IT'S A SHAME THAT WE GET SO DISTRACTED AND SUCKED INTO OUR SEPARATE CORNERS OF THE CITY THAT WE HARDLY EVER WONDER ABOUT WHAT GOES ON JUST A FEW COUNTRY MILES AWAY. ONE OF THE BEST KEPT SECRETS OF THE HILLS, DALHOUSIE CASTLE IS A WONDROUS PLACE THAT IS REALLY WORTH THE MEASLY HALF HOUR BUS RIDE TO BONNYRIGG.
Inside the castle and adjacent to its luxury spa is The Orangery Restaurant, a casual dining room with an ancient but modern quirkiness about it. Entirely windowed, it protrudes onto the landscape to make you feel like you're sitting in the center of a postcard.
My friend and I are led into this room from the spa one afternoon still wrapped in our comfy dressing gowns. We're sat at a table with a picture-perfect view of the castle grounds, the kind of backdrop that makes you forget the task at hand...oh yes...the food!
While awaiting the starters, we're brought a few slices of gush-worthy chorizo bread. Moments later, I get the starter portion of a grilled tuna niçoise salad mixed healthily with a light vinegar, peppers, eggs, haricots verts and anchovies (£7.10). Meanwhile, my friend enjoys smoked Scottish salmon (£7.50) with a citrus mayo and the unlikely hero of the dish, beetroot.
My main is a roast sea trout (£17.30) with dill and lime butter, prepared to perfection. This is my first sea trout and am surprised and pleased at how similar it is to the Atlantic salmon. The creamed polenta accompanying the dish is mind-bogglingly good and something I know I will never forget. My friend gets to steal a bite or two of my polenta while feasting on an enormous bowl of herb risotto, baby spinach and an expertly poached egg (£6.50).
It’s all washed down with my melon-soaked, remarkable glass of Spy Valley sauvignon blanc along with my friend’s lunch-time pinot grigio staple by Zenato (£5.25).
To wind down and break the routine, get on a bus and stroll over to The Orangery for a relaxing and tasty venture.
Also in Bite Magazine May 2008