It has been a while since I last ventured out to Banchory. I think the last time would have been when I was huffing and putting up Scolty Hill.
With life beginning to get back to some sort of “normality” I’ve been venturing further from home to get a bite to eat.
A first for me, my boyfriend and I had committed to a walk near Potarch and decided a trip to the Falls or Feugh Restaurant just down the road near Banchory was a must.
Phoning a little last minute to secure a table later that afternoon on Saturday, I was delighted they could squeeze us in.
We hopped in the car and took ourselves out of the city and into the depths of the Shire.
When we pulled up to the restaurant, we were met with a gorgeous cottage nestled on the edge of a picturesque backdrop. It was like a scene you’d expect to see on a postcard.
It was deceiving from the front as the venue travels back a bit and is long, parallel with the river which flows just behind it.
We scanned the Track and Trace, loaded up on hand sanitiser and made our way through to the restaurant. It is split into three different sections of which we ended up in the final one, a circular conservatory room with high ceilings.
A long chandelier draped in the middle of the room and was very much the centre piece. That was until you looked out the floor to ceiling windows to the stunning gardens.
A member of staff showed us to our table and left us to review the options. Another member arrived soon after and took our drinks order. Diet Coke for him, and Diet Irn-Bru for me.
Local artwork, which was for sale, was dotted around the main area and six or seven other tables with families and older couples had also had the same idea as us.
The menu was small, but there was plenty of choice and the staff were very attentive, bringing water for the table and relaying the specials.
I was tempted by the mushroom risotto special for main, and my boyfriend loved the sound of the Balmoral chicken. Looking at the starters, it was a no brainer for me when I spied the prawns and salmon. My boyfriend took a little longer to commit, eventually swayed by the goats cheese.
Our food didn’t take long to arrive and having sat admiring the setting outside for the majority of time, our starters were another welcome sight.
Firstly, I have to mention the presentation of the dishes. Not only were they served on beautiful tableware, but they were elegantly styled for being what I deemed as a casual place for lunch.
I was though a little confused when I saw popcorn on my dish. Popcorn with salmon and prawns? Could it be?
Tucking in, I decided to give the popcorn a wide birth initially, trying out the tangy, creamy Marie rose sauce which covered half of the tiny fresh water prawns and had been signed off with a sprinkling of paprika first. Small in size, the prawns were still mighty in flavour, and the oak smoked salmon slices were incredibly rich.
It was almost a modern version of a 70s or 80s classic and I was totally on board.
Every mouthful was savoured. The fish was fresh and the dish also had two wedges of cucumber which I chopped up and consumed with the prawns. A wedge of lemon was also on hand for me to squeeze over.
However, it was the pickled sliced rounds of shallots that brought a real punchiness to the forefront. I tried the popcorn, which was sweet and it actually worked very well balancing out the acidity with its sweetness.
The goats cheese was a round and had been cooked in the oven, meaning it was delicious and slightly gooey inside. It was served with an onion jam on the side made with shredded onion, all which came on top of a bed of salad – rocket with leaves and chopped and sliced red peppers and tomatoes.
Balsamic glaze was drizzled around the outside on the salad and the sweet dressing was beautiful. The cheese itself was incredibly soft and very smooth and paired excellently with the onion jam and the balsamic. Having had initial reservations, he was very much on board by the end.
We both loved our dishes and they weren’t too filling and they left us excited for what was to come.
It was the tower of chicken that caught my eye across the restaurant floor – that was when I knew the option of dessert was most certainly out of the window.
This huge of piece of chicken breast sat wrapped in bacon and was hiding a spicy, peppery haggis inside. While most of the chicken has been cooked well, it was a little dry at points, but we put that down to the sheer size of it.
The spicy haggis complemented the saltiness of the bacon and the skirlie was very enjoyable served on the side. There was a light gravy poured over it and roasted carrots and green beans were a welcome addition. The cube of dauphinoise potato with a piped mash potato on top let this dish down slightly. Although beautifully presented, the dauphinoise lacked taste however the the mash potato was very creamy and tasty.
My mushroom risotto was stunning. There was tiny cubes of nutty cheese seeded throughout and the creamy earthiness of it was just exactly what I wanted. There was plenty of mushrooms; stalks, tops, slices, and they were all so juicy. A few were on the chewy side, but I found out the mushrooms were dried porcini and dried oysters which then made sense as to why some had ended up chewier.
The risotto itself was superb – it was creamy, flavoursome and deceivingly filling as most risottos are. The sprinkling of cheese on top finished it off and the side salad, which came with a lovely vinaigrette, boasted chopped tomatoes, leaves, sliced peppers and red onion. The sharp flavours from the fresh onion and the creaminess of the risotto again balanced well.
As big a meal as we had just endured, there was no skipping dessert in my boyfriend’s eyes having eyeballed a Malteaser and salted caramel cheesecake with Scottish tablet ice cream.
I gave in and 20 minutes later joined him in devouring the whole thing.
The cheesecake has bits of broken up Malteaser in it but it was incredibly soft and smooth. The buttery biscuit base was hard to penetrate with our spoons but was very sweet and a buttery biscuit base. The Scottish tablet ice cream was lovely and mot too sweet and a single Maltesear poked out from the top of the dessert having almost been fully submerged.
Our only gripe would be the yellow sauce it came with wasn’t to our tastes at all. It tasted like a Solero ice cream and didn’t really work with the caramel sauce which was also present.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little different to dine, Falls of Feugh Restaurant is a must. On a lovely day it would make for the most picturesque alfresco dining, but having that view from the dining room is just as enjoyable.
The staff were very attentive and helpful and couldn’t have done more. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch there and have already confirmed with my boyfriend’s granny that we’ll be taking her out there soon.
We rounded off our trip with a walk along to the falls where the salmon jump just around the corner – nothing like dinner and a show!
And if you’re hoping to leave a tip be sure to take some cash as I could only leave my spare change – which luckily there was enough of.
Address: Bridge of Feugh, Banchory, AB31 6NL
T: 01330 824171