By Gabbi Armstrong
Communications Project Manager for the North Coast 500
Published: 6th July 2018

Eat seafood so local it practically swam in the door!

Scotland’s seafood is some of the freshest and most delicious in the world – and with more than 6,000 miles of coastline throughout the country, we’re fortunate to have such high-quality, tasty local produce right on our doorsteps in many parts of the country. The North Coast 500 is no exception; as well as taking in the spectacular scenery, you can enjoy a culinary seafood journey around the North Highlands – if you know where to look…

The Storehouse

The Storehouse is near the start -or end of your NC500 travels and is home to a restaurant, farm shop and gift shop, all enclosed in a fully-restored 18th century storehouse. Pick up picnic supplies or fresh produce to cook at your accommodation. All seafood is locally sourced, from kippers to herring and salmon, The Storehouse has a wide selection to choose from, as well as a wide selection of ‘free from’ products. Ready-made meals are also available to purchase from their sister business, Highland Cookhouse.

The Storehouse’s self-service restaurant has daily changing menus to take advantage of the local and seasonal produce available. The Storehouse is the worst kept secret in the area, popular with locals and tourists alike! Enjoy scrambled eggs and kippers (or salmon) for breakfast, or sample their herring, crab or salmon salad or occasionally they serve a langoustine special or warm fishy delight.

For warmer days, the restaurant has plenty of outside seating with beautiful views over the Cromarty Firth. You may see seals basking on the rocks along the shoreline.

Visit one of the world’s most sustainable restaurants

The ethos of Captain’s Galley Seafood Restaurant is all about sustainability, seasonality, traceability, simplicity and integrity. Owners Jim and Mary Cowie have made innovative, honest and simply prepared seafood dishes their trademark on which the restaurant – a renovated ice house and salmon bothy in Scrabster – was built. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample some of the finest seafood in Caithness – just make sure to book ahead to guarantee a table.

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Create your own seafood medley

Established in 1996 and nestled by the side of the road in the tiny village of Kishorn, the Kishorn Seafood Bar was established in 1996 and continues to serve fabulous local seafood at its very best. The daily catch arrives at the kitchen door, freshly landed by the local fishing boats – from langoustines to lobsters and hand-dived scallops. Due to its idyllic location at the head of Loch Kishorn, diners here can take in magnificent views of Skye and the Applecross hills. Lunch with a view – not to be missed by seafood lovers.

Table Manors two AA Rosette Restaurant: Hire your own chef with a tailored menu that will both amaze and delight your senses!

Set on 30 acres, 7 miles away from Inverness, Achnagairn Estate is ideally located near the start and end of the route and provides a perfect escape for the North Coast 500 visitor. If you are looking for gourmet food and locally-sourced seafood, Table Manors Restaurant, located in the estate grounds, is the ultimate culinary experience. Their highly talented young chefs, both of whom have won the Young Highland Chef of the Year award, have just received the coveted AA Two Rosettes for culinary excellence. Come and enjoy their seafood creations at the restaurant for an exquisite seafood experience. You may wish to stay in one of Achnagairn’s luxury mini manors. These spacious, comfortable lodges each sleep up to 12 guests – perfect if you are travelling as a larger family or group of friends – you can hire the entire lodge or an individual room. Looking for a truly memorable culinary experience that your whole group will remember long after you return home, why not hire one of Table Manors Restaurant’s chef to cook a tailored menu for your group? When hiring the castle, you can also enjoy the privilege of a tailored menu in the ballroom or more intimate wood-panelled dining room for your group.

Photo: Achnagairn Estate, Chefs at work at Table Manors Restaurant

Never mind food miles – how about food yards?

The Kylesku Hotel’s philosophy is all about fresh, local food and drink – and seafood is no exception. Lobsters, spineys, langoustines and crab are creel caught in the nearby waters, then landed at either Kinlochbervie or Scrabster. Scallops are hand-dived in the local area, while mussels are rope-grown and harvested in the waters surrounding Kylesku. You may even see fishing boats landing on the slipway in front of the hotel – now that’s what we call local!

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Photos: Kylesku Hotel, Photographs By Angus Bremner

Discover the Black Isle’s local larder

Did you know that over two-thirds of the world’s langoustines are sourced from Scotland? Sutor Creek Café’s Michelin-recommended menu is based around the wonderful Scottish seafood that is available locally, using the very best seasonal and local produce – dishes cooked to highlight the exceptional produce of our wonderful natural larder. Langoustines, razor clams, mussels, turbot, hake and sea trout are regular features on the menu, all sourced from the Cromarty Firth, just steps from the kitchen door. Sutor Creek Café specialises in wood-fired pizzas which are made to order, including seafood pizzas. The warm, welcoming atmosphere of the restaurant is the perfect detour off the North Coast 500.

