Just when I think I’ve visited the cream of the crop when it comes to Aberdeenshire restaurants, I stumble across one that raises the bar even higher.
My boyfriend Josh and I have proved incredibly lucky in terms of the businesses we’ve dined at recently, some of which have been based in Banffshire.
It’s a patch that’s arguably often overlooked by north-east food and drink fans, but shouldn’t be.
There’s been Aspire, formerly a Portsoy kirk, Whitehills’ The Harbour Galley and, most recently, Allanshill near Fraserburgh.
Allanshill: A country escape with far-reaching views of the North Sea
I grew up in the country, so was delighted to hear that a restaurant (Allanshill) – which could be considered off the beaten track – was doing so well.
Chickens and cats greeted us after we parked the car outside the venue. This was a first, and I loved it. There were also two greenhouses, and I can only assume that some of the ingredients that feature on the menu are grown in them.
We soaked up the surrounding countryside before heading inside, which is where we met some of the team.
Allanshill has a lovely aura. You feel as though you’ve stepped into someone’s living room. Well, a living room that boasts a pool table and bar area, that is.
We were taken upstairs, which is where you’ll find spectacular views that reach as far as the North Sea coastline.
There was only one other table occupied at the time (6.30pm) and the couple had even brought along a set of binoculars. We debated asking for a go, but left them to it.
What’s the menu like at the restaurant?
Allanshill – open from Thursday to Sunday – serving food is a relatively new thing. I believe it’s been on the cards for guests since March.
The dish prices vary from £5.99 to £24.99, so we were smiling early doors. And I can’t emphasise enough that it isn’t just pub grub on the menu. However, if that’s up your street, you’ll be satisfied with the options.
We struggled whittling down our choices, so much so that we had to ask our patient server if we could have a few more minutes to decide on several occasions.
The sweet chilli prawns (£6.99) and pan fried mushrooms in a garlic and madeira sauce (£5.99) eventually prevailed. But the mention of haggis bon bons (£5.99) did excite us…
Smoked cod, steak and ale pie, macaroni and cheese and a mixed grill were among the mains, while the sweets included hot jam sponge, Belgian waffles and battered Oreos.
Feeling peckish yet?
Onto the food, which included fresh seafood and a hefty burger…
We sipped away at our Diet Cokes and admired the view whilst waiting for our food to arrive.
There was a cruise ship in sight but, believe it or not, I wouldn’t have traded with a passenger at the time. I was loving Allanshill (and my stomach was growling).
Suddenly, the air was filled with the aromas of Josh’s starter. It was time to tuck in.
Six uniform battered prawns had been coated in a sticky sweet chilli glaze that was both tangy and rich. You’re left with a slight heat on the back of the tongue, but nothing too overpowering.
The batter had a lovely crunch to it, while the prawns themselves were juicy.
Sliced cucumber, tomatoes, red onions and rocket were among the salad’s ingredients, adding to the vibrancy of the plate.
My starter was at the other end of the spectrum. It didn’t boast the same colour pallate or flavour profiles, but it was equally as divine.
Perfect for anyone after a wholesome dish to kickstart their meal, it consisted of sliced sautéed mushrooms on toasted brioche, all coated in a silky-smooth madeira sauce. The sauce had a smoky undertone to it, as well as notes of pepper and nuts.
Our only critique, a minor detail, was wishing there was a tad less sauce on the prawns to let that buttery seafood flavour shine through more.
Starters down, the mains came moments later – along with a larger party of roughly 14 diners.
It was great to see locals taking advantage of the superb restaurant. Like us, they complimented the view on several occasions.
For me, it was the chicken and chorizo casserole (£14.99).
A large bowl comprising chunks of pulled chicken and chorizo and sliced peppers and onions – all bathing in a thick, well seasoned sauce – was placed in front of me, served with carrots, potatoes and green beans.
The best way to describe the casserole would be comforting and delicious. The chicken fell apart and melted in the mouth, while the rich red chorizo provided smokiness and saltiness.
Josh was equally as pleased with his choice, the Little Piggy burger (£15.95) – one of several burger options available at Allanshill.
A smashed patty, bacon rashers, cheddar cheese, salad and a dollop of macaroni and cheese were sandwiched in a fluffy sesame seed bun.
The burger was demolished fairly quickly, however I did manage to bag a forkful of that piping hot, silky pasta before it was out of sight.
We also had sides of cheesy garlic bread (£2.50) and curly fries (£2.99). Both were faultless, but it’s safe to say I haven’t been that full in a long time.
You know the food is fantastic when you have to go back for more, despite being stuffed.
Keen to test out the desserts too, we ordered the French classic, crème brûlée (£6.99), and sticky toffee pudding (£5.99) to go.
Both sweet, indulgent and rich, all three courses proved winners.
For six dishes, plus two sides and four soft drinks (£1.50 each), our bill came to just under £70. I couldn’t believe it.
The value for money at Allanshill is exceptional, and not to mention the service was faultless from start to finish. I felt like I’d known the team for some time, despite just meeting them.
We couldn’t (and can’t) thank the staff at Allanshill enough for the experience. They’ve nailed the offering.
Address: The Croft Inn, Allanshill, Fraserburgh, AB43 7LS
T: 01346 561443
Price: £68.39 for two starters, two mains, two desserts, two sides and four soft drinks
- Food: 4.5/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 5/5