So I mentioned in my post on our amazing stay at Auchrannie Resort on the Isle of Arran that I'd be blogging about our meal at Eighteen69 separately, and I've finally got round to selecting the best photos to fully convey how amazing it was. Like, seriously guys - Sean and I both agreed that this was our favourite dinner out that we'd had in at least 3 years - we'd go back in a shot if it was a little closer, and probably will arrange another trip to Arran as soon as we can just so we can eat there again!
The short walk from the newer part of the hotel that we were staying in to the the glasshouse of the original house where Eighteen69 is located felt longer than usual as it was absolutely chucking it down, but the hotel lent us an umbrella and one of the waiters at the restaurant immediately took our coats and settled us down at one of the tables with a sampler of cocktails (yes, I may have drank about 2/3 of them, it's not my fault Sean is too slow!)
A note about the service first - from the moment we walked in to the moment we left, we were never left waiting around for anything and all of our waiters/waitresses were SO friendly and happy to chat about the various dishes and what they recommended, which is very helpful when there's such a broad menu to choose from.
A Selection of Scottish Tapas at Eighteen69:
The whole ethos at Eighteen69 is all about sharing, so the menu is made up of freshly prepared little dishes of Scottish themed tapas, which come out as and when they're ready (and pretty much everything is locally sourced, which is a major bonus).
The menu is divided up for ease into cold and hot plates, with the hot plates separated again into vegetarian, meat, fish and side dishes. We were recommended to share around five dishes between the two of us to leave room for dessert, so we tried to opt for as broad a range as possible.
From the cold plates, we opted for the Argyll Hot and Cold Smoked Salmon Platter, which was huge and served with chutney, salad and savoury scones as well as the two types of salmon, both of which tasted so fresh - nothing beats Scottish salmon!
We decided that we obviously had to have some duck fat chips on the side, which were amazing - the perfect chunky chips, which went really well with the meatballs (Sean's pick) and the king scallops (my pick). Scallops can either be the most delicious thing ever, or completely average - and these were definitely the first option, especially served as they were with crispy pancetta and cauliflower puree.
The star of the show though, was the Mac & Arran Black, which is mac and cheese made with Arran cheddar, black pudding and bacon crumb - oh my goodness. I could have eaten vats of this stuff, and I'm pretty certain I was scraping every last bit out of the pot by the end. I need to try and recreate this at home, but I'm certain it won't turn out nearly as good!
We were pretty full at this point, but we didn't want to NOT try the dessert menu, so we thought a safe option would be to try the sampler of three of the desserts between the two of us. Of course, when the dessert came out it turned out each sample was practically the size of a full dessert anywhere else, but we rallied ourselves and managed to scoff almost every bite!
The brownie and honeycomb disappeared the quickest (the honeycomb was perfectly sweet and chewy, and there was a huge slab of it in the bowl - result!) but Sean and I were divided on the remaining two, with Sean preferring the cheesecake-esque option, whilst I was completely in love with the gorgeous elderflower pannacotta.
Would I Go Again?
Um, yes. Absolutely, no question about it - I would pay the 40 odd quid for a ferry over to Arran JUST to return to Eighteen69 on a special occasion. Sean still reminisces over the food now - it really was so impressive, the flavours were amazing, the dishes were innovative and the locally sourced ingredients were so tasty. Plus the surroundings feel really special, and it's lovely to finish your dinner and then head into the lounge next door to sit by the fire with a glass of wine or a whisky. If you go to Arran, even if you don't stay at Auchrannie - book to visit Eighteen69, you won't regret it!
The restaurant is open Thursday through Monday from 5:30pm to 9:30pm and they do recommend that you book in advance, which you can do online.
*We were invited to enjoy a complimentary dinner at Eighteen69 as part of our stay at Auchrannie, but all gushing is my own! I'm getting hungry again just thinking about that mac and cheese...