Reviews of a few places I ate in or had coffee this past weekend:
The Classroom, Nairn: (for dinner on Saturday evening)
I've eaten in this restaurant many times before, as has my partner on a few occasions. We booked late in the afternoon for a dinner booking that evening (Saturday 26th March), half expecting to be told it was fully booked as it was during the Easter weekend, but they were able to take a late-ish booking for 8.45pm; we turned up at about 8.30pm and as predicted it was "hoaching", but they were able to seat us at our table for two immediately, which was a relief as the bar area was really busy and almost every other table was fully occupied. Our orders for food and wine were taken reasonably quickly. We both ended up ordering starters and mains from the 'daily specials'. We both had the crab croquettes with a small salad and a sweet-and-sour dip, which was excellent - the croquettes had nice crunchy outer layers but very tasty creamy potato and crab-filled interiors, nicely set-off with the dips and the salads. For the mains, we both had the venison haunch steaks with black puddings, etc; I've had this particular dish here before so remembered it being pretty good. Vension steaks can sometimes be a bit dry, but previously and on Satturday both our steaks were delicious - cooked quite rare as we both like them, juicy and tender and with a lovely sauce. The accompanying black pudding slices atop disks of very smooth creamy mashed potato and the accompanying veggies were all excellent. We had a very nice bottle of Rioja (red) from the 3rd wine on their list of reds, which was pretty good value I'd say. For pudding one of us wished to have one of the 'daily menu' specials - a variety of panna cotta - which sounded delicious (but was already sold out unfortunately), so we both had the triple Belgian chocolate dessert - it was nicely served and in fact included about 6 separate elements, all delicious and of course quite rich and sinful. In local terms this is one of the more expensive places to eat, but not outrageously so for the quality offered. Despite it being very busy on Saturday, the service was efficient and reasonably prompt whilst remaining friendly and professional. Undoubtedly we shall be back in due course.
The Links TeaRoom, Nairn (for Sunday morning refreshments)
I live very close to this place so very occasionally pop in for a bite to eat, or a coffee if I'm too lazy to do it at home. On Sunday (27th March) we popped in for coffee and hot chocolate after a walk along the beach. The service was very slow, but reasonably friendly and both the decaffeinated latte (for me) and the hot chocolate (for my partner) were excellent. The Tea Room only re-opened a few days ago, just before Easter, after having been closed as usual over the winter, but I expect it will do a roaring trade over coming months. I/we will probably pop in a few times in coming months and recommend it, provided you are not in a rushing hurry.
Brewers Fayre, Linkwood Lodge, Elgin (for Sunday lunch)
This is not one of the best meals I have ever had (by a long way), but it did represent extremely good value, with pretty slick service from friendly, attentive personnel. The food was modest in cost, but perfectly nice and acceptable. I've eaten in a few Brewers Fayre outlets before and this was similar. My partner had seen them, but never eaten in one before, so we decided to visit yesterday (Sunday 27th March) for lunch. The restaurant was quite busy, but we found a table easily enough, the ordering system is straightforward and the person who took our order was friendly and efficient, as was the person who delivered our food and drinks. Our orders took a little while to arrive, but on the other hand that indicated that the food was likely freshly prepared, which it was. A 14oz rib-eye for my partner, which given the very modest cost was quite good and cooked 'rare' as requested; it represents amazing value in my view (I had a few small mouthfuls of it). My Thai chicken curry was not brilliant, but still very nice and the spicy crackers and sweet/sour dip were nice too. You don't go to a Brewers Fayre for gourmet food, but they do serve decent food, fairly quickly, and the staff are generally friendly and attentive. I can certainly see a return visit in due course. NB/ Brewers Fayre restaurants are often close to Premier Inn hotels, as both are owned by the same company; this one is located in a small commercial area just off the main A96 road on the eastern edge of Elgin.
So there we have it, quite a lot of food over a very enjoyable couple of days. In fact I eat out fairly frequently, usually at least once a week, so I may start including brief reviews here in future. I hope others visiting or living in this part of Scotland may find this useful.