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Restaurant review: Hit the road for a winning line-up at Jaffs in Dunecht

Variety is the spice of life at Jaffs. Pictures by Chris Sumner.
Variety is the spice of life at Jaffs. Pictures by Chris Sumner.

We were on our travels once more through my son’s dedication to football, which sees us regularly traverse the north-east of Scotland in search of goals, glory – and a much-needed victory.

Sadly the victory was not forthcoming on a trip to Alford recently, but this away fixture threw up the opportunity to visit a restaurant we hadn’t dined in before.

Jaffs Bar & Restaurant is located on the main road through Dunecht.

A quick scan online brought up a couple of options in Alford itself but we didn’t think the football match would be finished in time to make the Sunday lunch sitting, so we settled on a halfway house between Alford and Aberdeen that offered all-day dining.

I had heard of Jaffs many times over the years but had never eaten there. And despite having driven through Dunecht numerous times, I hadn’t even clocked the restaurant, which sits on the main road through the village.


The original business has been serving the local community since 1965, when it was opened by Bill and Ella Jaffrey as the Dunecht Bar and Lounge. It became Jaffs in 2006 when it was taken over and turned into a restaurant by Norah Nesland and Peter Morrison. The latest change of ownership came in 2017 when head chef Sandy and his wife Sarah took the reins and they continue to serve fresh seasonal food using local suppliers.

Jaffs is a modern, stylish affair within a traditional building. The split-level dining room is flooded with natural light from large patio doors and sunlights in the ceiling.

I was struck by the statement thistle wallpaper on one wall and the interesting vases and ornaments, as well as the unusual artwork that hangs on the walls.

We were seated at a table by the patio doors by our waitress, who told us what the soup, curry and roast of the day were, before leaving us with our menus.

The bright dining room with the statement thistle wallpaper at one end.

The food

The menu has plenty of variety on offer, with vegan and vegetarian options available too.

Seafood also features heavily.

I was very tempted by the garlic and chilli prawn tacos, as well as the pan seared scallops, but was intrigued by the chicken tenders.

Until recently, I had never heard of chicken tenders. It was actually a fellow reviewer who brought them to my attention. So curiosity got the better of me and I opted to try them.

What arrived in front of me were effectively chicken goujons. They were large with a nice batter, and were covered in a sweet and sticky barbecue sauce which I really enjoyed. Salad and coleslaw accompanied the chicken.

The sweet and sticky chicken tenders.

I now know that “tenders” refers to the cut of chicken, prepared from the more tender part of the bird, underneath the breast.

So it was an educational choice and I gave a thumbs up to my posh chicken goujons, which I took little time in devouring.

My son enjoyed his veggie nachos which came with cheese, sour cream, salsa and coriander relish.

It was a colourful, well-presented dish with lots of flavours, and the hungry footballer finished the lot.

The colourful veggie nachos.

My wife thoroughly enjoyed her mushroom bruschetta from the specials menu – more on that shortly – which came with lovely little chunks of brie mixed through the mushrooms, while my daughter’s homemade cheesy garlic bread brought groans of approval from all four of us.

The main course was where I encountered the curse of any meal – food envy.

Just as footballers are told to never change their minds before taking a penalty, so it should be for reviewers choosing their food.

I had already settled on the haddock and prawn mornay from the main menu, when I had a quick scan of the specials again and realised I had missed the seafood linguine.

This is one of my all-time favourite dishes, so I ordered it with excitement.

My son had been caught between the two options so we agreed he would order the mornay and we could try some of each others’.

The wonderful haddock and prawn mornay.

When it arrived, the haddock and prawn mornay was a beautiful sight. A large helping of soft, tasty fish came peppered with little prawns and was covered in a delicious creamy cheese sauce, accompanied by a mound of mash and seasonal vegetables.

This dish was fantastic.

The sauce was so full of flavour and every element was cooked beautifully. Luckily my son couldn’t finish the hearty portion so I was able to enjoy a few forkfuls.

Unfortunately, my seafood linguine didn’t reach the same heights. While the smoked haddock, prawns and monkfish were all well cooked and enjoyable, the white wine sauce had little flavour and was a bit on the watery side, which let this course down.

The seafood linguine was let down by its sauce.

This was the only disappointment of the meal though, as my wife thoroughly enjoyed her sweet chilli vegetables, while my daughter’s homemade margherita pizza was a very authentic taste of Italy that we all rated highly.

The verdict

Overall we enjoyed our first visit to Jaffs. Almost every aspect of the food was of a high standard.

The service was efficient and friendly and the dining room was still fairly busy at 3pm on a Sunday.

However, Scotland really isn’t set up for hot weather, and with Jaffs having so many windows and it being a scorching day, the restaurant was so hot we were sweating as we ate. Some flies, and even a wasp, joined us for lunch as well, and that’s the reason I have taken a mark off for surroundings as otherwise I liked the restaurant interior.

Interesting vases and ornaments help create a stylish interior.

Locals and tourists dined and drank in a relaxed atmosphere and I was quite impressed such an eatery exists in a fairly small location.

It’s certainly worth stopping at Jaffs the next time you happen to be passing through Dunecht. We may well do so as the hunt for that elusive first away win goes on for my son’s football team.

David Dalziel is the features editor at the Press and Journal and Evening Express. He is also the editor of Your Life magazine, the weekend supplement in the Press and Journal on Saturdays. He has been reviewing restaurants for several years.


Address: Jaffs Bar & Restaurant, Dunecht, Westhill, Aberdeenshire AB32 7AW

T: 01330 860808

Price: £85.90 for two courses for four, plus three soft drinks


  • Food: 4/5
  • Service: 4/5
  • Surroundings: 3/5