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Loch Ness, Isle of Skye and Edinburgh-- Recommendations Please

Hi There,

I've seen some great posts on here with recommendations for places in Edinburgh and was hoping for other recommendations in and around (we'll have a car and will be taking day trips) Loch Ness area and Isle of Skye. We'll be spending 3 nights around Loch Ness and 4 nights in Isle of Skye, followed by 3 nights in Edinburgh. We've already booked reservations at 3 Chimneys in Skye and would love other recommendations.

Some things we love when dining out:
- local (food and people) and fresh
- relaxed atmosphere
- homey look to a place-- like a lodge or cottage-- something with wood, exposed brick, etc
- servers who know a lot about the food
- nothing touristy at all (we live in New York City and enjoy the small, neighborhood and local shops and eateries)

We'd love recommendations for:
- Dinner places
- Lunch places
- Coffee shops/cafes
- Local food stores
- Farmer's Markets

We are so excited to explore Scotland for 10 days!

And of course, if you can recommend interesting things to see and do in and around these areas, all ears (or eyes as the case may be).

Thank you very much!

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  1. do search for skye as well as edinburgh - there are various threads about it.

    i loved three chimneys and loch bay seafood (more casual). the third place we ate at was kinloch lodge which didn't thrill me but kept my companions happy enough - there is a full of all of them review of my blog.

    this article in today's guardian newspaper might also be interesting: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

    i can't help with edinburgh or loch ness, sorry!

    1. While in Skye, book in dinner at the Sconser Lodge (which is near the Kinloch Lodge); it is very good. They also have an small adjacent bar area which is homey and gets a local or two.

      We had good luck just stopping at the random cottages with signs outside advertising coffee, tea, and scones. However, didn't have such a great experience in either restaurant we visited Portree.

      Glasgow is only 30 minute train ride from Edinburgh and you can't visit Edinburgh for as long as you'll be in Scotland without atleast a day trip to Glasgow. Be sure to eat the delicious south indian cuisine at Dakhin (casual but vibrant restaurant).

      1 Reply
      1. re: YummaYum

        Hi YummaYum-- thanks for all of these recommendations. I do like the idea of stopping at random cottages advertising coffee, tea & scones. Sounds fabulous!
        And we will think about Glasgow as well!

      2. When in Skye last year we had a tremendous meal here
        http://glenviewskye.co.uk/Food.aspx

        food very good, service utterly exemplary - seriously some of the nicest we've ever had and they then tried to refuse our tip! we enjoyed the uber-fresh local oysters and the Scottish cheeses in particular.

        the other excellent food experience we had on Skye was to purchase fresh cod and scallops straight off the pier in Portree and then cook them up in our rented cottage. Great!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Tripowski

          To: Tripowski--
          I made a reservation at the Glenview. Looking forward to it!

        2. I understand your passion for local food and think you'll find much in Scotland to your liking, but Edinburgh also has a very international food scene and some of it is pretty good - so if you've had enough haggis and salmon by the time you get to E'burgh, some of this might begin to sound appealing-

          Hadrian's Brasserie at the Balmoral used to do a very pleasant Sunday brunch, literally from soup to nuts, with live Jazz and amazing roast beef with yorkshire puds (and won't break the bank, as compared with Number One, the Balmoral's upscale restaurant - which is not bad but not memorable; it has that Michelin-starred anonymity that fine dining in Britain can have).

          The Witchery is an Edinburgh classic, and deservedly so. It's elegant fare in a cosy atmosphere by the castle; they have some imaginative but genuine fare and use local, seasonal ingredients. You must reserve well in advance of time as they have a very small number of tables. On the expensive side but well worth it for the quality of the food.

          For a quick but unforgettable lunch, try the British answer to a pulled pork sandwich at Oink on Candlemaker Row. (Yup, it's the hole-in-the-wall with the giant roasted pig in the window and the vats of simmering, caramel-colored au jus in the oven. Don't forget to pay the extra buck (quid, really) for crackling.)

          Better-than-in-Italy Italian morning pastries and coffee (and a full breakfast on the weekends) at Valvona & Crolla on Elm Row (near the top of Leith walk - wind your way to the back of the deli to their stylish cafe). I think they serve lunch (and dinner?) at their new location just off St Andrew's Square in New Town.

