From the outside, the Four Seasons Hotel in St Fillans isn’t the most promising. Seventies motel, rather than the kind of place that would feature a two AA rosette restaurant.
Inside though, it’s bang up to date and current owner Andrew Low (who took the place over five or so years ago) has created a sleek, modern interior. There’s not a great deal he could do with the exterior but the position next to Loch Earn and the stunning view down the valley is why the hotel’s where it is.
Seated in the restaurant ante room, where we give our drink and dinner order, we have time to take in the vista. You can just make out from here the hotel’s latest addition sculptures by artist Rob Mulholland in the shape of four mirrored figures that magically float above the water next to the hotel’s jetty.
Moving through to our table in the Meall Reamhar restaurant, sadly not at a window seat but still with a view of Loch Earn, we had chosen to dine off the £38 three-course menu (there’s also a £28 two-course option).
I started with the signature dish of grilled West Coast king scallops with lemon taboule and madras curry cream (£4.95 supplement). It was beautifully presented on a slate and the shellfish was melt-in-the-mouth, while the accompaniments accentuated, rather than overpowered, the delicate flavour.
My partner went for the grilled peppered mackerel, which had a pleasant kick and was freshened by the serving of julienne vegetables and saffron and red pepper oil.
For my main course, seduced by the inclusion of scallops, I went for the “catch of the day”, which was described as a poultry surf ‘n’ turf.
The grilled corn-fed chicken was top-notch and the whisky sauce suited it perfectly, as did the selection of roast potatoes, pickled onion and kale.
What I couldn’t get my head round was the “surf” element the addition of shellfish felt like a clumsy afterthought and didn’t add anything to the dish, other than giving me another fix of scallops.
My partner went for the marinated Angus Limousin beef fillet medallions main (£7.95 supplement). The most expensive item on the menu, it was worth the extra money, however, as the meat cooked medium rare was wonderfully tender. Andrew Low has spent time in the far east and he’s picked up a few tricks on his travels, such as marrying the beef with sides of crispy wonton, teriyaki sauce, soy mash, pak choi and a sweet chilli reduction. An inspired combination.
The sweets were the weak point of the evening and while perfectly enjoyable, lacked the finesse of the previous courses.
My partner described his Bourdaloue pear tart as “disappointing”, although the accompanying cinnamon ice cream and chocolate milkshake were more to his taste.
I enjoyed my own dessert but I failed to detect the advertised chilli or mint in my Belgian chocolate torte, which was tasty but lacked that extra depth of flavour.
We finished with tea, coffee and petit fours but again, the sweet element let the side down as the bite-size treats were either odd (an apple puree-filled chocolate cup) or just bland.
The service was warm and fairly efficient but at times it felt like the waitresses had gone missing and I definitely detected a difference in the way some diners were treated it felt like the hotel guests were given more attention than non-residents.
The menu is imaginative and by and large well executed with some excellent produce. We’re pretty sure we’ll go back and next time we’ll maybe book a window table. Or perhaps a room.
Price: Three courses for fixed price of £38 per person.