The Boath House is a boutique hotel and restaurant in a Georgian mansion on the outskirts of the town of Nairn, which is not far from Inverness. The building is set in nine acres of grounds, and has a lake and attractive gardens. The dining room is on the ground floor looking out over the garden, with an overflow area that can double as a private dining room connected to it; 28 customers can be accommodated at full capacity. The main room has a very high ceiling, paintings of rabbits on the walls and some sculpture. There are tall cupboards to either side of the door that would require either a serious stepladder or mountaineering equipment to reach the upper shelves. Charlie Lockley has been the head chef here for fourteen years, having previously worked at a local Nairn restaurant. We went for lunch, when there was a three course menu for £30. At dinner the same menu costs £45, or there is a six course tasting menu at £70.
The wine list started at £28, with plenty of choice under £40. Dr Loosen Red Slate Riesling 2014 was £32 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £12, Perusini Ronchi Di Gramogliano Ribolla Gialla 2014 was £52 compared to its retail price of £20, and Leflaive Abbeye de Morgeot Chassagne Montrachet 2005 was £81 for a bottle that will set you back about £60 in a shop. If you wanted to splurge then Dom Perignon 2003 was £180 compared to its current market price of £131, and Henriot Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut 1996 was £270 for a wine that costs £151 retail.
Soda bread was made from scratch in the kitchen, flavoured with fennel seeds and not too heavy in texture (15/20). A nibble of squid ink crackers with chilli dip was simple but enjoyable, the texture of the crackers delicate, the dip mildly spicy (14/20).
Salmon was citrus-cured and then poached, rolled in chives and served with horseradish creme fraiche and a garnish of avruga caviar. The fish had good flavour, the citrus cure nicely cutting through its natural oiliness, and the horseradish bite lifted the flavour of the dish (15/20).
Celeriac soup was made using salt-baked celeriac, with burnt celeriac oil added. This was surprisingly impressive, with considerable depth of flavour and precise seasoning. It is one thing to take luxury ingredients like langoustines and truffles and make them taste good, but it takes quite some skill to extract this depth of flavour from a vegetable soup (16/20).
Halibut with coated with miso, sesame seeds and cured soy and was served with lightly grilled lettuce and dill mayonnaise. The fish was excellent, and the miso was a clever way to enhance the flavour of the halibut, the lettuce a good contrast (16/20). Lamb was cooked nicely and came with shallots, spring onions, fondant potatoes and Yorkshire pudding. The meat had good flavour and the potato had enjoyable texture, but although the alliums were fine the Yorkshire pudding was disappointing: leathery and dried out. It tasted as if it had been reheated rather than made fresh. If it had simply not appeared then the dish would have been greatly improved (14/20).
Cheese was a pre-plated selection of semi-hard cow milk Northumberland Cheese called Coquetdale, Lanark Blue and a British Brie, which were all in good condition. Dessert was chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream, honeycomb and a chocolate tuile, the fondant suitably rich and the ice cream having plenty of flavour (15/20). Coffee was from a small Glasgow supplier called Coffee Direct and was very pleasant. It came with white chocolate and vanilla fudge as petit fours.
Service was capable and friendly, led by the son of the owner. The bill came to £60 a head with some good German wine. If you came for dinner and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical all in cost per head might be around £80. With the exception of the Yorkshire pudding aberration, the meal today at Boath House was very enjoyable, the setting pretty and the pricing fair.