Foodie tour of Scottish west coast
Hello all. I practically grew up near Arisaig (we had a holiday caravan there) and am wanting to take my son there for a trip down memory lane/introduce him to midges...We're going to combine it with a little foodie tour for a week (including driving up and down from Chester).
We HAVE to do the 3 Chimneys on Skye because we fell in love with Michael on Great British Menu. He also wants to go to Iona as he's doing Theology at Uni so I guess that's an overnight on Mull/in Oban which seems a bit of a foodie desert...
So where for a mixture of truly epic dinners and down at home lunches? Sadly we just won't have enough time to go up to Ullapool and back too, as I don't want to spend all our time driving/packing/unpacking. On Skye we'll try to get rooms at Glenview which I saw has good reviews here.
Also can anyone recommend somewhere nice apart from Glasgow to break the drive up from Chester to Oban (which I guess will be our first stop)?
Helen, you're in for a wonderful trip (other than the midges dependent when you go!). There is actually an official tourist type guide because the food is so good there although I'm sure there will be an element of promo in the people involved rather than the little off the track places.
I couldn't tell if you were planning on going into Glasgow or not. I'd avoid simply for the hassle and the fact that you can get brilliant food without going there. It depends how far you're willing to drive before your first stop. A couple of options to throw in would be The Oak Tree at Balmaha. Slightly off your route (30mins max I reckon) but located on the banks of loch lomond, with a lot of character, decent food and a speciality of Arctic Char fish. Or for a posh lunch there is Martin Wishart at Cameron House. Further on you also have the original Loch Fyne restaurant (which isn't part of the franchise of the same name any more) which also has the plus point of being close to Loch Fyne Brewery if your son fancies a beer (they have a very nice tap room).
Oban is far from a food desert. Considering it's size it's the opposite I'd say. My favourite place is the seafood temple which is a converted Victorian toilet with stunning views out over the sea (booking essential). It's tiny but the food is simple and so fresh. The other place that I like is The Waterfront (although I've not been for a couple of years) although it has an uninspiring location in the ferry terminal building! Eeusk gets mentioned a bit but although the swished and most prominent I think the food is over priced and generally not that noteworthy. If you fancy al fresco, there's a brilliant shack next to the ferry terminal where they'll cook lobsters fresh for you or serve some stunning other dishes (by the sometime grumpy owner!) like hot smoked salmon or squat lobsters all to take away or munch at their table on the harbour front. As an outside gamble, Gary Goldie was head chef for a long time at a beautiful hotel located a few miles away but I see that he's decamped to Oban central. I don't know anyone who has been to his new place, but he certainly has credentials for it to be very good.
Further north, I'd avoid Fort William for food. It's pretty useless. Before you get there though the seafood cafe on the side of Loch Leven has probably the shortest food miles for the Langoustines that I've ever known. You can see the buoys for the creels from the window.
You know that you're in for a stunning drive so it maybe that getting sandwiches will serve you best in some instances so you can stop and take in the view!
On Skye, I'd urge you to go to Creelers in Broadford. It's no where near as swish as the 3 chimneys but I can guarantee (well as close as I can!) that the food will please you just as much.
You're passing a few distilleries on route as well so I don't know if you want to let your son experience that side as well!
Hope that's of use. I'll hold off taking up any more space here!
You'll want to try Martin Wishart at Loch Lomand. No, you'll really want to try it.
I also mention Crannog at Fort William. But I do so with some trepidation. It gets good reviews and I'd high hopes of it. But it was only just better than OK, although cullen skink was a knockout dish. I like to hope we got them on bad day.
I would second Harters suggestion of Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond. Refined tasty food.
We were lucky enough to get married at Ardanaseig years ago when Gary Goldie was chef there. He was the reason we chose to get married there and he didn't disappoint. Anyway, he is now at the refurbished Best Western in Oban, building on his time at Noma and using a lot of locally foraged produce.
The seafood shack on Oban beach is also meant to be very good.
The other place in Skye that has come recommended to me is the Old School House.
I hope that you will post the results of your trip inasmuch as I have been dreaming of a return to that area after almost 40 years. I note the places on Iona (I forget the options) claim to offer great food (probably true compared to the last time I was there) but I do not know anyone who has stayed overnight on Iona in the last ten years. But your trailblazing would be of immense help to me not only in planning but, also, in motivating me to finally DO something about going.
Have you considered staying on Iona itself? We've spent a night on Iona several times and it's quite a magical place especially once the daytrippers have left.
It's a lovely island with (I think) two small hotels and several B&Bs. The Argyll Hotel has an excellent restaurant featuring local seafood and produce from its own garden, which you can see outside the hotel.
There's also another small restaurant by the water in the village center, which looks simple from the outside, but had excellent seafood.