For a small village, Brodie, on the outskirts of Forres, has a lot to offer.
There is of course the world famous castle and the almost equally famous Countryfare – an upscale shop and restaurant.
Straddling the A96 between Aberdeen and Inverness, hundreds of vehicles turn into Countryfare, but I’d love to see more of them visit the site across the road – the Old Mill Inn.
The inn had been on my must-see list for a good 18 months after chef Paul McKechnie was a guest chef in this magazine.
The high quality dishes presented not only looked fabulous but featured local produce and made my mouth water.
The pandemic cost us the visit before now, but after being triply stung we felt ready to dive into the restaurant waters once again.
After logging into the hostel’s website, I could see that their Hearth restaurant is only open evenings, Wednesday through Saturday, or for Sunday lunch from noon to 4 p.m., and booking at the inn. advance is recommended.
We opted for Sunday lunch and despite booking well in advance the first time slot we were able to get was for mid-afternoon which I took as a good sign.
I had not dined here since the place was taken over a few years ago by owners Sophie and David McLean; Colin and Karen Rothman.
Karen and David are siblings, and they and their partners are all passionate about providing guests with an unforgettable experience.
Sophie and David, who have decades of hospitality experience under their belt, are the hosts of the inn.
During the lockdown, they made improvements to the inn which feels stylish, warm and inviting, with a mix of open spaces and small semi-private dining areas.
A welcoming fire burned happily, while good lighting and decor ranging from old beams to art deco helped create a relaxed yet chic vibe.
After being warmly greeted and offered a place to hang our coats, we were shown to our table, presented menus, and offered a carafe of water.
My partner was craving a porter beer but they were running out so our friendly waitress suggested a Spey Cadet beer from the Spey Valley brewery.
Within minutes of serving it, she came back to check if he liked it or wanted to swap it for another beer – the highest grade for good service.
The menu offered many unusual choices as well as traditional dishes.
My partner opted for a shrimp and crayfish cocktail while I let myself be tempted by the good Connage Dairy Gouda with compressed pineapple and marinated onion ketchup.
The cocktail, with Marie Rose sauce and crunchy lettuce, was served in an unusually shaped glass bowl, with a large, thick slice of bread that he declared “the best he has had in years. chandeliers”.
Perfectly seasoned, the firmer crawfish added another layer of flavor and texture to this classic starter.
My generous sized candy trio was crisp and crisp on the outside, and the tangy cheese on the inside was about to melt, creating an appetizer of sheer delight.
For the main courses there were several delicious choices including roast Highland beef, chicken or pork; Haddock Studs with Windswept Beer Paste, Venison Burger, Sticky Chili Chicken or Yellow Peas & Lentil Dhal with Onion Pakora, Dukkah, Cucumber & Mint Raita.
You don’t often see roast pork on menus, especially the Nairnshire Pork, so I jumped at the chance to try it and was immediately rewarded with memories of childhood Sunday lunches where the roast pork was sweet, juicy and full of flavor.
Three thick and juicy slices of pork were served with a mini mountain of sides including a lovely chewy and spicy haggis, mashed carrots and turnips, crispy roasted potatoes, as well as cauliflower, green beans. , perfectly cooked kale and romanesco, and a good sized pot of rich sauce.
Across the table, something surprising was happening… halfway through his dhal, my other half suddenly remembered that he didn’t really like lentils because they tasted hairy sometimes – his description is not mine – but his point of view changed with this dish which he indecently hastily demolished.
The sunny yellow pea and lentil dahl had a lovely warmth that tingled the taste buds, while the pakora was exceptionally good, really crisp and light.
It also came with a selection of fresh vegetables that I would have personally traded for a naan or chapatti to allow you to mop up every drop.
I was too packed for a pud, but stole a little taste of her sticky caramel pudding with molasses caramel sauce and honeycomb ice cream – another fabulous course with molasses adding more old-fashioned flavors that brought back fond memories.
First class, friendly and informative service and really good food, well prepared and beautifully presented with enough twist to make the menu interesting.
Although busy, at no time did we feel rushed as regular check-ups ensured that we had everything we needed and that we were enjoying our experience.
Address: Old Mill Inn, 7, Brodie, Forres IV36 2TD
Phone. : 01309 641605
Price: £ 63.65 for two starters, two main courses, one dessert, one beer and one soft drink.
- Food: 5/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 4/5