          La P'tite Folie is a great little french bistro in New Town; high ceiling, wooden tables and lots of buzz, although hopefully they've installed some new ventilation - shallot gravy smells so much better on your steak than on your clothes.

          There's also lots of South Asian food in Edinburgh but it tends to be undistinguished - I'd defer to someone else's recommendations about what the standouts are.

          Enjoy your trip - sounds like a fabulous itinerary.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Vishne

            thanks for these recommendations!! Much appreciated : )

            If you ever travel to NYC, I will give you plenty of recommendations as well.

            -Deena

          2. As you mention that you’ve perused the Edinburgh posts I won’t hammer on about the same places and if you have further specific questions then let me know. You have also got quite a scope of travelling to get you from Edinburgh to Skye as well!

            Couple of things I will add in about Edinburgh since you’ve not just asked about restaurants. There is a farmer’s market here every Saturday from 9 – 2 on Castle Terrace where you can find various items to purchase for later cooking or eating there including the whole pig roast that was mentioned by the previous poster (I should also point out that Oink mentioned by them is on Victoria St, not Candlemaker Row). For fresh cakes take a look at the Edinburgh Larder or Peter’s Yard which are central or if you fancy fantastic French style pattiserie then The Manna House at the top of Easter Road is brilliant but is away from the central area. For exposed brick and very good food in an old style setting have a look at The Grain Store. In the same street as The Grain Store and Oink there is also Demi John which has olive oil and infused spirits (eg elderflower gin, Seville Orange Vodka) which are great to drink or give as presents. This is also right next to one of the IJ Mellis Cheese shops which are excellent.

            I can find no way of recommending The Witchery for anything other than location. Part of the restaurant is a wonderful wood panelled room from several hundred years ago however the food is poor for the price that you are paying and is very much a case of style over substance in my (and every food interested person that I’ve spoken to) opinion. No offence intended to previous poster either, just my feeling.

            Loch Ness covers such a vast length that it’s hard to pin down anywhere in particular and I would suggest that most places right by the Loch are touristy so to steer clear. Depending on which way you travel up I’ll The Cross at Kingussie is a fantastic restaurant with rooms and I would suggest the Moulin Inn in Pitlochry for beers and a wonderful old pub feel (the food is nothing to get excited about). Going up via Glencoe the Lochleven Seafood café is a great loch side location and fresh, fresh fish.

            I don’t know much about the restaurants in Skye. We’ve never gone upmarket there, simply found places with signs out stating that they had fresh seafood and also from speaking to the fishermen to see where they’d go.

            You may want to look for a book called “Scotland the Best”. It covers off many areas of interest food orientated and non food orientated. Very useful if you’re driving around a bit which it sounds like you are. Enjoy and if you've any further questions just ask!

            8 Replies
            1. re: AWaiting

              Hi AWaiting-- thank you so much.

              I had read about the Farmer's Market in Edinburgh on Saturdays and we plan to swing by and then go into the park for a picnic if the weather permits. We are big Farmer's Market people-- we go every week (even through the winter) in New York.

              We figured the restaurants and places right around Loch Ness were touristy. We are having our first dinner at our B&B (the Evergreen) and do not have anything else planned food-wise there. We may drive up to Inverness, if you have any recommendations there. Might also drive East a bit-- we can do anything! From what I've seen and read, the country is picturesque and lovely everywhere, so we can't really go wrong!

              thanks again for the guidance.

              Can you recommend anything particularly unknown or special to do in/around Loch Ness or Edinbugrh?

              thanks,
              Deena

              1. re: dbarselah

                Not entirely sure if there's anything completely unknown here, Scotland's not the biggest country and we have a lot of tourists and daytrippers and munroe baggers. Browsing the below website will give you some more ideas

                http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk...

                In the Inverness/Loch Lomond area - this is a lovely area

                http://www.glenaffric.org/glen_affric...

                The best way to get some time to yourself is to do some walking - this may help

                http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/

                I've mentioned before about the Water of Leith, its not unknown, but less on a tourist's iternery, the stretch from the National Modern Gallery to Stockbridge/Botanical Gardens is particularly nice with plenty of places to eat and drink in Stockbridge.

                The farmer's market isn't huge and doesn't have a large number of places with food to take away and eat, some people expect something bigger, Valvolna and Crolla as mentioned before has a stall here for their baked goods, I've heard Peters Yard does ice cream if you need some.

