaise and honeycomb ice cream. I’d like to put it out there, if I’m ever on death row (I don’t anticipate this, but you never know), I’d like this soufflé to be my last meal.
As well as offering accommodation and dinners, the team run cookery masterclasses which can be booked online. While I have yet to try out one of the full day classes, I certainly hope to soon. I feel Ballintaggart might feature often in the coming years, and I look forward to watching the team’s enthusiasm and catering kingdom grow. In other exciting news, Chris’ brother Andrew has recently purchased a hotel down the road and renovations began February of this year. This will come to be known as The Grandtully Hotel by Ballintaggart and will have eight rooms, designed to complement the ethos at Ballintaggart.
With a double room at Ballintaggart, including breakfast and afternoon tea starting at £145, this home away from home is certainly worth a visit. The only problem is, you might just never want to leave.
Find out more: www.ballintaggart.com