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Restaurant review: Fill up on quality scran at The Flying Stag at The Fife Arms in Braemar

The Flying Stag bar at The Fife Arms is a must visit in Braemar. Image: The Fife Arms
The Flying Stag bar at The Fife Arms is a must visit in Braemar. Image: The Fife Arms

There’s something about a long hike that just screams a big pub meal after.

It’s become a bit of a ritual for me. Walk for miles and miles, and reward myself with a hearty meal after. I like having the incentive to drive me to keep going, especially when hills, or the odd Munro, is involved.

Recently a group of friends and I headed to Loch Callater for a four-hour hike. The views in the Scottish Highlands are breathtaking, and seeing the loch frozen over in winter this time made the experience very different to our warm, sweaty summer walk.

We hadn’t booked anywhere to eat in the neighbouring village Braemar because we were unsure when we’d be finished, so as soon as we were done my boyfriend, I and another friend with her pooch headed for The Fife Arms.

Outside The Fife Arms in Braemar. Image: Kami Thomson

The Flying Stag

I hadn’t visited their The Flying Stag bar in so long and I craved some hearty food.

When we arrived it was busy, with every table – minus two long ones which we reckoned were reserved – occupied. I asked a member of staff what the likelihood of getting a table would be.

After conversing with her manager, she asked if we’d be fine with sitting through in the Fog House area where they’d happily serve us the same menu. Delighted to get a seat, we accepted and were shown through.

The Flying Stag is a cosy pub. It’s traditional with a modern flair to it, although I’ve not been in many bars where you’d find a stuffed deer jumping over it.

The Flying Stag is aptly named after the stuffed deer that hangs above the bar area. Image: Scott Baxter/DC Thomson

The Fog House on the other hand was softer. A big fireplace crackled as we sat down on the wooden chairs adorned with faux animal fur. Along the centre of the room hung a chandelier made up of around 700 pairs of antlers.

On the menu you’ll find pub classics and a few more adventurous dishes like venison,

I was eyeing up the fish and chips but didn’t quite fancy the £23 price tag for a large. Our server assured me that the small (£14) was more than sufficient and that they had also sold out of the large, so that was an easy decision.

Inside The Flying Stag. Image: Jim Irvine/DC Thomson

My boyfriend couldn’t see past the Highland venison burger (£19) as he was after something hearty, and our friend decided on the haggis, neeps and tatties (£15). There were a few other items out of stock, but luckily we were set on comfort food over fancier dishes.

While placing our order, I added a sneaky portion of black pudding bon bons (£7) which I knew the others would appreciate.

Isla, the border collie retriever cross who was lying under the table even got a bowl of water delivered which Heather, her owner, appreciated.

The Fog House area is a cosy, bright space. Image: Jim Irvine/DC Thomson

The food

A few others joined us to dine in The Fog House area which made it feel a bit more like a restaurant, rather than the three of us hanging out.

We’d all ordered pints of fresh orange and lemonade and gulped them. Time passed and we noticed that half an hour had been and gone. We appreciated it was busy, but the hunger was really setting in.

The Highland venison burger was quite the treat. Image: The Fife Arms

Just under 45 minutes later our dishes arrived. Forks were flying and we immediately got stuck in. The burger to the right of me looked incredible. The brioche bun was glowing and the thick juicy venison patty poked out all sides with melted Isle of Mull cheddar cheese running down the side.

It sat upon a chunky slice of beef tomato and a piece of crisp lettuce also shot out one side of the burger. The top half of the bun had a light scraping of mayonnaise

A horseradish slaw and skin-on chips sat to the side, as did a gherkin. All but the slaw was demolished.

My beer-battered fish was excellent, and for a “small” portion was rather substantial. It was perfectly cooked and the haddock flaked away. The batter was crisp and had that lovely crunch you love to hear.

You can choose between a large and small portion of fish and chips. Image: The Fife Arms

The fries were thin and sprinkled with a little vinegar and salt, and really hit the spot. I love a good tartar sauce and this one lived up to my expectations. I squeezed the wedge of lemon over the fish to open the flavours up a bit more, and the peas were polished off in no time, too.

My friend raved about her meal too, saying the haggis was lovely and peppery and the Royal Lochnagar whisky sauce that she poured over everything had a delicious slight whisky note to it. The tatties and neeps were incredibly soft and the sauce, which there was plenty of, continued to be lathered on throughout.

Vegan haggis was also available, but she fancied the real stuff on this occasion. There was a mention of skirlie, but we couldn’t figure out where on the plate it was.

Sometimes a hearty dish of haggis, neaps and tatties is all you need to put the world to right. Image: The Fife Arms

The six bon bons with the spiced plum ketchup were a hit with everyone. The outer shell provided a soft crunch and revealed the rich pudding inside. They were bite-sized, and because there was an even number, we managed to share them out without any arguments.

I loved the spiced plum ketchup and my boyfriend also used some to spread on his burger.

If you fancy something small, or a side, the black pudding bon  bons are an excellent choice. Image: The Fife Arms

While I thought I’d be geared up to order lunch the fish and chips had left me feeling more than satisfied.

None of us fancied sitting the hour-and-a-half drive home stuffed, so we reluctantly declined dessert when offered. Although the plum and apple crumble, sticky toffee pud and pear frangipane sounded incredibly tempting.

The pear frangipane. Image: The Fife Arms

The verdict

While service was a little slow and our food did take quite a while to arrive, we were aware we weren’t in the main dining area so did appreciate that things may have been a little slower as a result.

The food we ordered was classic pub grub, and that was exactly what we were looking for. Even the fancier dishes like the Blue Murder, pan-fried sea trout and the venison roast – which was sadly sold out – all sounded excellent.

I think what really makes The Fife Arms stand out is its unique setting. A small community village isn’t your usual setting for a five-star hotel, but local is certainly at the heart of this place, and their menus, which means exceptional produce is bound to grace your plate.


Address: The Fife Arms,  Mar Road, Braemar, Aberdeenshire AB35 5YN

T: 01339 720200


Price: £69 for a starter, three mains and four pints of fresh orange and lemonade


  • Food: 4/5
  • Service: 3.5/5
  • Surrounding: 4/5