Scotsman Review
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  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
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May 22, 2015

The best Scottish island restaurants according to top chefs and reviewers

Making the most of the plentiful produce offered up by Scotland's islands isn't exactly a tall order, but some restaurants still raise the bar. Ten of the country's best chefs and food writers tell us about their favourite places to eat on the Scottish islands.

Mark Greenaway, Restaurant Mark Greenaway and Bistro Moderne

My favourite island restaurant would have to be Highland Cottage on the Isle of Mull. The food that Jo Currie creates is simple yet elegant. She utilises the amazing produce that Mull has to offer and each plate of food is a celebration of Scotland’s natural larder.

The produce from the Scottish islands is a chef’s dream. At Restaurant Mark Greenaway, we use double hand-dived scallops from David and Ben Oakes from the Isle of Skye. These scallops are lifted from the deeper waters of Loch Sligachan and then re-laid in the shallow waters, where the plankton is thicker and the scallops can achieve their potential. They are a thing of pure beauty – because they are carefully double-dived the quality is something that is very difficult to find elsewhere.

Douglas Roberts, The Witchery

My favourite Scottish island restaurant is the Tiroran House Hotel on the Isle of Mull. It's such a secluded oasis of calm set in unbelievably and beautifully serene scenery – perfect for chilling out from the hustle and rush of city life.

The restaurant changes their menu on a daily basis using locally sourced produce throughout, with much of the ingredients grown in their own gardens, and brought together with consistent skill and flair. There are not many restaurants where you can have a first-rate dinner, then take a romantic saunter through the gardens and down to the shore with a chance to see otters and dolphins!

Alistair Craig, The Horseshoe

My favourite Scottish island restaurant is the Loch Bay Seafood Restaurant on the Isle of Skye, located on the edge of a picturesque sea loch in the village of Stein. The delicious seafood and desserts made with help from the chef's wife and friendly service in the intimate dining room make for a really enjoyable, relaxed evening.

Gaby Soutar, Scotsman restaurant critic

I hadn't even heard of the Ninth Wave seafood restaurant on the Isle of Mull until their recently published book landed on my desk, and now I can't wait to eat there. Owned by John and Carla Lamont, it serves produce that's been grown and raised on their croft, or seafood caught by the local fisherman. The food sounds as magical as their location, with dishes including red gurnard with sea urchin, sorrel mousse and sea lettuce, and black elderflower and croft bramble sorbet with hazelnut tuilles.

The Spanish Butcher, Glasgow, review - meat feast in atmospheric city centre restaurant

Chris Galvin, The Pompadour by Galvin

Not quite on an island, but my brother Jeff and I love The Captain’s Galley restaurant next to the sea in Scrabster port. We had a great meal there – the fish couldn't be fresher. The owner chef Jim Cowie is a lovely man and he and his wife Mary make great hosts. Scotland has the best seafood in the world!

Neil Forbes, Café St Honoré 

I love the Scalloway Hotel on Shetland. It’s in a wee fishing village on the west coast and serves great local food to a mix of tourists and Shetlanders, including lots of local fisherman. It’s a place full of character, just like the local people. They serve perfectly cooked – and massive – hand-dived scallops and blue-shell Shetland mussels from the local crystal-clear waters. They also serve proper Native Shetland Lamb, which is now a PDO product and on Slow Food's Ark of Taste list.

This means it's a protected breed and something we’re now seeing a bit more of on mainland Scotland. We occasionally have it on the menu at Café St Honoré. You can enjoy these fabulous dishes looking out over stunning views. It’s just heavenly. There’s almost endless sunshine in the summer months, not that I can guarantee it’ll always be warm!

Duthchas, Edinburgh, review - the new Leith restaurant from the Purslane team

And here's what our experts had to say about The Three Chimneys restaurant on Skye:

Mattia Camorani, G&V Royal Mile Hotel

With its beautiful location and surroundings, dining at The Three Chimneys  restaurant will always be a memorable experience for me. Set against the rural backdrop of one of Scotland’s most stunning islands, you are completely secluded amongst this incredible landscape. Exceptional dishes are served using the very finest products, taken straight from Skye’s larder, available right on the restaurant’s doorstep – it is a true taste of island life.

David Haetzman, Kyloe and The Huxley

My favourite Scottish island restaurant is The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye. It's in a stunning location and has been run with such love and care by Shirley and Eddie Spear for the last 30 years, and was committed to using amazing locally sourced ingredients way before it was fashionable to do so.

Island cafe with stunning views to team up with Michelin-recommended Edinburgh restaurant for one-off supper club

Jonathan Trew, food writer

I'll always remember the first time I went to The Three Chimneys on Skye. It was for the inaugural Skye and Lochalsh Food Festival in, I think, 2000. It was mid-January and Skye looked bleak but beautiful. We spoke to Shirley Spear and she explained that they wouldn't have any langoustines because Donny the Prawn, her langoustine fisherman, would still be celebrating Hogmanay and wouldn't be going out on his boat.

No Donny, no prawns. That really brought home that an island restaurant is all about the local producers and fishermen. You don't just call up one of the big catering supply firms. Instead, you are part of a living network of people who are working the local land and seas.

Roy Brett, Ondine

The restaurant that immediately springs to mind is the incredible The Three Chimneys  on Skye. My great friend Shirley Spear is one of my ultimate food heroes. Mother Nature couldn’t have provided for them better – set in tranquil surroundings with an exceptional natural larder from land and sea, they have a lot to celebrate. Their focus on seasonality, quality and provenance has convinced me to take the pilgrimage to Skye once again this year. The family and I can’t wait to return!

• This article was produced in partnership with CalMac. Why not visit some of these restuarants this summer?

Digital Editor for The Scotsman Publications. Studying Masters in Mobile Web Development at the University of the West of Scotland
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