New tasting menu restaurant An Darna has opened in the city centre.
Based in Friars Street, the restaurant serves delicious locally sourced food and offers customers a five-course tasting menu.
An Darna is owned by Iain Whiteley – who also runs nearby cocktail bar Meraki – and is a joint venture with his head chef Ally Eccles. The two men have worked together in various hospitality roles over the years and always wanted to run their own restaurant.
Iain says: “Ally and I have always spoken about doing something together and when I heard the empty Friars Street unit was on market it seemed the ideal venue being so central and so close to Meraki.
We viewed it and decided to take it and then set about pulling together the plan for a five- course tasting menu with wine pairings. It’s all locally sourced food and is the style of food we were used to doing when we worked together.
It seemed a good idea since there’s nothing similar in Stirling and there are some popular tasting menu restaurants in Edinburgh and Glasgow so we wanted to try it.”
An Darna officially opened at the end of January following five weekend pre-launch evenings which began on December 30 last year.
The restaurant’s name means ‘On the Other Hand’ and was chosen due to it being Iain’s second venture and to indicate the difference between his two venues – with Meraki specialising in cocktails, chocolate fondue and champagne and An Darna the place to go for quality food and wine.
The menu offers five courses – with a choice of three dishes per course – plus paired drinks and there is a new menu every five weeks. It costs £35 per person for the five courses plus an extra £25pp if you choose the drinks pairing.
Dishes on the current menu include smoked haddock, crab, venison, roast cauliflower, smoked mussels, monkfish and tikka spiced carrot while there are desserts such as mango with crème fraiche and warm tonka bean rice pudding.
Iain says: “The five-course tasting menu rotates every five weeks and there are three options for each course so there is always a meat, fish and vegetable dish to choose from and it’s four proper courses plus a dessert.
We offer a real mixture of flavours and styles and pride ourselves on sourcing our produce locally. And where we are unable to do that, we make sure we are as eco-friendly as possible – for example, the sea salt we use on the tables and in our dishes is hand-dived and hand-picked off the west coast of Scotland.
It’s important to us to be as environmentally conscious as possible.”
Since opening, An Darna has proved popular with customers and been busier than expected.
Iain says: “We launched at what is a traditionally quiet time in January to give us chance to find our feet, but we’ve been very busy since the start and fully booked every Friday and Saturday.
We’ve had a fantastic response and are both very happy with how it’s gone so far.”
An Darna, based at 3 Friars Street, is open from Thursday to Sunday and closed Monday to Wednesday. On a Thursday and Friday, the restaurant opens from 5pm until 12am and on Saturday it is also open from lunch – from 12 noon until midnight.
On Sundays, An Darna opens from 4pm until 11pm and offers a Sunday
Countdown Menu which is five courses – with two choices per course – and three different paired wines. Iain also has plans to extend the restaurant’s opening hours and to open on Wednesdays later in the year.