French toast, streaky bacon, mixed berries, miso butter and maple syrup – this isn’t just any old brunch, this is brunch with a delicious punch.
That’s right, The Bank is a new cafe and restaurant that has everyone’s tongues wagging in Huntly as it brings a fresh twist on brunch, lunch and dinner – did I mention the beef fat sticky toffee pudding?
Breathing new life into the former Clydesdale Bank, the team at Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky, who run the venue, are fast becoming the toast of the town as they serve up locally sourced produce to mouthwatering effect.
Society caught up with Ian Logan, 53, the senior manager of whisky and hospitality at Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky, to get the lowdown.
So what is the story behind The Bank?
Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky acquired the premises back in July last year and since then we have been working to fully refurbish the building. So we opened our doors for the first time about four weeks ago. We’ve been really lucky as we’ve got a really strong team now and the feedback from customers has been really positive.
What is the ethos behind The Bank?
We’re really big into using local suppliers where possible for example we use Forbes Raeburn, a family owned butchers based here in Huntly and we also get our fruit and vegetables from TPS in Turriff. Also Downies of Whitehills, who are based just down the road, supply our seafood. So it’s really important to us that we support the local community.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I was previously the global whisky ambassador for Chivas for 20 years. It was brilliant as I travelled the world. I’m also very proud to be part of The Keepers of the Quaich (an exclusive and international society that recognises those that have shown outstanding commitment to the Scotch Whisky industry).
We’ve heard that your brunch menu has went down a storm?
Yes, we serve brunch from 8.30am to 2pm which has proved very popular. So you can get a full breakfast with bacon, sausage, grilled tomato, portobello mushrooms, baked beans, black pudding, haggis, potato scone and your choice of egg. We also have a vegetarian breakfast too.
Also popular is the French toast which is served with streaky bacon, mixed berries, miso butter and maple syrup. Also on the menu is eggs benedict and also egg florentine with chive hollandaise, buttered spinach, poached eggs and a breakfast muffin.
We also have smashed avocado on toast with poached or scrambled eggs, chilli, spring onion, sesame and sourdough bread.
Rumour has it that lunch is also a rather tasty affair?
Yes, we have a sandwich menu that is on from 12pm to 4.30pm. One of our most popular sandwiches is our battered hake goujon sandwich which is basically a fancy fish finger sandwich served on a soft roll with tartar sauce and baby gem lettuce.
We also have a panko breaded tofu sandwich with katsu ketchup and pickled vegetables. Other sandwiches include tuna mayonaise, roast ham, mature cheddar cheese, bacon and brie or pear and brie. There’s also a soup and sandwich offer and sides including beef dripping thick cut chips and sweet potato fries.
And what delights do you have on your evening menu?
Our evening menu is from 5pm and has starters such as citrus cured salmon with caper berries, pickled grapes, whisky ponzu and smoked crème fraîche.
Another starter that has went down well is our Scottish beef tartare with gherkin ketchup, pickled shimeji mushrooms, radish, nasturtium and kewpie mayonnaise. It’s important to mention that we use the off cuts from our sirloin to make the beef tartare as we want to use all the ingredients we have.
What about mains?
We’ve got chicken balmoral pie served with roasted carrots, creamed potato and black bull kyloe pepper sauce. Also on the menu is barbecued roasted cod with wild mushroom, asparagus, leek, chicken and green pepper corn butter sauce.
There’s also sumac roasted cauliflower with sweet potato puree, tenderstem, toasted seeds and tahini dressing. We also have three cheese macaroni and burgers.
Word on the street is that you’ve got an indoor barbecue?
Yes, we have an indoor barbecue where we cook our burgers and bacon. It gives the food a really lovely flavour. We also cook our cod on the barbecue.
The chef manager Ian Rainbird is so passionate about food and a lot of his dishes are Nordic and oriental inspired.
For those with a sweet tooth, what desserts are on the menu?
We have a lemon posset with earl grey shortbread and also our aged beef fat sticky toffee pudding. So again we use the beef fat left over from the cuts of sirloin and then we use that fat like a larder so in a way it’s like a suet pudding so it’s a little bit lighter and we serve that with our ice-cream which is infused in whisky.
Are coffee and cake fiends catered for too?
Yes we source our coffee from Figment and people absolutely love it. We also have cakes including vegan and gluten free choices.
How would you describe the atmosphere in The Bank?
It’s somewhere people can relax and be comfortable and feel at home. It’s important to us that we don’t rush people. The building itself is very unique as it used to be the old Clydesdale Bank which was designed by Archibald Simpson. Inside there’s lovely vaulted ceilings.
What do you enjoy most about working in The Bank?
Without a doubt, the people and the team. We do everything we can to support, nurture and mentor the team. Every time I’m in the restaurant I’ll go round the tables and ask people what they think.
You’ve only recently opened, but do you have any plans for the future?
We have also acquired The Castle Hotel in Huntly so we’re hoping to open that next year. We aim to make it one of the best hotels in the area to compete against places like Meldrum House.