Inver

Strachur, Argyll & Bute

Top 20
No. 9

Rating: Exceptional

Modern Scottish | Restaurant

Overall Rating: Exceptional

Uniqueness: Exceptional

Deliciousness: Exceptional

Warmth: Exceptional

Strength of recommendation: Exceptional

Winding down the single-track road to the loch shore with its brooding castle ruins, swooping seabirds and occasional shy otter or seal, you start to realise that Inver is no ordinary restaurant. And a quick read through the daily-changing carte or tasting menus (loaded with esoteric ingredients such as elf caps, dabberlocks and whipkull) makes it clear that Pam Brunton is no ordinary chef. Here, localism, authenticity and zero waste are not buzzwords but a genuinely practised belief-system. Pam’s undeniable kitchen skill and creativity are underpinned by a Master's degree in food policy and a campaigning character that saw her speaking at COP26 on restaurant sustainability and climate. She and partner Rob have created complete culinary congruence in this unassuming croft cottage and boat store. Hyper-local cooking celebrates produce that connects the kitchen directly to its landscape, community and historical context, while subtly weaving in global influences and modern technique. It could all feel a bit worthy, but Pam is a food alchemist, rendering the humblest of ingredients into elegant treats that are 'light, sultry, pulsating with pops of flavour and pristine natural ingredients'. Seasonality is a given. Chilled wild raspberry and tomato soup with black-pepper oil and marigold is a riot of colour, while meadowsweet cheesecake with caramelised Cora Linn cheese crumb, sweet raw peas and flowering herbs is a joyous homage to early summer. Daily specials depend entirely on local suppliers – perhaps seasonal wild game, razor clams or the first lambs from Isle of Bute where the roseate tender loin marries with slow-cooked Herdwick mutton belly, tangy seared apricot and soft ewe’s curd. Accompaniments are as simple as can be: Katie’s salad from a neighbour's smallholding is a tongue-twisting odyssey of lesser-known baby leaves, herbs and flowers dressed with homemade nasturtium vinegar. Desserts range from a familiar strawberry clafoutis with pine ice cream to the more unusual baked potato and hot chocolate sweetened potato beignets – the single-varietal chocolate custard and a sublime baked-potato ice cream combining to great effect. Unsurprisingly, wines are an eclectic mix of natural and biodynamic while ‘fancy drinks’ continue the homemade philosophy with shrubs, cordials and an excellent coffee Kombucha made from spent grounds. Whether on the sunny waterside terrace or inside with flickering candles and firelight, you’ll get informal but highly informed service from amiable staff in fisherman's smocks – subtly referencing the location, the workaday honesty and the veneration of simple ingredients elevated to unexpected heights. With its deliberately unmatched vintage glasses and rustic handmade tableware, Inver sits lightly in its remote picturesque environment without need of fancy whistles and bells. Comfortably appointed bothies and shepherds' huts bring welcome accommodation on site, with freshly made baskets of breakfast goodies on the doorstep come morning.

Rating: Exceptional

Modern Scottish | Restaurant

Overall Rating: Exceptional

Uniqueness: Exceptional

Deliciousness: Exceptional

Warmth: Exceptional

Strength of recommendation: Exceptional

Dining Information:

Accommodation, Separate bar, Parking

Strathlachlan, Strachur, Argyll & Bute PA27 8BU 

01369 860537