Shellfish plucked off the Isle of Skye’s dramatic coasts, melt-in-your-mouth Aberdeen Angus beef, wild game born in the depths of the Highlands… When it comes to food, Scotland certainly makes the most of its rich lands, seas and skies – and its restaurants serve up years of tradition with pride, flair and bursts of flavour. Don’t yet know your cullen skink from your rumbledethumps? Whether you’re after a simple fish supper or a full-blown Michelin starred journey, get your chops around some of the best Scottish cuisine at these buzzed-about dining destinations.
Best for: a charming lunch spot
Set on idyllic Mull, the second-largest island of the Inner Hebrides, the warm and welcoming Isle of Mull Cheese dairy farm is a thing of dreams. In its fairytale-like Garden Barn café – a show-stopping, glass-walled space filled with greenery and a mix-and-match of rustic décor – you can enjoy homemade pizzas, soups, ploughman’s lunches and, most of all, a selection of mouthwatering fine cheese straight from the farm. Grab some picked cucumbers as well as Hebridean blue and traditional Isle of Mull cheeses from the produce shop, before venturing to the farm to meet the resident cows and learn about artisan cheese-making processes.
Location: Sgriob-ruadh Farm, Tobermory, Isle of Mull PA75 6QD
Best for: intriguing interior design
An arty brasserie in Glasgow’s bohemian West End, the Ubiquitious Chip has more than its character-packed interiors to boast about. Here, leafy surrounds and fairy lights provide quite the magical setting for a rich and elegant dinner proudly based on Scottish produce – opt for the Shetland cod fillet with Jerusalem artichoke or the classic Aberdeen Angus beef served with pepper sauce, braised mushrooms and potatoes. You’ve also a wide selection of desserts and cheese platters to choose from (don’t miss the Medjool date slice with caramelised pear, followed by a plate of melt-in-your-mouth French, Irish and Scottish cheeses).
Location: 12 Ashton Ln, Glasgow G12 8SJ
Best for: great Scottish food in a Scandi setting
With its minimalist interiors and equally minimalist menu, this small yet character-packed restaurant adds a contemporary Scandinavian twist to the shores of Loch Fyne in west Scotland. An ideal option for foodies seeking an elegant yet unfussy meal, it presents beautifully-plated dishes stripped down to reveal the wholesome flavours of its local, farmed ingredients. The fixed four-course dinner menu includes must-tries such as crab and bergamot tart, roast duck with artichoke and pear, and sea robin with cauliflower and frozen juniper. You’ll also find a small shop on site, where you can pick up sourdough bread and preserves for the road.
Location: Stracthlachlan, Strachur PA27 8BU
Best for: simple superfood
Simple and hearty food is served up in an inviting setting at Aberdeen’s Foodstory Café, which prizes itself on bringing home-made, environmentally-friendly delights to the table. Open for breakfast through to dinner, you’ll find a vibrant mish-mash of vegan, organic and gluten-free options ranging from superfood porridge to salad bowls – all decorated with lashes of chutney, dashes of pesto and dollops of locally-sourced jam. Coffee obsessives and tea-lovers will find plenty of thirst-quenching options, too, with an extensive menu including chai latte, cranberry and apple tea, and chilli rooibos.
Location: 13-15 Thistle St, Aberdeen AB10 1XZ
Best for: dinner, bed and breakfast
Nestled in the Isle of Skye’s hilly and surreal landscape, Kinloch Lodge doubles up as a restaurant with sublime vistas by day, and a hotel with seriously sophisticated credentials by night. Led by head chef Marcello Tully, Kinloch Lodge Restaurant brings an award-winning dining experience to the Isle’s southeastern shores. Enjoy canapés in the drawing room, watch the chefs work their magic from behind a glass wall, and tuck into a delicious five-course fusion of local ingredients – picture Aberdeen Angus beef with Strathdon blue cheese mousse, or Shetland cod with caper and pistachio pesto, followed by vanilla crème fraîche panna cotta and home-made petits fours with coffee. The restaurant hosts a tasting experience, too, and matches its menus with a carefully-tailored wine list.
