If the word Badenoch’s doesn’t ring any bells with you, then the likelihood is you live out with Moray.
I am north-east born and bred, so I’ll admit the bar and restaurant wasn’t on my radar until roughly four months ago.
My role is to thank as I had the pleasure of revealing that the business had been taken over by new owners after being closed to the public at the tail end of 2022. They were reopening with a brand spanking new look and updated menus.
In a nutshell, the transformation looked exceptional. However, I could only appreciate it in pictures. That was up until recently as I finally got round to securing a table to test out the offering.
Table confirmed – after messaging the Badenoch’s Facebook page the week prior – and my two good friends more than up for joining me, I was excited for the date to arrive.
Badenoch’s: An escape to the tropics in Elgin
The journey took just over an hour. It would have been less, but given that the route comprised mostly of country roads, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what type of vehicle I found myself trailing on a few occasions.
Elgin itself was relatively quiet, but a good deal of tables were occupied at Badenoch’s.
Empty plates and cocktail glasses were plentiful, already giving off a positive impression on the business’ food and drinks.
The interior was spacious and adorned with artificial plants, mirrors and wall art. You feel transported to the tropics and, at points, we forgot we were in Elgin.
Badenoch’s even has an outdoor space which is near completion, and this has the same effect. I was so impressed by what the owners – who are well-known in the area for their mobile cocktail bar service The Cocktail Den – have achieved.
Both in and outdoor areas are sure to prove incredibly popular in what remains of the summer period.
Cocktails and small plates
I was on driving duties, but Abby and Jodie were excited to catch a glimpse of the extensive cocktail offering, to say the least.
It didn’t take long for them to settle on the Roxanne (£8.95), featuring vodka, Chambord, peach schnapps, fresh lime and berry syrup, and a strawberry mojito (£9.95). There are various other mojito flavours that diners can choose from, so feel free to ask your server which ones are available on your visit.
The first was described as sweet and fruity, while the second was on the more fizzy and refreshing side.
My water with a slice of lemon was needed given the warm weather, but I already can’t wait to visit again and be sipping away at a tipple.
The food menu is split into sections comprising small plates, main dishes, flatbreads and light bites and sides and loaded fries.
The flatbreads and light bites are only available from noon to 5pm, so they weren’t an option considering our booking was for 6.45pm. However, our eyes were already set firmly on the small plates.
Considering you can bag three for £20, it’s a steal. As there were three of us, we thought it best bagging six to try as much as possible.
The first to be placed in front of us – after a brief wait might I add – were the signature loaded nachos, halloumi fries and sesame pork belly bites.
The portion sizes were perfect.
The stack of halloumi fries had been topped with sour cream, fresh chilli, tomatoes, spring onions and guacamole. Buttery and mildly sweet, the guacamole paired beautifully with the tangy sour cream while the chopped veggies added some texture.
Abby admitted she isn’t always fond of halloumi fries, but said these ones were ideally cooked.
Identical toppings had been slathered across the nachos, which were homemade. The large tortilla chips had a similar texture to that of melt-in-the-mouth pastry, but less crumbly and crispier.
As for the Asian-style pork belly, the dish comprised four large uniform bites which sat side by side on a bed of salt and pepper vegetables, all coated in a sticky glaze. Tender and meaty, I had to secure two. I would have happily devoured the lot.
The addition of spring onion, chilli and sesame seeds made the plate even more aesthetically pleasing. There was a pattern here as every one of the six dishes was equally as inviting.
Diners came and went during our time in the restaurant. Our servers could not have been more helpful and we reassured them our experience hade been stellar whenever they stopped by.
The remaining dishes included the gambas, satay chicken skewers and Baddie’s bao buns.
Starting out with the latter, our two pillowy steamed bao buns were served alongside thinly sliced cucumber and a celery salad, as well as separate bowls containing hoisin sauce and sweet chilli chicken.
If sweet teriyaki beef strips or sticky grilled pork belly are more to your tastes, you can request either of these options instead.
We loved being able to build our own buns with a ratio of ingredients to our choosing.
The meaty element was remarkable, proving slightly crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The sauce was initially sweet and slightly sour, before a nice heat came through which lingered on the tongue.
Salty and tangy, the hoisin sauce balanced the heat out wonderfully.
Just when we thought our top dishes had been decided on, our final two knocked it out of the park.
My favourite turned out to be the gambas – king prawns cooked in olive oil, garlic, paprika, cherry tomatoes and fresh lime tomato sauce.
There was a rich garlic flavour as well as plenty of smokiness, while the addition of lime added a lovely citrus taste. Despite marinating in their fellow fusion of ingredients for some time, there was still a subtle sweetness coming from the soft prawns.
Served with two slices of toasted bread, they was perfect for dunking in the remaining sauce.
Last but certainly not least was the satay chicken skewers. I’m often hesitant when it comes to satay as I find the peanut flavour to be far too overpowering on near enough every occasion. This time around, it was not.
The sauce was thick, silky and tasted very similar to a curry sauce rather than a satay sauce to begin with. However, that distinctive peanut flavour did come through after a few bites (toned down that is).
Again, the cook of the meat was faultless and the chicken tore away with ease.
We ate until it was physically impossible to continue before requesting some boxes to pop our leftovers into.
I would be a fool to rate my experience at Badenoch’s any less than five stars all-round.
The three of us agreed that it was the best meal we have had in a very long time. For me, it’s up there with the most outstanding I have had to date.
The food was faultless, while the space itself was welcoming and unique to any other hospitality business nearby.
I also cannot thank the string of attentive servers we crossed paths with during our experience enough. They all went above and beyond to ensure we (as well as our fellow diners) felt at home.
Address: 178-182 High Street, Elgin IV30 1BA
T: 01343 591390
Price: £58.90 for two cocktails and six small plates
- Food: 5/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 5/5