Husband and wife Frederic and Fiona Vasquez have taken over a popular restaurant in Monymusk after its closure was announced earlier this summer.
The couple, who are from Kemnay, operated from Castle Fraser Restaurant in Inverurie for more than a decade until July this year when they relocated to The Grant Arms Hotel at The Square.
Fiona, 47, and Frederic, 50, decided to move to the new premises due to the limited space available at Castle Fraser Restaurant with Covid-19 measures in place.
The food and drink facilities at The Grant Arms, which has been in Monymusk for more than 100 years, now comprise a courtyard cafe and a fine dining restaurant.
It ceased trading in April and opened its doors under Fiona and Frederic’s ownership on Sunday September 5. It took around two months to refurbish.
Frederic, who was born in France, says it was the space, proximity and a very big kitchen at The Grant Arms that appealed to the couple, as well as the building itself which was built in the late 19th century.
They closed Castle Fraser Restaurant for indoor dining in March 2020, however, offered three-course dinners for local home delivery during the various lockdowns.
He said: “We were running out of ideas for reopening the evening restaurant at Castle Fraser due to the limited space. We needed something bigger but close by to keep our customers.
“Not much needed to be done to The Grant Arms apart from some equipment and decorating, so it only took a couple of months from July to do it up.
“Fiona and I have also hired seven members of staff to work in the restaurant so far, but are looking to add to this.
“We really hope both the courtyard cafe and restaurant will be good meeting points for the Monymusk people.”
What food and drink is on offer?
The couple offer a three-course menu that alters every few weeks and guests are asked to bring their own bottle of wine, beer or champagne if they would like to consume alcohol. There is a corkage fee of £5.
The restaurant is open from 7pm to 10.30pm on Fridays, 10am to 4pm and 7pm to 10.30pm on Saturdays, and 10am to 4pm on Sundays.
Dinner service is bookable for one sitting only with diners being seated at 7pm.
As for the courtyard cafe, it is open for bookings from 10am to 3pm Wednesday to Sunday from next Wednesday (November 3).
Some notable dishes include beef filet bourguignon, loin of venison with braised cabbage and jus, and parsnip, spinach and mushroom wellington.
“Dishes are influenced by our French and Scottish heritage and made using locally sourced and organic produce when possible,” Frederic added.
“This includes milk from Forest Farm (Kinellar), eggs from Katy’s Eggs (Banchory) and meat from local butchers.”
Castle Fraser tearoom
Frederic and Fiona will continue to run the Castle Fraser tearoom from 10.30am to 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
“We decided to keep the tearoom open as we have built a great customer base,” Frederic said.
“People come from afar for Fiona’s cakes, scones, tarts and very popular quiches.
“All our cakes are homemade and we try to avoid any frozen food.
“So far the feedback we have had has been fantastic and we are getting all the Castle Fraser customers visiting us at The Grant Arms. They love the place.”
The accommodation at The Grant Arms will open next summer.