The Scotsman

Exclusive candlelit diners’ club is a credit to cuisine at award-winning hotel

Sociable guests can indulge in delicious dishes of local produce, discovers Janice Hopper


It’s home to Aberdeensh­ire’s only triple rosette restaurant and, following its opening in June 2016, went on to win AA Hotel of the Year for Scotland in 2017/18. Now Tarland’s Douneside Hotel has launched an exclusive dining club.

Already lauded for its six course tasting menu, the hotel’s dining club has been set up to create a sociable addition to its culinary offering.

Currently held quarterly, the club will take bookings for a maximum of 12 guests, and while visitors usually dine in the restaurant while eating at the hotel, members of the new club will have exclusive use of the candlelit library, where the menu will not only outline the culinary voyage ahead, but also the food miles and origins of the ingredient­s used.

The inaugural event saw dishes like a beetroot ice-cream starter, the ingredient­s for which were grown in Douneside’s own walled garden, and a wild rabbit terrine, sourced from Royal Warrant holder Sheridan’s of Ballater, which is located just 13 miles from the hotel.

Another unique aspect will see the guests given the chance to meet a local producer such as Wark Farm in Alford and Katy’s Free Range Eggs of Lumphanan to learn more about their work.

Speaker for the first event was Marcel Wassen, the hotel’s general manager, who highlighte­d Douneside’s RHS accredited walled garden, which produces more than 80 varieties of fruit and veg – from the humble potato to more exotic scorzonera and kohl rabi. Its team of ten gardeners are key to the restaurant’s success, providing fresh and seasonal produce as close ‘to order’ as the elements allow.

The chef, aptly named David Butters, said that he is excited by the space the club gives him to improvise and experiment, as well as meeting the guests – along with pastry chef Joseph Harte – to discuss their feedback and answer any questions about the meal or the ingredient­s used.

Though numbers are limited, booking is open to anyone, and the hotel says the first event saw a convivial mix of local foodies, couples indulging on a special occasion, and a relatively high percentage of military personnel seated around the table due to the hotel’s close links to the RAF.

Costing £135 per person, tickets for the next event can be booked at dounesideh­ douneside-dining-club

0 Aberdeensh­ire’s Douneside Hotel

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