Bonnie appétit: Scottish wedding venues for foodies 2018

Sensational scran is on offer at many of our top venues, thanks to fabulous home­grown produce, clever cooking and inventive, award-winning chefs

Drumtochty Castle

Photo: Sam Brill

We’re now more interested than ever in where our food comes from. We like to be able to trace each ingredient right back to the source – partly because such transparency is often the key to a delicious dish. A prime example of this is the ‘estate to plate’ philosophy of Drumtochty Castle in Aberdeenshire. “This way of cooking ensures we use the very best local Scottish produce and ingredients,” explains the venue’s Julia Catto. “This means venison from the deer who roam our grounds and seasonal herbs and vegetables grown in our garden.”

A sample menu devised by head chef Nick Coetzer reflects what’s available and abundant on the 350-acre estate: home-cured trio of Scottish salmon, gin-and-tonic sorbet, slow-braised shin of beef with seasonal vegetables, and a sweet berry and basil soup dessert. It’s hard to argue with that. 

Glen Clova Hotel and Lodges

Hidden away on the southern edge of the Cairngorms National Park, with gorgeous views all around, Glen Clova Hotel and Lodges really has a magnificent location. It’ll give you that lovely remote, ‘away from it all’ feeling as soon as you arrive (helped by the fact that you’ll be lucky to connect to any network signal while you’re here). That means you and your guests (up to 84 can stay on site, in the ten bedrooms of the hotel itself and across its nine luxurious lodges) can completely relax, switch off and give all your attention to the pleasure of being together – and to the feast that awaits.

The Angus bolthole’s cuisine is driven by the quality of its local, seasonal produce, with every dish on the menu showcasing outstanding elements of the country’s larder. The beef and lamb, for example, come from the hotel’s own Angus-reared livestock, and the venison is sourced from the surrounding hills. The rooster potatoes are even grown on Glen Clova’s own farm. 

Fairmont St Andrews

There’s no way we could leave Fairmont St Andrews out of any round-up of delicious dining experiences. Executive chef Steven Wilson is a credit to the resort: simply tell him your favourite food and he’ll create a bespoke wedding menu for you like no other. Hand-dived scallops, lobster from the bay, Ayrshire beef with fresh herbs from the garden – nothing is off limits.

And it’s not just the savoury selection that’s champion here: executive pastry chef Alexander Haebe is a dessert wizard – and he can even make your wedding cake! With enough advance notice, the supremely talented chef will create a tower of delectable tiers. Back in May, to join in the celebrations of Harry and Meghan’s nuptials, the hotel hosted a themed afternoon tea for which Alexander created individual lemon-and-elderflower cakes for guests. Could this be your big-day flavour combo too?

Dryburgh Abbey Hotel

Nervous about committing to a set menu? There’s no need to worry at Dryburgh Abbey Hotel in the Borders. With no option A, B or C in sight, the idea instead is for you to design your own individual line-up so you’re guaranteed to love your choices. The hotel’s philosophy is to use prime local ingredients that are in season, and to bring them to the table in an imaginative, surprising and delightful way. Get the family to stay on at the Melrose manor the following day for a barbecue or hog roast – the chefs will be only too happy to oblige.

Three Sisters Bake

Photo: Craig & Eva Sanders

Until fairly recently, only those who’d booked Killearn Village Hall would be lucky enough to have Three Sisters Bake as their caterers. Now, though, the trio has expanded beyond their Stirlingshire base to offer their services across central Scotland, Perthshire, Edinburgh, East Lothian, Fife and Ayrshire. There are no stiff three-course plated meals here; instead, you can look forward to sumptuous feast-style servings and gourmet buffet spreads.

A vast array of mouthwatering dishes and platters are typically laid on (we’re talking the likes of pulled pork, a fresh seafood bar, a sharing mezze station and antipasto boards), so you and your guests can help yourselves. If you’d prefer to keep it to the table, family-style dining is a winner, with bowls of salads, stews and in-season vegetables to be passed around. It’s a great way to get everyone chatting. And, of course, you’ll also have a delectable dessert table laden with to-die-for cakes and treats…

Richmond Park Hotel

Fans of MasterChef and The Great British Menu will know that the best chefs in the UK have worked in Michelin-starred kitchens – and Andrew Thomas Hughes, executive chef at the Richmond Park Hotel has done just that. “After working in some top establishments including Gordon Ramsay’s Maze in London and Cromlix House Hotel, Andrew has joined us and is putting local Scottish produce back on the map,” says the Bo’ness hotel’s Amy Hope. “He is very passionate about what he does, as can be seen in the dishes he creates.” The chef also won AA Rosettes for his last job, in Wales, and has brought a wealth of knowledge with him to his new role.

