Every time I turn on the TV or radio at the moment, I hear snippets about a Danish lifestyle word that is gaining a lot of interest in Britain – the word is ‘hygge’ and one of the translations is ‘cosiness of the soul’.
It has been described as cocoa by an open fire or enjoying a slow cooked stew with friends and as the temperature is dropping and the evenings are getting shorter, I decided to go in search of my own hygge in Courier country.
For me, a stress free, relaxed autumn evening involves a fire, candles, listening to the wind howling outside and my labrador laying on my feet. This was exactly what I found at The Inn on The Tay. Dogs are allowed in the bar area where the full restaurant menu is also served and so I booked us a spot on a comfy sofa near the wood burner.
The bar is welcoming in every way. The decor is traditional, the lighting is low with flames flickering, the leather armchairs are comfy and both the staff and the many locals at the proper bar were warm and friendly despite us outsiders having invaded. The menu is pub grub spiked with a few more elegant surprises which we planned to take our time to enjoy.
The soup of the day was French onion which Mr Kerry leapt at and was not disappointed, although it could have been hotter. The conservative bowl was packed full of slow cooked onions in their familiar deep brown liquor and crowned with a cheesy, crouton as hoped.
I ordered the grilled goats cheese which I have to say was presented in a much more refined way than I had expected – the cheese was piped onto the two large flat mushrooms and the stars of the dish were garnished with a lovely homemade pesto, balsamic reduction, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and baby basil leaves which completed a really lovely starter.
I opted for the pork belly salad next from the ‘light bites’ section of the menu. The frisée lettuce had a nice sharp dressing and was tossed amongst crispy black pudding, lardons, croutons and sweet walnuts.
My only disappointment was that the pork belly bites had not been cooked for quite long enough as although it was incredibly tender, there was still a thick layer of fat on each morsel which had not been given the chance to render away.
Mr Kerry chose the pie of the day which happened to be smoked haddock and leek with a caviar butter sauce. What arrived looked like a large pastry powder puff sitting on roasted vegetables and Mr Kerry took great delight in piercing the flaky shell to release the steam and aromas of the very smokey yet not too salty fish.
The butter sauce – and I mean this only as a compliment – tasted like a homemade version of the boil in the bag fish sauce I remember having as a child and was creamy and satisfying.
The Inn overlooks the canoe slalom site on the River Tay and I can imagine the decked area would make a cracking place to sit in the summer.
Grandtully is a place for adventure with not only canoeing but canyoning and white water rafting amongst the exciting exploits the area has to offer. During the colder months however, this is a lovely place to come to casually discover the meaning of hygge.
Price: Starters: £4.50 – £8; mains: £9.50 – £19.
Info: The Inn on The Tay
Address: Grandtully, Pitlochry, PH9 0PL
Tel: 01887 840760