Photo: Sutor Creek, The Black Isle

Catch of the day – a creel experience!

Join a local skipper on his traditional creel fishing boat, help haul in the creels from the crystal clear North Highland waters, and take part in an activity that has been part of the fabric of the area for centuries.

Experience the shellfish and sea life as the day’s catch is harvested: langoustines, squat lobsters, crabs, octopus, starfish and beautiful shells. Much of this shellfish is served in London’s best restaurants – and in local restaurants in the North Highlands too, of course. After a day on the fishing boat, your selection of lobster, langoustines and crab will be served up as a shellfish feast at Shieldaig Lodge.

Photo: Shieldaig Lodge

These boat trips also offer a chance to see the abundant wildlife found in the area, including porpoises and dolphins, seals and seabirds. Trips are priced at £75 per person, and pre-booking is essential.

Forage for food

Take a few days during your North Coast 500 trip to spend some quality time at Alladale Wilderness Reserve. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy the truly wild side of the North Highlands, and all the wonderful produce that this area is home to. Join a local foraging expert and explore this 23,000 acre wilderness with a view to gathering ingredients for dinner. Forage for herbs and mushrooms, and try your hand at trout fishing on the lochs with a little help from one of the experienced rangers. You may be surprised by how much of what grows naturally on the reserve is not only edible, but very tasty! At the end of the day, chef Thomas Park at Alladale Lodge will create a delicious meal, using all the ingredients which you’ve gathered from the reserve that day.

Photo: Alladale Wilderness Reserve

Bring your catch to the hotel to serve up

The Ulbster Arms Hotel adapts their menus seasonally to make the most of the freshest local produce, with a constant focus on seafood; halibut, scallops, lobster and langoustines are all landed at nearby harbours. Guests are encouraged to make special requests, so why not take the opportunity to try some seafood that you’ve never tasted before? If you’ve been lucky enough to land a catch on the river, the hotel will even cook your fish for dinner that evening! Speak to Roger from TroutQuest for fishing instructions or advice and tips on permits in the north Highlands.

Photo: TroutQuest

Dine in a remote, splendid harbour side setting

The quiet fishing village of Lochinver, in the Assynt region of Sutherland, enjoy delicious, locally-produced food in an outstandingly beautiful area. Peet’s Restaurant, right by the harbour, not only boasts incredible views over the crystal-clear loch waters, but the kitchen sources some of the finest, freshest local seafood in the area. Make sure to try the salmon, locally farmed and smoked, and prawns which are landed 50 metres from the restaurant.

Walk the Whaligoe Steps

Whaligoe Haven is surely one of the most remarkable harbours to be found in Scotland – surrounded on three sides by 250 feet cliffs, incorporating the Whaligoe Steps which zig-zag down the Cliffside. The natural harbour at the foot of the steps has been a long standing landing point for herring, salmon, whitefish and shellfish, all of which still feature prominently on the menus at Whaligoe Steps Café and Restaurant.

Enjoy the luxury of The Torridon Hotel

Synonymous with Highland hospitality and luxury, The Torridon Hotel’s 1887 Restaurant holds three AA Rosettes, with daily changing four- and seven-course menus by head chef, Ross Stovold, designed to champion local produce. Seafood features heavily, landed at nearby Gairloch.

Photo: Torridon Hotel Restaurant: Buttered Poached Cod, Broccoli And Torridon Cured Ham

The Scourie Hotel

Take advantage of the excellent trout and salmon fly fishing beats available to guests at the Scourie Hotel – with 46 beats on more than 300 lochs, there’s certainly plenty to choose from! Boats are available to hire, along with a wide selection of fishing tackle, so why not make a day of it out on the water, then return to the hotel in the evening to enjoy some fine seafood in the hotel’s restaurant or The Eagle Bar?

Photo: Scourie Hotel Breakfast

There’s more to Scotland than haggis and whisky!

Fishing is a huge part of our Scottish economy. On your North Coast 500 travels, you may have visited, or plan to visit, the Wick Heritage Centre to learn about the heyday of the herring fishing industry. You might even have taken a boat cruise or visited historic fishing villages to learn about the days when this vital industry was at its peak.

Now, find out what happens after the fish are caught with a visit to a smokehouse or two! Stock up on supplies or pack for a picnic at The Isle of Ewe Smokehouse or Applecross Smokehouse. Applecross Smokehouse in Kenmore, on the spectacular Applecross coast road, overlooks Loch Torridon and the Torridon Mountains, while the Isle of Ewe Smokehouse, on the water’s edge of Loch Ewe, uses aromatic whisky barrel staves and local larch to give fish a unique Highland smokiness. Why not have some delivered on your return home while you reminisce over your NC500 tales?

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