All you can eat: a run down of the country’s top foodie venues

It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it: we take a tour of Scotland’s hotspots for foodies to sample potential menu delights for your big day.

Carlowrie Castle, West Lothian

The scenic Carlowrie Castle is sure to charm wedding guests with fine dining served up by creative caterers Wild Thyme.

This recently refurbished turreted castle on the outskirts of Edinburgh certainly looks good enough for royalty, so it is fitting that its exclusive caterer, Wild Thyme, has served up nibbles to an array of HRHs (Prince William and Princess Anne to name but two). Headed up by MD and chef patron Andrew Hamer, formerly executive chef at Gleneagles, the Perthshire-based events kitchen prides itself on sustainability and innovation, using the very best locally and responsibly sourced seasonal produce to create plates such as hot smoked salmon with shaved fennel, Bloody Mary sorbet, shaved Glamis garden beets, Uist crab and caper salsa and a gazpacho sauce – and that’s just for starters!

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The scenic Carlowrie Castle is sure to charm wedding guests with fine dining served up by creative caterers Wild Thyme

It landed the gong for Best Event Caterer at the UK Event Awards in 2013 and is in the running for Best Caterer at the 2015 Scottish Event Awards.

Eskmills, East Lothian

If you’re a self-confessed foodie, there’s no doubt Noma is one place you’re desperate to make a pilgrimage to. Forget it – just book your wedding at Eskmills and chances are you’ll feast on a menu overseen by Robbie Gleave, who started out at the famed Copenhagen restaurant.

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Still a keen forager, he’s now development chef at Hickory, the catering company that manages this atmospheric former Victorian fishing net factory in Musselburgh.

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Eskmills in Musselburgh is renowned for creating custom dinner menus for its guests

Alongside head chef Scott Brodowski, he runs a kitchen that is committed to reaping the rewards of the rich natural larder of East Lothian. Menus are designed to match each event and the team relish the challenge of exploring new possibilities, be that a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, a ‘mashed potato bar’ or a 1950s-themed dinner – all recent requests which they’ve undertaken with glee.

Norton House, Edinburgh

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It’s testament to Norton House’s kitchen brigade (headed up by Graeme Shaw and Glen Billins for 13 years) that its main restaurant, Ushers, has held three AA Rosettes for 10 consecutive years. This trio of red flowers is awarded to only those eateries deemed “outstanding [and] achieve standards that demand recognition well beyond their local area”. When it comes to its wedding food, the Ingliston hotel is no different, tailoring menus to each client’s requirements and suggesting wine matches.

Norton House boasts a three AA Rosette restaurant and offers personalised menus

Norton House boasts a three AA Rosette restaurant and offers personalised menus

This is followed by a menu tasting to ensure that everything is just so. The kitchen has served up dual nationality menus and even BBQ for a wedding breakfast, so it’s not afraid to break the mould.

Balbirnie House, Fife

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The pedigree of Balbirnie House is not in doubt, with the Fife venue being named Wedding Hotel of the Year by the Scottish Hotel Awards on nine occasions in the past 11 years, thanks in no small part to its reputation for fine wedding fare.

It has won the Wedding Hotel of the Year award an incredible nine times in the past 11 years at the Scottish Hotel Awards, so couples making their lifetime commitments at Balbirnie House know they’re in for something special.

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Small wedding parties can reserve a perch at the Chef’s Table, a private room right next to the main kitchen’s pass where six diners can spy what’s going on while sampling its fine fare. Its award-winning executive chef takes the tried-and-tested favourites of wedding cuisine and makes them his own – think warm Bradan salmon fillet with a potato, beetroot and horseradish salad and herb dressing, followed by sautéed breast of chicken Vallée d’Auge in a decadent sauce of mushrooms, crème fraîche and Calvados.

Trump Turnberry, Ayrshire

Copyright 2015 Matthew Shaw.

Trump Turnberry sits majestically on the Ayrshire coast with an incredible variety of indigenous produce to hand. The hotel’s executive chef, Munur Kara, fed and watered A-listers and world royalty during his time at The Dorchester in London, so is well-versed in dealing with food lovers who demand the best. All couples marrying at the five-star resort are invited (along with their parents) to the Chef’s Table for their menu tasting, meaning they get to sample the theatre of the kitchen alongside their chosen dishes. The beef fillet is a firm favourite as a wedding main – it is locally sourced from Campbells Prime Meats, cooked whole and then carved individually just before serving, whether for 50 or 150. Munur and his team relish a challenge too. They recently concocted a special ‘Mr and Mrs’ dessert for a couple who couldn’t agree on which of their two favourite puds to serve to guests.

