Sundays always seem to be the one day of the week when I’m either booked up with a million people to see, or have nothing to do.
Last Sunday was one of those “can someone please come and do something with me” kind of days.
Answering my call was one of my best friends. Deciding to take a trip out to Banchory, we arranged to meet at local eatery Buchanan Bistro.
Based in The Barn, a multi-arts venue at Burn o’ Bennie which hosts festivals, live music performances and theatre shows, Buchanan Bistro is the perfect place for grabbing a quick coffee in the morning, or enjoying organic wine in the evening.
The car park was packed when I arrived, so I was glad I’d phoned ahead and booked a table.
Met with a queue out the door, I managed to manoeuvre my way through the line of individuals waiting and was greeted by a waitress.
She showed me to our table and pointed out the different menus. Early, I got stuck into checking out the menu while waiting for my friend to arrive.
The venue is very bright, with huge windows opening up to a stunning view of the surrounding countryside.
It’s the perfect place to unwind, escape and relax.
It’s comfortable and the furniture and interiors mix and match colours and textures. Playing with height, the tables and chairs are all different sizes and lengths, and made the place look even busier.
We’d hit the jackpot visiting on a Sunday as there was a band playing live music in the background, a special offering at the bistro on a Sunday lunchtime. The music was chirpy and everyone was enjoying it.
My friend soon arrived and we ordered some drinks. A Bon Accord cloudy lemonade for me, and fizzy elderflower water for her.
With a focus on supporting and showcasing local producers, the menu is showered with nods to those championing the industry. From meats from Wark Farm, Sheridan’s Butchers and Leys Estate, to Great Glen Game and Brindisa for charcuterie, to Castleton Fruit Farm for seasonal soft fruits, free-range eggs from Katy’s Eggs and seafood from Tobermory Smokehouse and Sutherlands of Portsoy, there’s plenty on the menu.
The bistro has an allotment where it grows organic vegetables and salads, and it sources additional stock from Vital Veg and Megan Alban who also supply them with vegetables as and when needed.
Ordering the mezze combo to share to kick off our lunch, it didn’t take long for our food to arrive. And given how busy it was, we were impressed.
Served with a bowl of bread cut into bite-sized chunks, the board was the ideal size for a starter. Arriving with three different dips featuring hummus with a peppery kick, mashed olives and a beetroot dip, the flavours were unique. A little earthier than anticipated, the olive and beetroot dips were also extremely fragrant. The hummus was delicious and we both agreed it was our favourite.
The four slices of dry, crisp, thinly sliced toast were the perfect tool for the thick dips. With a variety of flavours of bread including tomato, there was plenty on offer to enjoy.
Polishing it off and clearing our plates, we were soon met with our main courses.
Tghai spiced beetroot chickpea hotpot with bistro salad for me; my friend opted for the wild garlic and pecorino cheese risotto.
The hotpot was a beautiful bright pink/red hue. Contrasted with the vibrant green salad leaves on the side, it was the stewed red onions and carrot mix and the shredded pickled red cabbage that added the real flavours to the side salad. The beetroot and chickpea offering was delicious. Cooked well, the beetroot was great and the Thai spices it had been stewed in added a sweet yet spicy taste to the dish.
Served in a turquoise bowl, the food popped and looked all the more appetising.
My friend’s dish didn’t come with a side salad, but she was able to add one featuring a range of grains and pulses for an extra £5 – a small price to pay for the size of it.
The risotto was creamy and had been cooked with the pecorino cheese which was lathered all over, completely covering it.
Wild garlic had been chopped and placed throughout the risotto, adding a pungent garlic taste which my friend loved.
It, too, was served in a bowl which also contrasted in colour making the dish pop.
Perfectly cooked, my friend said it was the best risotto she’d had in the north-east.
Finishing up our mains, dessert was on our minds.
Having eyed the cake counter, we agreed it would be rude to leave without trying at least one out.
After deliberating for what seemed like an eternity, we ordered a coffee and ginger slice and a piece of the chocolate and beer cake to share; after all, that’s what friends are for.
Getting a bite of both cakes, it was the gooey chocolate and beer cake that sold it for me. Featuring a dark stout, the moist cake was packed with chocolate and topped with a beautiful glazed icing.
The ginger slice boasted a tart coffee icing which was perfectly paired to my friend’s cuppa.
I ordered a matcha latte. The green milky drink was well received and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
My friend enjoyed a pot of herbal tea.
We sat enjoying the live music as we tucked into as much of the cake as we could.
Surrendering to the gooey goodies, we realised one cake would have been more than enough for us to share. A good size, they were great value at £3.50-£4.
Buchanan Bistro is nestled on the outskirts of Banchory and is a bit of a hidden gem. The food offering and the eatery’s ethos in general is very laudable. Partner that with its attitudes to sustainability, not just in the kitchen, but front of house, and you have one pretty ethical joint.
Not only does it support a team of local producers, it cares for customers and the experience they have at the eatery by employing friendly, knowledgeable staff.
As well as brewing its own beer, Buchanan Bistro ferments its own kombucha and offers up a range of organic wines.
Serving food from breakfast to dinner, it’s a popular place for locals as well as those on the hunt for something different.
Open seven days a week, there’s no excuse not to pay them a visit.