Dornoch Castle Hotel serves food throughout the day and caters for hotel residents as well as for the many visitors simply passing through Dornoch or staying elsewhere in the town. The quality of the food on offer is excellent, surpassed only by the quality of the service. The hotel has been awarded 1 AA Rosette for its food, and our own dining experience left us thinking that it was very much at the upper end of this categorisation. The Garden Restaurant and bar are both accessible to disabled guests. You can read our hotel review for Dornoch Castle here.
The range of dining options is extensive and overlaps, to the point that you are very unlikely to turn up at Dornoch Castle Hotel and find there is nothing on offer. Teas, coffees, scones and cakes are served throughout the day. Lunch is served in the bar or the restaurant during fairly standard lunch hours, and snacks are then available throughout the afternoon. An early dinner is then available, especially for guests with children, and then the main event of the day, dinner, gets under way in the Garden Restaurant.
Two dinner menus are available. The à la carte menu changes seasonally and when we visited included five starters, six mains and five sweets. This is supplemented by a more frequently changing table d'hôte menu offering one, two or three courses at very reasonable prices and including a further three starters and three mains.
We chose from the à la carte menu and found the "creamy goats cheese and beetroot mille feuille" to be extremely good and the "pan fried west coast scallops set on a spring onion, mango and chilli salsa" to be quite outstanding. The flavour combinations in the scallop dish were unusual and extremely effective. The main courses turned out to be the stars of the show, however. The "roast loin of Highland venison with creamy mash, chickory and a rich Madeira jus" and the "roast breast of duck with Lyonnaise potatoes and a plum jus" were two of the very best main courses we have enjoyed. Cooking was perfect and the ingredient were superb: and the portion sizes of the key elements, the venison and the duck, were unusually generous.
Meanwhile, the outstanding food was perfectly complemented by excellent service in the restaurant. One of the small team of waiting staff was always present when needed, and the timing of the delivery of courses varied from table to table, according to the speed of the individual diners. As a result no-one felt hurried, but neither did anyone have to wait more than a short period for their next course. Our sweet course was a "Baileys and marshmallow cheesecake on an amaretti biscuit base" and the "selection of fine cheeses". The cheesecake again revealed the generous portion sizes, and also the superb standards of presentation. The cheese plate included an excellent selection of Scottish cheeses, and diners are asked whether they want the five cheeses individually identified or not.
Breakfast is served in the Garden Restaurant and individual tables are marked with the diners' names. The first course is self served from the buffet, and the range of options when we visited was excellent, including freshly prepared croissants, cereals, hams and cheeses, and a good selection of fresh fruit. The hot course options ranged from porridge to kippers via smoked salmon or Golspie smoked haddock. And the full Scottish breakfast was superb, cooked to order and including ingredients from local sources named on the menu. Very much a breakfast to set you on your way and keep you going throughout the day. You can read our hotel review for Dornoch Castle here.