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  • Lynn Hill

Alfresco Dining – in the Kitchen Garden

The Sunday Times name Nick Nairn’s 'Nick's at Port of Menteith' restaurant as a top spot for alfresco dining in the UK. It’s easy to see why, the garden is maturing wonderfully - Brimming with colour and taste, both in the garden and on the plate.

alfresco dining amongst the flowers in the kitchen garden at Nick's at Port of Menteith restaurant Stirlingshire Scotland. Brimming with colourful plants and a mixture of ornamental and edibles, with a polytunnel in the distance housing tomatoes, basil and salad
Alfresco Dining in the kitchen garden @ Nick's at Port of Menteith Restaurant

To successfully design a kitchen garden, you will find that different plants do well in varying conditions. Creating different environments has broadened the choice of fruit and veg Nick can grow. It’s the old mantra of right plant, right place. A polytunnel allows for tender plants that like a bit of shelter and heat.

Basil growing in the polytunnel at Nick's at the Port of Menteith restaurant, Stirlingshire Scotland. one of the ingredients grown for use in the kitchen and perfect for Pesto.
Fresh Basil, ready for picking in the polytunnel - perfect for fresh Pesto... yum!

Tomatoes, basil and salad all grace the garden, picked fresh from the polytunnel, straight for the plate. Other plants do well outside in a sunny spot, such as Broad Beans, Nasturtium and Thyme. Some prefer moist shadier conditions, as chives and mint tend to do. So, getting to know the particular preferences for what you want to grow, will go a long way to keeping them happy.

Sous chef at Nick's at Port of Menteith restaurant picks nasturtium from the designed kitchen garden to make fresh pesto for the menu. The lovely bright red flowers grow perfectly in a sunny aspect in well drained soil.
Nick's sous chef picking Nasturtium - a tasty ingredient in fresh Pesto

Nick mixes ornamental plants with the produce and is reaping the benefits. Companion planting with ornamental plants not only looks good as a setting for the diners, but it helps encourage bees and other pollinators that do the job of pollinating the fruit and veg. It even helps to keep down pests and disease from the crops. It’s no wonder that this gorgeous setting has been named one of the top UK places for Alfresco Dining in the Sunday Times 25th July 2022.

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