We are from the USA and will be visting our daughter in St Andrews than touring the Highlands in early April,spending nights in Pitlochry, Inverness, Broadford (Skye) and Fort William. Looking for mostly lower to midrange restaurants and cafes. We also have liked some of the farm shops we visited in Fife like the Balgove in St Andrewsand the Pillars of Hercules in Falkland. Suggestions for dining and local specialties would be most appreciated. Thanks.
A search of the board will find places.
At Pitlochry, I can recommend the nearby Killikrankie House
Inverness has quite a wide range of places but I only bothered to write up one. You'll see the food was only OK and the service was piss poor. Contrast Brasserie: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/796867
Any search for restaurants in Fort William is going to throw up Crannog (as well as the Michelin starred, appallingly archaic, Inverlochy Castle). Be prepared for disappointment: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/796868
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Pitlochry has many little cafes to handle all of the coach parties that drop in. We've eaten at the Port Na Craig and the food was above average for the price point and has a lovely location. I was recommended to go to the Auld Smiddy by one of the locals but didn't get chance last time we were there as I opted for the Turkish/Med restaurant of Pasha and really enjoyed that; friendly service as well. I'd be tempted to head up to the Moulin Inn which is just out of Pitlochry. Don't eat in the restaurant, eat in the pub and although it's not fine dining, the location and tradition of the pub is excellent particularly if you like real ale.
Inverness and Fort William have always been pretty poor in my overall experience. Well worth checking out the boards as there's been some recent discussion around travelling around Scotland that may give you some pointers.
If you are driving on the A9 highway (and be very careful if you are, it is a dangerous road!) stopping for a bite to eat at the House of Bruar (about 20 miles north of Pitlochry) is recommended. The House of Bruar has become a mini shopping mall, with pavilions selling high-end "country" clothes, cashmere sweaters, food hall, art gallery, etc. The restaurant serves good food cafeteria style. The soups on offer are usually very tasty.
Is your daughter at St.Andrews Uni....all the best folk go there! ;) ;)
If time permits, definitely take a drive round the East Neuk of Fife...lots of nice red-roofed little fishing villages. At the very least, drive along to sample the great fish and chips in Anstruther across from the harbour. Be prepared to queue....but it is worthwhile. The fish goes from boat to restaurant....and is fried in a light crispy batter.
Like others mention, House of Bruar is well worth a stop...especially if you are after some food-curios to take home.
I am a bit non-plussed about The Mustard Seed in Inverness...always felt it was a bit "meh" in a chain restaurant kind of way.
Harters seems to have had less than great experience in Contract Brasserie....but while we lived there we had good times in the more formal Abstract @ Glenmoriston Town House. Not cheap, but we always found it exceptional. I do akcnowledge that reports from both seems to go up and down with time.
I would heartily recommend The Joy of Taste in Inverness. It is a newish restaurant run by volunteers....with the emphasis on good vfm and a warm/friendly experience. I love the service in here....very informal....staff love their job - for many it is their chance to socialise and get out of the house etc. The food isn't really high end....but I have never had a bad dish...solid cooking with good ingredients at a reasonable price. http://www.thejoyoftaste.co.uk
I have never actually been, but my wife is on Inverness on business weekly....and she really enjoys Cafe1 - http://www.cafe1.net . Seems like a nice little setup, home growing/rearing and sourcing locally where possible. As with Joy of Taste....reservations are recommended.