Going on holiday to Scotland, I just knew I would lose a couple of pounds enjoying the fresh air walking to shops and restaurants. Ha! After the first meal I realized I was in trouble. I traveled with my daughter Andrea, who practically invented the word “foodie”! She is an amazing little chef on her own, therefore she notices every detail down to each select spice used in creating a dish. I’m constantly learning new aspects of the food world from her. Me, I’m always studying the design and atmosphere of the restaurants.
Our first few days in Scotland were in Inverness. We ate lunch at the contemporary but warmly designed Kitchen Brasserie. The trouble began when I ordered the Rump Steak from Munros of Dingwall topped with a pepper-corn cream sauce. Heaven! Andrea ordered the Seared Sea Trout on crushed potatoes. Nestled between us, we shared the roasted vegetables that were seasoned to perfection. Oh, and don’t forget that generous glass of wine! As soon as we are served, we immediately got out our iPhones to take photos. Is it only silly Americans like us that take endless pictures of food? Having the foresight to turn off the flash functionality, we hope we weren’t too obvious to the other diners and wait staff.
Printed on the menu at The Kitchen;
“Our philosophy is simple; use the best local ingredients to create a menu of simple, modern dishes. Matched with great wine and friendly, relaxing service.”
The Mustard Seed Restaurant was just as warm and inviting. Dinner was plated perfectly and the wait staff made us feel like we were their only patrons for the evening. We were contemplating our whisky selection when the waiter presented us with a flavor map. It’s basically a grid which divides whisky (the restaurant served), into 4 areas of flavor – smoky, rich, delicate and light. Brilliant concept and a wonderful selection! We enjoyed Balvenie 12 year and Bunnahabhain 12 year. Andrea ordered two Bunnahabhains not only because she enjoyed the flavor, but also because she found the name “Bunnahabhain” immensely entertaining to say aloud.
Once again we snapped pictures of our dinner trying to be less conspicuous this time. I had the Highland Beef Fillet topped with roasted mushrooms and Andrea had the 21 Day Aged Rib-eye with a red wine sauce. My steak was so tender I could have cut it with a fork but I was having too much fun eating European style.
Our last dinner experience in Inverness was at the up-scale cosmopolitan Rocpool on the River Ness. This meal followed our 9 hour Outlander tour, so we were a wee bit spent from a fun day of exploring.
We started our evening with a bottle of Petit Chabis, which I must say went down a little too smoothly. Inhibitions loosened by our first glass of wine, we caught a classic case of “Eyes too Big for Stomach” syndrome and ordered two courses a piece. I started out with ricotta and herb stuffed squash blossoms that were beautifully fried and accompanied by a red pepper relish. They were almost too artistic to eat, but I managed just fine. Andrea started with a spiced crab & sweetcorn soup with fresh mussels, scallops & prawns, coconut cream, fresh chilli & coriander. She claims that it was one of the best soups she can ever remember eating. I have a feeling she will be attempting a recreation of this soup when she is back at home.
Realizing that we had another course on its way, we mentally prepared ourselves by drinking another glass of wine to fool our stomachs into thinking they were still hungry. My second course was turbot layered with asparagus fern, shrimp, sea scallop and mussel. Andrea’s second course was a dish of linguine with hand dived king scallops, prawns & oven roasted cherry tomatoes with garlic &chilli. Thank goodness we had a short walk back to Moyness House, our B&B, to work off some of our delicious meal!
Of course, Edinburgh has wonderful restaurants as well. Two in particular I must mention: Maison Bleue on Victoria Street and The Outsider on King George IV Bridge.
We popped into the Maison Bleue for lunch just as it started pouring. I covertly snapped a few photos before the restaurant was full. I could have stayed all afternoon enveloped in the relaxing and romantically decorated dining room. The eclectic mix of Scottish and French styles was perfectly balanced. From my seat, I could see a clever neon sign in the lounge area –
“Food first then morals.”
The Steamed Mussels with white wine, shallots and cream captured our attention for the next hour. They may be right, “food first then morals!”
That evening we dined at The Outsider thanks to our B&B host at 94DR, who not only recommended the restaurant but also made a special reservation for us. Yes, we had a table with a view! Gazing from our vantage point, we admired the character of the various root tops, chimneys and Edinburgh Castle. Simple masculine solid wood chairs and white table tops with zinc table legs gave the restaurant a smart casual atmosphere.
After finishing an excellent dinner, we ordered not one but two desserts. If I remember correctly, that was Andrea’s idea, because we had to finish our bottle of wine (The Cut, Pinot Noir from New Zealand). The cheese board included a variety of sharp and creamy cheeses, salty oat cakes, fresh sourdough bread, grapes, apples and chutney. As if that wasn’t enough, we devoured the baked fig pudding and vanilla ice-cream too! The baked fig pudding reminded me of warm gingerbread; a perfect ending to our evening.