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Just returned from a trip to Scotland, and thought you all might be interested to know the culinary landscape is pretty impressive. While breakfast was the same every day (eggs, sausage, bacon, haggis, potatoes, etc) and lunch was usually a baguette with some sort of meat, lots of cheese and a side of chips (fries), dinner was always an adventure.

We started in Stirling (home to the famous battle, castle and the Wallace Monument), at a lovely hotel about 5 minutes walking distance from the town centre. The Parklodge Hotel and restaurant is run by the Marquetty's, an incredibly friendly couple (she's Scottish, he's French). It turned out the husband, Georges Marquetty, is a celebrated chef who was voted one of the best chefs in American when he was working in Cincinnati. The night we were there, we were the only ones in the restaurant so Georges cooked especially for us. I had a fantastic, spicy gazpacho, a luxuriously rich Coquilles St. Jacques and I honestly can't even remember what I had for dessert, but I remember being very happy with it. The service and the food were both unbelievably good, but the atmosphere was kind of funny. The restaurant has a player piano that seemed to be playing in honor of the visiting Americans -- When You're Happy and You Know It, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Old McDonald Had a Farm and others served as the hilarious soundtrack to our otherwise very nice dinner.

After Stirling, we spent two days in St. Andrews at the Inn on North Street, which also has a very good restaurant called the Oak Rooms. There, I had a wild mushroom, leek and stilton penne that was out of this world. If you're keen to get drunk and tell stories with caddies from St. Andrews, we discovered a number of them at the bar in the Dunvegan Hotel also on North Street. They have an interesting drink called the Blackbeard - a combo of Morgan's spiced rum, coke and Guinness - which was surprisingly good. It's great fun to people-watch from one of the few outdoor tables.

In Inverness, if you're looking for something modern, Rocpool Rendezvous is very good. I had a really wonderful little salad of fresh crab, avocado, tomato and crème fraiche with a sweet ginger and chilli dressing and for an entree, grilled sea bream with curried prawn rissotto. Yum, yum, yum.

Now, for the Star of the Show -- the Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye. I had been obsessing about this place after reading about it several years ago and it turned out to be everything I imagined. The Isle of Skye is the most remote and beautiful place I have ever seen in my life. We literally drove out to the middle of nowhere, then proceeded to drive for another hour and a half to get to the Three Chimneys. The final 5 miles of our trip was on a one-lane road, which we had to share with other cars. And sheep. It was great. I don't have the menu in front of me now (but I do have a signed copy at home!) but I can give you a general overview.

The starter was roasted trout, which was fresh and roasted to perfection. The second course was a superb fish soup (not Cullen Skink) with a gorgeous tomato base and a ton of fresh herbs. The entree was turbot and scallops with potatoes and peas. The turbot was just OK, a bit fishy for my taste, but the scallops were delicious. For dessert, I had the restaurant's famous hot marmalade pudding with Drambuie custard which was so yummily comforting. I struggled to choose between that and the sampler of Scottish cheeses, and was happy with my decision the next morning when the same cheeses were served in our breakfast spread, which also included a peat smoked salmon that ruined me for any other smoked salmon in the future (see next paragraph). If you get out to the Three Chimneys, spring for a room at the House Over-By. It's pricey, but worth every penny. And take bug spray. The midges are pesky.

After Skye, it was back to Glasgow. We had a great dinner at 78 St. Vincent, a modern French/Scottish restaurant. Had smoked salmon, potato blinis and caper butter to start, roasted monkfish in Parma ham with a chorizo and mixed bean casserole for an entree (not a huge fan of that combo) and a delightful iced cranachan parfait with summer berries and apricot coulis. The other meals in Glasgow were Italian and Chinese because we needed a little variety. The Italian was really good, the Chinese was just like Chinese food anywhere else. I wanted to go to the Ubiquitous Chip, which is a popular restaurant in the west side of the city, but we didn't get to it. That will be something to look forward to next time.

Throughout the trip, I took liberal bites of my husband's dinners, which tended to be Scottish beef. Needless to say, they know how to do their beef in Scotland.

