by John Cairney

The rain in Crieff stays mainly right in your face and the night I was there, it was particularly on form. It was the elegance of the place that first caught my eye, even in a storm and the gracious, charcoal grey warmth of The Lounge drew me in. There was music in the French voice that greeted me. When I asked, ‘Do you by any chance serve soup?’ – it was four o’clock in the afternoon – an accent from Montmartre answered, ‘I am so sorry, the kitchen is closed, but we can offer you Cauliflower Soup with Whole Grain Mustard.’ Perhaps it was the delightful way she pronounced ‘cauliflower’ or the unusual stress given to ‘mustard’. Whatever, I was certain I was in Paris. It was so French – the richly-brocaded decor, the soft fabric cushions, the inviting armchairs, the all-enveloping leather sofa; a feast to the weary traveller. I had found myself in a Salon de Thé, a Wine Cellar of magic properties, and a patisserie of absolute delight, all available at the push of a door. My soup was nectar and the fruit tart that followed was positively sinful. What was even more agreeable was that I was allowed to remain there until the storm passed, a full two hours later so that I rose, refreshed and rested, and able to go back out into Scotland again. I understand that the big brother of this establishment is Yann’s Restaurant at Glenearn House nearby. All I can say is, if it bears any relation to its little sister in the Square, it must be parfait.