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Assynt: Scotland’s Secret Culinary Hotspot

Posted on May 29, 2017 by Sonja Jones

Foodie Heaven in the North West Highlands

As you wind your way northwards from Inverness you realise just how expansive and remote the northern Highlands really are. You wouldn’t know it but tucked away behind iconic peaks and lochans are some real foodie treats.

Beyond Ullapool lies Assynt in the north-west corner of Sutherland – famous for its remarkable geological landscape and worth a visit for the scenery alone. In this tiny corner of Scotland we’ve uncovered some hidden and delicious culinary gems. From our favourite pie shop to Michelin star dining…we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

 

Caberfeidh

With the same owners as the Michelin-starred Albannach this awesome gastro-pub in Lochinver is an informal foodie treat. The former pub has large windows looking out on to the sea loch and a wood-burning fire. It’s cosy and friendly and invites you to spend the whole evening making friends. Which is exactly what we did when an impromptu folk jam struck up.

The seafood is truly the freshest – landed two minutes along the coast. The Spanish chef whipped up some Galecian style octopus, which was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. But the best for me were the scallops, braised in cider and served with chorizo and smoked Kintyre mussels – I savoured each salty, smoky mouthful. All these tasty dishes are served on beautiful Highland Pottery plates made in the village.

Lochinver Octopus    Scallops-Assynt -Caberfeidh

Lochinver Larder

Who doesn’t like pie? These are a surefire favourite at Wilderness HQ. The only issue you’ll have is choosing from the extensive menu. You can sit in or take away and the fridges are positively brimming with options: savoury, sweet and veggie. Each of the densely filled pies is wrapped in the perfect crumbly pastry – we can guarantee you’ll be left wanting more. We’re working our way through the menu but a couple perennial favourites we’d recommend are the rich and robust venison and cranberry, and for dessert the strawberry and rhubarb is a perfect balance of sweet and sour. If you’re back back at home and dreaming of pie? Never fear, make like Team Wilderness and stock with Pies by Post

  • There’s nothing like sea air to get the tummy rumbling like climbing a mountain in the Wilds of Assynt

Kylesku Hotel

This hotel on the shores of Loch Glendhu is a fresh, modern take on Scottish hospitality and has a smart welcoming restaurant with wonderful views. The seafood served is often landed on the slipway that you can see from your table. Local fishermen use sustainable techniques such as using a creel or basket to catch crab, langoustine and lobster. If you aren’t a seafood fan then rest assured there are plenty of other delicious options too. For seafood fanatics try the creel-caught langoustine or local shellfish such as Ullapool oysters, Glendhu mussels and hand-dived scallops.

  • Drive the iconic North Coast 500 route and stop at Kylesku for a boat trip to see Britain’s highest waterfall Eas a’Chual Aluinn
Oysters Kylesku Hotel

Photo credit: Kylesku Hotel / Angus Bremner

Kylesku Prawns

 

Summer Isles Hotel

The Summer Isles Hotel is passionate about food and know that many of their guests are too so there are plenty of foodie experiences to be had. Try the fine dining in the restaurant inspired by seasonal produce or, for something less formal, duck into the bar and order the amazing seafood platter!

Chez Roux, Inver Lodge

Albert Roux, of the famed Gavroche in London, took up his direction of the restaurant at the Inver Lodge in 2010 and lives up to his name. This is a more formal fine dining option with spectacular views across Lochinver. The excellent chef talked to us about his ingredients which are grown in the garden or foraged locally.

Albannach

The intimate Albannach is the mostly northerly Michelin-starred restaurant in Britain. The intimate guest house is really a restaurant with rooms, and the dining room has a commanding position overlooking the loch and towards the sugarloaf dome of Suilven. The chef-proprietors celebrate everything about the awe-inspiring local landscape in their cooking from moorland to the sea. Dinner is a set 5 course changing each day. At the time of writing the set menu was £75 a head for non-residents. Be warned: the restaurant doesn’t serve food every night but there are plenty of other options locally to keep the average foodie interested when it is.

About the author

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Sonja Jones

Sonja left the big smoke behind to focus on combining two of her great loves: Scotland and storytelling.

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