Location: Sleat, Isle of Skye IV43 8QY
Best for: classic fish and chips
You couldn’t go wrong with a stop at Cromars, voted the Best Fish & Chip Shop in Scotland in 2016. At this sustainable St Andrews hotspot, unassumingly set in a thick stone corner building, you’ll find that locally-sourced haddock and cod – all wrapped in a perfectly crisp batter and sprinkled with lemon juice – steal the show. Make room for the sides, though, as the Shetland mussels, home-made fishcakes, Amity scampi and pan-fried scallops certainly know how to make mouths water. You’ll find more than one accolade to this chippy’s name, too: Cromars has earned itself a 2015 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and NFFF Fish & Chip Quality Award.
Location: 1 Union St, St Andrews KY16 9PQ
Best for: veggies and vegans
Folk Café, Dundee
Set right by the train station, this corner café serves up a feast to both the eyes and stomach with its colourful, veggie and vegan-friendly selection of salads, pastries and sandwiches. A modest affair with understated décor – the only obvious features you’ll find here are fancy lights and small paintings on cream-toned walls – it is undoubtedly the food counter that’s left to make a grand impression. You’ll find all sorts of extravagantly-seasoned, sizeably-portioned, feel-good options, whether you’re in the mood for a smokey bacon bap, the tart or tortilla of the day, or an explosion of feta, roast tomato, spicy olives and tzatziki in a baked focaccia. Breakfast and lunch are both available here at a very modest price, alongside staple coffees, teas and sweet treats.
Location: 118 Nethergate, Dundee DD1 4EH
Best for: fine dining in the capital
French class meets homely Scottish produce at The Kitchin, a Michelin-starred restaurant that brings a refined Nature-to-Plate philosophy to Edinburgh’s food scene. Its dove blue and grey interiors provide a cool and chic setting for colourful menus, from which the seafood options are worth writing home about – think hand-dived Orkney scallops, roasted tail of langoustine from Tobermory, and marinated tartare of line-caught Newhaven mackerel. Those who feel adventurous could opt for a seasonally-themed surprise tasting menu, on which dishes are perfectly matched with wines and champagne. The vegetarian options here are refreshingly imaginative, too (did we even mention the warm apple tart with vanilla ice cream and Calvados sauce for dessert?).
Location: 78 Commercial St, Edinburgh EH6 6LX
Best for: Michelin-starred indulgence
A constant purveyor of excellence, the acclaimed Andrew Fairlie restaurant offers refined cuisine between the walls of five-star golf-lover’s heaven, Gleneagles Hotel. With two Michelin stars under its belt, it crafts a culinary journey through menus inspired by its surrounds and seasonal produce. Opt for à la carte fare, including roast veal sweetbreads, hand-dived scallops and Highland lamb loin, each perfectly roasted, slow-cooked and dressed with all manner of sauces and wine jus. Those after a surprise should treat themselves to the tantalising dégustation menu, which covers home-smoked Scottish lobster through to hazelnut praline.
Location: Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder PH3 1NF
Best for: an unforgettable setting
A gem of a restaurant on the Isle of Skye, The Three Chimneys offers a romantic setting by the sea – an ideal escape for foodies as much as for nature-lovers. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant puts a refreshing spin on local fare, with Loch Harport oysters, Skye venison and Dunvegan crab all featuring high on the menu. The Skye, Land and Sea tasting menu makes a particularly authentic way to explore the area’s best flavours, and covers everything from roasted Sconser scallop and confit Wester Ross salmon to lemon cream with pistachio sponge, yoghurt and goats’ cheese curd. You’ll also find homely five-star accommodation here, each with sea views and direct access to the shore, should all that indulging make you need a lie down.
Location: Colbost, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, IV55 8ZT
Best for: destination dining
For a quirky, romantic and out-of-the-ordinary dining experience, make a beeline for The Witchery – a unique spot with boutique guest rooms on the capital’s Royal Mile, right by the imposing Edinburgh Castle. At this exceptionally dark and atmospheric restaurant, Gothic-style interiors (red leather seats, old oak panelling, heavy curtains and candelit tables) go hand-in-hand with a succulent menu of Isle of Mull scallops, shellfish bisque, dry-aged Scotch beef and much more. With its painted ceiling, dried floral decorations and French windows leading out to a secluded terrace, the Witchery’s entrancing Secret Garden is also well worth exploring.
Location: Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2NF