It must be a sign of old age when you choose to go for a walk and then have lunch rather than going out at night now.
With the nights darkening much earlier, I hate to admit it but this will be my perfect Sunday for the next few months.
Scotland has fantastic walks for everyone, from forests to rivers, from beaches to hills, to explore the countryside or towns, there is nothing better than fresh air and a little exercise.
Castle Fraser is only a half hour drive from Aberdeen and has fantastic grounds to explore around this majestic monument.
It also has a traditional walled garden as well as forest trails, so it’s popular with families and four-legged friends.
After our last trip to the castle, we stopped at the nearby Bennachie Lodge in Kemnay for a bite to eat; exercise undoubtedly whets the appetite.
The hotel is just off the main road and has a fabulous beer garden with umbrellas and picnic benches.
The weather was not warm enough for outdoor dining so my two friends
and I was shown a table in the dining room.
The room seemed quite dark with wooden beams, exposed brickwork, and small windows, while the thick tartan curtains and chandeliers gave it a relaxed feel,
feeling of comfort.
A striking mural of a majestic deer covers one wall while other walls are adorned with photos and even a fully stocked wine rack.
After ordering some soft drinks, we took our time going through the full menu making sure we picked the best options.
A quick choice was nearly impossible as we were salivating over some of the dishes on offer – boneless sesame chicken wings Jack Daniels, the classic ’70s Maryland chicken, or a mac and cheese topped with beef chili and jalapenos.
My friend, who is a regular at the lodge, ordered the Manhattan Royal Shrimp to begin with and insisted we go for the three-cook hand-cut fries to accompany our main courses.
The sizzling jumbo prawns were the fattyest I have ever seen and were dipped in garlic, chili peppers and red onions and served with a grilled ciabatta to soak up any juices.
I could smell the garlic on the other side of the table so she shouldn’t have a problem with the vampires for a while!
Our main courses arrived with a number of oohs and aahs as we watched the delicious dishes laid out in front of us.
My friend chose a hot Caesar salad but asked for half halloumi and half chicken; not a problem, said the young wait staff.
The salad arrived in a large bowl filled with salad leaves, grilled halloumi and chicken strips and drizzled with a generous amount of dressing and Parmesan cheese.
Crispy croutons and crispy bacon gave the dish some texture and she savored every bite.
My other friend enjoyed the traditional pub’s favorite scampi, presented in a neat wire serving basket and accompanied by her favorite pea puree and homemade tartar sauce.
The three-cook hand-cut fries are here and I can say we’ve found the perfect chip!
They were dark golden in color with a crispy exterior and a chewy middle – we were in chip heaven.
My main option, after much debate, I must add, was the original sounding monkfish stud fondue; local monkfish dipped in a crispy batter and served with a pan of Gruyere.
Monkfish is known for its white, plump flesh and is often compared to lobster meat because it has a mild, sweet flavor.
Fish and cheese is not a typical pairing, as some say cheese can overpower the subtle flavors of fish, but this dish was a triumph.
I just got stuck with my fingers, dipping the studs in the cheese pot, and also managed to dip a few of these awesome crisps in it as well.
We sat down relaxing while our table was cleared.
The restaurant was now quite busy and many families enjoyed spending time together on Sunday lunchtimes.
As we walked into the hotel earlier, I spotted a large round dessert fridge featuring mouthwatering treats and so I couldn’t wait to sample the delicacies they offered.
The desserts are homemade and fresh on site and are not on a menu as they change daily, and there was a lot to choose from.
I opted for the Calorific Honeycomb Cheesecake – a gorgeous creamy cheesecake, a crispy cookie base and topped with honeycomb and chocolate chunks, pure delight.
My friend ordered the apple cinnamon crumble served with cream on the side.
However, the crumble arrived cold at the table so a quick return to the kitchen and it was reheated well with her only complaint being that it was too full to eat it all.
Delicious, fresh, home-made food in a charming country lodge. Generous portions with innovative ideas at reasonable prices.
Looks like I’ll be doing a lot more walks around Fraser Castle.
Address: Bennachie Lodge, Victoria Terrace, Kemnay AB51 5RL
Phone. : 01467 642789
Price: £ 61.64 – two courses for three people plus a bottle of sparkling water
- Food: 4/5
- Service: 4/5
- Surroundings: 4/5