Balbirnie House Hotel in Markinch has made the first menu change for its SEVEN concept series, now showcasing the best of autumn and Fife’s produce.
Launching the seven-course menu at the beginning of September, executive chef Kris Currie and his team at The Orangery restaurant in the hotel make an array of dishes from a set menu for hungry diners.
After six weeks, the menu changes so that the team of chefs is able to feature the very best of the season’s produce.
The restaurant currently only offers up the tasting menu and vegan/vegetarian variations of it.
Making tasting menus affordable
The first menu change occurred this week with Kris explaining the idea behind the concept is to showcase Scotland’s larder while offering up an affordable tasting menu experience for customers.
Priced at £35 per person, the chef took inspiration from a similar concept, Six By Nico, which was started by Scottish chef and entrepreneur Nico Simeone in 2017 offering up six dishes under the same theme.
Nico’s tasting menus are priced at £32 per head.
Kris said: “For me, it was about trying to capture seasonal Scottish produce. Obviously Scotland has some short seasons in terms of the produce but there’s nobody really in our area of Fife that’s doing something like this and at the value that we’re doing it.
“Some other restaurants will use high-end ingredients like halibut and lobster throughout their menu, which obviously drives the price up.
“We’re trying to take good Scottish produce and cook it in a contemporary way and serve it in a way which is different to how other people maybe have it.
“It keeps it affordable by avoiding those prime cuts and expensive fish – it makes it more affordable for people to dine in that sort of manner, especially given the circumstances of the last 18 months.”
Seasonality, not themes
Kris wanted to base the menu around the food available on locals’ doorsteps in Fife as a thank you to them.
By focusing on the ingredients, rather than themes which Six by Nico pride themselves on, Kris says The Orangery’s offering is quite different.
“Six By Nico has done a great job with this concept but theirs is based around themes, like the circus, the Amalfi Coast, Shanghai, etc, whereas mine is around what good Scottish produce is available at that time,” said Kris.
“Me and Nicholas Russell, the owner of Balbirnie, wanted to keep the menu at good value as a thank you to all those who have helped keep Balbirnie’s doors open throughout the pandemic.
“We wanted to also keep it at an approachable price for the locals to enjoy without them having to save up.”
Success so far
Following the launch of the concept six weeks ago on September 9, Kris says the feedback has been well received, with different sittings taking place every evening from 6.30pm keeping the kitchen on their toes.
“Its simplicity and elegance makes it stand out,” he continued.
“Not everyone is eating the same course at the same time but they’re all having the same dishes. It’s like a normal restaurant feel from the customer’s end.
“From our end it’s fun. We work it from a board which has all the table numbers and all the dishes, meaning I’ve got to have the right people on the right sections in the kitchen.
“I’ve got a really good team here at Balbirnie that I’ve built over the past four months. It has its challenges when some people are starting on their first or second course while others have moved on to their main course and others on to their desserts.
“But chefs thrive off a bit of chaos and pressure.”
A seat at the chef’s table
Another new feature is the addition of a chef’s table, which is set a yard away from the hot plate where the dishes are served.
Kris said: “For the staff, the chef’s table was quite a new thing. It’s not very often you get to hear the ‘ooohs’ and ‘aahhs’ as people eat the food as we just usually get the feedback from front of house.
“You can really get a feeling of what the feedback is. Customers are right in amongst it. If there’s any choice language, they are hearing that too!
“The guests we’ve had so far have also helped get a great atmosphere going within the kitchen.”
Wine flight and a festive special
For guests looking to try out a range of wines there’s also the option to add a wine flight for an extra £26, featuring four wines that complement some of the dishes on the menu.
And come December 2, a festive tasting menu will launch which will see a slightly different take on Christmas dinner be presented, with pairings of vodka and salmon, turkey and more on offer.
Bookings must be made in advance via the website, where menus can also be viewed.
The restaurant is open every evening and bookings can only be made for 6.30pm, 7pm, 7.30pm, 8pm and 8.30pm.