Nat­u­ral larder sets The Deck scene

The Oban Times - - LEISURE -

LO­CATED just 11 miles south of Oban, it takes less than 25 min­utes to reach the Isle of Eriska, but it feels like a world away.

Once you leave the A828 at Ben­der­loch and turn onto the mostly sin­gle-track road, you will feel as if you are leav­ing your worka­day wor­ries be­hind and em­bark­ing on an ad­ven­ture.

Crossing a wooden bridge, you ar­rive on the 300-acre pri­vate is­land, named af­ter Erik the Red, the in­fa­mous Viking who raided Scot­land’s west coast in the 10th cen­tury. But it’s the nat­u­ral beauty of Eriska that im­me­di­ately cap­tures vis­i­tors’ hearts as they make the short drive through beau­ti­ful coastal wood­land. The el­e­gant turn-of-the­cen­tury ho­tel comes into view, like some­thing out of a film set, but your des­ti­na­tion is just across the car park at the new com­plex that houses The Deck Restau­rant and The Sta­bles Spa.

When you first walk into The Deck Restau­rant, the first thing you will no­tice is the view – a spec­tac­u­lar panorama over the golf course to Loch Linnhe and be­yond to the Morvern Moun­tains.

Thanks to The Deck’s ex­pan­sive glass front, it is like din­ing in a post­card, and the abun­dance of nat­u­ral day­light – no mat­ter the weather – makes this a lovely set­ting you could hap­pily en­joy all day. The at­mos­phere is breezy and stylish, yet com­fort­able, and is per­fect for fam­i­lies, groups of friends and cou­ples.

Head chef Conor Toomey’s ap­proach to the menu in The Deck is un­fussy, and of­fers some­thing for ev­ery taste, from nib­bles such as olives and char­grilled flat­bread with gar­den herb sour cream to light bites such as fish­cakes and cray­fish cock­tail; from gourmet sal­ads and sand­wiches to ‘some­thing more sub­stan­tial’ – think rib eye of aged Scot­tish beef with all the trim­mings, or a burger (beef or veg­gie, with a side of hand-cut chips) and of course, the tried-andtrue beer bat­tered West Coast had­dock.

‘It is a priv­i­lege to have such an amaz­ing nat­u­ral larder, stock­ing pro­duce from the is­land and lo­cal­ity,’ chef Conor said. ‘The abun­dance of pro­duce from the is­land, gar­dens and bee­hives as well as the smoke­house are all out­stand­ing re­sources for a chef team.’

The spe­cials board al­ways fea­tures some­thing sea­sonal, in­spired by the bounty of Ar­gyll – of­ten as close as the is­land it­self. From lo­cally-sourced meat and fish to let­tuce grown in their own gar­dens, the fare in The Deck is pre­pared with the fresh­est in­gre­di­ents, and that, com­bined with Conor’s ex­per­tise, takes ev­ery dish to the next level.

As a ca­sual, re­laxed al­ter­na­tive din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to the ho­tel’s main restau­rant, The Deck of­fers the same Miche­lin star ethos of chef Conor, as well as the finest qual­ity lo­cal pro­duce that is the star of all Eriska’s menus.

In fact, as you walk to The Deck from the car park, you pass raised gar­den beds burst­ing with let­tuces, leeks, and many va­ri­eties of herbs.

‘I am look­ing for­ward to us­ing my skills to con­tinue to en­hance the guest ex­pe­ri­ence in this idyl­lic lo­ca­tion,’ chef Conor said. ‘I want peo­ple to feel com­fort­able at The Deck, for them to thor­oughly en­joy their meal and leave with a smile on their faces.

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