A rural Scottish Highland north coast small (in stature but not spirit) hotel that specialises in wood fired, stone baked, thin crust Italian pizza? Yup. That’s us.
Like Marmite, this culinary avenue has historically divided our clientele – Why? What? No Steak Pie?! Now, however, after two years of honing our crust craft, we have finally convinced our sceptical guests and north coast neighbours that, actually, we made a pretty buono decizione.
We are regularly asked why we decided to overhaul the menu in 2017 and the answer is simple. Because, finally, we could. We have been working, refurbing and redesigning this wonderful building we call home, since 2007. The first wave of refurb took us from suspended polystyrene ceilings and Max Headroom Grundig TVs to double sized rooms and (gasp) flat screens. Constant repapering, painting and furniture investment has taken us through the years to 2016 when we realised that after nearly a decade of hard graft, we were actually busy and people wanted to stay. [Editor’s note: It does make a difference to a small business when there are people to enjoy the results of your rock breaking.]
Finally, we could break the pseudo-country house hotel mould that has enveloped the hotel since the turn of the last century (it was perfect in 1850, not so much in 2015) and focus on what we do best. Warm, friendly, welcoming, laid back and above all, informal, hospitality. We wanted a business that reflected our Melvich Hotel ethos. We live here for the beach, for the beautiful scenery, the lung busting fresh air, the huge skies and the incredible people and food, so why not reflect that?
Thus, Phase 3 was born and out went the 70s tartan carpet and in came the coastal beach décor and a thousand pounds worth of internal kitchen chimney flue for the huge, hand built, Megatron of a pizza oven.
Décor – tick. What next? Boss Chef took himself off to the Maestro Pizzarios of Pizza Punks in Glasgow (thank you thank you thank you) for some voluntary KP work, hours of research into purveyors of Italian dough flour and cured meats (KDI Elgin, we love you), taste testing and cheese eating, months of tomato sauce experimentation, cross pollination with all our local favourite produce and some head scratching over the all-important beach based menu names.
We are proud of our local roots, our north coast suppliers and the incredible larder on our doorstep but concentrating on wood firing our thin crusts does not make the two mutually exclusive. We lean heavily on our Sutherland red meat toppings, local fish & sea food, Highlands cheeses and Caithness bacon. And don’t forget, the world beating Mey Selections Rib-Eye steak, Cairn Hill Agriculture’s native breed Dexter Beef burger, Strath Halladale Venison Casserole and local daily Pentland Firth fish specials still have pride of place alongside our new recruits.
The restaurant may be closed for a few months while the temperatures drop, but come back in 2019 and enjoy all the fruits of Boss Chef’s labour and taste for yourself.
Our family have been “research” eating Melvich Hotel pizza on heavy rotation since February 2017 and if ever there was a seal of approval to take note of, our four year old daughter will still put a salami thin crust away weekly despite her many, varied and frankly indecipherable food tantrums. As far as we’re concerned, that’s three Michelin stars right there.