The Eagle Barge, South Laggan
Fancy going Dutch? Then try the Eagle. This converted Dutch barge – once a Second World War troop carrier – is now a floating restaurant and pub on the Caledonian Canal. It is fabulously located for walkers, cyclists and sailors exploring Loch Ness and the Great Glen. It offers a variety of food choices, along with a selection of ales and whiskies. Diners can choose lunch and bar meals, but evening meals – which are cooked to order – need to be pre-booked. We recommend the seafood platter which usually includes langoustines and lobster. This is a cash-only restaurant, so don’t forget your wallet.
Where: Caledonian Canal, Laggan Locks, South Laggan, PH34 4EA
Tel: 07789 858567
The Clachan, Dornie
This traditional Highland pub is close to magical Eilean Donan Castle and prides itself on its warm welcome and great food.
Where: 13 Francis Street, Dornie, IV40 8DT
Tel: 01599 555366
Am Fuaran Bar, Achiltibuie
If you’re looking for a slice of heaven, look no further. There are blessings aplenty at this enchanting bar. It even has its own campsite just across the road, so you can play and stay. Open all year round, you can dine al-fresco on the deck with its outstanding views over the Summer Isles. In winter you can nestle inside beside the log stove and surrounded by walls of exposed natural stone and pitch pine, deer antlers and pictures of days gone by. A family affair, the hostelry is housed in a renovated house which was once home to the grandfather of the current owners Andrew Wilson and his sister Catriona. Her husband, co-owner David Last, even fishes for the langoustines that fill your plate from his boat The Boy Andrew.
Where: Altandhu, Achiltibuie, IV26 2YR
Tel: 01854 622339
Cocoa mountain Cafe and Chocolaterie, Durness
Owners James Findlay and Paul Madden set up Cocoa Mountain in June 2006 with the simple aim of producing the most delicious, fresh, and innovative chocolates on the planet. And we think they may have succeeded. Arguably, the most geographically remote chocolate producers in Europe, the chocolatiers lay claim to a fanbase which includes Prince Charles, ex-England cricketer Ian Botham, former Rangers’ boss Ally McCoist and actress Juliet Stevenson. At their cafe in the spectacular North West Highlands Geopark, this dynamic duo – who appeared on the BBC TV show Dragons’ Den – also serve, along with their world-famous truffles, the best hot chocolate, as well as Mountain Mocha and other drinks. It’s a chocoholic’s dream!
Where: 8 Balnakeil, Durness, IV27 4PT
Tel: 01971 511233
The Cabin, Mallaig
Up a wee side alley, you’ll find what is arguably the best take-away fish supper on the planet. The Cabin in beautiful Mallaig does have a restaurant, but we prefer to eat this particular treat on the hoof. It comes in a light crispy batter with succulent, thick flakes of white juicy fish. The last time we were here the portion was so large we decided to share it.
Where: Davies Brae, Mallaig, PH41 4PU
Tel: 01687 462207
Stacks Bistro, John o’Groats
Stacks lays claim to being the most northerly restaurant in mainland UK. It offers customers imaginatively cooked wholesome food served by attentive, friendly staff in an environment that is quirky and comfortable. Check out its colourful colander light shades and cosy-up by the log burner. This is the place to kick back and relax.
Where: 3 Craft Centre, John o’ Groats, KW1 4YR
Tel: 01955 611582
Spice Tandoori, Thurso
In the heart of Thurso, Spice Tandoori is a favourite with locals and it is very often busy, so it’s best to book in advance. Those “in the know” tell us you’ll find some of the best Indian food on offer in the north of Scotland right here. And it’s family-friendly too, which means you can happily take the kids along. Some Thurso folk love Spice Tandoori so much they have their Christmas meal here.
Where: Princes Street, Thurso, KW14 7BQ
Tel: 01847 894622
Encased by glass on two sides, this chic eatery is bathed in light and at night overlooks the floodlit River Ness. And its prime location is matched only by its supreme menus. The Rocpool puts its recipe for success down to “the two P’s” – passion and provenance. It uses carefully hand-picked food producers and suppliers who are as passionate about their products as the Rocpool’s chefs are about their creations. And that winning combination means the restaurant’s customers enjoy only the finest fresh, sustainable produce in season. Dine on the best Highland beef and venison from Speyside, the most succulent scallops and langoustines from the West Coast, the juiciest rare breed pork in the Black Isle and the finest razor clams in Fortrose. Whether it’s Mallaig hot smoked salmon or the sweetest crab from Orkney, you can savour some of the best that Scotland has to offer.
Where: 1 Ness Walk, Inverness, IV3 5NE
Tel: 01463 717274
Loch Bay Restaurant, Waternish
This contemporary Scottish restaurant with classic French influences has some very exciting menu choices. It’s based in Stein, an old fishing village on the scenic north west Waternish peninsula.
Where: 1-2 Macleod Terrace, Waternish, IV55 8GA
Tel: 01470 592235
Scone Spy Recommends….
The Mountain Cafe
“The Mountain Café sits unassumingly above an outdoor sports clothing store.
“But it’s a fabulous place for coffee, melt-in-the-mouth scones and home bakes. It boasts fabulous views over the Cairngorm mountains and a string of awards and nominations, including being repeatedly shortlisted for The Good Food Guide’s Readers’ Restaurant of the Year title.”
Where: Grampian Road, Aviemore PH22 1RH
“This welcoming eatery is set amid one of Scotland’s most dramatic and historic locations.
“It serves delicious breakfasts and lunches but prides itself on its scones and homebakes, made fresh on the premises.
“A great favourite on the summer menu is the cheese variety baked with herbs and chives – scrumptious! Don’t forget to check out the cafe’s gift shop.”
Where: Ballachulish, PH49 4HP
Bay of Birsay Tearoom
“If you want to be sure to secure a table at this lovely little café, then call in advance as it’s popular.
“Close to Orkney’s historic Earl’s Palace and the Brough of Birsay – where you can see the remains of Pictish, Norse and Medieval living – this café is a true gem.
“A finalist in the 2016 Scottish Baking Awards, it makes its own scones as well as a range of other goodies. Try the double espresso coffee cake – it’s addictive!”
Where: Palace, Orkney KW17 2LX
Fjara Cafe Bar
Smack-bang on the sea-front, Fjara knows how to make a splash. “This fabulous Shetland eatery prides itself on making its customers feel right at home. “It serves seasonal bistro-style meals, with its bakers working in-house each day to deliver the best sweet treats imaginable. But for us their fabulous scones are the real catch of the day.”
Where: Sea Road, Lerwick ZE1 0ZJ