Kinloch Lodge is the place you stay to eat. Even in a highly scenic locale with wood-burning fireplaces crackling throughout the enchanting property, the main event here is the Michelin-star meals its head chef Marcello Tully creates nightly.
After a long and semi-frightful drive from Edinburgh, we landed safely at Kinloch on the Isle of Skye just before sunset. Let’s just say navigating the narrow Scottish roads isn’t for the faint of heart – or anyone with a serious heart condition.
After our complimentary champagne at check-in, our greeter escorted us to our suite in the adjacent house overlooking the Loch na Dal in Sleat on Isle of Skye.
We decided to stretch our legs with a stroll before dinner. The sky had cleared just enough to reward us with a beautiful sunset. We truly felt we had arrived in Scotland as we sat there on the rocky shore at the edge of Kinloch Hill watching the sky’s vibrant hues intensify with each passing minute.
Sunset backdrop against cottage near Kinloch Lodge
As the sunset show ended, we headed back to our cottage to prepare for the next act: dinner.
After perusing the menu options for the evening – one fixed and another refreshed each evening – we were glad we had booked a two-night stay. Among Kinloch’s accolades is its ranking as one of the world’s top 25 small hotels by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. That covers a lot of territory, but there’s little doubt food is a big part of its claim to fame.
Main house of Kinloch Lodge where the kitchen magic happens
Loch view from the adjacent house where we stayed
Bar area of the main house
For four decades, the Macdonald family has called Kinloch Lodge both home and hotel. Its matriarch, Claire Macdonald, is a self-taught, award-winning cook and food writer. She undoubtedly has left her culinary influence on the place – an important one being the hiring of its Brazilian-born, London-educated chef.
Marcello Tully prides himself on getting the most from the simplest of ingredients. It’s the true mark of a great chef and he rises to the occasion with each course.
On our first night, we chose the chef’s tasting menu. It included seven courses, not counting the appetizers and petit fours served in the living room next to the dining area. We showed a little restraint our last evening with the five-course dinner option.
From start to finish, we dined like monarchy. Foamy, rich soups of curried butternut squash and sweet-and-salt corn started the party. Fish combinations of local sea bass with chorizo and black olive, and cod surrounded by caramelized grapefruit followed.
For one of the main courses, the chef prepared a beautiful Black Isle lamb encrusted in nuts and herbs, paired with spinach, leeks, dauphinoise potates and Jerusalem artichokes. Sometimes the starters and sweet treats at the end are the most memorable part of the meal. Here, our main courses held their own to give us a continuously captivating taste journey.
Strathdon blue cheese, prune and orange mousse, and Perthshire honey jellies transitioned us to spectacular desserts.
A dark chocolate “melt” and dollop of crème de menthe sorbet resting atop a billowy white vanilla foam surprised and kept the party going. Even after multiple courses, it left me wanting more. Must. Recreate. At home. Well, at least I can try.
I might have had better luck doing just that it if we had chosen to spend one of the evenings at the chef’s table, where dinner is served as you watch the culinary artists at work in the kitchen. Maybe next time.
Dinner may be the main event at Kinloch, but breakfasts are equally enticing. The restaurant served one of the best bowls of creamy, nutmeg-laced porridge I’d ever had. Other breakfast creations included black pudding stacked with caramelized apples and bacon, and local eggs scrambled with smoked salmon.
While reconstructing these Scottish dishes in my home is unlikely, we’ll take back savory and sweet memories of time and stomach space well spent.