With a quirky eating area and fantastic views to boot, our restaurant reviewer couldn’t resist a trip to Banchory Lodge.
Whenever the weather starts heating up Banchory becomes a mecca for north-east sun worshippers escaping the haar that often hovers around the coast.
Situated west of Aberdeen in Royal Deeside the bustling town is surrounded by fabulous rolling hills, rural countryside and even a fairytale castle.
We really enjoy walking and are regular visitors to Scolty Hill popular for hiking and biking all year round. The small hill houses a restored tower monument with a viewing platform – but beware climbing it if it is windy as by the time you reach the top it is gale-like.
Another favourite visitor attraction is the Falls of Feugh just a short walk from Banchory centre. These waterfalls on the River Dee is a popular place to watch salmon leaping as they return to their spawning grounds.
There is a great vantage point from the quaint footbridge and the water gushing down the rocks create quite a lot of noise and if you want to see the salmon then the best chance is between September to November and February to March.
After a morning of walking and exploring, food and sustenance is always required and I had prebooked a table at the Banchory Lodge “Sitooterie”. This new outdoor dining has been cleverly designed to the left of the hotel with views overlooking the car park and beyond to the lush green countryside.
There is a splendid decked terrace with an open-style barbecue kitchen with the most incredible aromas coming from it. Bright umbrellas are dotted around the tables if the sun gets too much.
Beyond this is a large covered area with even more dining tables, colourful pots of fresh flowers and a row of four quaint converted sheds for private dining. The sheds are all painted in bright colours on “sitooterie lane” and are full of cute nic nacs, wool blankets and I even spotted a chandelier in one!
Our table for three was outside on the terrace and right next to the ‘Ootside Scullery’ so we could watch the chef in action. The menu is a type of barbecue tapas which I absolutely love as you get a taste of everything. It was also nice to see local suppliers listed on the menu and on the lodges website.
The menu is split into four sections – bites, salads, bit on the side and puddings. From the bites section we plumped for the Phoenix bakehouse artisan breads, Buffalo Soldier Cauliflower wings, “Gaucho” rubbed flat iron steak and “Togarashi” rubbed chicken. From the “bit on the side” section we ordered the roasted heritage vegetables and the roasted mayan gold potatoes.
Lastly from the salads we went for the torched tenderstem broccoli with hazelnut, goats’ cheese and pear.
Relaxing with drinks and taking in the views while the chef cooked right beside us felt so far removed from the city and the global pandemic going on. Of course Banchory Lodge adhered to all the regulations and we felt safe at all times during our visit.
Before long our array of dishes were placed before us. The lean steak was mouth-wateringly good, juicy and full of flavour while the Japanese togarashi rub on the chicken provided a warming spice kick.
Both of these dishes shared the plate with tasty charred corn, vine tomatoes and rocket leaves. Our vegetarian son made light work of all the side dishes. The broccoli with hazelnut, goats’ cheese and pear was a plethora of flavours while the cauliflower wings were cooked with the right amount of crunch.
He did suggest that a vegetarian taco might be a more substantial vegetarian offering as they already feature fish and venison tacos on the menu. The fresh bread with flavoured oils and balsamic vinegar went down a treat with us all and we managed to mop up our various sauces with it too.
We really did struggle to finish it all – the portions of meat and chicken especially were very generous.
The terrace was fairly busy by now with families, a few well-behaved dogs and some groups of ladies catching up over lunch. The view over the car park was great for people watching as we watched a number of guests coming and going and also some walking down to the riverbank for some fresh air and photos.
The waitress who served us was particularly lovely throughout our visit and she laughed when we ordered the giant meringue and a few spoons. This dish was quite a work of art and went straight up on social media to make all our friends envious.
The massive fluffy meringue had a blue marble effect and was piled high with whipped cream, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. It was then topped with a pool of rich red fruity coulis – heaven on a plate!
What a lovely lunch in a perfect location and as we drove back along the tree lined driveway on the main road home we vowed to come back again soon – next time we may just have to book a “fancy shed” for an evening visit just as the sun goes down over the river – and quite possibly another meringue!
Address: Banchory Lodge, Dee Street, Banchory
Tel: 01330 822625
- Food = 4/5
- Atmosphere = 4/5
- Service = 5/5