Named after French delicacy, L’Ortolan is another luxury restaurant with scope and ambition beyond simply providing eager diners with somewhere to eat.
Alongside the restaurant itself, classes and demonstrations are also available – plus a series of offers which facilitate private meals, events and ‘Michelin at home’, where the restaurant’s lauded cuisine is prepared and served within the comfort of your own dining room.
However, an air of home-like intimacy is present in the restaurant itself – located in an impressive house and grounds. Private dining rooms are comfortable, tastefully turned out and intimate, while the restaurant’s main areas include a conservatory which affords views of the gardens outside.
Having held a Michelin star for nine years, chef Alan Murchison has established a fine reputation on the British culinary scene; and although his menus in the restaurant do take influences from many different cuisines, the focus tends to be on French recipes and technique, using carefully-sourced local and seasonal ingredients.
Several menus – including gourmet, widely-praised vegetarian gourmet and a ‘surprise’ tasting menu (available with or without matched wine), where diners are unaware what they’re going to be presented with – are available. The menu once again leads boldly with the central item, and seasonable and must-have ingredients and preparations – mushrooms, panna cotta served savoury, terrines and chutneys – are well-represented.
Crab might come served with sweet corn panna cotta, crayfish and lovage, and quail is served roasted with a ham-stuffed leg and girolles. But classic flavour combinations such as duck and blackberries, lamb and capers, and cherry and chocolate keep diners’ feet on the ground and ensure that the food is as comforting as it is memorable.
A range of organic wines are available as part of the list, and matching can be carried out. The wine list – mainly French with a small degree of global exploration – also contains many which are available by the glass.
Alan Murchison began working in family-run hotels in Scotland at 14, but it was a stint at Inverlochy Castle in Fort William that gave him his first taste of cooking fine food. Ultimately, the four years Murchison spent with Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons remain the greatest influence on Murchison's career as chef and restaurateur.
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