Published: 22/06/2007 00:00 - Updated: 25/11/2011 21:03

Restaurant opens in former city eyesore

Chef de Partie Mark Clay, with a sample of what's in store at Peat By The Bridge.
Chef de Partie Mark Clay, with a sample of what's in store at Peat By The Bridge.

EIGHTEEN jobs have been created with today's opening of a new restaurant at the centre of an ambitious redevelopment of a building once regarded as one of the city's least attractive. The Waterbridge Group has converted the top floors of the former headquarters of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, overlooking the River Ness, into 33 flats and plans to open an upmarket delicatessen in historic underground arches in the basement of the building. However, the most public aspect of the building is an £800,000 conversion of the ground level into Peat by The Bridge, a 60-seat restaurant which aims to enhance the city's growing reputation for fine dining by using the best fresh local produce. Toby Hunter, managing director of the group, has taken on restaurant manager Pauline Caldwell and head chef Mark Fairgrieve, formerly of Rocpool Reserve. "We aim to have the best reputation for food in Inverness," said Ms Caldwell, a former pupil of Millburn Academy who has worked at the Hard Rock Cafe in Florida and La Tasca in Edinburgh. And, with a comment sure to fire reaction from some of the city's established rivals, she added: "The consistency we aim to achieve in the excellence of food is something that has been lacking in Inverness." For the past week, suppliers and friends of the staff have been invited to dine at the restaurant to help train the staff and ensure the kitchen is comfortable with the new menu before paying customers arrive. So far, 18 of the 33 flats in the development have been sold following international interest in the development. However, a spokesman for Waterbridge said many of the apartments had gone to local buyers. Other aspects of the development will include Art By The Bridge — located in Queen Mary's House on Bank Street, last used as offices of The Inverness Courier — and Deli By The Bridge, a delicatessen in the 16th century vaulted basement. Mr Hunter bought the building among a portfolio of 18 properties across Britain and was impressed by the potential for growth in Inverness. "The city is at the heart of Scotland's great larder and we want to use as much of the fresh local produce on the doorstep as we can and be as creative with it as possible," he said, "Peat By The Bridge is in a prime site with great views over the River Ness and we've made sure it offers a varied menu. We want our food to be fun, we want people to be intrigued by every dish on the menu, so much so they want to come back and try them all." g.burke@inverness-courier.co.uk

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