Introducing our new chef and his team
Our kitchen is at the very heart of what we do at the Argyll Hotel. The hotel is renowned for it’s homemade fresh food, organic bread and home baking and creative use of vegetables. Our new Head Chef Tom Morley has been working with us for two years as Sous-chef and is now excited to be taking the lead in the kitchen, continuing our great food tradition. He is passionate about local, organic and seasonal food and he and our gardener spent part of the winter pouring over seed catalogues looking at heritage and unusual varieties of common vegetables to grow, such as carrots, beetroots and tomatoes in all colours of the rainbow. They have also investigated a wider variety of salads, brassicas and year round greens.
Tom’s speciality is fish and seafood cookery so he is hoping to bring more of the local seafood onto the menu. We are lucky to have Iona Seafood, N our resident fisherman returns from outings in Iona waters in his boat the Lucy Lou with fresh crab, langostines, lobster, mackerel and line caught Pollock. Fresh from the sea to the plate.
Tom is supported by his skilled sous-chef Jason, chef de partie Darren, dessert chef Ysabelle who is bringing sparkle to desserts and Darren and our fantastic kitchen assistant Kieran. The ethos in the kitchen is one of loving the food we cook, making it taste amazing and look incredible.
What can you expect?
Our dinner menu choices remain static over a few weeks with just the fish of the day changing. Seafood bisques and chowders, fish pates and mousses will feature regularly. Invelussa Mussels are back on the lunch menu and potted Iona crab and Mull Scallops make a regular showing at dinner time. We love Tobermory Smokehouse and the wide range of choice they have for our fish platters.
Iona lamb and hogget will feature all season, mull beef, venison and pork too. This month we have roast loin of Iona hogget, rainbow chard, daupinoise, roast mooli with a parsley and anchovy dressing.
Vegetarian and vegan options have always been a speciality at the Argyll, with as much effort and love going into these dishes as meat options. Showcasing how tasty non-meat meals can be and optimising use of fresh seasonal ingredients. The current vegan option showcases new season Jersey royal potatoes, roasted asparagus, crushed pea and herb sald, garden rocket and red onion vierge, parsnip crisps and asparagus cream.
There will always be a chocolate dessert….just because….. but also lighter options featuring fruit, sorbets and cream desserts. The amazing Tobermory ice-cream features on both the lunch and dinner menus.
Currently, we have a rhubarb, stem ginger and honeycomb cranachan and Strawberries and Elderflower using Scottish Strawberries, garden elderflower jelly, vanilla yoghurt mousse, strawberry granita, strawberry consomme and meringue.
How does Tom create our menus?
The first step with menu creation is to consider what fruit and vegetables are in season. We have our own organic garden but during the early part of the season we have what is known as the hungry gap until the garden gets going after the winter. This is March, April and May before the first new season crops are ready to harvest. Our polytunnel has winter standing crops of kale, chard, Japanese greens, pursalane and other herbs and these are appearing on our early menus.
He then looks at how to showcase local meat and seafood that is available, considering texture, colour and fresh herbal elements and sauces to create a balanced dish. Our menu remain the same except for fish specials and new dishes are rotated in as the season progresses.
What are the seasonal produce for the Spring Season?
We have much of what you might expect for this time of the year. Seasonal greens such as kale, chard, purple sprouting broccoli and leeks plus the winter roots that bring depth and sweetness such as parsnips, salsify, celeriac turnip, beetroot and carrots. Winter salads and mizuna are being supplemented with home grown been sprouts and home made vegetable crisps. For starters the humble nettle features! Garden nettle and roast walnut falafels, pickled garden baby beets, mustard leaf and radish salad and a harissa aioli.
Early season fruit is dominated of course by rhubarb, which is the first fruit crop to surface and garden strawberries will not be long now. The Rhubarb Cranachan is easy for anyone to make. Cream is whipped with whiskey and a little sugar to be layered with roasted garden rhubarb and toasted oats. If is finished with crumbled honeycomb and a piece of hazelnut brittle. A delicious crispy lovage shortbread is served on the side!
We look forward to welcoming you to dine with us soon!
Next blog features our organic garden.