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The Boathouse at Loch Leven

It was a beautiful day. The snow had subsided but was still sprinkled on the hills as Phil and I jumped in the car to visit The Boathouse at Loch Leven. Not being as familiar with that part of the world, I am ashamed to say I didn't know the restaurant, but following a mention on social media many friends told me they knew it and how much they loved it. Not only did I fall in love with the restaurant but the rich history of the area.

Wrapped up in our many layers, we drove 25 minutes to the heart of Kinross. 25 minutes gets us into Edinburgh and whilst I love my city, there is nothing that beats the peace of Loch Leven. I was amazed at how quickly we were able to escape the noise and feel like we were in the middle of nowhere.

Of course, The Boathouse is not remote. It is situated in the picturesque burgh of Kinross, cobbles and coffee brewers merge perfectly together. Even on a Sunday, it is a bustling little town but as you move a few minutes towards the shores of Loch Leven, everything is tranquil and still.

The Loch is full of incredible history. Not only a nature reserve, it is home to Loch Leven Castle - a historical gem renowned for holding Mary Queen of Scots prisoner in 1567. She was held here comfortably (but still a prisoner) for around a year before plotting her escape with staff at the Castle. She landed at Mary Knowe and eventually fled to Niddry Castle in Winchburgh, around 5 minutes from my house.

In fact, when the Loch was partially drained in the early 19th century, many relics were found from that time including a sceptre "apparently of cane, hilted with ivory, and mounted with silver, upon which ... were the letters of the words, "Mary, Queen of Scots." Why the sceptre ended up there we will never know but it brings the tale of hundreds of years ago very much back to life.

The second area of importance in the Loch is St Serf's Inch - the largest of the seven islands. The Island was gifted in Pictish times to the Culdee (Ceile De) - a group of monastic like figures who reportedly lived in the Iona Abbey around the time of Columbus. Over time, the group became part of the Augustinian monks and they lived peacefully on the island until the son of Mary, the protestant James VI, gifted the Island to St Leonards College - part of St Andrews University - where it was allowed to fall into ruin. The Island has many links with Macbeth, Queen Margaret and more - a hugely important part of Scottish landscape.

It is this rich history, coupled with an abundance of wildlife that makes the Loch and its surroundings such a fascinating place. The Boathouse at Loch Leven is perfectly positioned to not only entertain locals but passing tourists.

With that in mind, we expected it to be busy and it was; full of families, couples, friends all chatting contentedly away. The majority of diners I'm sure had been before, albeit the restaurant only recently obtained a new proprietor - testament to the quality of the food.

When we entered the cosy entrance, we were greeted not only by a beautiful warm stove but several dogs of varying sizes - all incredibly cute. There is something about a place that allows dogs - it brings such a lovely, relaxed atmosphere. We were shown to our seat which had the most breathtaking view over the Loch to Mary's castle.

The restaurant pride themselves on using local produce and the menu certainly reflected this. I began with Arancini of Smoked Haddock and Black Pudding with Hollandaise. Phil's starter was Cauliflower Cheese soup - I mean.... heaven right? I have to say the crispiness of the Arancini was absolutely incredible. I could quite happily eat it every day.

Given it was a Sunday, we both opted to have meat and veg for our mains - Phil had the Roast Chicken - one of the many specials - and I had Chicken Breast with Dauphinoise Potatoes in a Bacon and Mushroom sauce. Both were beautiful - the chicken was cooked to perfection and the sauce had a beautiful tang to it. Phil's only complaint was he couldn't finish it all.

Sadly, the main courses finished us off and there was no room for dessert but the pudding list was add you would expect - sweet, wholesome, gooey goodness. With Rhubarb Crumble served with Apple Ice Cream (!), I will definitely be back for that alone.

The restaurant is made with love. You can see that in the carefully curated seasonal dishes, the smiles on the staffs' faces and the attention to detail in the stunning decor. It is easy to adore and plenty do already. The place will keep coming back again and again. As will Phil and I - to explore the amazing history of the place and enjoy a plate or four of the Arancini.

With thanks to The Boathouse at Loch Leven, for providing a lunch for two with drinks and to Advantage PR for organising. Opinions, as always, are very much my own. Follow The Boathouse on Facebook and Twitter.

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