This Life: Pam Burton and Robert Latimer bring fine dining home

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Experience the true taste of Scotland at award-winning restaurant, Inver, on the shores of Loch Fyne

 words Natasha Radmehr photography Laura Tiliman 

Pam Brunton and Rob Latimer first met 25 years ago, through some friends. Soon after meeting, they became close and eventually began sketching out a life beyond the fug and grind of London. They harboured a dream of opening a restaurant together in Scotland.

In 2014, while at De Superette in Belgium, they learned a place called Inver Cottage was on the market back in Scotland. A restaurant housed in a former croft, it sat in tranquil solitude by the edge of Loch Fyne with only the ruins of a castle for company.

“Places like that are very hard to come by,” says Pam. They bought the business, and Inver was born.

Inver Restaurant sits on the bonnie banks of Loch Fyne in Scotland. A hotspot for tourists and locals looking for some respite for busy city life.
IMAGE | Alexander Baxter

The whitewashed stone cottage has exposed beams and is drenched in sunlight. Ercol tables are laid with hand-crafted crockery and positioned to absorb the distractingly good loch and mountain views of Scotland.

Scotland is laced throughout the design and the menu in Inver Restaurant on the shores of Loch Fyne.
IMAGE | Laura Tiliman

Inver creates a dialogue between the food and the landscape in Scotland – Loch Fyne langoustines and olive oil mayo; blackened celeriac with dumplings – and an easy artfulness to the dishes, which combine the flair of contemporary fine-dining with the restorative qualities of hearty, salt-of-the-earth cooking.

Inver Restaurant utilises natural Scottish seafood resources to curate a menu that reflects the surrounding culture.
IMAGE | Alexander Baxter

The staff are happy, relaxed. It feels serene.

Initially, it was anything but. Behind the scenes, the new business owners were living in a caravan and working all hours, Pam in the kitchen and Rob front-of-house. They opened on a shoestring, relying heavily on favours from pals to kit the place out.

Though they had a vision for what the restaurant could be, they had to introduce it sensitively so as not to alienate the patrons of Inver’s predecessor, who were accustomed to more traditional fare.

“It was chaos,” recalls Pam, who says they barely broke even for the first four years. “We didn’t have anywhere near enough staff, we didn’t know what we were doing, and we were still setting up bank accounts as we opened. When you’re stressed and overworked, you judge yourself very harshly.”

For Pam and Rob, excellence hinges on respecting the people they employ and the landscape they inhabit. Their staff are paid well and work reasonable hours. Kitchen waste is kept to a minimum; a nose-to-tail philosophy prevails.

Based in Scotland, Inver Restaurant is the fond workplace for a small team of committed and passionate chefs in Pam's kitchen.
IMAGE | Laura Tiliman

Inver is deeply embedded in their community on a personal and professional level, buying veg from their neighbour Kate’s croft, locally reared lamb and fresh catch from the loch. The wild herbs of Scotland are gathered outside. Their dishes, built on collaboration, tell stories about people and place.

People have come here and brought different food and ways of thinking that nationalism doesn’t acknowledge. But my Scotland is open.

These days, the Scotland-based chef has her own office on the upper floor of the house she and Rob now live in. Designed by her architect dad (also responsible for Inver’s stylish clutch of bothies), it occupies a plot of land a few minutes along the B8000 from Inver.

The couple’s own home kitchen, living and dining areas are open and connected too, with plenty of breathing space. Their sofa, from Loaf, faces a log-burner, creating ultimate comfort while surrounded by the Scottish countryside.

Pam Burton's home features wall-to-wall windows, giving her views to the surrounding Scottish hills and wildlife.
IMAGE | Laura Tiliman

Clad in inky-black timber with floor-to-ceiling windows, it is tastefully Nordic, open, peppered with pops of colour and stacks of records and books. In the bedrooms are cheerful quilts handmade by Pam’s mum, who also fashioned the macramé planters suspended from the ceiling.

“Scotland is not an isolated little place that we can claim as independent,” muses Pam. “It is intimately connected with far-flung landscapes and cultures.”

Inver Restaurant channels the natural flavours of the land through its food. Inspiration comes from countries around the world, but home is at its heart.
IMAGE | Alexander Baxter

“People have come here and brought different food and ways of thinking that nationalism doesn’t acknowledge. But my Scotland is open. We share tables, we welcome newcomers. We always have.”

INVER RESTAURANT & ROOMS

Cairndow PA27 8BU

t. 01369 860537

Visit Inver’s website | Follow Inver on Instagram | Find Inver on Facebook

Read the full interview in the May & June edition of Homes & Interiors Scotland. Buy your copy here.

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