WHAT better way is there to spend a Sunday afternoon than by building up an appetite for your roast dinner with a brisk walk?
So it was that me, my pal and my faithful dog took to the sand dunes of Balmedie for a stroll in the bracing, autumn air.
And although my four-legged friend could no doubt have run rings around us for much longer, after an hour on the beach we were starving.
A short drive along the coast to Newburgh brought us to The Udny Arms – a cracking country pub with a fine dining restaurant and some of the best views around.
We hadn’t booked so we weren’t able to take advantage of the window tables which look out over the River Ythan to Forvie Sands.
The restaurant was quiet as we’d come slap bang between lunch and dinner time, but it still maintained a nice friendly atmosphere with a chatty waitress and some old-fashioned golden oldie tunes playing in the background. I dived in with the chicken liver pate (£4.95) which came with crispy crostinis and a delicious onion marmalade-style chutney.
My chum had a prawn cocktail (£4.95) which was presented in a refreshingly modern style – on a plate rather than in a glass – and with a light dousing of Marie Rose, as opposed to the lashings of sauce you might expect. (Meanwhile, the dog looked mournfully in from the car window outside).
A Sunday roast was ordered and expectations were high by the time these plates were presented – mine beef (£11.50), her’s lamb (£12.50). The beef was a little on the fatty side, but there was plenty of it and it was juicy and tender. The lamb was pretty good, but I have to say the meat on our plates was not the star of the show for us.
That’s because the trimmings were out of this world! Buttery carrots, perfect roasties and squeaky Savoy cabbage in every mouthful – and a perfectly plump Yorkshire pudding for me, all complemented with a really fine gravy. I had kept my fat to one side and asked the waitress for a doggy bag – literally.
And if I wasn’t won over already, when she came back she’d chucked in the end of the joint of beef for him too. It’s the kind of place where the staff will go that extra mile for you and we left, full to bursting and with a bill for just £39.50.
From Tuesday to Saturday, the restaurant offers a fine dining experience rather than the relaxed Sunday roast we enjoyed. We’ll be back for that window seat next time.