aviemore

Service with a smile at La Taverna Aviemore 


It makes such a difference to me what the staff are like in a restaurant. It can be the difference of going somewhere because of convenience or making a trip especially. I understand that you can get a sudden rush or be understaffed, and I make allowances for it, but it’s the friendliness that changes everything. Waiting in a busy place is not an easy job but some people are just naturally good at it and put you at ease. Luckily, I’ve found some gems in this category recently. 

Friends of mine kept recommending La Taverna restaurant on the edge of Aviemore but it has such tough competition nearby that I never seemed to get there until last year. Now it’s our favourite place in Aviemore! 


Decor is old school traditional Italian even although the outside looks like a big ski lodge. It has an informal feel, which is probably to do with many of their clientele coming straight off the slopes or from doing watersports. Until March this year we had only visited in the daytime but I can now attest that the nighttime clientele were mainly sporty ones or tourists looking to rest those weary feet. 

Keeping on the informal lines, they do a buffet both at lunchtime and at night, as well as their a la carte menu. I’ve had an a la carte meal once because I wanted to try the seafood spaghetti (delicious) but the buffet is so convenient for us with a toddler. 

They serve a selection of pizza, pasta and salad, and in the evening it includes dessert. We generally visit right at the start of lunch and they always ask what pizzas we like and make things that we want on there – gold star for customer service. 

Then there’s the pastas, at least four on at a time. Little L favours the creamy pesto one and macaroni cheese while my go to is the tomato and chicken. 

Salad isn’t just the normal buffet affair. The orzo salad is my favourite and they have plenty of olives to keep L happy. There’s a few pasta salads, beetroot salad, the normal leaves, a tomato salad, bean salad, coleslaw and more. 

Sometimes we’ll order ice-cream to share afterwards under the pretence that we’re doing it for the child. Think what you will but it’s nice ice-cream. 

La Taverna should be eternally grateful to their staff because, ultimately, that’s why we keep going back and I’m sure we’re not the only ones. I’d describe the service as relaxed, genuine and cheerful. They always greet us with a smile, even the chefs if they are about. The fact that the chefs say bye if they are out front tending to the buffet says it all. How many places does that happen in? 

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Carrbridge Revival At The Kitchen 

 

Credit: Fergus Thom Photography (www.fergusthom.com)

 

At times I forget that Carrbridge is so close to Inverness & end up going to Beauly or suchlike for jaunts. Some of my favourite places in the Inverness area can be found hidden in the little villages, which makes it perfect for days out and post lunch walks. Carrbridge holds fond memories for me as this is where Landmark Forest Adventure Park is. Landmark is where highland kids spend birthdays or school holiday treat days – there was always such excitement in the car if that’s where we were headed (my poor parents!). There’s water slides, nature trails, play parks, towers to climb, puzzle areas, diggers and so on…lots to keep kids, and adults, entertained & we loved it. I can’t wait to take my kids to Landmark, although remembering that we’re there for them and not me might be a challenge. 
 

The FB photos that compelled me to visit

 
I found out about a new cafe opening in Carrbridge a few months ago called Carrbridge Kitchen. Their Facebook page reeled me in – the first food photo was of a massive rare piece of roast beef, they got my weakness and off I trotted. We were taking the next generation for her first girly lunch so it was an important occasion, and one that I plan to do many times more with my little niece. 
 

proud auntie

 

The plain eater cousin chose a ham sandwich (requested no salad,no condiments, no frills for her) alongside a vegetable soup. The food was presented on attractive mottled crockery instead of the standard white catering stuff you see so often now. Obviously that doesn’t matter if the food isn’t up to standard but I can tell you now that it was delicious. The vegetable soup that can so often lack taste was flavoursome and had more than just a few root veg chucked in. I’m sure I could taste broccoli which is something I’d never think to put in but it probably helped to lift it.

soup & sandwich £6.95

Wanting something different from a sandwich, the specials board caught my eye. Lamb koftas arrived with flatbread, yoghurty-mint dip and a good sized fresh salad on the side of the plate. Just enough spices & seasoning were used in the koftas to be aromatic but not spicy and the lamb still had a hint of pink (punches air). The mint dip provided a lovely fresh taste and the flatbread was nice and soft. I particularly enjoyed the salad because it was dressed properly and it hardly had any leaves – I’d take cucumber, pepper and tomato over boring leaves any day. It added interest to the plate and wasn’t just an afterthought. If this dish is on the specials again, I wouldn’t hesitate about picking it. 

lamb koftas, flatbread, mint dip & salad £8.95

The niece’s mummy was hankering after prawns so was delighted to see prawn marie rose as a sandwich option and she had it alongside the spicy parsnip soup. As soon as I tried her sandwich I wanted the whole thing (I too am a fan of prawn marie rose from time to time & right now have the appetite of a pig) but I wanted my koftas more. The spicy parsnip soup wasn’t too nippy but rather had a warming spiciness throughout so you could still taste the sweetness of the parsnips. Perfect for a cold day. 

  

The homemade cake photos on Facebook had made me excited about trying one so, even although we were pretty full, we were not leaving without some cake-age. Cousin decided straight away on the chocolate cake, which I then stole a spoon of, probably without even asking. Lucky she has a good nature and, it seems, good cake choosing abilities. Rich but moist and delightfully choclately. 

  

The big sister was trying to be good so went for a smaller cake (we have pretty good logic on ‘being good’) in the form of a lemon drizzle slice. As always, she chose something that I almost chose so I sat eyeing it up. Sweet and tangy at the same time, the cake had a good balance and wasn’t too heavy. 

 

Greed took over and I took the cookie dough cheesecake. In my defence, I didn’t realise that it was going to be such a large slice and I couldn’t finish it in the end. A mammoth dessert, it was full of sweet cookie, marshmallowy tasting bits, creamy soft cheese with a hearty biscuit base. There are so many adjectives that I could use but the best way I could describe it is unashamedly indulgent. Not for those on a diet! 

  
As I write this from my bed, I’m wondering if I could convince sleeping husband into a drive through to Carrbridge today for a return visit before work. Then my brain has a little debate about what to eat because I have confidence that I’d like anything on their menu. That’s when I know a place’s worth in my eyes – it could tick all the boxes and on paper be a 10/10 but it has to catch me and pull me in as well.