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Ballathie House Hotel Restaurant review

Cat Thomson celebrates Mother's day with a cup of tea for two at Ballathie House Hotel, Perthshire.

Whether you call her mummy, mother, maw or mater, you must admit materfamilias are really rather special women.

Motherhood is an impossibly hard job, the reality is that offspring come with no instructions and unlike faulty white goods you cannot send them back when things get tricky, well not easily.

Most years I either forget Mother’s Day entirely or post a card which arrives late or just in the nick of time. But for once I’ve managed to get it together and have organised an afternoon tea for two at Ballathie House Hotel for me and my old mum (£25pp).

Ballathie House Hotel
A classic afternoon tea in the front room of Ballathie House Hotel.

To be honest she deserves much more, perhaps a medal for having managed to put up with all my shenanigans over the years. Let’s gloss over my grumpy adolescence during which I resembled a hormonal female version of Kevin the teenager.

Mum's the word

I have without a doubt tested her patience. Even as a supposed grown up and mother of two, I’ve not exactly toed the line. In order to counteract any preconceived ideas about teenagers, I used to tell my two that pensioners were responsible for walls sprayed by youthful graffiti.

Tutting and shaking my head, I’d tell my gullible progeny that those pesky auld yins had done it.

For a long time my daughters had no idea of what a pensioner actually was, apart from being pretty disruptive and mostly up to no good.

Ballathie House Hotel
Light and airy interior at Ballathie House Hotel

My mum is now in her senior years and I decide that a sedate drive about the Perthshire byways followed by a pot of tea and some petit fours seems just the ticket to show her my appreciation.

Drive by

Along the way to our stately destination we cross over sandstone bridges which straddle both the Isla and Tay rivers and spy fishermen casting a line from manicured green banks.

Along the Ballathie driveway itself, trees have been scattered like nine pins during the winter gales, but the exterior of the country house hotel is still impressive and delightful crocuses and snowdrops are popping up their heads to hint at spring days to come.

We arrive and head to the vestibule entrance which has a carved stone motto insignia “coeur fides” or faithful heart above the door.

Ballathie House Hotel
The stately carved stone motto insignia “coeur fides” or faithful heart above the door

We both chuckle at the sign that sternly advises dirty welly wearing guests to use the sportsman’s entrance. I check my shoes to check I’ve not embarrassed my mum before confidently heading inside to announce our arrival.

We are then shown to our seats in the light and airy front room, noting the statement fireplace, river views, artwork, high ceilings and cornices, and decide that it’s all very fancy.

Tea for two

Our Jeeves-like waiter takes our drinks orders: decaffeinated English breakfast for my mum and the specially concocted Ballathie Blend for me, but a bewildering array of other beverage options are available.

Pots of tea and jugs of hot water soon arrive and with teaspoons and teacups at the ready, plus  pinkies raised, we are poised for our tea party to begin. By now we are both feeling exceptionally peckish and  delighted when our savoury selections are delivered.

Ballathie House Hotel
Savoury selection

Our waiter runs through what’s on offer, with on-point recall, from the top: sticks of Applewood smoked cheddar, homemade pear chutney with mini oatcakes.

Mum's the word

The next layer features a trio of finger sandwiches, egg mayonnaise, Coronation chicken, and soft cheese and cucumber slices. Alongside there is a dinky brioche seeded bun with miniature venison burger, savoury micro scone with smoked salmon and cream cheese and beetroot and tomato compote.

My vegetarian version is broadly similar, but with a vegetarian sausage in a bun, egg mayonnaise, cheese and pickle sarnie as well as the essential cucumber one. We polish off that lot, with a solitary smoked salmon scone all that remains.

Ballathie House Hotel
Ballathie House Hotel

I resist the temptation to tell my mum to clear her plate, like I was ordered to do as a child as I don’t fancy a cuff around the lug.

However Jeeves returns and politely asks if we would like to have it boxed up so we can take it home.

Scone and Jam

The next tea stand contains the sweet course, warm scones straight out of the oven and lashings of local sourced Blairgowrie raspberry jam and a pot of chantilly cream.

Ballathie House Hotel
Scone in seconds

I avoid the conundrum of about whether jam or cream goes on first by slapping them both on and making it vanish in seconds.

The next level features tiny jam jars filled with lemon or clementine posset topped by pomegranate seeds which we scoop out with teaspoons, and choux buns topped with a cracking crème brûlée caramel, each more delicious than the last.

The basement level holds two dainty macaron biscuits and a rhubarb and custard mini tartlet and yet another lemon curd fancy. Despite being petit portions by the end we are both full up and as afternoon tea with mummy  dearest was a great success, I’ve already booked in for next year.

Ballathie House Hotel

Ballathie House Hotel


Tel: 01250 883268

Catriona is a freelance writer based in the Scottish Borders, and a nominee for Food and Drink writer at this year's Scottish Press Awards.

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