                1. re: orchidalbion

                  Excellent links and thanks very much for the tip about the farmer's market.
                  We will be doing a lot of walking-- not super strenuous, but will be on foot much of the time.

                  thanks!

                2. re: dbarselah

                  This has also recently opened, in Edinburgh, large menu of beers and guest ones on tap, great place to try rarer beers, small and very busy at times so if you want a more relaxing experience avoid peak hours

                  http://www.brewdog.com/bars

                  1. re: dbarselah

                    I agree with orchidalbion that trying to find something that is completely unknown is hard, particularly in a big city like Edinburgh. Once you get out of the city then it tends to be easier to escape the melee of tourism. As slight variations on the usual recommendation, if the weather is decent think about heading out of town eastward towards Gullane which is where Muirfield links golf course is located and has a wonderful stretch of sandy beach. Either take a picnic for the beach or stop off at La Poitiniere or Albert Roux’s place at Greywalls.

                    Other option for a trip out of Edinburgh would be to go north over the bridge into Fife and follow the coastal route around what is known as the neuk of Fife. Passing through lovely fishing villages and possibly making it round to Arbroath where you can see the Smokies being…well….smoked! As I mentioned before, getting the book “Scotland the Best” covers off lots of things that you can pick through.

                    Going north, the website that was mentioned above is good for getting out walking at all levels of fitness. You should definitely drive through Glencoe in a northerly direction and maybe stop off at the Clachaig Inn for a pint in the evening where the walkers hang out. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to go to Inverness, the surrounding area is nice but the city itself doesn’t seem to offer much.

                    Just Prior to Skye, there are some stunning views if you take the right roads and we had some decent pub grub in Kintail lodge at the head of Loch Duich. Or head over to Plockton which is picturesque and the Plockton Hotel does good food. On Skye, if you have the time, head over to Elgol which is a long way down a dead end road but has a wonderful little café with stunning views over to the Cuillins and the islands.

                    Back to Edinburgh, the Royal Oak on Infirmary St tends to have people randomly pull out instruments and play folk music which you may enjoy as something different and it’s also close to Mother India which does decent Indian.

                    Orchidalbion, I’m intrigued to get your viewpoint on the Brewdog place as I know you speak a lot of sense in your posts. I do like the Brewdog beer and it is probably to an American style with its heavy use of hops however I don’t get the venue. To me, the place they have is very much a bar rather than a pub and needs people in it to give it a vibe. Its stripped back style seems driven from a NY style loft apartment and I’d have thought that somewhere like the Bow Bar was of more interest to someone from outside of Britain. I’m interested to see if Brewdog can make a go of the site with it being on the Cowgate.

                    1. re: AWaiting

                      I love the East Neuk - the cafe in Crail overlooking the sea I'm partial to though it maybe a bit of a drive to get to depending on where you are. If you're taking up the option of Gullane then Falko Kondeteri has a branch there, nice for coffee and cake.

                      I would agree places like the Bow Bar etc would be more of an interest, vibe and beerwise, I had it as an after thought in case one was really keen on their beers, there's guest beers on tap that I haven't seen anywhere else and there's also the ability to sample a selection. You're right its not pub like, for me it reminds me the Canadian brewpubs I used to go to. I think the Cowgate might work for it, attracting a certain type of student who will keep it ticking over all day and bring these types of beer into to a wider audience. I liked the vibe quieter as felt more like a space to relax and loiter in so in that sense for me it didn't feel like a bar - but that's just not me being a fan of crammed environments as it seems to be in the evening when I walk past that way.

                      1. re: orchidalbion

                        And of course, if you go to the villages in the East Neuk, you should go to the Seafood Restaurant in St Monans - gets great reviews and it's in a lovely loction - and the Anstruther Fish Bar for great fish and chips in Anstruther ...

                        1. re: Theresa

                          Be aware that the Anstruther Fish Bar can involve a quequing time of half an hour, if you're interested in this area depending on your interests and if you have a day/half day (depending on sailing times) from Edinburgh to spare, the Isle of May could be a nice trip to see thousands of seabirds including puffins. Sets out from Anstruther. Touristy in the daytripper sense rather than the international tourist sense it seems.

