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Restaurant Review: Exciting flavours and presentation to boot at The Copper Dog at Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside

Pan fried cod fillet with the scallops.

While on a recent trip north to Speyside, my boyfriend and I were left with the predicament of finding somewhere cool, but casual, for lunch.

It had been a flying overnight visit after touring the Macallan Distillery the day before.

A quick Google highlighted the Craigellachie Hotel was a short drive from the Dowans Hotel where we were staying, so I called ahead to check if they had any tables around noon, which they did.

The Copper Dog at Craigellachie Hotel.

Although hidden in a sea of green, the hotel, which is a mustard yellow, can be seen clearly from the main road despite being surrounded by trees.

Pulling in off the road, we’d booked to eat in the hotel’s Copper Dog bar on the basement floor. It serves a casual food offering from what I could remember, although I was yet to be surprised by some of the dishes they had.

On arrival we checked in via Track and Trace and were shown to our table in the corner by the window.

It is olde worlde with a quaint attractiveness to it. The long bar was lined with bottles galore and there was fishing rods, wooden furniture and a multitude of artwork all contributing to the overall setting.

The bar in The Copper Dog.

The waiting staff took our drinks order and left us to study the choices on the paper menu.

From oysters to hand dived scallops, not to mention salmon sashimi and more, I didn’t remember the offering to be as elaborate as this – or to feature as much seafood either. Although the pub classic beef burger remained as did the beer battered haddock and the steak.

I was impressed with the menu, albeit some of the starters were pricier than I remembered from my last visit a few years back.

Inside the venue.

Drinks in hand, we decided to share our starters and ordered a main each.

To begin, we’d opted for the seared Orkney hand dived scallops in a garlic and chilli butter (£14) and the lobster mac and cheese (£6).

And to follow, the barbecue spiced chicken with coleslaw and Copper Dog sauce (£14.95) and the pan fried fillet of cod with padron peppers, octopus and a red pepper hummus (£18). My other half ordered a portion of chips (£3.25) on the side seeing as his dish didn’t come with any.


The food

It wasn’t overly busy when we first arrived which gave us plenty of time to admire the space. There was a mix of seating, plus plenty of art to check out – lots focused around man’s best friend, with sketches of dogs along the back wall.

Others who were staying in the area popped in, hoping they’d bag a table for the evening. When they were told the restaurant was full, many decided to plonk themselves on a table and enjoy lunch instead. One woman from America vouched she’d eat here before returning home from her holiday – and that she did.

When our starters arrived I could see my boyfriend’s face light up in envy. The scallops in front of me looked exquisite, while his macaroni cheese looked rather at home on the rustic table it was placed.

The hand dived Orkney scallops.

Three massive grilled scallops covered in fresh garlic and chopped green and red chillies looked incredibly inviting in their shells. My knife glided through them and the pieces melted like butter in my mouth. The sharp garlic with the slightly fiery chilli was just the ticket.

Not only did it look the part, it tasted it, too.

His mac and cheese was incredibly creamy and although it wasn’t heavy on the cheese, the thick pieces of pink and red lobster shone through. There were about seven chunky pieces of lobster throughout and the pasta was soft and light.

The top was herb crusted and added a little crunch.

Lobster mac and cheese.

Our mains arrived around 15 minutes later and looked just as appealing.

My pan fried fillet of cod was huge. The piece of fish was very thick and beautifully cooked inside, although it was slightly over cooked on the outside. It flaked away easily, big thick flakes tearing away as I worked my fork through it.

The red pepper hummus was very soft and there was plenty of it. I used the hummus to lather the cod in and the handful of vibrant padron peppers, which had been fried in oil, added a new flavour to the mix.

The octopus tentacles were very meaty, full of flavour and surprisingly sweet and juicy. While they were slightly crisp on the outside, the grilled octopus was delicious and the dish in general was very filling.

The pan fried fillet of cod with the octopus, padron peppers and red pepper hummus.

The barbecue chicken was a single large sliced chicken breast. It was succulent with the outside skin chargrilled. The Copper Dog sauce tasted like a Korean barbecue sauce and went incredibly well with the fresh, crunchy coleslaw.

An unnecessary addition, the side of fries was plentiful and they were lovely and crisp throughout the bowl.

The chicken dish.

I was absolutely stuffed and couldn’t polish off the last of my cod. But never one to turn down a sweet treat, my boyfriend ordered the Copper Dog panna cotta for dessert.

Again, the wait time on this was minimal.

The panna cotta was light and punchy in flavour. The Copper Dog whisky they used to make it was quick to identify on the palate, and was a bigger kick than expected. It was served with edible flowers and seasonal sliced strawberries. A stick of homemade shortbread covered in granulated sugar was a welcome addition, bringing a crunchy texture into the mix and balanced out the sharper whisky note.

I left him to polish off the rest after a spoonful or two.

The Cooper Dog panna cotta.

The verdict

While the meal was a little pricier than a usual pub grub pit stop, the food at the Copper Dog was second to none.

The flair in the kitchen to bring even the simplest dishes to life and presentation was inspiring to see, and it is clear the talent in the kitchen like to show customers what they can produce.

Outside the Copper Dog.

With the high quality of standards set by those before them, the new members of the team have just as much to give and have certainly got a lot of ideas to put forward with unique, unusual pub dishes making their way onto the menu.

If you are in the local area and fancy a bite of something different, be sure to pop the Copper Dog on your list of places to try.


Information

Address: Victoria Street, Craigellachie, Aberlour, AB38 9SR

T: 01340 881204
W: www.craigellachiehotel.co.uk

Price: £78.42 (including a 12.5% service charge of £8.72)

Scores:

  • Food: 4/5
  • Service: 4/5
  • Surroundings: 4/5

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