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Eating Out In The Scottish Highlands

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                   Pubs                                                  Restaurants                                Cafes & Tearooms

 A visit to the Scottish Highlands is not complete without a “taste of the Highlands.”  After a day of touring the magnificent Highlands of Scotland, imagine relaxing before a roaring fire, a glass of fine wine in your hand and an appetizer, perhaps some smoked salmon or maybe a bit of crowdie and oatcakes, to tempt the taste buds.  Dinner is then served, a feast for the senses, with a choice of Angus beef, local fresh seafood, or maybe a roasted pheasant, all served with a backdrop of majestic Highland scenery.  The north of Scotland abounds with all kinds of restaurants which offer a wide variety of cuisines.  You can find everything from cosy pubs to tearooms to world-famous 5-star restaurants in the Scottish Highlands.  This is your chance to experiment and enjoy a culinary adventure.  Choose a different type of restaurant venue every day of your Highland holiday. 

Pub fare and bar meals are staples throughout the Highlands.  With the fine ingredients of Scotch beef, freshly-caught fish, and local produce, pub fare takes on a whole new dimension.  Some of the best fish and chips in the world are found in Highland pubs, especially those right along the coast like in Ullapool.  Steak pies, chicken pies, and comfort foods like macaroni and cheese or sausages are readily available in pubs serving food.  You will find generous portions of hearty, home-style food served up in a friendly atmosphere.  If you are looking for great value for money, pub and bar meals are the way to go.  Enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner along with a pint of your favourite ale or lager and experience a local meal at its best.

Hotel restaurants are an excellent choice for both guests of the hotel and non-residents alike.  You will find that hotel restaurants generally offer fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere, and will have a fairly wide variety of choices on their menus.  Many hotel restaurants give you the choice of a set menu, meaning a two or three course meal with perhaps four or five entrees from which to choose and a set price.  These are very popular with both locals and visitors.  They offer great value and the chance to enjoy some delicious Scottish cooking.  Starters will generally include things like prawn cocktails or soup, and entrees are often a choice of a roast, a fish, a fowl, and a vegetarian option.  Of course, desserts, or puddings, vary widely from place to place, but you can be sure of something delightful to satisfy your sweet tooth at the end of your meal.  If you prefer, hotel restaurants will also give you the option of ordering a la carte.  As well, there will be daily specials based upon the local produce and meats available at the time.  Hotel restaurants provide a reasonably-priced option for a relaxed dining experience in the Scottish Highlands

Cafes, coffee shops, and tearooms are usually budget-friendly and will have both light offerings and more hearty meals for those looking for something more casual.  You can frequently find “all day breakfasts” in these small cafes, which is a great way to get a hot, hearty meal at the right price.  You are sure to find a wonderful selection of sandwiches, paninis, filled rolls, and soups in cafes and tearooms—the perfect thing when you’re searching for a quick, filling meal.  As well, if you just want a light bite, pop into a coffee shop or tearoom for a homemade scone or other baked goods, a bowl of soup and a roll, or a refreshing salad.  Cafés, tearooms, and coffee shops are usually family-run and can often be found attached to a local attraction, an art gallery, a museum, or a gift shop.  They are super places for a refreshment stop or a quick pick-me-up.  Light snacks, tea cakes, and tea party menus are also part of many tearooms’ repertoire.  While most cafes, tearooms, and coffee shops are only open for breakfast, lunch, and teas, there are some which serve all through the dinner hours. 

Takeaways in the Scottish Highlands are fairly prevalent but are not your typical burger shops.  Generally, you will find excellent fish and chips takeaways, and in larger villages and towns, you can expect to find some excellent Chinese and Indian takeaways.  Many takeaway shops will offer a standard menu of battered fish, fried sausages (red, white, and black puddings), haggis, possibly burgers, and of course, chips (French fries).  A takeaway is a great choice if you want to enjoy your meal in the outdoors, relaxing at the seaside or on the shore of a beautiful loch. 

Restaurants that stand alone are becoming more and more popular in the Scottish Highlands as they join in the gourmet food craze that has hit Britain of late.  There are some amazing restaurants in stunning locales offering not only superb food but also breath-taking scenery.  It is not uncommon to find a lovely little restaurant perched atop a seaside cliff, nestled amongst the Highland hills, or situated with views of rivers, lochs, and castles.  Frequently, these restaurants will serve locally-sourced food, and they will tend to specialize in a certain type of cuisine.  The Scottish Highlands have an excellent variety of seafood restaurants, not only along the coastline but also inland as well.  Scottish cuisine is often the focal point of a good restaurant, and that means dishes like fresh salmon, venison casseroles, roast fowl, shellfish, and superior Scotch beef steaks.  Restaurants do not tend to stay open late in the Highlands, however, so be sure you book your table early and are aware of closing times.  It is common for a restaurant serving dinner to finish by 9:00PM or even earlier.

4- and 5-star dining also exists in the Scottish Highlands, some of it in the most remote locations.  You can enjoy both traditional Scottish Highland cuisine as well as more diverse menus, all with a gourmet twist.  You are certain to receive exemplary service, top-quality food, and elegant surroundings when you dine in a 4- or 5-star Highland restaurant. 

Unique restaurant venues in the Scottish Highlands include mountaintop cafes, castle restaurants and tearooms, and dining aboard steam trains.  You can enjoy a whole different dining experience through these uniquely-styled restaurants, combining excellent fare with lovely atmosphere and magnificent views.  Travel back in time on a steam train and relax in the elegance of its dining car.  Take the funicular railway to the top of a mountain and have a hearty lunch while enjoying the view for miles.  Eat in a castle and imagine what it was like to take your meal there daily. 

Food in the Scottish Highlands varies widely, but if you are searching for that quintessential Highland dining experience, be sure to avail yourself of some of the local favourites—meat pies, fish and chips, freshly-baked scones, crowdie and oatcakes, cranachan, and of course, haggis, neeps, and tatties.  Cockburn’s in Dingwall is world-famous for its excellent haggis, the making of which is considered an art here in the Highlands.

Whatever type of dining you desire, you are sure to find the perfect restaurant to suit your tastes and needs.  The Highlands are home to some excellent cuisine and superb ingredients.  Scotch beef is world famous, as is the seafood caught off the Highland shores, and the salmon and venison of the Highland hills.  When you are visiting the Scottish Highlands, come hungry and leave happy!

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