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Head chef Grant Macnicol truly making a name for himself at Dornoch Castle

By Staff Reporter

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Having returned to Dornoch Castle Hotel last year as head chef, Grant Macnicol quickly put his stamp on the menu, with inventive seasonal dishes indicative of his time spent in two and three rosette kitchens throughout Scotland.

Now, the Halkirk-born chef is going one step further by putting his name on the 55-seater restaurant at the hotel, which is home to Europe’s first hotel-based gin and whisky distillery.

Having undergone an extensive refurbishment, the restaurant has been named Grant Macnicol at The Castle.

Head chef Grant Macnicol has put his name on the 55-seater restaurant at the Dornoch Castle Hotel.
Head chef Grant Macnicol has put his name on the 55-seater restaurant at the Dornoch Castle Hotel.

It has a new look showcasing stone pillars, a new fireplace at the entrance and new signage, together with full redecoration.

The use of local produce remains to the fore in Grant’s menus, which include both a six-course tasting menu, served in the private dining room, The Vault, and an à la carte menu.

Grant is keen to develop additional menus showcasing the hotel’s own-label organic gin produced in its on-site distillery, featuring ingredients such as roasted green tea, berries and seaweed.

Under his direction, private dining at the hotel has also continued to grow apace, with many diners coming from Caithness and across the Highlands. Local events coming up include a Dornoch Distillery Dinner.

“We’re delighted to unveil this new name, and look, at the restaurant,” said Dornoch Castle managing director Colin Thompson. “Grant has proved himself a huge asset since he returned to the business last year as head chef, and now he’s become a partner in the business too, with my wife and sons. We are thrilled to have him, as the food and drink offering is a huge part of what we do here at the Castle, with everyone committed to developing this sector as much as we can.”

Having trained at North Highland College UHI, Grant started his career with Dornoch Castle Hotel in 2004 as a sous chef. He went on to win Scottish Young Chef of the Year in 2007 and also become a Young Highlands Ambassador. In 2008, having been head chef at Dornoch Castle for three years, he decided to leave and work in other restaurants and hotels throughout Scotland.

Grant (35) said: “It means a great deal to me to have my name above the door at the restaurant at Dornoch Castle. I can’t wait to show it off.

"Not only have I returned to the place where my career first properly began, but being a local guy, and having had a 10-year culinary journey throughout Scotland, I was more than ready to put down roots and invest in this superb family business. The new restaurant is well and truly the icing on the cake.”

The reopening of the restaurant will coincide with the launch of a new two-course seasonal lunch menu, with the restaurant opening every night from 6pm until 10pm. Twenty new wines are to be featured on the wine menu, alongside new Dornoch Gin cocktails. Afternoon tea will be served daily from 1pm-4pm.

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