Raemoir House Hotel prides itself on the quality of the dining it offers, and rightly so. The hotel has held 2 AA Rosettes for its food every years since 1996, and while all that matters to today's customer is the dining experience on offer now, it is very clear that owners Neil & Julie Rae and award winning executive chef David Littlewood are keen to ensure that the high standards of the past are not only matched, but are surpassed, as Raemoir is returned to its former glory. You can read our hotel review for Raemoir House Hotel here.
Meals are served in the bar, drawing room and dining room, and residents and non-residents alike are welcome for all meals including breakfast. An à la carte menu is on offer at lunchtime and in the evening and there is also a table d'hote option available in the restaurant every evening. Afternoon teas are also very popular (and like lunch and dinner, worth booking to ensure you are not disappointed). The afternoon teas range from a simple cup of tea or coffee with shortbread to something altogether more decadent, including Champagne if you wish.
Menus vary, but two underlying themes are consistent. The first is the great pride that the Raemoir House Hotel takes in its kitchen brigade. We used the term "award winning" to describe executive chef David Littlewood above, and the hotel's website sets out the many awards he has won over the last decade, culminating with the ward of Scotland's Chef of the Year 2013. The website also lists the many awards won by the head chef, the sous chef, and the chef de partie.
The second theme is equally welcome, and it is the attention given to local sourcing. Your dinner menu will almost certainly offer a different choice of dishes to those we enjoyed, but we are prepared to bet that at the bottom of the menu you are given, like on the one we were given, is a list of the suppliers used by the hotel: with meat coming from butchers in Ballater and Aberdeen; game from a local estate and two other Scottish suppliers; fish from named suppliers in Aberdeen, and so on. It is good that the hotel is seeking to source as locally as possible, but it is even better that it cares enough to want to shout about it.
So what's the food like that emerges from the kitchen? "High end fine dining" is a fair description. Presentation is superb, and so is the food that is presented. For starters we had smoked cod yolks with puffed rice and pickled mooli; and butternut squash dumplings with Parmesan, truffle and herbs. The demitasse of roasted root vegetable soup that followed was sublime, and then we moved on to the highlight of the meal, the main course. Here we had lamb chump with braised red cabbage, dauphinoise, goats' cheese and barley jus; and cod with gnocci, broad beans, mussels and sauce vierge. Both were delicious. Meanwhile the cherry and almond tart with cherry coulis and vanilla ice cream was a superb ending the the meal, and the excellent cheese selection reflected the Raemoir's focus on local sourcing.
Breakfast is served at your table. A starter course with options including museli and porridge is followed by a hot course. This offers everything from the traditional fried breakfast, "The Raemoir" and its vegetarian equivalent to kippers, salmon, eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine and eggs royale, and there really is something for every taste. And all beautifully cooked and presented, alongside a lovely platter of toast and croissants. Breakfast is arguably the most important meal a hotel serves, because it is the most immediate memory that guests leave with. Those leaving the Raemoir do so with happy breakfast memories and sated appetites. You can read our hotel review for Raemoir House Hotel here.