"For a special occasion, this is somewhere to go for a treat" This was how The Cross was described in the welcome booklet we found at our accommodation in Aviemore.
As you will know, we came to Aviemore to celebrate our first wedding anniversary and for a couple of weeks before I had been googling various ideas to find somewhere special to enjoy a meal. I had found a few ideas before getting up here but nothing that jumped out at me. So when I read the above review in the booklet I had to Google it and was very pleasantly surprised. The Cross entices you by telling you that 'Dinners are served by an open fire in the stone walled and wood beamed restaurant. Menus feature carefully prepared fresh and seasonal produce and the wine list is one of the best in the UK' it continues 'The Good Food Guide has rated The Cross as one of the six best places to eat in the Scottish Highlands and Trip Advisor ranks The Cross as #1 in the area. Recommended in all other independent guidebooks, including Michelin, The Good Hotel Guide, Scotland the Best (upgraded to two ticks for 2008!), Rough Guide, Lonely Planet, and Fromers'
Further, it comments that 'we use only the finest fresh produce, locally sourced where possible. Game from local estates, Highland beef, Shetland lamb, prime fish from Scrabster, and shellfish from Skye. Wild mushrooms picked locally, soft fruits from Alvie Estate and cheeses from Mull and Galloway'
The only downside was that it doesn't open on a Sunday or Monday and our anniversary was the Sunday, so whilst we went out for a nice meal on our anniversary itself we also booked a table for two at The Cross for Thursday evening.
When we arrived we were very warmly welcomed and thus started a truly special meal.
The whole service was provided by the owners who were assisted by a couple of chefs back in the kitchen. We started with olives whilst pondering the menu. The olives were the best we've tasted in some time, slightly flavoured with rosemary. We were then given some homemade sour dough bread and unsalted butter.
Whilst enjoying these nibbles we were enjoying the quiet surroundings and a warming log fire quietly crackling away in the background. There was only one other couple dining and a chap on his own who we thought may have been reviewing the food as he was scribbling in his notebook the whole time!
Next to arrive was the appetiser - a small cappuccino cup full of Jerusalem artichoke soup with a drizzle of truffle oil. It may have been small but it was truly delicious and warming - I could have enjoyed a whole bowl of the soup on its own and been a very happy lass but it just kept getting better...
Next was our first course. I had chosen the tian of kyle of lochalsh langoustines, avocado & vine tomato and Anthony chose the seared breast of scottish woodpigeon, date puree and goats cheese emulsion.
I really enjoyed the fresh langoustines and had a small taste of the woodpigeon and goats cheese emulsion, which just melted in your mouth. I dont think I could eat much of the pigeon myself, but Anthony really enjoyed every mouthful and said he would pick it again.
Onto the mains, we both chose roast breast of organic highland chicken, vine tomato fondue, leeks and peas with garlic mash. The chicken melted in your mouth it was just perfectly cooked. The tomato fondue was simple but the flavour was really rich. The garlic mash, again, just melted in your mouth - this is one mash I will by trying to recreate at home soon!
For dessert, Anthony had to try the hot chocolate fondant with chilli ice cream. He seems to have been craving chilli chocolate recently so this definitely put a smile on his face.
I, on the other hand, couldn't resist the creme caramel, caramelised spiced bananas with creme brulee ice cream. Not being a huge fan of banana I was very pleasantly surprised, they were very lightly spiced and truly delicious. The creme caramel and crunchy creme brulee ice cream were really creamy.
The portion sizes throughout the meal were absolutely spot on. We both finished each plateful and as we finished the meal with coffee and petit fours we decided that we were just nicely full. And as I mentioned earlier, the service through out was just right. Food and service arriving just at the right time, food was introduced to us at each course and both proprietors knew everything about the food and where it came from.
At £45 per person we felt that we got extremely good value for money. The only down side being that the credit card machine didn't have an option for service which we would have most gladly left. However the menu did state that the cost per person included service and tax. Either way we came away knowing that we will return at the drop of a hat next time we are up here, whenever that will be!
It was most definately one of the best meals we have devoured and would both heartily recommend it to anyone looking for genuinely good, well sourced food by people who obviously love it even more.
Ps. Again, apologies for lack of food pictures - I really wish we'd taken the camera with us.