Loch Ness Country House Hotel

The AA Rosette, as mentioned above, is only awarded to restaurants that truly excel at what they do. Sounds simple enough to achieve? Actually, just one in ten restaurants across the whole country has reached the required standard. And if it’s difficult to get one Rosette, you can imagine what it must take to get two.

But that’s exactly what the Loch Ness Country House Hotel has accomplished. Adam Dwyer, executive chef at the picturesque Inverness-shire establishment explains his philosophy: “We understand that catering for a couple’s special day is an opportunity for us to provide an experience that will live long in the memory of the bride, the groom and their guests. It is for this reason that we put as much passion and attention to detail into our wedding catering as we do for the diners in our award-winning 2 AA Rosette restaurant.” You’ll be spoiled for choice too, as Adam and his team have over 80 dishes in their wedding pack for you to choose from. If you’d prefer, you can come armed with your own ideas and they’ll be only too happy to create something unique for you.

Heritage Portfolio

Do you ever wonder what kind of foodie delights the Queen tucks into? Well, if you marry at a venue catered by Heritage Portfolio, you’ll find out – the firm boasts the supreme accolade of a royal warrant. Super-smart and sophisticated venues around Edinburgh, such as the Signet Library, Mansfield Traquair, Hopetoun House and Gilmerton House, are on its books, and the quality of the cooking is second to none. “Heritage Portfolio was granted a royal warrant from Her Majesty the Queen in 2014 in recognition of its high standards, attention to detail and outstanding catering,” says executive director Mark Miller. “We’re immensely proud of it.”

The Tall Ship

Book your wedding at Glasgow’s historic Tall Ship and you won’t just have a unique venue, you’ll also have catering from the exceptional En Croute. Chef James Forrest, who’s in charge of the kitchen, has worked at some of Scotland’s very best restaurants, including the Peat Inn and The Kitchin, both of which have Michelin stars. He says, “Having been lucky enough to work at several leading restaurants, I feel that I am able to take inspiration in the way we approach our catering at En Croute.” James is up there with the best, with the skills and the experience to produce dishes that will knock everyone’s socks off. “Using seasonal Scottish produce wherever possible is very important to us, and we’re always striving to provide the best dining experience we can. Attention to detail, consistency and commitment allow us to achieve this.”

Scone Palace

Imagine being able to pick your ingredients from the garden, make a short walk to the kitchen and whip up something tantalisingly scrumptious with what you’ve gathered. At Scone Palace, this is reality. “We reinstated our kitchen garden back in 2014,” says Margo Baird at the A-listed Perthshire landmark. “We recognise the importance of food provenance, so our head gardener and head chef work closely together, planning the planting schedule to suit the menus, in order to have homegrown, seasonal crops on hand. This allows us to present couples with a choice of delicious options using fresh, Scottish ingredients for an unforgettable wedding breakfast.”

Trump Turnberry

One of the best things about wedding planning is the menu tasting. But instead of doing the sampling session in the venue’s restaurant, as usually happens, at Trump Turnberry you’ll be welcomed into the kitchen to see the action unfold. The Ayrshire resort’s Justin Galea explains: “Couples are invited to our chef’s table to try their selected dishes. It provides an intimate dining experience – a live, culinary performance featuring our brigade of talented chefs.” During the tasting, you’ll get the whole story of the cooking methods, the provenance of the ingredients and how it’ll all come together on the day. How cool is that?

Dalduff Farm

With a farm shop on site and fresh produce key to its feast-style menus, it’s not surprising that Dalduff Farm attracts couples who take an interest in what they eat. “Most of our produce comes from our own farm shop and butcher, or is sourced locally from the best suppliers in Ayrshire, then prepared on the day in our on-site kitchen,” says Jeny Turner at the Maybole venue. There are no hard and fast rules about how a wedding should go at these laidback barns, and that relaxed vibe goes for the food too, she adds: “Each course is served on sharing platters, so everyone can tuck in – it makes for a convivial atmosphere and clean plates all round!”