I have family near Elgin.
When I told them I was visiting this ‘modern Scottish’ restaurant, which opened last year, the overriding question was; ‘Where the heck is it?’ and there was some confusion as to how its existence had managed to pass them by.
They know every business in their Moray hood.
Not that things change much in this town, though there has been some shuffling. There’s a new-ish coffee shop, a juice bar and a cool stationary shop, all independents.
After some quick Googling, I filled the fam in on the location.
It’s opposite Yeadon's Bookshop, in the former premises of the excellently named Beaver Travel, which must have been a lockdown casualty. It’s a shame they shut down, though I suppose beavers just buy their Canada flights online these days.
The year-and-a-bit-old restaurant was opened by local Andy Fyfe, who once worked under the late Alan Gibb, when he was the executive chef at Gleneagles. Apparently, Orrin is an anglicised take on the Gaelic word odhran, which translates as “little green one”. Not necessarily the colour you want to be after lunch.
The space is roomy and features a smart Victorian shop front, with huge windows. It’s just one of the beautiful buildings in the town. According to my sister-in-law, Poundland is having to demolish and rebuild their premises, formerly Woolworths, as it’s B-listed.
Thankfully, Orrin’s property is in perfect nick, and they’ve painted it a dusty sage green inside.
There’s bistro-style seating out front, but we were taken out back where we commandeered a booth for two, which was upholstered in a moody print of striped tulips.
We visited when they were still offering a festive menu, at £34 for two courses, or £40 for three. By the time you read this, they’ll presumably have gone back down to their regular price, which, if past menus on Instagram are anything to go by, should be almost a tenner less.
I went for the starter of home-cured sea trout, which featured three long slivers of gummy, coral pink fish, as well as a buttery yellow and warm tartare sauce that was speckled with nonpareille capers. There was a pear-drop-sized halved pickled quail’s egg, with a sticky yolk, and two crunchy planks of charcoal crisp bread, as well as three traffic light hues of puree in varying degrees of sweetness and viscosity. Although there appeared to be a lot going on, it was all very subtle. Nothing jarring.
We also tried the Orrin Cullen skink and we could smell it while it was en route from the kitchen. We were both salivating, though my Pavlovian response was pointless, since this wasn’t meant for me. I was, temporarily at least, the little green one, though envy had turned me that shade.
The delicate helping featured fanned flakes of haddock, like the deckled edge of a book, as well as pearl onions, potato, charred leeks and chives. One of the staff members poured the smoked cream veloute over the top. Totally lush.
The mains were equally luxurious and rich.
I had the braised short rib of beef, which left my lips glossy with its rich sticky-ness. It came with black truffle flecked mash, crispy and very salty wild mushrooms, a sweet red wine jus, and various veggies, like broccoli and carrot, as well as a tangle of pea shoots.
Our other main – he huge loin of North Sea cod – had a skirlie-ish crust on its skin, for a nutty and starchy crunch. It was served with puy lentils, spicy chorizo crumbs, savoy cabbage, and garlic and caper butter.
I’m a fan of this sort of food. It’s not ground-breaking, but it makes you feel special. If you eat here, it’s your birthday, even if it’s not.
I would’ve loved to have tried the clootie dumpling, in tribute to my granny, but we were replete.
Instead, I tried the old-fashioned (£10) cocktail. It arrived under a glass cloche, which was removed to unleash enough smoke to fill an Eighties discotheque. This was heady for someone who’s a booze featherweight, so I stumbled across to the bookshop feeling a bit woozy. My designated driver was fine, since he’d gone for the Saurin mocktail (£6.50), with Wild Eve Botanical Infusion, apple, lime and vanilla bean syrup.
I’ll remember this address.
Although it’s an awful shame that beavers can’t book their flight to Canada anymore, the building has a worthy new occupant.
2-6 South Street
(01343 357 564, www.orrinrestaurant.com)
How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £68