By North Coast 500
Published: 7th November 2019

Fine Dining along the North Coast 500

Served all over the nation, Scottish produce is renowned for its quality and taste. Not only do we have a fresh supply of game, fish and cheeses, but Scottish whiskies and gins are regularly used in dishes all over the world. We certainly wouldn’t blame chefs for wanting to use our superb produce! As you travel around the North Coast 500, you will see that tradition is at the heart of Scotland’s culture, with food and drink being no exception; enjoy our popular national dish of haggis, neeps and tatties, or find our traditions with a twist. With such high quality produce available it is easy to eat and drink locally. Tantalise your taste buds as you explore Scotland and all it has to offer. We are sure it will not disappoint!

If you’re looking for some fine dining inspiration, then continue reading… but with caution, as mouth-watering content follows!

Sample the capital’s culinary delights

You’ll be spoilt for choice when looking to fine dine in the capital of the Highlands!

Home to the stunning Torrish Restaurant, the 5-star Ness Walk is nestled on the banks of the River Ness. Set in the original drawing room of this 19th century listed building, traditional details emblazon the magnificent restaurant. With a cosy fire and sensational views out to the River Ness, Torrish delivers a relaxed and friendly dining experience with a difference; combining local Scottish cuisine with flavours from throughout the world. Or head along to their sister hotel, the Kingsmills Hotel which boasts not one, but two luxury restaurants, both offering sensational fine dining experiences.

Scallops at Torrish Restaurant, Ness Walk

Under the guidance of multi award-winning chef Albert Roux, the team at Rocpool Reserve’s Chez Roux produce exquisite Scottish meals with a French twist. Serving lunch and dinner, those who dine here are sure to haste back for more. Offering a number of menus, chef Roux has created a collection of unique dining experiences designed to be bank friendly as well as delicious. When booking an evening meal, be sure to include time for pre-dinner drinks and canapés!

Alternatively, savour the tastes of the season at the Glenmoriston Town House Hotel. Located along the leafy banks of the River Ness, their restaurant ‘Contrast Brasserie’ offers an a la carte menu, or an excellent value set lunch or pre-theatre menu. Or head just 10 minutes outside the city centre to the elegant Drumossie Hotel and their AA Rosette award-winning Grill Room Restaurant to enjoy exquisite dining in a refined yet friendly atmosphere.

There are also a number of first-class restaurants in the wider area. All roughly between a 15-30 minute drive or taxi from the city, they are more than worth the small amount of effort to reach. Many also have accommodation available too, for those who fancy it!

Achnagairn Estate, hidden away 20 minutes outside of Inverness towards Beauly, is a haven for foodies looking to explore – or those with wee ones who might not share your love of intricate dining! Table Manors Restaurant caters for everyone. With four menus on offer – A la Carte, Tasting, Kids and Sunday Lunch – this is a dining experience which no one will want to miss! Regardless of whether it’s the macaroni cheese or Tomatin whisky and treacle cured salmon, or steak with Yorkshire puddings, relax and enjoy whatever takes your fancy. Fine dining or not, your taste buds won’t complain. Offering both a hotel and self-catering accommodation, Achnagairn could be the perfect place to start your trip, with the added bonus of a private chef being available for those staying in their self-catering homes, if you desire a more intimate, but exquisite, dining experience.

Chefs at work, Table Manors Restaurant, Achnagairn Estate

Ord House Hotel, only 12 miles north of Inverness, is set within 70 acres of private land, providing an idyllic location to sample some of Scotland’s delicious cuisine. Enjoy a peaceful drink in the gun room or main sitting room before or after your superb meal, choosing from their handcrafted wine list, selection of local whiskies, ales and beers. Their AA Rosette award-winning restaurant overlooks the front of the house, affording the perfect ambience in which to relish your meal. Using local produce whenever possible – some from the on-site vegetable garden – you’re sure to find a true taste of Scotland when you dine with Ord House.

It’s a family affair over at Coul House Hotel, where this 1820’s mansion has been transformed into a haven of tranquillity for those who visit. This is the perfect place to stop whilst exploring nearby Dingwall and Strathpeffer. Offering breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, there is no excuse not to fit them into your busy Highlands adventure! Relax and take in the beautiful surrounding gardens as you enjoy whatever has taken your fancy from their extensive menu. Whether on the terrace or in the Regency lounge by the roaring fire, Chef Gary’s afternoon tea is sure not to disappoint those with a sweet tooth and taste for delicate foods. Or perhaps you’d like to celebrate something special? Talk to the team at Coul House about what they can do to make your experience extra special, as they are always looking to go above and beyond for their customers, ensuring you’ll be swept away.

We would definitely recommend exploring the Black Isle whilst you’re travelling the NC500, and when you do, Sutor Creek is a place you won’t want to miss. Located beside the harbour in the historic town of Cromarty, the famous Michelin recommended restaurant offers superb Scottish seafood, seasonal menus and wood fired pizzas. Whether visiting for lunch or dinner, your taste buds are sure to be excited by what the Black Isle’s natural larder has to offer. Make sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment, as this popular restaurant is well sought-after.

East Coast

As you begin your adventure – or reach the end of the route if you’re travelling clockwise – there are a number of fine dining experiences available, so it’s a good time to bite off more than you can chew! The following suggestions also offer luxury accommodation which ensures you’ll have the most relaxing setting from which to appreciate these delectable meals.

Kincraig Castle Hotel is nestled just off the main NC500 route; the former home of Clan MacKenzie has been turned into a rejuvenating stopping place for families, couples and friends. Serving lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, stop off on your way past or opt to stay with them for a night or two. Whether you choose to dine in Alexander Restaurant or the Snug, you will enjoy the same high standard of AA Rosette award winning food. Using local produce to create uniquely flavoured meals all year round with an emphasis on seasonal menus, you are sure to be delighted by your time here.

Venture slightly off the main road for a stay in the exclusive Glenmorangie House, just a short drive from the world-famous distillery! Dining at Glenmorangie House is an experience in itself. It’s an integral part of your stay and a real highlight for many guests. Award-winning Head Chef, John Wilson, prides his team on using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible, so you will enjoy the very best meat, seafood and vegetables from the surrounding area; from the wonders of a full Scottish breakfast to four and five course tasting menus featuring the likes of freshly caught lobster, venison and passion fruit tart drizzled in a sauce made with Glenmorangie 18 Years Old.

Glenmorangie Signet dessert, Glenmorangie House

Take a break at Links House in Dornoch. Overlooking the first tee of the Royal Dornoch Golf Course, this small luxury hotel oozes tradition and relaxation – the perfect place for those undertaking the renowned links course! Booking is essential in order to taste the fine meals produced by Head Chef Javi Santos.

Opened in 2018, The Vault at Dornoch Castle offers 6 course fine dining tasting menus with the option of adding wine and whisky pairings. Located in the original 15th century dungeons of the Castle, it truly is a unique experience to enjoy a formal dining experience or intimate family gathering.

Just a little further along the route is the Royal Marine Hotel in Brora, which provides a number of different dining experiences. Choose from a relaxed meal in The Garden Room, family friendly eating in the bistro or fine dining at Lorimer’s Restaurant. With so many options available, there’s sure to be something to suit all tastes. Non-residents are welcome, but again, booking is necessary to avoid disappointment. The Royal Marine also offers excellent packages which include meals, making it the perfect base with the option of packed lunch provisions to allow for maximum exploring of the local area.

North Coast

Although you are now travelling in some of the most remote areas of the UK, there is no short supply of fresh produce; although we may not be able to grow tropical fruits, what we do offer is second to none. With the sea on our doorstep, Highland seafood is exceptional, fresh and should not be missed. As you journey along the North coast of Scotland, you’ll have the opportunity to eat local beef, seafood and vegetables carefully prepared by those chefs who know how best to utilise local flavours.

No. 1 Bistro at Mackay’s Hotel provides a dining experience on the shortest street in the world! Located in central Wick, No. 1 Bistro is a great stop for lunch or dinner whilst exploring the town. Offering a range of sandwiches, main meals and desserts for lunch, with fine dining in the evenings available to guests and non-guests alike, this is the perfect place in which to relax and enjoy a local beer or spirit, as you discuss the adventures of the day and trip so far.

Situated by Scrabster harbour, The Captain’s Galley boasts some of the most excellent seafood along the North Coast 500. Unsurprisingly, the restaurant uses the freshest produce and so their menu can change daily depending on the fish available. Should you choose to dine here, we’re sure you’ll be amazed by the ability of the chefs to perfectly cook and present your chosen meal. Head Chef Jim Cowie has numerous awards under his hat, and focuses on creating sustainable fine dining for his customers to enjoy. You’ll be in excellent dining company when you eat at The Captain’s Galley, with Prince Charles himself having applauded the luscious food created within the restaurant.

Fresh seafood from The Captain’s Galley

Forss House Hotel offers the warmest of Highland welcomes to guests and visitors. The only 2 AA Rosette restaurant in Caithness, Forss House Hotel boasts culinary excellence, providing charming service and truly delicious meals. Beware of falling in love with the 17th century house as you enjoy views over the River Forss and the waterfall at one end of the private gardens. The hotel’s chefs use only the finest seasonal local produce to handcraft delicate meals just for you. Enjoy a drink in their comfortable and increasingly extensive gin and whisky bar, which is planned to expand to include over 60 gins in the near future. Chat to manager Anne, who is full of extensive knowledge about the local area and always happy to help in any way possible. Remember to book to avoid missing out on one of the finest dining experiences in the Highlands. Forss House Hotel’s cosy rooms are the perfect base to unwind in whilst exploring Caithness, so be sure to make use of the NC500 members discount whilst you’re visiting!

West Coast

The West is the final (or first, depending on your direction of travel) coastline to explore on your North Coast 500 trip. With plenty more to discover, we’re sure you will continue to be thrilled by the culinary experiences on offer.

Inver Lodge Hotel in Lochinver provides another opportunity to sample Chef Albert Roux’s cuisine. His vast culinary knowledge is put to good use as the team at Inver Lodge Hotel Restaurant create delicious meals for guests and non-guests to enjoy. Relax and rejuvenate from your journey whilst allowing your palate to be excited by fresh local produce cooked to perfection. An excellent choice if you haven’t yet had the chance to enjoy Chef Roux’s food.

At Eddrachilles Hotel, using locally sourced produce is taken a step further with the plates being hand crafted nearby at Highland Stoneware. This small hotel looks to create a personal experience for all guests, with the ability to cater for all dietary requirements (with notice) to ensure no one misses out on tasting the best of what the west coast has to offer. It’s also important to the team at Eddrachilles Hotel that younger children enjoy their food, with their chefs creating specific menu options tailored to the tastes of their younger guests, when requested prior to arrival. They truly go above and beyond to ensure guests and non-guests have the most gratifying dining experience.

If you’re mad about our Scottish seafood, then Kylesku Hotel is a must-visit! Having most recently won Informal Hotel Restaurant of the Year 2018, Kylesku Hotel is sure to tickle your taste buds with its extensive range of seafood available. Using only the finest local produce, relax in the comfort of their newly refurbished dining room as you sample their menu. Take in the views over Loch Gleann Dubh whilst sipping on a local beer, ale or spirit in the comfort of the hotel bar.

Scourie Hotel offers dining in both the dining room and Eagle Bar, meaning there is something to suit a more relaxed evening as well as luxury dining. Tradition states that dinner is served at 7:30pm at the sound of the lounge gong, and this continues in their fine dining room. For more flexible dining, we’d suggest their Eagle Bar. Enjoy a glass of wine from their vaulted cellar or their range of local beverages. Non-guests would be wise to book in advance to ensure they have space.

At the Torridon Hotel luxury accommodation is combined with fine dining. With their own two-acre kitchen garden providing fruit, vegetables and herbs for the hotel’s kitchen, fresh ingredients are rarely far away. A chef can even show you around the garden if desired, highlighting their commitment to using local produce. Their 1887 restaurant boasts an impressive 3 AA Rosettes, which you will discover is more than well deserved! Alternatively, visit the more relaxed Torridon Inn for a cosy and delicious pub meal. Whilst you’re there, be sure to visit their extensive, award-winning whisky bar; home to more than 365 whiskies and over 100 gins, you are bound to find something you love!

Brassica leaves, local foraged chantrelles and duck egg truffle, The Torridon

Shieldaig Lodge Hotel is set on a 26,000 acre estate; with views over Loch Gairloch, it provides the perfect setting to relax and reflect on your NC500 adventure. Whether continuing your tour of fine dining or looking for a way to celebrate your trip, Shieldaig Lodge is sure not to disappoint. Their restaurant enjoys stunning views over the rugged countryside, enhancing your dining experience. Their enticing ambience is not to be missed, and neither are their daily changing menus to accommodate for the freshest ingredients, including those from the hotel’s walled garden. Why not enjoy one of their whisky tasting options offered in the bar to ensure you are able to try the best of their hand chosen whisky collection?

Feeling overwhelmed by all the fantastic fine dining opportunities available around the North Coast 500? Not to worry! We’ve created a specific eight-day food and drink itinerary, which is available to all of our members to help with the planning of your North Highlands adventure.

Be sure to check out our membership options so you can also enjoy access to NC500 member discounts at numerous businesses around the route.

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