Sorry for the length of this post -- but hope this information is useful to someone!

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Sorry for the length of this post -- but hope this information is useful to someone!

Definitely! Thanks for the report. Mr P and I are planning a trip there for next year, so I really enjoyed reading this.

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I haven't been in long enough to give you any dining recs, but why "a lot of time" on Skye? I've traveled for a week+ in Scotland twice, and both times a day on Skye was plenty.

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5 hours ago, DanielK said:

I haven't been in long enough to give you any dining recs, but why "a lot of time" on Skye? I've traveled for a week+ in Scotland twice, and both times a day on Skye was plenty.

My wife is in love with all of the pictures she has seen. We love poking around on rocky shores. We'll have a car to get around and do things from there of course. I think we're on Isle of Skye for a week.

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On 8/16/2017 at 9:47 PM, Pool Boy said:

Any updates? Planning on doing the North Coast 500 followed by a lot of time on the Isle of Skye. TIA!

Frank Bruni considered the Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye to be one of his 5 favorite experiences (as distinguished from best restaurants) while he was the restaurant critic for the NYT.  Three Chimneys is not just a restaurant, it's an inn as well.  Well worth considering. We loved our experience there in 2010.  

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On 8/19/2017 at 2:11 PM, LauraB said:

Frank Bruni considered the Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye to be one of his 5 favorite experiences (as distinguished from best restaurants) while he was the restaurant critic for the NYT.  Three Chimneys is not just a restaurant, it's an inn as well.  Well worth considering. We loved our experience there in 2010.  

We tried to secure a booking at the Inn as well - we're certainly going to do our best to at least dine there. :)

 

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On 8/19/2017 at 2:11 PM, LauraB said:

Frank Bruni considered the Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye to be one of his 5 favorite experiences (as distinguished from best restaurants) while he was the restaurant critic for the NYT.  Three Chimneys is not just a restaurant, it's an inn as well.  Well worth considering. We loved our experience there in 2010.  

Wow, that looks and sounds like an incredible experience. Definitely have to keep that in mind if we get to Scotland. 

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Back from a trip that was mostly to Scotland (Inverness->Wick->Durness->Ullapool->Torridon-->Portree (Isle of kye)->Inverness->London) - basically the North Coast 500 with a few days of London bolted on to the end. We had some great experiences overall and I'll report back soon. The seafood is quite great. While experiences vary at all levels (high end low end and everywhere in btween), there are good purveyors out there at each price point. The folks are warm and friendly and the food, beer, wine, and whiskey are good.

Some generalizations - 

  • The Scottish folks need to learn to season with salt a bit more aggressively
  • Seafood is excellent pretty much all around in Scotland
  • Beers and Whisky are better overall than wine selections (but some gems are to be found there as well) - but, curiously, cocktails seemed to be generally an afterthought (this even is relevant to our small sample size of 3 dinners in London).

One notable thing - our meal at St. John in London (original location) was honestly a disappointment but I will save that for the London thread.

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Just back from three weeks in Scotland, split between Edinburgh and the middle of nowhere in Wester Ross.  There were many good meals, all had as a family with three small ones.  That limited us a bit (kids are hard!) but there was one absolute standout -- lunch at Salt Seafood Kitchen, located in the tiny town of Achiltbuie (gesundheit) in Coigach.  Getting there was its own adventure, on single track roads much of the way.  But it was well worth it.  I had a half dozen of the best oysters I have ever had, a half-pint of incredible sweet "spinies"/squat lobsters, and a smoked mackerel Caesar salad.  Marisa had the Cullen Skink (a smoked haddock chowder, essentially) and a hot smoked salmon dish served on crusty bread with feta and a pear compote.  She's still thinking abut both, a week later.  

We were there for lunch and just walked in.  It's a tiny place, so at dinner reservations are essential, and we were told dinner preparations are more ambitious -- the lunch menu was mostly simple dishes.  All of the fish is brought in fresh the morning of by local fishermen.  One note:  it's BYOB, with no license.  We stuck with soft drinks, but if you want something cold and crisp, there's a small shop in town.

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