The Birch Tree
Accessed via a single-track road just off the A9, sharing land with Delny Riding Centre and surrounded by fields of ponies, the Birch Tree was opened by chef and owner Barry Hartshorne and his partner Katarina in early 2012. With a food philosophy based on seasonal, sustainable ingredients sourced from equally committed local producers and suppliers – many of which are name-checked on the website – the produce is the star here, and fine-dining formalities are thin on the ground. The menu changes regularly according to seasonality and availability, but sample dishes like Strathdon Blue soufflé, featherblade of Black Isle beef with tarragon mash, and locally reared pork belly with black pudding and apple puree give an idea of the importance of provenance to the owner. There’s a touch of French influence at play here, too, in food that is colourful, eye-catching and beautifully presented.