Simple pleasures are the gems many of us have unearthed during lockdown. Going for a walk in among the golden-leaved trees of autumn or for a crisp crunch along a favourite beach which revives and replenishes… and so does good food in great surroundings.

Don’t ever underestimate how going out for a hearty meal can improve how you feel – especially right now.

And if you are lucky enough to live in Perthshire or the surrounds (that’s tier 2) then you should check out the Dalmore Inn in Blairgowrie.

We ventured in to what was quite a busy wee place – not hugely expected what with all the current restrictions and fears.., but what a welcome sight it was.

The restaurant is strictly adhering to all the regulations – and we were directed to our seats by masked-up waitress, who double wiped our menus before handing them too us… it’s all very reassuring.

We shared two starters – Thai sweetcorn fritters and the sautéed smoked garlic and herb prawns – and the mouth-watering looking dishes were not a disappointment.

And oh mummy, daddy… the fritters are bursting with flavour – nothing too spicy but a definite Thai flavour and we are licking our chops at the sheer sensational low-grade heat of the spices. My friend and I love Thai cuisine, and it’s hard to get it quite right in a traditional Scottish restaurant but these little beauties are the real deal. Next we dive into the Sautéed smoked garlic and herb king prawns – king prawns as opposed to small langoustine; and again these are a delight – not too heavy and packed with punchy flavours.

For mains, I was seriously tempted by the Dalmore Inn bacon cheese burger – I do love a restaurant burger and I spy a gorgeous sounding Mac and Cheese on the menu but since I have overdosed in yumminess for the first course, I think I’ll go for the lighter sounding Sweet Potato, Butternut and lentil curry. And boy, am I glad I did. It’s very light and savoury – not a ‘curry’ curry if you know what I mean but I think that’s perfect for this kind of restaurant menu.

My friend opts for the whole tail scampi which is a large portion of succulent and juicy pieces of golden scampi… there’s also fish and chips and steak on this extensive menu – and just for today I wish I was one of those ruminant animals that has a few stomachs.. there’s not a dish on this menu I wouldn’t like to try.

But one stomach is all have, so it’s off to see if I can pack a little more into it with a dessert. I have a school friend who always says the best part of dining out is the ‘sweet menu’ – and always leaves room for her pudding. And now I know why.

I’m not traditionally a sweet-toothed person. I much prefer the savoury and the salty… you’re either one or the other. But since I’m reviewing the menu, I opt for the warm sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and ice cream. My friend goes for the chocolate and salted caramel mousse… and oh dear god.. it’s a sensory explosion on the tongue that has me scraping my plate despite being seriously full.

Our visit to the Dalmore Inn is like someone has wrapped me up in a cosy blanket and given me a big warm hug (ok socially-distant one, if you insist!). To eat at Dalmore is just what we all need in these COVID times – treat yourself while you still can.