10 of the best restaurants in Scotland for 2023 - including Cottonrake Cafe and Killiecrankie House

As we bid farewell to 2023, Rosalind Erskine takes a look back at some of our best rated restaurants.

Published 31st Dec 2023
Updated 15 th Dec 2023

It’s been a year of ups and downs for the hospitality industry in Scotland, with many chefs and business owners calling for more support in the year ahead.

But while some restaurants have closed, others have opened and many are being recognised for their hard work with many being included in the Michelin Guide and Good Food Guide.

Since becoming the restaurant reviewer for Scotland on Sunday this year, I’ve enjoyed eating out at new, and more established Scottish restaurants this year. Here, I take a look back at some of the best, so you can plan for good eating in 2024.

Killiecrankie House

(Pitlochry PH16 5LG;  01796 473213)

best UK restaurants killiecrankie House
Picture: Alex Baxter

This award-winning Perthshire restaurant with rooms, which was named Restaurant of the Year at the 2023 Scran awards, has been one of the country’s top rated since it opened in 2021, and it was no different when I visited in October this year.

We went along for a celebratory lunch, and thoroughly enjoyed dishes such as dripping fried porridge and potato risotto with brown butter, mussels and seaweed, as well as the imaginative cocktails. Killiecrankie House is a stylish and welcoming home from home, and we can’t wait to see what’s around the corner for the team in 2024.

Cottonrake Cafe

(497 Great Western Road, Glasgow, G12 8HL)

best restaurant reviews 2023

This popular bakery finally opened its much anticipated cafe in Glasgow’s west end in late 2023. We went along not long after it opened for a weekend breakfast, and the cafe was filling up fast (and has remained the same since). 

The bakery has been running for 10 years, and is well known (and loved) for its stacked sandwiches, freshly baked bread, pastries, cakes, macarons and cookies.

After some initial hiccups, Cottonrake cafe finally opened just along from the original bakery in August this year.  The cafe, which seats about 40 and was billed as serving plated versions of the popular bakery items, opened without much of a fanfare. Try the breakfast plate or tomato, harissa baked beans.

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Sushisamba

(10th Floor, W Hotel, James Craig Walk, Edinburgh EH1 3AD)

W Hotel Edinburgh restaurants
Picture: Sushisamba

Sushisamba, a Peruvian meets Brazilian meets Japanese restaurant that has outposts in Dubai, London and Las Vegas has recently opened in Edinburgh and it’s well worth a visit.

Situated on the 10th floor of the hotel, there’s an outdoor terrace, private dining room and bar area as well as the main restaurant. On the menu you’ll find Japanese tempura, sushi, Brazilian churrasco and moqueca, Peruvian anticuchos and ceviches plus Sushisamba signature dishes.

The open kitchen and fiery robata grill offer roasted and flavoured meats, vegetables and fish, while Sushisamba’s small plate style of service encourages a shared dining experience.

Kinneuchar Inn

(9-11 Main St, Kilconquhar, Leven KY9 1LF)

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Kinneuchar Inn, Kilconquhar
Kinneuchar Inn

The food focused cosy pub in the picturesque village of Kilconquhar in Fife is well worth a visit any time of the year, but it’s especially appealing in the autumn or winter for a warming weekend meal. 

The pub was closed for two years whilst undergoing refurbishment and reopened in September 2019, with chef James Ferguson and partner Alethea Palmer at the helm. James, who has worked alongside the likes of Angela Hartnett at The Connaught in London, first saw the 17th century inn back in 2018, and used the covid lockdown to really imagine what the business could be.

Try the veggie roast squash dish, some moreish fish soup or the roasted peppers.

Sylvan

(20 Woodlands Rd, Glasgow G3 6UR)

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While not new, this vegetarian restaurant in Glasgow is one to put on your list even if you’re not veggie. It’s also a precursor to restaurant style small plates or sharing dishes, which are making something of a comeback. It’s this concept that makes up the menu at Sylvan, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Glasgow’s Woodlands that’s been quietly gaining popularity since it opened in 2021.

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The restaurant is owned by Colin Campbell and Jake Martell, both formerly of music venue, bar and vegan restaurant, The Hug and Pint. Dishes we loved were the smoked tomatoes with yoghurt and chilli butter, cauliflower with coconut sauce and roast pears with fried bread and stilton custard.

Queen Charlotte Rooms Orient Express afternoon tea

(56a Queen Charlotte St, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 7EX)

Queen Charlotte Rooms Orient Express afternoon tea

As a fan of trains (specifically old school steam trains) and cake, this Orient Express themed afternoon tea was a must visit and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a popular and busy offering, and is therefore booked out weeks in advance.

The downstairs rooms of the venue have been transformed into a replica of the famous Orient Express, which is undergoing a revamp of its own and will be back on the tracks in 2025 for the lucky few that can afford it.

The Orient Express afternoon tea was launched at the Queen Charlotte Rooms to celebrate 30 years of the venue, and is being served in two public rooms and a 1st Class Pullman Suite - a more intimate experience for larger groups and parties.

El Perro Negro breakfast

(152 Woodlands Rd, Glasgow G3 6LF)

El Perro Negro breakfast
The sausage and egg muffins, and hash browns

This burger joint, which has twice won best burger in the UK for their Top Dog burger (a meltingly rich and decadent combo of bone marrow and Roquefort butter, double bacon, caramelised onions and black truffle mayo), started offering breakfast in May and was created as a result of customer demand for breakfast twists on the burgers, explained founder Nick Watkins ahead of the menu launch.

Try a sausage and egg muffin with hash brown and the black pudding muffin as well as a flat white (the coffee in which comes from local roastery Paper Cup).

The Murray Arms Hotel seafood restaurant

( Back Rd, St Margaret's Hope, Orkney KW17 2SP)

Murray Arms Orkney

Back in the summer, I visited the Murray Arms Hotel and Seafood restaurant in St Margaret’s Hope, about 25 minutes drive from Kirkwall.

The family-fun, dog-friendly business offers seafood landed from their own boats. This alone makes the seafood platter of the day the dish to try if you visit this restaurant. 

Greywalls

(Gullane, Muirfield, SC EH31 2EG)

Greywalls

This Chez Roux restaurant offers up a decadent weekend roast, which we rated highly at the start of this year. Located in Greywalls - which was designed in 1901 by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and has a wrap-around formal walled garden, something that guests are encouraged to explore - the restaurant has two AA Rosettes.

The four-course roast lunch menu features a locally sourced and specially prepared roast with all the trimmings.

Ristorante Pieno

(311 Hope St, Glasgow G2 3PT)

Ristorante Pieno
Picture: Ristorante Pieno

This family-owned restaurant was named best in Glasgow in 2022. Run by the husband and wife team, Annie and Roshi Kanushi, the business took home the award for their ‘impeccable service and authentic Italian food.’

The restaurant opened its doors in March of 2020 in a unit opposite the Theatre Royal, and is a great spot to visit ahead of a show. Choose from classics like spaghetti gamberoni, spaghetti and meatballs and affogato. 

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Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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