What would be the point of traveling if we didn’t enjoy the local food? Scottish food can come in any manner at any of the best restaurants in Scotland. The dramatic countryside provides a wide range of beautiful farm products, and with a fertile sea, Scotland may be a culinary destination.
Scottish food, at its core, is all about the ingredient. Nothing in the highlands is mass-produced. The attention to detail is apparent in the end product. We enjoyed beautiful hand-dived scallops, smoked salmon, aged whisky, stilton, croquettes, cheddar, dry-aged beef, duck, wild mushrooms, venison, grouse, lamb, aubergines, hand-picked herbs, and craft distilled gin.
Natasha and I are big-time fans of smoked salmon, and having beautiful salmon every morning with our eggs will never get old. In full disclosure, we are pescatarian 95% of the time, but when a beautiful farm-to-table locally and humanely sourced product comes along, we occasionally indulge.
Despite preconceived notions of food on the British Isle, Scotland will blow you away with its culinary offerings. That is, of course, if the weather doesn’t blow you away first! Here is the best of what we ate in Scotland and what you should consider eating in Scotland too!
The Best Restaurants in Scotland
The Three Chimneys – Isle of Skye
The Three Chimneys is one of the finest restaurants in Scotland. It first opened its doors in 1985 and has long been an institution on the Isle of Skye. It’s a worthy food destination and set on a stunning island inside an old crofters cottage. We were lucky enough to enjoy their massive tasting menu, “Skye, Land, & Sea,” which relies on local ingredients from the island and Scotland. Items like fresh oysters, langoustine, lamb, and grouse are sure to leave you satisfied.
Many 0f the seafood ingredients came from the loch across the street that provides fresh, high-quality seafood. However, we found the playful elements throughout the dishes extraordinary, like seafood dashi paired with beautiful scallops. The tasting menu is for the more adventurous, with items like raw oysters and sweetbreads being plated. Please let your waiter know if you’d like something else in advance.
You don’t need to take our word for the restaurant as they were just named the 2018 Good Food Guide Editor’s Choice UK Restaurant of the Year.
Crannag Bistro – Bonar Bridge
One of the best places to eat in Scotland is Crannag Bistro. This is simply good cooking. No need for a massive tasting. They keep it simple with a few solid choices on the menu every night. The restaurant is run by a Scottish couple who love great food. They aim to use great Scottish ingredients like fresh fish, beef, cheese, and pork.
It’s the perfect spot for dinner when driving the North Coast 500. I had amazing salmon pastrami as a starter, and Tasha went with a cheese soufflé as her main. That was amazing. To top it all off, we had a massive piece of meringue pie and cheesecake. Yum!
Stravaigin – Glasgow
Stravaigin restaurant is tucked away in the basement of a pub/cafe in the West End neighborhood of Glasgow. They aim to serve up some of the finest Scottish food in the city in a casual setting. Any great restaurant these days is sure to use local produce, and at Stravaigin excels at using beautiful Scottish products and producing some of them in their own garden.
We sampled black crab donuts, salmon & quail eggs for starters, and both were excellent. You eat a lot of Salmon in Scotland, as one should, and the pairing with quail eggs is one of our favorites. Regarding our entrees, we went with a beautiful ratatouille and baked cod. They’ve also won a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand recommendation for five years straight!
Sutor Creek Cafe – Cromarty
Sutor Creek Cafe is a little cafe in Cromarty on the Black Isle is the perfect lunch spot, especially for those exploring the Northwest of Inverness. The cafe is famed for its tasty wood-fired pizzas and fresh local seafood.
Guests regularly indulge in steaming plates of gorgeous mussels paired with wine. It’s unassuming, and it fits perfectly into the small coastal town of Cromarty.
We got lucky and hit Cromarty on a sunny day. The town is the most quaint town we explored in Scotland, but still, it has lots to offer visitors. The romantic town is set on the Northern tip of the Black Isle, with plenty of marine life at its doorstep. The old stone homes have managed to withstand centuries of hard sea winds and will likely withstand centuries more. The restaurant’s exceptional food and the town make it well worth the drive to the North of the island.
You don’t need to take our word for the restaurant as it is recommended by the Michelin Food Guide.
Dine – Edinburgh
Dine Edinburgh is attached to the Traverse Theatre and across the street from the Royal Lyceum and one of the best restaurants in Scotland. Making it the perfect spot for those looking to enjoy the arts in Edinburgh and have a nearby dinner before or after.
Their swanky hotel bar with seasonal cocktails is sure to entice any theatergoer. We settled into the wood and heavy leather bar with two craft cocktails, a variation of a gin martini and a whisky cocktail blending lemon, salt, honey, and aromatic charred rosemary.
After our cocktails, we headed for the main dining room. It was large and airy, with the focal point of the circular room a young tree which our table sat underneath. We had a three-course menu that was well priced at around £22. I had some wonderfully fresh heritage tomatoes with creme fraiche, and Tasha enjoyed local sea bass.
