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The picturesque village of Cawdor grew up around Cawdor Castle, which has secured its place in history by taking a central role in Shakespeare's...

The picturesque village of Cawdor grew up around Cawdor Castle, which has secured its place in history by taking a central role in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Tourism in the area has a lot to thank the Bard for - the fact that the castle wasn't built until the late 14th century, 300 years after Macbeth died, didn't stop Shakespeare spinning the great yarn.

However, visitors to the estate won't be disappointed with a stop at the Cawdor Tavern - once the castle joiner's workshop - as there's plenty of good-quality regional food on offer.

It's a dark and atmospheric pub with wooden panels, but as the sun was shining we sat outdoors - the plants on the wall helped to obscure the view of the car park.

We shared a mini seafood platter (£5.95) for starters. The prawns marie rose, smoked Mallaig mackerel, marinaded herring fillet and poached salmon, really hit the spot.

The hand-pressed venison burger topped with Welsh rarebit, accompanied by red onion jam (£9.50), was one of the tastiest burgers I've ever had.

My friend thoroughly enjoyed his 8oz prime Scottish ribeye steak with brandy and peppercorn sauce (£15.95). A certificate on the pub's wall proudly states membership of Quality Meat Scotland's Scotch Beef Club. Also on the lunchtime menu was steamed breast of Grampian chicken with curly kale mash, haggis and whisky and mushroom sauce (£9.25).

The evening menu offered local squid with garlic mushrooms and fresh pasta (£5.75), collops of Highland venison on haggis potato dauphinois (£14.75) and guinea fowl supreme on butternut squash (£13.75).

Although the waitress told us flatly that we'd be lucky to get our choice of desserts as the chefs had gone home, it turned out that the dessert chef was still around to prepare the Cawdor Tavern sticky toffee pudding - lovely - and blueberry and white chocolate crème brûlée - not quite so lovely, as the chunks of white chocolate made it too sweet.

Overall the service was adequate, but we felt that the waitress would have much preferred to have been elsewhere.

Fiona McLelland

PubChef rating (out of 10)

Ambience 6, Value for money 8

Flavour factor 8, Overall impression 7

Main courses: £9.50 to £18.95 (evening menu)

Wines on list: 30 whites (6 house), 35 reds (5 house), 3 rosés (1 house), 4 Champagnes and 3 other sparklings

Beers: Stella Artois, Staropramen, Tennents, Tennents 80/-, Velvet 70/-, Guinness, Boddington's and Orkney's Highland Light Ale

And another thing: The Cawdor Tavern's sister pub, the Classroom, a few miles away in Nairn, serves dishes such as Highland venison bourguignon, and potted pork, apricot and beetroot jelly

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