Guests and others wishing to dine at Balbirnie House have a choice available to them. The Balbirnie Bistro is open for lunch and dinner seven days per week, and additionally for high teas at weekends. The Bistro has considerable charm and character, and is located in the old kitchens. The hotel describes it as "casual dining and fantastic value", and a glance through the menu suggests a wide range of mouth watering options at very reasonable prices.
The hotel's main dining room is in the modern wing, in the Orangery. This is a beautiful room lit both through the arched windows that line two walls and through a ridged glass roof section. The Orangery is open from Wednesday to Sunday and serves lunches and dinners. Lunch can be chosen à la carte, or from a fixed price two or three course menu. A separate menu covers Sunday lunch. You can read our hotel review for Balbirnie House here.
Your dining experience starts in the drawing room or library bar with pre-dinner drinks and canapés while you choose from the menu. When we visited this was a fixed price three course menu plus coffee, at a price that was extremely reasonable for such high quality dining.
The food itself is a revelation. The hotel seems to have made a fine art out of doing apparently simple things very, very well. A starter of sweetcorn soup, for example, might sound ordinary: but try it at Balbirnie and it suddenly becomes extraordinary. Likewise a main course of roast chicken breast with mustard sauce, sautéed spinach and potato rosti. And perhaps most striking of all was a peppered Scotch fillet steak with duck fat chips and wild mushrooms. You have never had steak and chips until you have had Balbirnie's take on steak and chips. And the desserts were equally enticing.
For those wanting something rather different, Balbirnie also has the Orangery chef's table, a room with a one-way glass wall next to the kitchen in which 4 to 6 diners can enjoy a magnificent tasting menu while watching the kitchen at work.
Our expectations of Balbirnie House were very high, and we were not disappointed. Dinner in the Orangery is a superb experience and it is easy to see why the restaurant has been awarded 2 AA Rosettes.
Breakfast is also served in the Orangery. The main options for both the starter course and the hot main course are self served from buffets, though more bespoke possibilities such as eggs Benedict or cinnamon toast with caramelised apple and maple syrup are prepared to order.
A cold buffet for the starter course is the norm, and the cold buffet on offer at Balbirnie is outstanding, in terms of range, quality and presentation. It is less easy to successfully serve the hot course of a breakfast well from a buffet: yet Balbirnie shows just how it should be done. Everything is piping hot, fresh, and superbly tasty: and even the large pot of porridge produced something truly delicious. Add into this mix eggs sourced from Kingsbarns in Fife, bacon from Ayrshire, toast made from home made bread, and preserves that are also home made, and what you have is a breakfast to remember. You can read our hotel review for Balbirnie House here.