IT MUST be a function of getting older, but these days I like more and more things “old school”.
I like old-school comedy, old-school music, old-school telly.
And we can add old-school dining to the list too.
Which is where the Atholl Hotel comes in.
You don’t get much more old school than this.
A refined and elegant air of quiet to the dining room, attentive uniformed staff and willingness to please – as opposed to simply fetching you food – things that are too often missing in too many places these days.
And all of that before we had sat down at the table for our family outing for a bit of a feed.
In keeping with the traditional air of the place, I had that most traditional North-east starter, Cullen skink.
It was a rich and creamy dish with a peppery tang and plenty of flakes of fish and thick chunks of tattie that was every bit the treat I had hoped for, especially mopped up with rustic bread.
Meanwhile, Mrs B and the loon had decided to share a terrine of pork.
There were two slabs of tender terrine, just right for sharing, studded with apricots and capers. The pretty side salad, with apple and fig, made this a more-ish dish.
Back to that old-school charm and the waitress had brought out the kids’ haddock for our smallest diner at the same time as the starters. Which left her plenty of time to yum over the tender white fish that was cooked to perfection.
While we’re on the subject of perfection, my baked pork edged pretty close to it.
From the simplest ingredients, pork loin (not chops), black pudding and apple, the kitchen had created something close to divine.
The tang of the apple lifted the flavour of the pork while the richness of the black pudding kicked it into high gear. Wow.
I wasn’t the only happy bunny during all this eating.
Across the table, Mrs B was faced with the dilemma of feeling stuffed but not wanting to stop eating, so good was her chicken carbonara.
Char-grilled chicken breast sat on a mound of pasta that was smothered in a delicate sauce.
The wine notes were very much to the fore, but it wasn’t sickly. Again, it was the quality of the ingredients that made this dish.
Meanwhile, the loon was munching through his lasagne and nodding in approval. Packed with flavour, it was a rich dish where the layers of pasta, beef and cheese worked together beautifully. None of those dry bits that can often spoil this classic Italian dish.
Given how full we were, dessert wasn’t going to happen.
Next time we want an old-school treat, though, we’ll be sure to leave some room.