An Extraordinary Taster Menu at Balbirnie House in Scotland

If you want a night away in Scotland then Balbirnie House Hotel should be on your radar. If you're a foodie, then SEVEN by Balbirnie has got your name all over it.

You will find Balbirnie House conveniently located between the historical city of Edinburgh and the seaside town of St Andrew’s. Driving through the eastern area of Fife, in a small village called Markinch is the beautiful stately Balbirnie House nestled in 400 acres of parkland.

Our writer Rachel McAlley enjoyed spending a night at Balbirnie House recently for H&N Magazine, and the food was another level.

It was a windy Thursday in this part of Scotland, with bright sunshine and pretty autumnal leaves falling from the trees. Balbirnie House looks stunningly beautiful this season, when all the colours are burnt orange, rustic brown and fading green around the hotel grounds. We felt warm even though there was a chill in the air.

Check-in was quick and efficient, and the front of house team were super friendly and happy to see us. We were advised to reserve our table for dinner as the brand new 7-Course Taster Menu had just launched that very day. So, we booked our table, collected our room key, and made our way to the top floor (via lots of steps) to a fabulous bedroom.

The Hotel

As there was three of us in our party a spare bed had been set up for our daughter, who was extremely happy that it was a double sofa bed for her, and a king sized bed for the grown ups!

One of the most wonderful things to see in a hotel room is something local to the area, and Balbirnie House really did this perfectly. The tea and coffee tray had a selection of tasty Scottish shortbread and three Tunnocks Teacakes – what a nice touch!

We relaxed in the room then went for a stroll around the grounds, and back for hot showers and a cuppa prior to dinner.

It was time for dinner at SEVEN by Balbirnie in the Orangery. The new menu is a 7-course taster with outstanding dishes produced by Executive Chef Kris Currie and Head Chef Sharon Munro. All the food is seasonal, fresh, and presented beautifully. But, the flavours are what stood out to us, from the Scottish langoustine with black garlic mayo in the first course to the blue murder cheese with burnt apple in the seventh course – everything was divine.

Each course was a work of art and lasted seconds before being devoured. The second course was wild duck served with butternut squash puree and braised endive, which melted in your Mouth. The third course was mackerel with apple, loveage and horseradish cream and this was one of my absolute favourites. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed mackerel as much as this dish!

Moving into the fourth course, which was the biggest of them all, it was pheasant with truffled dauphine, celeriac, spinach, mushrooms and nutmeg, and this was another fabulous dish. The pheasant itself was perfectly cooked, and seriously moreish.

The Food

By the time of the fifth course we were all starting to feel quite full, but then they produced an outstanding sorbet of sea buckthorn and white chocolate, and oh my goodness this was good. It cleared the palette ready for the sixth course of spiced pumpkin cake with manuka honey crowdie, granola, and pumpkin ice cream. The final course as mentioned earlier was blue cheese, served with burnt apple, Scottish oatcake, and picked walnut. Of everything I ate in this 7-course wonderment of food the only thing I didn’t enjoy was the picked walnut that was served with the cheese – but everything else was truly sublime. What an exciting menu and seriously underpriced at just £35 per person for the full 7-course menu (plus they forgot to include bread and homemade whipped butter on the menu, which in fact made the meal an 8-course meal of beauty)!

If you are into food, then spending £35 on this outstanding 7-course menu is a must. And, if you’re feeling adventurous there’s a wine flight priced at just £27 for four paired wines to go with the langoustine, mackerel, pheasant, and pumpkin. All in all this was a truly magnificent taster menu.

SEVEN by Balbirnie

SEVEN by Balbirnie
All 7-courses including: Cheese (top left), Pumpkin (top right), Mackerel (middle left), Duck (middle centre), Pheasant (middle right), Langoustine (bottom left), Sorbet (bottom right) – and Mackerel jus (in the jug)

We returned to our room, via the bar where we had a couple of drinks before literally rolling into bed with extremely full bellies.

We enjoyed a full Scottish breakfast in the Orangery the following morning before checking out (even though we were still full from dinner). Check out was as easy as check-in and we had a lovely conversation at reception with the morning team about how good the 7-course taster menu was, which we would highly recommend.

Thank you to everyone at Balbirnie House Hotel that made us feel welcome. Visit Balbirnie House to book a room or reserve a table for SEVEN by Balbirnie in the Orangery.

Words by Rachel McAlley

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