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The Orangery at Balbirnie House Hotel
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Balbirnie House
Balbirnie House Hotel,
Markinch Village,
By Gelnrothes,
01592 610066

Last year Mrs Bite was sent a book ‘The Old Stones - A Field Guide to the Megalithic sites of Britain and Ireland’ and a visit to Balbirnie House afforded Mr Bite and I the opportunity to visit one of the listed sites. The Druid’s Circle is on a woodland walk from the hotel, past the golf club and there is also the Balfarg Henge nearby.

It’s an unchallenging but pleasant walk which we took on Sunday morning to help us digest our breakfast. 

Balbirne House Hotel is an A listed Georgian country house set in 400 acres of Parkland. Inside it is plush and comfortable. Plump sofas invite you to relax in front of the fire and admire the Scottish Colourist artworks. Giant vases of flowers and earthy colours reflect the Scottish landscape. Bedrooms are traditional and our room retains some original feature like the marble floor in the bathroom.

Primarily a wedding venue, dining happens in the tasteful Orangery decorated in shades of silver, copper and chocolate.  

The menu is described as classic and at first glance looks unadventurous. But of course it all hangs on the produce and its execution. 

My Mushroom Tart has a crispy pastry case and the fungi prominent flavour whilst distinctive perfumed truffle oil brings it all together. Mr Bite had Smoked Salmon Roulade with a delicate, sweet curried crab, pickled fennel and apple and coriander salad. Good value, great local produce. 

Main course for me was Peterhead Cod with shellfish bouillabaisse, broth and bak choi and Mr Bite had the rump steak with peppercorn sauce. It came medium rare instead of rare and he thought the sauce needed a little more oomph. Minor points though as he said he would definitely order it again and overall it was a tasty and very enjoyable plate of food (note the price  £15.95, rib-eye is £19.95; hard to beat)

Similarly my bouillabaisse could have done with a hint of fire in the sauce (a smidgeon of chilli) and the skin on my cod failed the litmus test of being crispy. However, it was a beautiful piece of fish, the stock had depth and the Chinese cabbage had been wilted perfectly to retain flavour. 

Valhrona Chocolate Tart with caramel mousse, gingerbread ice cream and a Scottish Cheese Plate were well presented and we devoured and enjoyed both. 

A beautiful restaurant in stunning surroundings,  great value and well worth a wee trip for lunch or dinner. (S. Wilson)

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