• Karen McConnell

Sunday Lunch at The Old Manse of Blair

There's nothing quite so indulgent than heading out for Sunday Lunch is there? And when it happens to be in the newly opened Orangery at The Old Manse of Blair in Blair Atholl, it's even more of a treat.

One of the lovely perks of being a blogger, and in particular having a presence and a following on Instagram, is that I get invited to attend fantastic events or visit wonderful places like The Old Manse of Blair and I still not quite used to it!

So, when I was first invited to Sunday Lunch I had an idea that I'd like to organise a girl's lunch with some of my oldest friends from school. I don't know about you, but whenever we try to co-ordinate our diaries to meet up without the kids, we're generally planning 6 months ahead. Sadly it wasn't going to work to get us all together but I made the arrangement with my friend Gemma and was excited for a girly catch up over some delicious food. Then, disaster struck the week before and poor Gemma was taken ill along with her husband and kids which meant she wasn't going to make it and I was left without a date.

Who to bring then? I ended up bringing Chris and the kids and it was really lovely to all get dressed up and have a lovely meal together in such a beautiful setting. We were given a very warm welcome by owner Anne MacDonald, and escorted through to The Orangery - a super-bright and spacious room with large tables draped in white linen and views out to the gardens to the side and back of the main house.

The kids aren't totally unfamilliar with fine dining but thankfully the atmosphere was relaxed and they were able to nip outside into the grounds and run around between courses.

It's always a treat, and a relief (!), when, as a vegetarian, I'm presented with a full vegetarian menu to pick from and everything sounds amazing! You'd be surprised how many restaurants still just have one vege option and so often, it's pretty uninspired. So, straight off the bat, we're doing well and we make our choices.

The kids opt for the classic pizza, chips and dough balls combo (you can't go wrong with them!) and I chose the Salad of heirloom tomatoes, home-smoked bocconcino mozzarella , rocket & aged balsamic syrup with bloody mary sorbet to start, followed by the Tart Tatin of confit onion, tomato and beetroot with balsamic and soft herbs, both of which were delicious.

Chris had the same main course but started with the Crispy tofu, spinach, artichoke and asparagus salad with lemon oil which he also really enjoyed. He then went on to have the Pave of chocolate, popcorn, caramel and homemade marmalade ice cream for dessert and it looked awesome!

I can't over-emphasise what a big deal it is for me to go out and clear my plate - that so very rarely happens, 1. because I don't have an enormous appetite and struggle to keep eating once I'm full and 2. because I'm pretty fussy with food and often the things I have to choose from when I'm eating out are fairly limited. I really enjoyed my food, washed down with two large glasses of smooth Malbec, and would genuinely go back tomorrow and have exactly the same again if I could! I'm really not sure what I would have said in this blog if I hadn't liked the food - most likely nothing at all - but I don't need to worry here as I can hand on heart recommend the food here ... it was all delicious!

As important as the food is when you dine out, the environment, ambience and service weighs just as heavily on your overall experience doesn't it? The Old Manse of Blair doesn't disappoint on those criteria either. The decor throughout has been a labor of love for owner Anne MacDonald and is a quirky take on traditional Scottish country living. Bespoke pieces of furniture like the enormous dining table in the main dining room, which was made from a fallen oak tree on the estate and the ultra-comfortable hand-crafted leather chairs that surround it are completely unique to the Manse and tell a story not only about the surrounding area but the owners' own Scottish heritage and their modern taste for comfort and opulence.

When we took a walk round the different rooms in the property and got to see some of the suites that one can stay in, the attention to detail and luxury touches continue. Original artwork hangs on all the walls, bespoke drapes frame windows looking out onto the beautiful Perthshire hills, the oversized beds are full of fluffy cushions that were begging to be jumped into (I didn't!) the bathrooms house magnificent roll top baths and waterfall showers and artisan soaps sit at the side of each hand basin. I really wished I was staying!

Special features like a guest library filled with great books, and a lounge filled with inviting sofas, an open fire and a baby grand piano add that extra bit of 'something' to this boutique hotel and make you want to spend time lounging and sipping champagne. In my fantasy there's a chap in a tux playing the piano and the other guests also enjoying their drinks all get talking and put the world to rights... I love those kind of evenings!

Anyway, if you've read this far you'll be aware I'm a fan of The Old Manse of Blair and I will definitely be back! If you'd like to watch the vlog of our visit, hit the play button below......

Karen xx


Karen & Clan 2019

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