It may only be February but I have already had the pleasure of celebrating my 33rd birthday (I know I don’t look it). For a couple of days over my birthday my other half booked us a wee staycation in the Argyll town of Oban which is about 2hrs from Glasgow.
After a leisurely and scenic drive from Glasgow we arrived at our accommodation for the two nights, the Perle Oban Hotel, which is a luxury hotel, set a stone’s throw from the towns harbour. The hotel is set in a beautiful Victorian era building but designed with modern panache. Unfortunately due to time constraints and pre made bookings we didn’t get the opportunity to visit the hotels very own Café Bar (Brew & Co) or their BAAB Meze & Grill restaurant but from looking at the menu’s they are definitely something we’d like to try at some point. Throughout our stay the staff were friendly and helpful, catering for any needs that we had. Our room was a standard double but it was fairly large in size with high ceilings and an art deco inspired theme. The bed itself was super comfortable and little touches like the Nespresso machine & Bose docking system made our stay all the more enjoyable. The only little downsides were that there was a draft in our bathroom and the shower was absolutely tiny.
After dropping our luggage in the room, we headed out, and took the steep but short stroll up to McCaig’s Tower which is a prominent monument and viewpoint overlooking Oban and the surrounding islands. After a bit of photography and posing we headed down and took a walk along the long and winding seafront pathway, taking in Oban’s War Memorial and views of Dunollie Castle, which unfortunately was shut to visitors when we visited. Oban is renowned for its high-quality seafood, so in true Scottish style we headed to The Oban Fish & Chip Shop to put this to the test. I can safely say that as Fish & Chips go, this was up there alongside the best I’ve ever had, but not the best value for money at about £10. With full stomach’s and heavy eyes, we decided to retire back to the surroundings of our room for the evening in order to get some sleep before a morning of hill walking the next day.
The next morning after a well-earned kip, we grabbed some breakfast to go from a local café, jumped in the car and took the 15-minute drive from Oban to Beinn Lora for a Birthday hill walk. Beinn Lora sits to the North of Oban in a little village called Benderloch, and even although it only measures 308 metres high, it is a great little walk with some steep gradients to get your heart beating and temperature rising as well as some seriously boggy ground to navigate your way over. After about 2 hours of walking we reached the summit and thankfully the fog cleared to allow us breath-taking views over Argyle & Bute.
After a stroll back down, we decided to head back towards Oban, specifically to Poppy’s Garden Centre for some home-made food. Poppy’s is something of a must visit when in Oban, not just for the well-stocked garden centre, but for their highly recommended food menu. We grabbed some soup and a toastie which were exactly what was required in order to build up our energy levels again and then to finish off we had to try some of their home-made tray bake. We went for the Mint Aero & Malteser Tray Bakes which were absolutely delicious. Definitely somewhere worth visiting for a bit of lunch when in and around Oban although you have to time it well due its popularity, thus leading to some rather long queues.
After our successful refuelling, we took a drive back into Oban, and then along the coastal road, to Ganavan Bay. As if we hadn’t done enough walking where we took a walk along the cycle path to the village of Dunbeg and back which took about an hour and was an effective way to burn off some of the tray bake we had over indulged in at lunch. Once back in Oban we took a quick walk about some of the local gift shops before heading for a nap before dinner at Etive Restaurant, later that evening.
After a well needed power nap we popped over the road to our dinner reservation, at the much maligned Etive Restaurant. Etive opened in Oban in January 2018 with the intention of providing the people of Oban with the option of affordable a la carte and tasting menus that concentrate on innovative cooking using the very best locally sourced produce. Upon entering we were greeted by David Lapsley, the co-owner & Sommelier who couldn’t have been more welcoming. Once seated David took us through the extensive Gin List, explaining what he recommended and as they say the rest is history. We both went for a relatively new Glasgow based Gin called Garden Shed Gin which when paired with Fevertree tonic & a rosemary garnish, went down an absolute treat. After some delicious home-made bread & butter and time to peruse the a la carte menu we were ready to order. I decided that I would forego a starter and instead would go for a Main Course and Dessert but Tash went for a starter & main. The starter she went for was the Peterhead Landed Hake & Pollock in a Langoustine Shell Broth which looked absolutely stunning and smelled & tasted absolutely delicious. The chunks of fish were super succulent and were complimented perfectly by the creamy broth. For our main courses we both opted for the 10-hour slow cooked Shin of Inverurie Beef, Parsnip, Shallot & Purple Sprouting Broccoli and this was quite simply one of the most divine plates of food we have ever eaten. The beef was super juicy, amazingly tender and quite simply melted in the mouth, and the parsnip, well who knew parsnip could taste so damn good….? To complete our Etive experience I ordered the Apple Crumble Souffle with Crème Fraiche Ice Cream. The souffle was perfectly risen and the whole dish was expertly put together. The different textures of the oaty crumble, crunch apples and warm creamy souffle worked perfectly together and I can safely say this is a dessert I could eat over and over again. Our dining experience at Etive was absolutely superb and great value for money as all of the delicious food about and 2 double G&T’s came to approximately £80. Many thanks to the Chef John for the delightful food & to David for the great hospitality front of house and for his great knowledge of everything food & drink related. If you are ever in or around Oban then Etive is a must visit restaurant.
After another evening in our lovely accommodation it was sadly time for us to head back to Glasgow to prepare to go back to work after the Xmas break. Our trip to Oban will live long in the memory both for the fact that I was celebrating my birthday, but also the fact that we had great accommodation, had explored the great outdoors & had some culinary treats along the way.