The north-east coastline is speckled with first-class restaurants that allow you to not only appreciate a tasty meal, but also scenic far-reaching views.
While an ocean view is near impossible to top, in my opinion, visiting these venues is something I consider a rare treat.
And one that stands out in particular in the region is Banff Springs Hotel, located on Golden Knowes Road in Banff.
I have lost count of the times I have stopped by the hotel, with each visit involving a booking in the well-established restaurant, which serves up a wide range of dishes comprising fresh local ingredients from the land and sea.
From a selection of canapes and afternoon teas to wholesome meat options, including rump steak and pork chop, seafood and more, there is something to suit all tastes.
As soon as you catch that first glimpse of Banff Springs Hotel, I can assure you, you’ll be impressed. Even I still am to this day.
My recent visit was with my boyfriend, so the pair of us were guided to our table after being greeted at the reception area.
There are two separate areas at the hotel to enjoy food and drinks, the lounge bar and the restaurant itself. Both allow you to admire (you guessed it) the view, which includes seascapes, rolling hills, an abundance of natural flora and fauna, as well as the occasional sailboat. For that reason, I’m never overly fussy about where I’m seated.
The decor itself is sleek and modern, with hints of traditional Scottish tartan here and there adding to the hotel’s appeal.
Luckily for us the weather was on our side, so after placing our food and drinks orders we admired our surroundings.
In little to no time, our drinks were placed in front of us. For me, it was a Diet Coke, while my dining partner opted for a crisp, refreshing pint of Tennet’s. I’m sure he had been dreaming of it for days beforehand.
Now for the exciting part, the food.
The pair of us usually share a starter between us, however, our eyes were steering towards completely different dishes on this occasion. No hesitation, we dug straight in.
For me, it was the duo of vegetable pakora and samosas, served with a tempting salad and a fragrant bowl of sweet chilli sauce. The fried coatings on the pakoras and samosa were deliciously flakey, but it was the contents I was more intrigued to taste.
They weren’t at all what I was expecting. The first pakora contained a large, intact fried mushroom. Tender and juicy, my knife glided through it as if it were butter. While not everyone is an avid lover of mushrooms, I certainly am and consider them one of my favourite veggies, so I had a gleaming smile on my face.
Once I cut open the samosa (which was filled to the brim I might add), I was welcomed by an enticing mixture of shredded potato and onion and garden peas. Again, the components were perfectly cooked and it boasted a rich flavour that was neither too salty or spicy.
The third crispy delight, however, featured a chunk of broccoli that needed a few more minutes in the pan. I went on to eat the crunchy outer coating nevertheless.
My dining companion was met with a plate of piping hot brie wedges. Inside, they were creamy and buttery and boasted a hint of salt and fruitiness on the tongue, which was complemented by the golden brown crunchy coating.
Again, it was served with a salad that was very fresh and boasted a range of vegetables.
It felt like no time at all passed before the mains were promptly served. Excited to tuck in, I eyed up both our dishes – the roast chicken served with haggis and a Scotch fillet steak.
My favourite dish of the night had to be the roast chicken. A classic that is oh-so-simple to create, yet just as easy to get wrong. I was expecting it to be both tender and moist (as anyone would) and I was not left disappointed. The chicken tore away with every forkful and the coating was packed full of flavour.
Served with a soft yet crisp dauphinoise potato, rich but buttery haggis and a delicious mushroom and whisky sauce, the dish was an explosion of flavours. I poured the sauce over the components, watching the soft mushrooms fall as they left the saucière, and savoured every mouthful. It’s something I would order again and again.
As I scoffed down my main I caught a glimpse of my boyfriend, who was enjoying his just as much as I was. The steaks are sourced locally from John Stewarts Butcher and Forbes of Raeburn, so I too was excited to give it a try.
The steak, rare, had a slight smokiness and char to it. I watched my boyfriend press down on it with the side of his knife to judge whether or not it was cooked to his liking. It was.
He sliced it open to find a red centre and it was gone in moments, but not before his peppercorn sauce was added. This was creamy with a spicy peppery hit and tasted divine with the dishes accompaniments of homemade chips, tempura onion rings, a flat cup mushroom and seasonal greens.
As you can imagine, it didn’t take us long to get through our mains.
In my eyes, Banff Springs Hotel cannot be faulted.
Whenever I stop by, it always seems to surpass my expectations and impress not only myself but also those I’m accompanied by.
Their talented team of chefs place a real emphasis on seasonality and locality, using nature’s larder to create mouth-watering plates that not only look the part but taste the part too – and that really shows.
Address: Golden Knowes Road, Banff, AB45 2JE
T: 01261 812881
Price: £57.10 – two courses for two plus one soft drink and one alcoholic drink
- Food: 4/5
- Service: 4/5
- Surroundings: 4/5