A couple of months ago Alex and I went with our friends Louise and Jamie for a weekend at Inver, a restaurant with rooms on Loch Fyne, on the west coast of Scotland.
We had booked it about half a year before, after someone had seen the chef, Pamela Brunton, on Saturday Kitchen. None of us could remember why we had chosen this seemingly random weekend in September. We have a feeling it was perhaps the first weekend we were able to book!
We stayed for two nights in the bothies at Inver. These bothies are well-designed, with trendy Scandi-style furniture, and fantastic views of the ever-changing sea loch.
The bothies also each have a record player and a small but diverse selection of records.
The night before, we drank the blackcurrant vodka that was left for us.
The morning after, we ate the extraordinary breakfast. This was a true feast, incorporating bread, egg, a bacon fat rowie (described as “the Scottish croissant”), brioche, pork rillettes, bircher muesli, compote, yoghurt… It took an hour just to eat breakfast. There was no rush.
During the Saturday we went for a walk to explore nearby Lachlan Castle.
Jamie showed off his Highland games skills.
Then we wandered a bit further along and up a hill until we decided it would be unwise to go any further.
The nearest tourist attraction appeared to be the sculptured stones at Kilmodan, so we took a road trip.
Alex naughtily rang the church bell.
The road to Inver is the B8000. When a road name has four numerals in it, it’s always a bit of a giveaway that it’s going to be a small road. Even so, we’re not sure if we have seen a public road like this that has grass growing in the middle of it before.
You almost need to be going to Inver to use this road. It is quite incredible that such a good restaurant is in a location as remote as this. And yet trade was clearly brisk.
When you book the bothies, Inver offer a tasting menu with (optional) paired drinks. The sort of meal with seven small- to medium-sized courses that leaves you feeling stuffed to the brim and unable to sleep properly.
We made it our challenge for the weekend to build a rapport with the co-owner, Rob Latimer. He has the sort of dry sense of humour that kept us wondering if he was appalled by our chat, or secretly enjoying it.
When we had a drink in the bar on our arrival on Friday night, he took exception to our plot to name the stuffed animal on the wall. But later on he’d chip in with the odd unexpected zinger. We think he warmed to us by the end of our stay.
Despite its remoteness, Inver is not quite in the category of “get-away-from-it-all” destinations. Some places take pride in having no phone signal, no wifi, and no fun. Not so here. The record player and bluetooth speakers invite you to stream music and stay in touch with the world.
If that’s what you want to do, of course there’s nothing stopping you from simply switching off. But for me, Inver struck a fine balance, when others may go too far.