Handsome Cameron House on the shores of Loch Lomond has had a rocky few years: rebuilt after the devastating 2017 fire only to reopen during a pandemic. The hotel today is brighter and more open-plan than its previous incarnation, beloved cornicing has been painstakingly reproduced, while bold Timorous Beasties wallpaper and gleaming wood brings a welcome art-deco vibe. 

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The five star resort spans 400 acres of gorgeous grounds, and includes a spa, a family-friendly swimming pool complex, an 18-hole golf course and a marina where you can take a decadent champagne loch cruise around Inchmurrin island on the elegant ‘Celtic Warrior.’

Overnight guests can choose to stay in the newer hotel wing, a self-catering lodge or a sumptuous suite in the ‘Auld Hoose.’

Cameron House 2.0 also has a new fine dining restaurant. Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond is no longer; instead it’s Tamburrini & Wishart as long-term colleague and protégé Paul Tamburrini joins the top billing.

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We’re welcomed to Tamburrini & Wishart with a glass of fizz and three inventive little canapes: crisp salted doughnuts, dashi macarons and scallop roe crackers. After the glamour of the hotel, the restaurant itself is surprisingly Scots-Baronial, decked out in rich reds and tartans. As eyes adjust and lights are dimmed we relax into it.

I ask Paul Tamburrini how the collaboration with Martin Wishart came about. “It was a no-brainer,” he says. “When he asked me to do it, all I said was: ‘Great, when do we start?’.” This relationship between two of Scotland’s top chefs spans several decades and many of Martin’s restaurants. “He’s been my boss, my mentor, my friend, he’s a mixture of everything, rolled into one, and of course an incredible chef,” says Paul.

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While both names are on the door, it’s Tamburrini on the pass. “I never miss a service,” Paul says, “and I check absolutely everything that goes out of the kitchen.”

 “Martin guides me from afar,” Paul explains. “If I need any advice he’s always on hand. He comes in and chats with us once a month, and as long as I’m not doing anything silly he’s cool,” he laughs.

Back in the restaurant it’s soup and bread to start, as served in many a tartan dining room the country over. But fear not, this deep onion consomme places us firmly in fine dining territory. Across the table a duck, tea and shiitake broth also invokes murmurs of delight. It’s accompanied by bouncy hunks of sourdough and four handmade salt-flecked butters.

Over the perfectly executed courses there are many highlights: the single Orkney scallop, the largest and plumpest I’ve ever seen, perfectly caramelised, with brown dashi butter and a sprinkling of caviar; the baked cauliflower with Tunworth cheese and truffle – like the best crispy cheese on toast you’ve ever had.

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A favourite is the tender Scottish lobster, which arrives in a delicate lemongrass and spring onion broth.

The cheese course includes a visit to the table from passionate restaurant manager Miroslava Semanová with her specially-commissioned, atmosphere controlled cheese trolley. Choosing is nigh impossible so she prepares us a generous plate that includes a crunchy 48-month aged Gouda, a minerally Taleggio, a Manchego patterned by the grape leaves it was aged in, and a creamy buttery gorgonzola, with a little sweet damson paste. Tamburrini’s team is cherry-picked, and many have come from Michelin-starred restaurants.

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Paul says: “I’ve a great kitchen team and a just as great team out front. I never tell them how to do their job, the same in the kitchen, I just guide them, it’s like me and Martin.”

His kitchen is, “really progressive and creative”. He says: “The guys are empowered to have a voice and put stuff on the menu. We constantly test and develop ideas and then we eat together and talk about it”.

Paul surprises me by citing Instagram as a key source of inspiration in the kitchen, for the speed that new ideas can reach around the world from other top kitchens. Currently Paul’s team are into Japanese ingredients.

“I love these clean, umami flavours,” he says, “not so many butters and creams like back in the day.”

Provenance is key for Paul and a supplier list comes with the menu; ours includes Wild Hearth bakery for bread and Burnside Farm Foods for game.

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“The restaurant is produce-led,” Paul explains. “As I’ve got older I’ve realised that less is more sometimes. I feel very confident when we’re working with these amazing suppliers. It makes my job so much easier.”

Paul makes his job, and his dishes, sound simple, but doing simple this well is not easy. As is his intention, the top Scottish produce is centre-stage, not buried under foams and rich sauces, but prepared with creativity and a sense of fun too.

A case in point: our rich chocolate brownie dessert, made with chocolate from Glasgow-based Bare Bones chocolate, is paired with a creamy Jerusalem artichoke ice cream and shavings of black Wiltshire truffle. Unconventional but a triumph. In his kitchen Paul Tamburrini is creating the right conditions for the ingredients to really shine.

Cameron House, Loch Lomond, West Dunbartonshire, G83 8QZ