Prestonfield, Edinburgh

The circular Georgian stable block at glamorous Prestonfield

The circular Georgian stable block at glamorous Prestonfield

Prestonfield delivers restaurant-quality food to weddings whether you are a couple in the Salon Privée, a party in one of the historic private dining rooms or 300 revellers in the Stables Ballroom. This opulent five-star mansion is as far from minimal as you can get and its mouthwatering wedding and celebration menus reflect the decadence of the surroundings. How about an amuse-bouche of foie gras and pistachio sandwiches, followed by a starter of avocado and lobster salad with brown shrimp and tropical fruit salsa and a main of braised haunch and roast loin of venison with smoked garlic velouté, spinach and pickled rhubarb? Weddings at Prestonfield aren’t the time to worry about your waistline!

Mar Hall, Renfrewshire

Five-star status draws the glitterati to this Renfrewshire resort; Beyoncé, Kylie and Take That have all rested their weary heads here. With such discerning clientele, luxury pervades at all levels and wedding banqueting is no different. Mar Hall prides itself on bespoke food and drinks packages for each couple. Menus heavily feature locally sourced produce, while matching each course with wine is a breeze thanks to a vast selection in its cellars. Plump for smoked Gressingham duck salad for starters, seared halibut with herb and olive brioche crust, tomato crushed potatoes and lobster bisque for main, and finish off with warm soft chocolate cake with mascarpone sorbet for dessert. We think you’ll have some very happy guests indeed!

Dalduff Farm, Ayrshire

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Dalduff Farm’s farm shop and on-site butchery are the stuff of Ayrshire legend, with its steak pies the talk of the county and arbiters of taste such as Mariella Frostrup declaring its sausage rolls “addictive”.

Marry at the atmospheric 200-capacity barn and we’re sure you won’t be able to resist the urge to serve ‘canapies’ in place of canapés – bite-sized versions of its acclaimed puff pastries filled with all sorts of tasty fillings. The wedding team revel in the opportunity to create unique menus with wow factor that use only the very best ingredients.

Pork, lamb and fish are all sourced from acclaimed suppliers nearby in Ayrshire, so whether you opt for the honey, soy and ginger glazed pork belly or harissa-spiced rack of lamb, you know the distance from field to plate is minimal. Veggies, vegans and gluten-free requests are catered for too.

Three Sisters Bake at the Killearn Village Hall, Stirlingshire

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Does the thought of a formal sit-down wedding banquet leave you cold? Then you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear that the food created by Three Sisters Bake – in-house caterers at this Stirlingshire hall – is the antithesis of the stiff three-course plated meal. The sisters specialise in serving up ‘Wedding Feasts’: gourmet buffet spreads comprising delights such as pulled-pork platters, fresh seafood bard, sharing mezze and antipasto boards. And don’t get us started on their dessert tables – they are the stuff of legend. All we can promise is that your guests won’t be able to wait to pull up a chair and get stuck in.

Mansfield Traquair, Edinburgh

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Awarded a Royal Warrant last year, Heritage Portfolio is exclusive caterer to this mural-adorned former church building (it also caters for The Signet Library and other historic venues). A spectacular setting demands outstanding food, which is no trouble at all for head chef Brian Canale, who won the Scottish Chef of the Year award in 2011. Canale and his brigade thrive on creating fabulous, imaginative and sometimes quirky food. Every wedding menu is tailored for each couple and the team are particularly fond of coming up with fusion menus that celebrate different backgrounds or cultures.
A Scots-Italian menu recently featured haggis ravioli with roasted walnuts, tomatoes and thyme, a prosecco Bellini sorbet and guinea fowl roasted with spinach and pine nuts. Yum!

Cameron House, Loch Lomond

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With a Michelin star in the resort (at Martin Wishart’s restaurant), Cameron House is already a foodie destination. The baronial West Dunbartonshire mansion also happens to be one of the country’s most popular places to say “I do” – and it’s little wonder given the emphasis executive chef Ryan Neil puts on dishing up stunning Scottish fare with flair. Using local and seasonal produce is of paramount importance, as is complementing each course with the right wine. All dishes are a feast for the eyes, each elegantly presented and often with a fun twist. The popular Cairnhill Farm beef fillet, for example, comes with a mini steak pie on the side! Ryan and his team always welcome the opportunity to inject some of the couple’s personality into the menu, recently making a mac ’n’ cheese-loving couple a share-at-the-table starter featuring various guises of the pasta dish.