Holidaying at home has certainly inspired us to explore our local area, and what hidden gems we have discovered along the way.
We have enjoyed walks along the rugged coastline south of Aberdeen wandering around the quaint coastal villages of Johnshaven and Gourdon.
Next on our wishlist was St Cyrus beach, and on an exceptionally sunny Sunday we were literally blown away by this spectacular shoreline.
With three miles of golden sands and magnificent cliffs brimming with wildflowers, this really is well worth a visit.
We took the cliff path down to the sands and certainly worked up an appetite, as it was quite a hike on the way back, but the views were worth every step. The water sparkled in the golden sun as the birds soared high above the clifftops.
Our choice for dinner that night was the Creel Inn at Catterline, just under 30 minutes’ drive from the beach.
It must be years since we have visited, and we were excited to return to the small fishing village perched on the hill.
The car park has picnic tables and chairs with pretty views over the fields and trees, and some colourful flower boxes brightened up the concrete underfoot.
Inside, the place hasn’t lost its rustic charm, with original wooden beams and cosy wood-burning stoves. However, with the sun still shining bright, we managed to secure an outside table and perused the menus with cooling soft drinks.
Naturally, there were so many seafood options, including a seafood platter, breaded hake with chorizo and freshly-caught lobster.
They did have other enticing dishes, too, including steaks, burgers and chicken.
For starters, my husband had the Cullen skink and declared it the best he has ever had.
Thick, creamy and packed full of smoked fish, potatoes and leek – just how he liked it. Our vegan son dived right in to his bruschetta, beautifully presented with a side salad and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
After passing on a starter, I was feeling rather ravenous, and my eyes lit up as the young waiter carried our main courses to the table – quite a walk from the kitchen, so kudos to the waiting staff juggling those heavy plates.
My monkfish and prawn curry was served on a large, square, white plate and was accompanied by herb rice and naan bread. The fish had a very mild flavour and almost meaty texture, while the prawns were plump and juicy. The curry sauce was rich and tomatoey and had just the right amount of spice for me – perfect for dipping my naan bread into.
Silence had kicked in around the table as our other dishes of haddock and chips, lamb cutlets and a vegan strudel were all being devoured.
The haddock was fresh and full of flavour, nestled inside the healthier option of breadcrumbs rather than batter.
The lamb cutlets were cooked perfectly, while the accompanying onion gravy was described as “amazing”.
Served with a separate pot of dauphinoise potatoes, full of cream and garlic and on a bed of ratatouille, this was polished off in no time.
The vegan main course was another superb offering – vegan strudel.
This was a very imaginative dish, and it was great to see something different from the usual veggie options.
It looked a bit like spring roll using Feuile de Bric pastry, which is similar to a filo pastry.
Encased within this was chopped butternut squash, kale and vegan feta. This all rested on a delicious rich tomato sauce with broccoli and asparagus on the side.
A triumph of a dish, full of flavour.
We sat back and relaxed in the evening sun, debating over a dessert order.
My son was delighted to see yet another fabulous vegan option, a salted caramel cheesecake served with vanilla ice cream, while his sister couldn’t go past her usual sticky toffee pudding.
The desserts were once again elegantly laid out on long white serving dishes and garnished with fresh strawberries.
The cheesecake just melted in the mouth, full of sweet goodness, while the sticky toffee sponge was light and fluffy – although it maybe could have done with another dollop of the incredibly moreish toffee sauce.
We all agreed that the food at The Creel Inn was outstanding.
Next time we may have to sit inside beside the wood-burning stove rather than a table with a view, but this is the north-east of Scotland.
It was a pleasure to see some exciting vegan options and the freshest seafood, which not only tasted good but also looked good – we will be back.
Address: Catterline, Stonehaven, AB39 2UL
T: 01569 750254
- Food: 5/5
- Service: 4/5
- Surroundings: 4/5