The Fife Arms Hotel and Bistro in Turriff is a “must try”

I once envied communities that housed a string of top quality restaurants.

Take Banchory, for example. I didn’t visit regularly when I was young, but when I did I was always impressed with the variety of places to eat and drink.

There was – and still is – everything from fine dining establishments to humble cafes, delicatessens and independent boutiques.

A trip to the quaint county town was a rare treat for a girl accustomed to nothing but a Somerfield, Costcutter and a few subpar takeaways here and there.

However, there was a remarkable restaurant in my hometown that foodies visited from all over. And I believe many still do.

The Fife Arms Hotel and Bistro in Turriff.

The Fife Arms Hotel and Bistro in Turriff is one of many businesses that have impressed me over the years.

While I admire those who have sprouted onto the local food and drink scene, surviving the pandemic must have been a challenge I can’t even begin to imagine.

Having not visited in some time, I was looking forward to seeing how business was for the team.

It was a Saturday night when I dropped by with my boyfriend. And every time I walk in, I feel transported.

It was lively, exactly what we hoped for.

Inside the restaurant.

The interior, both in the cozy area and in the restaurant, does not lack tartan and exudes a warm atmosphere. Still, there are also a few modern touches here and there.

Floor-to-ceiling windows that lead to a charming patio on one side of the restaurant bring in plenty of light, while countless works of art are on display to admire during your stay.

What to do while admiring them, you might be wondering? My main recommendation is to use the bar.

Stocked with more whiskey, gin, wine and beer than one would know what to do with, the team certainly knows how to satisfy drink lovers.


The food

If there’s one thing that makes my boyfriend grin from ear to ear, it’s bread and oil.

Easily satisfied, I know.

Invernesians, you are all living his dream – many restaurants in town serve bread and oil on arrival, as far as I know anyway.

We both sat in the crowded restaurant and were immediately asked what we wanted to drink. Then a plank of wood was sandwiched between us.

It displayed a small bowl of butter with the main attraction – thick brown seeded bread that released a stream of fragrant steam.

The bread and the cocktail of choice, a pornstar martini.

One slice each, we simultaneously applied a thin layer of butter and dipped our lightly toasted, lightly sweetened sourdough in a drizzle of olive oil.

The combination of peppery, salty and sweet flavors was bliss.

Ordering drinks was a breeze. A classic porn star martini and an ice cold beer had been on our minds all day.

My cocktail was sharp at first. However, the vanilla vodka quickly eclipsed the acidity and I was left with a fruity, sweet flavor.

The beer obviously went down well too.

Ordering food proved more difficult, especially after enjoying our appetizer which already set the bar high – although nothing too difficult.

Crispy langoustines.

Salt and pepper fried calamari is usually a staple for me in Fife Arms. If you haven’t tried it yet, I urge you to do so as soon as possible.

But I was more than determined to try something different, which turned out to be the crispy scampi.

Coated in kataifi, the three delicate langoustines melt in the mouth. Almost buttery in taste, it was actually their coating that provided a much needed salty kick.

The tangy and creamy chilli lime mayonnaise was a great accompaniment. I even kept his leftovers on the table to go with my main course.

My boyfriend’s dish appealed to me more than mine.

Asian beef rib tacos.

Its two Asian prime rib tacos (a blackened cauliflower version was available for veggies) served with Asian slaw and salsa were a great indication that the establishment isn’t afraid to experiment. different flavors and ingredients.

Served open, the beef was succulent and had been drizzled with a well balanced soy sauce.

The Asian coleslaw, made with shredded vegetables, was fresh and crunchy, which contrasted well with the tender meat. The Thai flavors made the dish very special.

Before we knew it our starters had come and gone and it was time for the main event.

I peeked across the table at my boyfriend’s 7oz beef burger. It wasn’t your traditional burger, which I loved. And it was a big size.

Aberdeen Angus beef burger served with fries.

The two Aberdeen Angus patties were, of course, what I timed first.

Both were coated in a gooey cheddar cheese that wasn’t too strong so it didn’t overpower the other ingredients and let you appreciate the juiciness of the patties.

Smoked bacon, lettuce, house pickles, red onion marmalade and burger sauce were also inside.

It was everything a good burger should be with sweet, salty and a little extra crunch.

It was served with fries, which were chewy with a tasty crispy skin. That’s when the chili and lime mayonnaise from my entree came into play…

Gressingham duck breast and dauphine potatoes.

My Gressingham duck breast with carrot and orange mash, crumbled feta, pomegranate and kale was much more subtle than my boyfriend’s plate but no less delicious.

I asked for my duck medium rare to rare and it was well done, turning out to be a bit more difficult than I would have liked, but I wasn’t going to fuss. I loved the crispy skin.

I think the other elements would have stolen the show regardless.

The mash was silky smooth and sweeter than I originally expected, while the pomegranate was slightly tart and the crumbly feta added zest.

Each of the ingredients prevailed in flavor and had its own role to play in the dish. There was no problem.

The dishes were enjoyed throughout the evening.

The potato scallops were my favorite side. Creamy and buttery with a hint of garlic, they were a dream.

Our stomachs were telling us we didn’t need dessert, and we listened.

There are, however, a multitude of tasty desserts. So if you stop at The Fife Arms I highly recommend you leave room for some. I will definitely be on my next visit.


The verdict

Turriff is incredibly lucky to have a place like the Fife Arms Hotel and Bistro – and the local community appreciates it. It is a must for those looking for an enjoyable dining experience.

If you haven’t come yet, it’s time to reevaluate.

The restaurant is simple and welcoming, and a huge shoutout is in order for member of The Fife Arms team, Ross, who is always a pleasure to stop by.


Information

Address: The Square, Turriff, AB53 4AE

P: 01888 563124

W: www.fifearms.com

Price: £72.90 for two courses for two, a cocktail and a beer.

Scoring:

  • Food: 4/5
  • Performance: 5/5
  • Surroundings: 4/5

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Martin E. Berry