Once the Calmac ferries have returned to normal, we’ll be hitting the Isle of Arran.
Ironically, although it is otherwise known as Scotland in miniature, you will not leave this place any smaller than when you arrived. There are all too many temptations when it comes to eating out.
Here are a few of our favourites, and we would also have fitted in The Stags Pavilions, Velo Cafe in Lagg, Wooleys, Glenisle Hotel, Eighteen69 at The Auchrannie, and many others, if only we’d had the space.
Visit this bakery, down a vennel beside the Kinloch Hotel in Blackwaterfoot and open from Tuesday to Saturday from 11am. It’s owned by baker George Grassie, and currently operates a ‘bread shed’ just outside. Here you’ll find staples, like sourdough, baguettes and croissants, but also more experimental loaves, like green tea and raisin, as well as Eccles cakes, hazelnut and chocolate pound cakes and treacle tart with lemon and bergamot. Their wares also appear at other island venues, like Mara, The French Fox, The Sandwich Station and in shops including The Bay Kitchen & Store.
Follow them on Facebook: Blackwater Bakehouse
The French Fox
This street food business started up pre-Covid, back in 2019, and serves Gallic bistro fare out of the side of their turquoise van. Although they used to pop up all over the island, they’re currently stationed on Auchrannie Road, beside three or four al-fresco tables, until the end of October, from Friday to Sunday and Thursdays soon too. Guy Gautier and his partner Emma-Jane Fox are the owners and cooks, and they whip up dishes including profiteroles, croque monsieur, steak au poivre and jarret de jambon - honey and mustard glazed ham hock, parmentier potatoes, crispy fried egg and spring onions.
Arran Botanical Drinks
Good weather on the island isn’t guaranteed, but any showers might be more bearable if you’re drinking outdoor cocktails, which include the bright green Oceanside, at this place’s lovely beach bar. They make their own Arran Gin from the island’s botanicals, and have more recently produced an Arran Cassis.
Cladach Beach House, Brodick, www.arranbotanicaldrinks.com
Arran Cheese Shop
No trip to the island is complete without a few colourful wax-covered wheels of Arran Cheese, which comes in varieties including Arran Mustard, Whisky, Claret, Chilli, Chive and Smokey Garlic. The shop, where you can watch the mongers at work, also sells locally made tablet, James Chocolates from Brodick, and Wooleys of Arran Oatcakes and other goodies.
Home Farm, Brodick, www.arrancheeseshop.co.uk
You’ll find this one-year-old seafood trailer at various locations, including Brodick and Blackwaterfoot. Check their social media, if you want to track them down. Their menu varies but might include tempura squid, crab roll with lemon mayo and rocket; monkfish and king prawn coconut curry with basmati rice and naan bread, and their signature fish burger with tartare sauce.
It’s hard to imagine Arran without this excellent restaurant, which is situated in pretty Corrie, and is owned by Kirsty and Gordon Decaestecker. They’ve just added a few high stools inside, and their decking features a few picnic tables and a table for two. However, if it’s chocablock, you can always eat on the pebbly beach or in the park, just across the road. As the name, which is Gaelic for sea, might suggest, there’s a focus on seafood. The menu changes daily, but sample options include langoustines, smoked whiting kedgeree, fish tacos and their fish finger open sandwich. Due to current staff shortages, they’re operating an easy pre-ordering system, which you can access via their website, below. Alongside this, as well as some takeaway deli options, there’s also excellent coffee, and a selection of cakes that you don’t have to order in advance.
Shore Road, www.mara-arran.co.uk
They built this brand new distillery - a sister to Arran Whisky in Lochranza - at a particularly beautiful spot in Kilmory. They’re currently in the process of producing their first peated whisky, Lagg Single Malt, which will be released in the summer, and they’re running four tours of the distillery a day. As well as a shop, where you can taste various malts, and shop for souvenirs, they also have a Shieling Bistro and The Kilmory Cafe, which is a bit more casual. In the relaxed downstairs space, alongside the burgers, sandwiches and toasties, there are a few interesting options, like the hotdogs, with varieties including the fried onion, French mustard and ketchup topped New Yorker.
The Old Pier Tearoom
If you like your cakes in large slices, and available in copious varieties, this tearoom is a good bet. Although they don’t have any indoor seating at the moment, you can still takeaway goods including cheese scones, cinnamon buns, rosemary and harissa focaccia; raspberry, almond and kirsch tartlets, Victoria sponge, brownies, cookies and all things stodgy and delicious.
Lamlash, Facebook: The Old Pier Cafe
The Coffee Pot
It’s not the most cutting edge venue, but this couthy place is in a lovely spot and very reliable when it comes to massive portions after you’ve tackled the Glenashdale Falls walk. We especially love their icing-heavy cakes and “salads”, which are essentially a smorgasbord of goodies.
Shore Road, Arran
The Douglas Hotel
You can hop off the ferry and straight into this hotel, which is right across the road from the terminal. Their bistro serves hearty options including miso-battered prawns, or a rib-eye steak.
Shore Road, Brodick, www.thedouglashotel.co.uk