If you think Scottish food is all haggis and porridge, are you ever in for a shock. Scotland has a rich culinary heritage, and now it also boasts a vibrant modern gastronomy scene. The combination spells great eating for visitors who already know they’ll be drinking well. Like so many other countries experiencing an epicurean awakening, Scottish chefs have become passionate about local and seasonal ingredients. And Scots themselves no longer feel the need to self-deprecate when it comes to their cuisine, displaying as much pride in their black pudding as their sustainable cod fisheries.
Your first stop in Scotland may very well be the capital. And your first meal might very well be lunch. You’re in luck: you can hardly ever go wrong with a Scottish pub lunch, especially after a long transatlantic flight. The dressed-up pub grub of The Caley Sampleroom (42-58 Angle Park Terrace, 0131-337 7204, thecaleysampleroom.co.uk) might include sausages with black pudding mash or tempura-battered fish and chips. After a good night’s sleep, let your Saturday morning stroll take you by the Edinburgh Farmer’s Market (Castle Terrace), where more than 55 producers peddle everything from smoked salmon to Angus beef to Pinkberry-style pick-your-own-toppings porridge bowls. Before dinner, indulge in a cocktail. Cozy and cavernous Bramble (16A Queen Street, 0131-226 6343, bramblebar.co.uk) riffs on the classics. In the hip waterfront Leith district, the chef Tom Kitchin (yes, that’s his real name) serves up Scotland’s most coveted delicacy – why, fresh, pristine seafood, of course – at his eponymous and much-lauded restaurant. (78 Commercial Quay, 0131-555 1755, thekitchin.com).
In Scotland’s bigger, rowdier metropolis, allow yourself to give in to the grittier, more laid-back vibe of the city. For starters, grab a hearty meal and a pint at Ubiquitous Chip, a Glaswegian institution tucked into a charming, cobbled alley that always has several cuts of Aberdeen-raised Angus beef on the menu (12 Ashton Lane, 0141-334 5007, ubiquitouschip.co.uk). For a primer on all the kooky-sounding Scottish specialties you’ve heard of, from cullen skink to Arbroath smokies to haggis with its neeps and tatties, Café Gandolfi will set you straight (64 Albion Street, 0141-552 6813, cafegandolfi.com). The Dhabba offers an haute take on authentic North Indian, specializing in Dum Pukht, an artful slow-cooking method that results in rich, intense flavors (44 Candleriggs, 0141 553 1249, thedhabba.com).
Many of the country’s most magical restaurants aren’t in cities at all. Take The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye, which ex-New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni described as Scotland’s French Laundry. The five-star guest house and restaurant don’t even have a street number; just look for them off the main country road (Colbost, Dunvegan, 01470 511 258, threechimneys.co.uk). Another remote romantic place to stay with a killer restaurant is Monachyle Mhor in Loch Lomond, near where Rob Roy is buried. It doesn’t get more farm-to-table than Chef Tom Lewis sourcing ingredients from his own farm (Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, 01877 384 622, mhor.net). Surely, the unlikeliest place to stumble upon a Michelin star is the isolated village of Lochinver, population: 600. What’s even more shocking is that The Albannach isn’t the only acclaimed restaurant in town (Baddidarroch, 01571 844407, thealbannach.co.uk). Could the Scottish Highlands be the next foodie mecca? Only one way to find out…
More Scottish Food On Food Republic:
- 11 Things To Know About Scottish Cuisine
- No Haggis For The Twilight Sad
- A Dram With A Famous Bagpipe Player
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