Places to eat and drink in Banchory
Casting my mind back to when we weren’t allowed to step a toe across our designated boundaries at the start of the pandemic, much like the land of Oz, Banchory was a haven that seemed like a dreamland I couldn’t get to.
A stone’s throw away from Aberdeen, it felt like my palms and nose were pressed against the window longing for the day I would be reunited with one of my favourite locations loaded (and I mean loaded) with food to be spoiled with.
From cosy coffee shops to heart-warming comfort food and hide-aways nestled in scenic views to mighty feasts, Banchory really does have it all.
An ideal place to start is an eatery that’s always at the top of my list, Buchanan Bistro. Quite simply, I can’t get enough of this place. A place to switch off, unwind and escape to be spoiled by countryside views and indulge in handcrafted delights.
Located on the outskirts of Banchory, this bistro is the definition of wholesome, serving up plates of the freshest salads, hearty casseroles, freshly baked quiches and sharing boards that will make you savour every bite.
When I last ate at the bistro, I ordered the seafood platter which arrived with a medley of locally sourced salmon, mackerel, mussels, pate and haddock ceviche – not forgetting on the side, warm bread fresh from the kitchen ready to be lathered with butter.
The cake counter will steal your attention too, all that fills this tiered cabinet are made in house including your regulars of scones, traybakes and loaf cakes but all infused with Buchanan Bistro flair. Make sure to grab a slice of the vegan chocolate and beetroot cake that shimmers and shines with its glossy glow, this moist, rich and velvet cake is to die for!
If that wasn’t enough, you can shop local here too with its corner of local products acting as a North-east larder filled with pantry essentials, gin and beer. To add even more to the agenda, make sure to visit next door neighbour Fold stocked with lots of Scottish craft and design finds created by emerging designers.
Just minutes up the farm road is the farm of Aberdeenshire Highland Beef where local farmer Grace leads you on a farm to fork experience which introduces visitors to her pedigree herd of Highland Cattle, a view of the working farm in action and ends with a taste of the quality beef reared on the farm.
Its farm shop (open every Saturday and Sunday) and Farmers Market pop ups are where you can stock up on a selection of Highland Beef cuts from her herd which are hung and matured on the farm – you can’t get more farm to fork than that! Adding to the collection is locally sourced wild venison, chicken, pork and seafood products along with eggs, vegetables and dairy products too.
Sticking to the farm theme, The Cowshed welcomes visitors with classically simple food packed with plenty of flavour by working with a range of local suppliers to build its lunch and dinner menu using carefully selected in-season Scottish ingredients.
Also proving popular is The Cowshed Chipper which, since 2015, has been serving up freshly caught local fish along with other chip shop staples acting as a saviour for tourists on the move and those who can’t face the kitchen stove.
If you’re after a cosy snuggery to take a load off, The Birdhouse Cafe is the perfect peaceful spot. Bringing the patisserie scene to Banchory, I love to watch the hustle and bustle of the high street pass me by while I sip on a punchy americano and devour a member of the pastry family baked in the Birdhouse kitchen.
Creative flair is no stranger here with plenty of contemporary twists featuring in its pastry and cake selection making each visit unlike the last. Tempting me in the last few weeks was the baked chocolate mousse with tahini and sesame brittle and as for the hazelnut, pistachio and chocolate cruffin, it hasn’t left my dreams yet!
Right on the banks of the River Dee, Banchory Lodge waits with a full flavoured Scottish feast featuring quality produce from local farmers, fishermen and producers.
Pay close attention to your menu and place setting when you order, each is adorned with charming caricatures of landmarks, favoured spots and much loved produce that characterise the local area.
The food definitely lives up to its mission of creating “food to nourish the soul” with a varied menu of classic options using plenty of twists to give diners a true taste of the local larder. If you’re struggling to choose, the 5 Spice Duck is a must along with the Torched Mackerel for seafood lovers – truly top notch.
During lockdown the team created a new outdoor dining concept The Sitooterie offering a sheltered patio area complete with quirky beach hut style sheds for private dining – simply swap the sea for the Dee and you have yourself an escape to rival any seaview restaurant.
If the drinks stash is looking a touch dry, you need to get yourself across to the Strongwater Co. to stock up on Scottish beer, gin, whisky, rum, specially selected wine and the list goes on.
This place is far more than a drinks shop, visitors can replenish the larder as well as the drinks cupboard (or trolley if you’re boujee). Think veg boxes filled with the finest fruit and vegetables grown nearby, meat supplied by Ballater based Sheridans, coffee from local roasters Bennachie Coffee and curated hampers which will for sure feed that antipasto and cheese board desires.
Budding home cooks are in for a real treat too with its At Home package equipping customers with the supplies to create stylish meals designed in collaboration with talented local chefs. Right now the menu offers spiced sticky chicken wings, grilled fillet of wild turbot with a black cherry and chocolate sponge paired with Green Fish Verdejo.
Just minutes from Banchory is Finzean Farm Shop (pronounced “Fing-en”) luring in passers by with stunning views of Deeside and homely food that warms you right through.
Forget your soup and sandwich combos, here it’s all about the soup and sausage roll combo. When I made my last visit, I ordered the caramelised onion sausage roll with carrot and ginger soup which was not only hearty but the perfect remedy after a day exploring the sites of the Cairngorm National Park.
A popular stop for cyclists taking on the Cairn O’Mount and when you see the glorious backdrop against its picnic benches decorating its lawn, you’ll soon see why it’s a perfect spot for a breather.
Speaking of bikes, Ride Coffee House welcomes the passing thoroughfare of cyclists and walkers travelling the Deeside Way with substantial food to refuel the energy levels.
This unassuming eatery serves up the classic breakfast, brunch and lunch options including insane burgers and restaurant quality specials that are not only a treat on the eye but the taste buds too. To go with the hot brews on offer, it’s cake galore here with plenty of home baked delights that are almost (and that’s a tiny almost) too good to eat.
Sit outside and take in the country air or, on those chillier days, pull up a chair inside and cosy up to the log burner. Downstairs lives its shop specialising in snowboard, skateboard and outdoor clothing to keep you in the best of threads.
As the name suggests, this award-winning restaurant overlooks the River Feugh with the powerful falls nearby adding an impressive view to your lunch or dinner.
Plating up stylish Scottish cuisine featuring the best tastes of the region, it’s really no surprise that the restaurant received the title of Best Restaurant in Aberdeenshire in 2019 amongst its many accolades.
My eyes are glued to the braised beef served with creamy mash, red cabbage, honey roots and thick gravy looks absolutely sublime.
If you’re exploring the grounds of Crathes Castle, a visit to Milton Brasserie is a must. Creating its renowned Scottish dining experience within the converted steading dating back to the 17th century.
Dine around the grand piano in the restaurant, grab a coffee and homebake in its conservatory or dine alfresco and you my friend are in for an unforgettable experience. Special shout out to the sandwiches with bread specially paired with inspired filling combinations that make it a tough task to select from.
The brasserie adds to the Milton of Crathes complex joining more amazing local businesses. Most recent addition to the neighbourhood is the new home of Hidden Scotland where you can shop products by Scottish creators, view the works of local artists and photographers and get your hands on copies of the Hidden Scotland Magazine.
And as expected, talking about all these glorious places has turbo charged my desire to make a trip out to Banchory. Sadly I don’t have a pair of ruby slippers to snap the heels of three times to take me there immediately but luckily for me this dreamland is right on my doorstep for endless exploring that features no twisters or flying monkeys – just simply magic.