                          http://www.isleofmayferry.com

                          http://isleofmaynnr.blogspot.com/

                          Pillars of Hercules, organic cafe and teeny farm shop on a working farm is nearby and in the grounds of an estate with nice little walks in it all the way to the Lomond Hills or the cute historical village of Falkland, if you want something homey and out of the way. Always busy, can't tell if they're locals, Fifers or daytrippers - I'm guessing a mix - again depends on your definition of local/ touristy, most nice places has daytrippers and is therefore are not purely local. The cafe is a wooden building so it defintely ticks that box.

                          http://www.pillars.co.uk/

                3. Hi Everyone,
                  Thanks again for all of these recommendations! We are leaving tomorrow and I'm excited to check out the places you've suggested.

                  One more question: We will be arriving in Edinburgh around 10am and should be on the road by noon driving up to our B&B near Loch Ness. The route we plan to take is northwest out of the airport and will be looking for a good lunch towards the direction of Glencoe, Oban, Loch Awe. We will need some good food!

                  And of course if you have any recommendations for places near Oban, Glencoe, etc.

                  Thank you VERY much!!
                  -Deena

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: dbarselah

                    The route you're planning sounds like a bit of a nightmare - the more direct route going north over the Forth Bridge is much quicker, and will take you through the Cairngorms national park. Google maps says that the drive from the airport to Oban will be about 2.5 hours, so, if you don't think you will be on the road until noon, you will be a bit late for lunch ...

                    The total round trip to Loch Ness, via Oban will be 5.5 hours. I imagine that both of these will be an under estimate - the roads in these parts of Scotland are not the fastest!

                    Having said that, if you manage to get to Oban, I would recommend Coast - a lovely restaurant run by a husband and wife team. I went years ago when they were still new, but apparently they are still going strong. There is also Ee Usk on the dock, which does great fish and seafood.

                    1. re: dbarselah

                      As much as I like Oban it will take you about 3 hours to get there from Edinburgh as the roads once you get off the M9 are all single carriage way and pretty busy. Since you're going to Skye, I'd be tempted to skip Oban but If you're certain that you want to go there then Coast as mentioned is good, as is the Waterfront. I wasn't that impressed with Ee Usk. Seafood temple is my favourite though. Basic cooking but superb fresh fish served in a converted toilet. You'll need to book in advance for that.

                      Going up the Glencoe route I think that you may be pushing it for a lunch if you're leaving at 12. Have a look at Monachyle Mhor which is just after Callander, in a stunning location at the end of a dead end track but even that may be pushing it.

                      Let us know if you have a definite route plan as the route to Loch Ness over the Forth Road Bridge will get you away from Edinburgh quicker but if you're definitely not going that way, no point discussing.

                      Due to the time of your arrival, would top class fish and chips be an option?

                      P.S. There is Michelin Restaurant called The Champany Inn not too far driving north from Edinburgh Airport but if I'm honest the food is not Michelin standard as far as I'm concerned. It specialise in Steaks and Chicken with a very good wine cellar but the quality is vey much in the produce, not the cooking skill

                    2. I'd precisely agree - Oban is 3 hours away and still a way from loch ness - the most direct route from Edinburgh to Oban doesn't take you through glencoe, if you're keen to go the glencoe way to loch ness and take the route through callender (M9, A84,A85, A82) then an alternate option to Mhor mentioned above is their tea room in Balquidher, an easy stop of the road in a pretty location, beware its tiny and can be totally packed - the service is great but they've got too much to do - if you want to stop earlier Mhor also have a fish and chip shop in Callender which is an hourish from Edinburgh - I don't know if its any good, you could take some out and eat by the river

                      http://mhor.net/tea/

                      Of you go the most direct route to lochness via the outskirts of Cairngorms national park then Dunkeld could be a pretty place to stop, there's tearooms in town

                      Or before that after the Forth Road bridge there's this place, which is a pretty location to stop

                      http://www.lochlevenslarder.com/ or you can pick up some food here (i think you can buy food here, make sure you double check which junction to get off, i had a bit of trouble last time) and weather being nice you could stop by the side of any loch that takes your fancy and have a little picnic. The route northwest from Edinburgh whichever way you go is stunning and you'll want to stop all the time.

                      for glencoe itself I've heard of this place but again I've never stopped

                      http://www.clachaig.com/

                      For Oban, I'd agree with Coast and Seafood Temple - not sure if they do lunch and don't know if they have their summer opening hours yet, the Seafood Shack on the pier is also great.