Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (2024)

Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (1)

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (2)ByJulia Bryce

The Moray coast boasts some of the most incredible views. A walk anywhere along it is bound to give you a lift, no matter the weather.

A recent trip north with my colleague Karla Sinclair meant that on our return to Aberdeen, we would be travelling along the coast.

We’d had burgers, fine dining, Asian and traditional Scottish cuisine while we’d been away, but very little seafood.

After doing a little bit of research it finally hit me. Bootleggers Bar and Grill.

I had previously visited The Bothy Bistro in Burghead, Bootleggers’ sister venue, but hadn’t made my return to the pandemic-inspired venture since it had been renovated into bricks and mortar.

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (3)

Bootleggers Bar and Grill

I parked up at the small Hopeman Harbour and Karla and I made our way along the front of West Beach Caravan Park to an open space near the end where Bootleggers lies. It was a beautiful day and we could see for miles.

The set up has changed a lot since I was last there. I remember queuing outside at different manufactured pop-ups – one for drinks and one for the grill – patiently waiting in all weather to get some scran.

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (4)

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (5)

This, however, was the full gig now. Owners Ruth and Barry Scott have completely transformed it. The first notable change is the 20-plus shipping containers that have been fused together to create the body of the venue. The interior has allowed them to turn it into the most gorgeous space and I was genuinely shocked at how well they finished it.

When we stepped inside we were met with a familiar face, someone we’d connected with at Singleton Distillery in Muir of Ord just a few days earlier. We also bumped into the Bad Girl Bakery team when leaving, too, after meeting them in the Victorian Market in Inverness just the day before.

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (6)

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (7)

I’d booked a table as I was convinced Sunday lunchtime was going to be busy. When we arrived there were a few bigger tables, so we opted for a quick tour of the place and picked a table with two comfortable sofas and a breathtaking view thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows.

There’s a real nautical feel to the venue, with lights resembling shells, fishing rope, portholes in the doors and sea creature door knobs all nodding to it.

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (8)

The menus came on clipboards and we were told the specials. The keen journalists we are, we couldn’t resist having a nosy through the firm’s newsletter which they’d printed in the style of a newspaper.

We quickly ordered water for the table before the server left and a can of orange Sanpellegrino.

The food

Between us, we ordered five dishes.

Grilled prawns, barbecue brisket, grilled half cauliflower (as recommended by our server), Asian noodles and crispy squid.

We were ravenous and needed a good feed for the car journey ahead.

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (9)

All of the dishes arrived at once and immediately our empty table was swarmed by food. We even had to make space for the finger bowls they provided, which is always a nice touch with shellfish.

We were overwhelmed with the choice but decided to start with the recommended dish. This satay sauce is one that should be bottled and sold. It was rich and creamy, with a slight heat to it, and I loved its nuttiness against the soft grilled cauliflower. It was a hit with us both, and one we made sure to polish off.

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (10)

Karla tucked into the squid next which she adored. There were rings and tentacles and the garlic aioli it was served with was thick with flavour. We both dipped the different pieces into it and complimented how well-cooked the squid was.

There was plenty of it, too, and the side salad had a crisp, acidic dressing which balanced the creamy aioli.

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (11)

Grilled prawns are a favourite of mine. Despite them being a nightmare to eat, especially when you’re trying not to make a mess, these ones were spot on. Four large prawns were presented all covered in a moreish soy butter with garlic and chilli.

You could see the tiny pieces of chilli sprinkled across them in the glistening butter glaze in which they’d been cooked in.

Karla wasn’t interested in the faff of deshelling, so it was me and four prawns for the foreseeable. I squeezed the wedge of lemon over it to cut through it all, adding an acidic element.

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (12)

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (13)

We’d ordered the Asian noodles as a side not expecting much, but they were excellent.

There was so much depth to them with fried veggies like onion, peppers and mushrooms throughout and fresh micro herbs on top adding a zing to the dish. The noodles were great and the light sauce covering everything was sublime.

The slow roast marinated brisket however stole the show for both of us. We’d opted for the barbecue sauce, however, there’s hoisin and shawarma, to pick from as well.

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (14)

For anyone who likes meat, this is the dish you need to order. Slices of brisket were topped with crunchy onion pieces and pickled veg. The sauce was exceptional and if I’d had bread to hand, I’d have soaked it all up with it.

The meat was cooked to perfection and melted in your mouth. Couple that with the beautiful sauce, and it was faultless.

We were absolutely stuffed, trying to polish as much as we could off. Dessert was offered but we politely refused. We had eyed up other menu items including the seafood chowder, Shetland mussels and sweet and smoky rotisserie chicken, but five dishes between us had been more than enough.

The walk back to the car was as mesmerising as the walk there. The only difference? It was just that little bit slower…

The verdict

Bootleggers Bar and Grill is architecture design at its finest. I’ve never experienced a venue like it and I was very impressed with just how well they’ve transformed the old shipping containers into a bustling restaurant and bar.

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (15)

The décor is beautiful and the balcony upstairs boasts a view that anyone could easily fall in love with.

What’s more, the food matches its setting and I can imagine enjoying a few co*cktails here in summer would go down a treat.

Information

Address: Bootleggers Bar & Grill, West Beach Caravan Park, Harbour Street, Hopeman, Elgin IV30 5RU

W: www.bootleggersbarandgrill.co.uk

Price: £52 for

Scores:

Food: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Surroundings: 4.5/5

Restaurant review: Bootleggers Bar and Grill in Hopeman boasts stunning food with views to match (2024)

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