There is no doubt that Scotland offers up some of the finest produce in the world and, no, we are not just talking about all that glorious whisky. It wasn’t too long ago that the best of it was always spirited off to be enjoyed on the fine dining tables of London, Paris and Madrid. That has all started to change in recent years and there's now a rich bounty of places to eat dotted around Scotland – from deceptively simple looking chippies through to slick metropolitan dining rooms – where you can enjoy boat-fresh fish, world-class beef and ultra-fresh game within sight of the very boats and pastures that helped dish up your food. 2015 has been designated the Year of Scottish Food and Drink so what are you waiting for? Tuck in!
A Michelin temple
Edinburgh now overflows with a quintet of Michelin star restaurants. Renowned TV chef Tom Kitchin can still be spotted working hard in the open kitchen at The Kitchin, his mercurial signature Michelin temple in trendy Leith. Kitchin’s mantra is ‘from nature to plate’, which translates into sophisticated dishes such as boudin of Inverurie ox tongue served with braised ox shin, bone marrow potato and Parisienne carrots, plus more unusual seasonal options such as sea urchin bisque, served in the urchin, and whole grouse in season.
For seriously good steak
If you love steak – we mean really love steak – then Glasgow’s Butchershop Bar and Grill is for you. They present all the finest Scottish cuts for you to peruse before cooking, including their legendary ‘Tomahawk’, which comes in at over one kilogram. Their Sunday roasts are the stuff of local legend, while away from red meat their breast of local chicken comes with a colcannon mash and confit tomato in a satisfyingly rich red wine and lardon jus.
A Glaswegian buzz
Savvy Glaswegians rate Crabshakk and you will too. The downstairs space buzzes all day with slightly quieter tables upstairs, though at weekends the whole place rocks. No wonder, with such well-chosen wines, excellent sourcing, skilled cooking and ever changing specials spicing up an already impressive menu. The heaving seafood platter could probably feed four, but it makes for a real treat for two. You could keep it ‘simple’ with half a dozen creamy oysters to start followed by a plump Scottish lobster or rump steak and chips. Their seasonal vegetarian risotto comes highly recommended too.
Edinburgh © SAKhanPhotography/Shutterstock
At Edinburgh’s Ondine pioneering head chef Roy Brett and his team take their sourcing seriously. Very seriously in fact. They ambitiously aim to make sure all their seafood is MSC certified. They offer a great dining experience here too. You can just slope in for a few oysters and a glass of wine at the bar or settle into a table for a seafood fiesta. The toughest choice is between the classic chilled fruits de mer platter for two or the shellfish platter roasted with garlic infused cream. (Truly decadent couples order both.) They also offer the best of Scottish beef, tartare style or rib.
The original Loch Fyne
The original Loch Fyne Restaurant and Oyster Bar on the banks of the eponymous loch may have sparked a UK-wide chain, but things are kept fairly simple and fresh in the original. They smoke many of their tasty delights here and haul in their oysters and mussels from the beds on the loch. A recent refurbishment and a revamp of the menu by Edinburgh uber seafood chef Roy Brett has added a renewed sparkle to proceedings. It’s practically impossible to leave without buying something at their shop.
Tobermory © reisegraf.ch/Shutterstock
An island escape
Out on the island of Mull lies Café Fish, a wee seafood oasis in the capital of Tobermory. It sits above the ferry pier and the seafood could not be fresher. On the menu are the likes of chunky local creel caught lobster and langoustines, alongside queen scallops landed at nearby Tarbert. Their strapline that ‘the only things frozen are our fisherman’ is no idle boast as they source the freshest catch possible and then cook it with as little fuss as possible. You can end your meal here with some of the delicious Mull cheddar, which is conjured up within walking distance.
The UK’s best chippie
Frankie’s Fish & Chips won the National Fish and Chip shop of the year in the 2015 National Fish and Chip Awards, as well as holding a Quality Award from the National Federation of Fish Friers. With good reason, as its loyal followers will testify – they think it is always easily the UK’s best. What is even more remarkable is that Frankie’s sits in a remote spot in the ultra remote Shetland Isles. The active local fishing fleet keep them well stocked and they make a real effort to introduce their customers to such unusual chippie delights as king scallops. As well as fried sausage and steak pie, they also do a mean deep fried haggis supper – much nicer than it might sound. Frankie’s are passionate about sourcing and serving local sustainable seafood, and are members of the Sustainable Restaurant Association.