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Northwest Scotland, Orkney


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#1 g.johnson

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Posted 05 October 2005 - 02:42 PM

A few days in the highlands and Orkney. Most of the food was predictably mediocre, but a couple of meals were unpredictably mediocre.

Inverlochy Castle Unforgivably given the prices, this place is looking a little seedy (stains on the wallpaper, for example) but the location, with Ben Nevis looming, is fabulous.

Starters Crab ravioli, pea veloute. Not bad but nothing remarkable. Quail and pigeon ballotine with truffled pain perdu and morels. The truffles (oil?) and mushrooms overpowered the meat and the whole thing was texturally suspect (soggy pp).

Soup Caramelized onion soup. This seemed to me to be similar to Elizabeth David's recipe except that the onions had been allowed to brown. Nice enough but rather too rich and I'm not sure why I'm paying this amount of money for onion soup.

Mains Halibut with lobster and a bisque style sauce. Just as it sounds. I liked this but Yvonne, who's a lot more fussy about these things than me, thought the halibut was overcooked. Lamb with rosemary mash, baby onions and beans. Fine.

Can't remember the cheese or desert.

The food was OK but everything was just a little off. Some things were too highly flavoured (ballotine, soup). Too many garnishes were repeated (sautéed spinach with two different dishes). The quality of the ingredients was not as good as it should have been. Apparently few local ingredients (only the crab was given local provenance). No fucking grouse or any other game. Not ludicrously expensive at 52 quid but it should have been better.

Loch Torridon Hotel Another unbelievable location but not a beautiful hotel. The food is overambitious (much more so than the menus on the web site suggest) and verges on poor (Yvonne liked it more than me).

Starters Good mussels in a nice curry broth and rather nasty lobster ravioli in a pineapple sauce. I wouldn't have ordered the latter normally but could see nothing on the menu that appealed in the slightest. The sauce, which I was most worried about, was actually OK, but the lobster in the ravioli had been processed into a leaden mousse (the lobster was past its best too).

Mains A chicken breast stuffed with far too many dried porcini (I like mushrooms but this was overwhelming). Halibut with lots of stuff: brown shrimp, langoustine, several other garnishes that slip my mind. Too much.

Decent cheese and puddings.

The best meal we had was a bar lunch at The Plockton Inn. Home cured gravadlax, wonderful fatty salmon with a mild cure, and a lamb stew that tasted of lamb. The next table had the scampi that we'd avoided assuming them to be breaded bits of white fish. They turned out to be, erm, scampi, and looked terrific. Very nice pint of London Pride, too.

Second best meal was dinner at Tanglewood House, a B&B in Ullapool. Smoked salmon tart, boiled beef, good cheese and a delicious polenta cake with plums. Nothing fussy, but delicious. This was also the nicest place we stayed, Inverlochy Castle included.

Orkney is wonderful. Skara Brae, a Neolithic village, Maeshowe, a Neolithic tomb with added Viking graffiti, and the Pictish broch (tower) of Gurness are each worth the 45 minute flight from Inverness. And the little port of Stromness must be what Padstow was like 50 years ago before the tourists arrived in such numbers. The food sucked.
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#2 Guest_Adam Lawrence_*

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Posted 05 October 2005 - 02:48 PM

London Pride? In Plockton? Jeez. Did you get any local beers? The Skye Brewery stuff is delicious.

If in Skye, the Three Chimneys is very good indeed.

#3 g.johnson

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Posted 05 October 2005 - 02:52 PM

The owner of the place seems to be a cockney.

We didn't go to Sky on this occasion but I'll note the recommendations.
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#4 AnnyBaxter

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 11:19 PM

Three Chimneys in Skye. Took us nearly 24 years to get there but we did last summer and thoroughly enjoyed our lunch. Change of chef from Michael Smith to Scott Davies. The owner is still Shirley Spear something of a pioneer in Scottish restaurants.

 

Michael Smith has just announce his new place. He is now chef owner of @lochbayskye Contemporary Scottish restaurant with French influences on the Isle of Skye.

 

Also, Skye Baking Co

@SkyeBakingCo

Exclusively hand made breads, oatcakes, shortbread and more..on the Isle of Skye. The owner, Barry, is the brother of our dear friend Grant Hawthorne. Moved from Cape Town to Skye. Main bakery in  Portree and Bread Shed in Broadford with Art Gallery. Lovely set up.  http://isleofskyebakingco.co.uk/



#5 Sneakeater

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 11:21 PM

I have been to Orkney several times.

 

I have never had a good meal there.


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#6 AnnyBaxter

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 11:34 PM

I first went there in 1973. The only decent food then was the salmon caught from Broadford Pier. It took 42 years to go back. Several things have changed. Two Michelin restauarants, http://www.kinloch-lodge.co.uk/ and three chimneys, Barry's bakery, Cafe Sia in Broadford. The old style Portuguese is still there and average; relies on coach parties.



#7 Sneakeater

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 11:47 PM

The last time I went was maybe 1986 or 1987 -- I went A LOT in the early '80s; I kind of fell in love with Orkney and then the Edinburgh Festival as a vacation cycle -- and the idea of Michelin-starred restaurants there kind of blows my mind.


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#8 AnnyBaxter

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 11:50 PM

Misread, Orkney is a different world. I went diving Scapa Flow wrecks in 1988 and 1989. The only decent place was The Creel Inn on St Margaret's Hope. Hubby and I went in the 90s and really enjoyed it, I believe it has now closed down, Shame!



#9 Sneakeater

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Posted 28 February 2016 - 01:03 AM

Yeah Skye is completely different.
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