When Elizabeth Dees told her adult children she wanted to open a restaurant in Spring Hill, they were supportive. They knew their Scottish-born mother never said something she didn't mean. But when she found the location, began renovations to fit her vision, and discovered the work was a bit more intense than she'd first imagined, they thought she might put the idea to rest.
Despite some delays due to paperwork, the Tartan Table opened its doors two months ago at the corner of Philatelic Drive and Deltona Blvd. in Spring Hill. While Dees said the project was a bit more time-consuming than she thought, she never doubted whether she had the grit to see it through.
Dees has a knack for decorating and party planning, just ask the folks at the Assisted Living Facility at Forest Oaks where she threw beautiful parties for the residents.
Gently crafted to resemble Scotland in history and culture, the little café specializes in comfort foods.
Each table displays a different Scottish wool fabric, called a tartan, which represents a different clan. The walls exhibit pieces of Scottish culture, including authentic kilts, artwork and actual photo galleries of Dees' family.
Diners are treated to an experience that mimics a Scottish restaurant tucked away in the countryside. They are greeted with decorative artwork that depicts the history of the Scottish culture, servers dressed in kilts, and a menu of appetizers, entrees and desserts that paint the palate with Scottish flair.
The dining room fits 38 diners at one time and has a mock fireplace burning in the backdrop.
Dees wanted to give her customers a window into the culture that grounded her own history. Scotland is about heritage, family, and traditional values, Dees said. And her menu features homemade dishes that are crafted from recipes she learned from her mother. Warm favorites like shepherd's pie, fish and chips, and sausage rolls are prepared in Scottish tradition.
Her shepherd's pie is served differently than the American version, Dees explained, with the meat and potatoes displayed separately on a plate. Separating the traditional casserole allows for the pieces to be prepared fresh rather than ahead of time.
Attention to detail is important to Dees, and she was very careful when designing her menu. She focused on a select few dishes that give the authenticity and culture of Scotland. The result is a eye-appealing sampling of authentic Scottish dishes that focus on fresh ingredients with beautiful presentations.
The Tartan Table also plans to incorporate themes, including celebrations to commemorate iconic figures in Scottish culture and history. Saturday will debut that plan with an evening devoted to remembering the iconic Scottish poet, Robert Burns.
Dees will offer a few authentic dishes and music in a festive environment to remember the great poet.
Hosting traditional holidays at Tartan Table will allow Dees to give her customers an opportunity to participate in the Scottish culture. The Robert Burns celebration will offer a window into her country's famous characters.
Email Hernando Today correspondent Kim Dame at firstname.lastname@example.org.