Welcome to April in Scotland. The school holidays started and the weather deteriorated – four seasons in one day seems to be the norm.
However, the sun made an appearance just as I was approaching the rural town of Alford and I admired the beautiful snow-capped mountains in the distance.
One of my oldest friends lives in Alford, so a long overdue sleepover was planned and the chance to visit a very popular restaurant, the Kildrummy Inn. It was my friend’s first visit and I was feeling a little proud to show her this little piece of heaven in rural Aberdeenshire. I have been there a few times in the past and sadly had to cancel an overnight stay with friends due to lockdown.
The Kildrummy Inn isn’t just a restaurant but a restaurant with en suite bedrooms that boasts splendid views across the Aberdeenshire countryside.
On its website it lists the awards that the restaurant and executive chef David Littlewood have won. This is an impressive list including two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence, recommended in the Michelin Guide and, of course, David has the highly acclaimed title of MasterChef of Great Britain.
As we drove the short, 15-minute journey from Alford, our chat turned to what we fancied to eat.
Our mouths were salivating merely at the thought of some of the dishes we may be enjoying. Stepping into the cosy lounge bar is a treat in itself. A roaring wood-burner and sumptuous leather chairs were just so inviting and we felt rather special as our coats were taken and we relaxed with a delicious glass of merlot.
The small bar looked very well stocked, whisky lovers would have a field day with the choice of malts, while they also stock plenty of locally brewed craft ales and lagers.
Everywhere around the bar there is something to see, with fun artefacts dating back to the inn’s history as an original coaching inn and a farm. Large antlers and pictures of the inn and wildlife adorn the walls, and tartan carpets add that Scottish touch.
The menus were handed to us on small wooden boards and we went quiet for a few minutes – this is highly unusual for us.
There were five starters, eight main courses and five desserts on offer, but even then we found a quick choice almost impossible.
Ham hock and parsley terrine, chicken liver parfait and a goats cheese and chive arancini were just some of the starters on offer, while rib-eye steak, lamb with lentil ragout or fish dishes with fillet of sea trout or beer battered haddock were included within the main courses.
Choices made, our friendly waitress guided us to our table, a window seat in a small conservatory attached to the main dining room. Soft lighting, candles and bare wooden tables gave the room a warm, relaxing feel, while some thriving plants, cushions and wood panelling finished off the space.
For starters, we ordered the basket of homemade breads served with whipped butter and smoked salt and a balsamic and rapeseed oil.
The warm bread had delicious herbs through it while the salty butter was so creamy and moreish. Our other starter, wild mushrooms, was served with tarragon butter and topped with a poached egg. I remember eating mushrooms on toast in my student days but this dish was on another level. The egg yolk oozed over the mushrooms and then soaked into the brioche.
What a delight of a dish and something that I am going to try to recreate for a Sunday brunch. Next up was an amuse bouche, a broccoli and asparagus soup served in a quaint teacup and saucer.
The sleet started battering the windows beside us so this was perfect timing for this warming comfort food, especially as we still had some of that homemade bread for dunking too.
For the main event I eventually plumped for the beef “two ways”. Elegantly presented on a large serving plate, slices of tender beef rested on an array of vegetables including carrots, turnip, broccoli and sweet and tangy caramelised shallots.
My favourite had to be the shredded slow-cooked beef croquette which added some crunch to the dish. The accompanying jus was flavoursome but not too heavy to overpower the delicious flavours of the perfectly cooked ingredients.
Across the table the chicken, again presented like a winner’s dish on MasterChef, was given the big thumbs up. Two portions of chicken stuffed with truffle and leek perched on creamy mash, green beans and carrots.
The truffle was very subtle and the chicken topped with crispy skin was tender and moist.
A highlight was the creamy, almost glossy sauce, that was drizzled over the chicken – if only we had kept some of that bread for mopping it up.
Empty plates cleared away we asked for a break before dessert. Nothing seemed to be a problem for the staff who told us to take as long as we liked as the table was ours all evening. It felt great to relax and enjoy the company while finishing off our wine.
I am, of course, “the pudding queen”, so I knew what I was having as soon as I ordered my starter. There were only two hot desserts on the menu which we duly ordered, but there was also cheeses and homemade ice creams as well as a lemon posset, my husband’s favourite.
I can honestly say I had one of the finest desserts I have ever tasted. A warm, gooey chocolate brownie with Horlicks ice cream, chunks of honeycomb, pistachio and boozy cherries. So many flavours danced around in my mouth, I didn’t want it to end.
My friend devoured her more traditional sticky toffee pudding with plenty warm sticky toffee sauce and ice cream. This dish was perfectly sweet and delicious.
Kildrummy Inn is a gem in Aberdeenshire. The bar is full of character and the charming staff and exquisite food make any journey to it worthwhile.
The waitress told us they can also offer tasting menus with paired wines for small groups.
What a celebratory treat that could be!
Lesley Taylor is a staff restaurant reviewer. She works in the DCT Media events team and is based in Aberdeen. Lesley has been reviewing restaurants across the region for more than a decade.
Address: Kildrummy Inn, Kildrummy, Alford
T: 01975 571227
Price: £95 for three courses for two, two glasses of wine and a bottle of water
- Food: 5/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 4/5