Kincraig Castle Hotel – Invergordon
The beautiful setting of the Kincraig was once the home of the famed Mackenzie clan. The hotel is situated far away from a city and serves as the perfect place to relax and enjoy a fine dining meal. The hotel has been well maintained and features a wonderfully cozy main lounge and Highland Bar.
We had wonderful scallops, sumptuous risotto, and perfectly cooked halibut on their five-course tasting menu that left us stuffed. After indulging in the beautiful Scottish food, we sat down for a wee dram of whisky by the fire at the owner’s instance while we sampled the local whisky Dalmore.
You don’t need to take our word for the restaurant as it is an AA Rosette restaurant.
Le Escargot Blanc – Edinburgh
Okay, this isn’t Scottish food! However, if you’re looking for fabulous French food in Edinburgh, then L’Escargot Blanc is the way to go. This restaurant is intimate and picks up a lively atmosphere on the weekend. We enjoyed a fabulous meal of steamed mussels, fresh sea bass with caviar, roasted duck leg, and finished creme brule.
An owner is a French man with a passion for his cuisine. He moved to Edinburgh to bring his favorites to the Scottish people. All the ingredients here come from France or are locally produced in the restaurant’s gardens just outside the city.
Kyloe – Edinburgh
We came here for Kyloe’s signature afternoon tea experience on a rainy afternoon in Edinburgh. It’s an experience to try for those visiting the United Kingdom. It’s a great way to while away an afternoon. Just relax, drink a nice blend of tea and watch the busy streets of Edinburgh.
Kyloe’s afternoon tea offers different fares than you’ll find at other restaurants, such as gin cured salmon sandwiches, pickle toasties, and gin and grapefruit drizzle cake! (Good thing we like gin!).
At night Kyloe Restaurant transforms into the best steakhouse in the city. If you’re dreaming of somewhere to have Scottish beef, this is one of the best restaurants in Scotland for you.
21212 – Edinburgh
21212 may just be one of the fanciest restaurants in Edinburgh. It has won numerous awards, including the Best New Restaurant in the UK, four AA rosettes, and even a Michelin star. It was our first time dining at a Michelin star restaurant, and we didn’t know what to expect as we were seated for lunch here. Service, as expected, is top-notch in such a highly esteemed eatery.
Bright open windows, complete kitchen visibility, white linen tablecloths, and exquisite food awaited us. Neither of us was disappointed with our grand four-course lunch here, complete with Pink Trout, Cheesy Risotto, Chocolate & Soft Fruit Trifle.
You don’t need to take our word for the restaurant as it is one of Scotland’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
The Printing Press – Edinburgh
We dined here when we were staying next door at the Principal Hotel. It was a Friday, and we didn’t want to walk far, and we were so happy that we made that decision, for it turned out to be one of our best meals in Scotland. The Printing Press prides itself on using in-season Scottish produce, which is tasted in fantastic flavors.
The setting to enjoy this fabulous meal is a modern building with a Gregorian era twist as all the servers, menus, and decor are intimately decorated. We ordered Poached sea trout with Shetland mussels, but the meal’s highlight was definitely the fresh scallops! We stopped by their bar afterward to enjoy a nightcap before walking a few feet back to our bedroom, reflecting on an intimate night.
Element – Edinburgh
Element is a great place if you are looking for a brunch atmosphere. They have an indoor and outdoor seating area, and inside there is a nice bar scene and a sit-in room more suited for quieter atmospheres and afternoon tea.
We stopped here while we were exploring Rose Street for our daily cappuccino grind. We ended up staying a bit longer for brunch as the vibe of Element was so great. Go on Sunday for their brunch specials!
Contini George Street – Edinburgh
Set in a Georgian building on the trendy George Street, Contini restaurant serves up the finest Italian in Edinburgh. After going through a reinvention at the start of 2017 it has a new look and menu.
The contemporary restaurant feels right at home in the former banking hall modeled after a palazzo. They use a lovely mix of Scottish ingredients such as scallops and fine imported Italian products like burrata and truffles. Their homemade pasta, particularly their ravioli, is beautiful and serves the owner’s Italian ancestry well.
The atmosphere seems to buzz as the waiters serve up small plates of modern Italian food. This isn’t your old-school Italian joint serving up pizza, gelato, and sauces covered in marinara. Instead, patrons can enjoy dishes like herb-roasted aubergine topped with a poached egg or baked lemon sole. Of course, at the end of our meal, we couldn’t resist the Italian classic of tiramisu.
Products To Look For On Scottish Menus
It’s likely you won’t try all of what Scotland has to offer even if you dine at all the best restaurants in Scotland. These are some regional specialties and ingredients we recommend you try while exploring Scottish food.
- Smoked Salmon
- Cheddar Cheese
- Tubers – Carrots, Turnips, and Parsnips
- Sea Bream
Plan For Your Trip
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