A couple who ran successful supper clubs in London are the proud new owners of one of Highland Perthshire’s most prestigious country houses.
Tom Tsappis and Matilda Ruffle, who are engaged to be married later this month, have purchased Killiecrakie House in Pitlochry for just under £1.2 million.
Growing up in Fife, Matilda is delighted to be returning to her home area and both individuals bring a wealth of hospitality experience to the venue.
The five-bedroom restaurant with rooms, which is set across four acres, was formerly owned by Henrietta Fergusson from 2007 until October 2019 when she sadly passed away.
Henrietta had put the hotel on the market two years prior and Tom and Matilda purchased it in November 2020 having viewed it first earlier that year in May.
The couple started work on the venue in January and look to open mid to late September. They will have invested around another £600K in the property by the time it is complete.
Tom and Matilda relocated from London looking for a new challenge having run their supper club business, Elia London, for numerous years. Tom is a trained chef while Matilda is a sommelier.
With an opening date of September 24, the couple has employed four staff to help bring their vision to life, including their exclusive 15-course tasting menu.
Matilda said: “The team will come in around 10 days before we open to do some dry runs. Tom will be doing a lot of testing again with the food and drinks and everything is on track. We’re really looking forward to opening.
“We have two young chefs and we are looking for a high level sous chef to support Tom so we have a team of four.
“We’ll have a mixologist who will work in our art-deco cocktail bar and front of house staff, plus myself. We’re still looking to hire some staff though.”
15-course tasting menu
Serving a single set menu from Wednesday to Sunday, this experience will allow guests in the dining room and at the chef’s counter in the heart of the kitchen, the chance to enjoy an array of local produce in a new and exciting way. The menu will also be available for lunch on Saturdays.
A sample menu which features tartare of venison, squid from the Moray Firth cooked in a stew of its own ink, dripping fried porridge, Highland wagyu, kombu cured mackerel and a drunken oyster to name a few, is currently online for guests to view.
Matilda said: “We wanted to make sure we had a menu that wasn’t just special, but that the chefs could achieve the end goal. We wanted to really look at how the whole menu came together so we have looked at produce-led dishes and stories. Tom updates the menu as he changes his mind.
“I’ve been speaking to wine suppliers and businesses like the Highland Liquor Company to see what we can use locally.
“There’s a craft brewery called Wasted Degrees just up the road from us so they are going to make our own Killiecrankie beer for us. We want them to create it around a dish we have in mind.”
Tom added: “You get everything on the menu, the 15-courses. It is portioned in such a way that you’re not eating 15 main courses. It is an equivalent amount of food to a three-course dinner.
“We’ve cut out a lot of carbohydrates and we’re filling you up on some really interesting ingredients. Just as you get to the peak of ‘Oh this is so good!’ it is gone and the next thing appears.
“Our restaurant can seat 18 and the cocktail bar will seat six, plus we’ll have further seating in the lounge for drinks.
“We will also have our own chef’s garden in which we’ll be growing lots of produce that can be used in cooking and making drinks, too.”
Opening in around seven weeks, Tom and Matilda are looking forward to welcoming guests to the restaurant with rooms.
See inside Killiecrankie House
Tom said: “There are floors and walls in and bathrooms, too. We’re about a month away from it looking finished. The front of the building has been redone and just needs repainted.
“The garden has started being worked on and we now have a car park. The fact we have rooms is really appealing to people so we’re hoping lots of people will come and enjoy it.
“Everyone seems to have been to Killiecrankie at some point in their life. Someone I trained to be a chef with told me their grandparents had their honeymoon there. For such a small place, everyone has heard of it or has links to it.
“Someone Matilda’s dad used to work with, their cousin owned the hotel, so we feel really connected to the area and the house already.”
For more on Killiecrankie visit www.killiecrankiehouse.com.
The tasting menu is priced at £85 per person. An alcoholic drinks pairing can be added for £65 per person and a non-alcoholic drinks pairing is priced at £45.
The art-deco cocktail bar is open from noon to 11pm to residents and non-residents.