We use the best and freshest ingredients, where possible using the outstanding local produce of Wester Ross (see the menu page for more details of our suppliers). I like to take relatively humble ingredients, at the peak of their freshness, and use good technique and judgement to get the best results out of them.
We are a local restaurant and we want people to feel welcome and relaxed from the moment they come in. Our wood-burner takes pride of place in the dining room and we have a couple of sofas for those who would like to sit down and warm up after walking on the hills. We offer scones with home-made jam and clotted cream in the afternoons, and normally have a few fresh cakes or sweet things available. We're very happy to welcome dogs if they are (reasonably) clean and well-behaved, and we have a bowl of water and normally a few dog treats around as well.
I like simple food cooked without gadgetry and without pretention. I'm not trying to shock, or to re-invent the wheel. I don't want to cook anything that would have been impossible a hundred years ago, so I do not use sous vide; I do not make foams or espumas; I'm not interested in molecular gastronomy or protein glues or chemicals in child-proof jars. My food is not necessarily old-fashioned, but it is resolutely 'analogue'. A piece of lamb (or for that matter mutton) from the hills nearby, roasted pink in the oven and served with a sauce made from its own juices, is my idea of good cooking.
I hate the term 'fine dining' - far too often it means a dozen courses of tiny portions, fiddled-with and manicured beyond recognition - and priced at a mark-up of 500%. I've worked (and eaten) in restaurants like that, and I didn't care for it. We are an independent, casual, local restaurant and we aspire to serve great food, using fantastic ingredients from the surrounding sea and countryside. I hope that here you can expect friendly, efficient service without pomposity, and some seriously good food, cooked with skill & pride. To me, that's 'fine dining', and if we deliver it, I'll consider our jobs well done.
Awards and press:
Stevenson's Guide 2020
'Carefully sourced produce... perfectly executed. Comes highly recommended.'
Scottish Hotel Awards
2019 - Informal Dining Restaurant of the Year (Argyll and Lomond) - Bridge of Orchy Hotel
2018 - Hotel Chef of the Year (Highlands) - Aultbea Hotel
Scottish Food Awards
2017 - Hotel Restaurant of the Year Fat Whippet @ Aultbea Hotel
AA Restaurant Guide
2017-18 Rosette for Culinary Excellence - Aultbea hotel
Herald Scotland 2016
'A taste of the new Highlands'
Great Taste Awards
2010 - Gold Star Award - Shakespeare Foods (4 categories in fresh pasta and charcuterie)
I trained and spent most of my early career in London, where I was born and grew up. I spent some years as a private chef in London, Switzerland and France. I have cooked for two prime ministers, both royal princes, and a number of other high profile and high net-worth individuals and their families. In 2009 my brother and I set up and ran an award-winning artisan pasta & charcuterie business and between 2011 and 2015 I returned to restaurant work in London as a head chef. During this time I also ran a string of pop-up restaurants, ending with a 6-month residency in Kingston-upon-Thames for my seafood pop-up Bagley & Shakespeare (with my then-business partner Keith Bagley).
I came to Wester Ross in January of 2016 to take the position of Head Chef at the newly-refurbished Aultbea Hotel. Over the course of a couple of years, my small but highly-motivated team built up an excellent reputation and won the hotel a few awards. After the hotel was sold, and wanting to stay in the Highlands, my partner Jenny and I spent a season near Glen Coe, where I ran the kitchen at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel.
However, we were determined to move back 'up North' at the first opportunity and, when the chance to take over the former Whistle Stop Café came up, it was an easy decision to make. We knew the site well, and my predecessor had built up a great reputation for fresh local food. I hope to build on her good work, using the incredible wealth of West Coast fish, seafood and game to provide a great experience for local residents and visitors alike.