At this time of year, as winter is really setting in, Scottish produce comes into its own. Hearty, warming dishes are at the centre of menus at the moment, and, as you journey along the North Coast 500, you’ll find an abundance of delicious, warming dishes to try.
If you’re a foodie who is embarking on a winter adventure to the North Highlands this season, make sure to sample some of our favourite winter warmers from some of our top cafes, restaurants and a bakery along the route. Available on the run up to Christmas and all through January, February and March, these dishes are the perfect introduction to Scotland’s rich, diverse culinary heritage. So, while you’re on your travels along the North Coast 500, be sure to try some of the following dishes for a true flavour of the North Highlands – we asked businesses what their winter favourites were.
Wild Pancakes, Inverness
This family owned pancake house in Inverness is the place to go for authentic, nutritious and unbelievably delicious organic pancakes and waffles. With a wide range of savoury and sweet servings, including gluten free, dairy free and vegan options, all food at Wild Pancakes is made from scratch and to order. Our recommendation has to be the banoffee stack, layered with organic bananas and homemade toffee sauce – or, for a savoury option, the 100% pure maple syrup and bacon stack. Book your meal at Wild Pancakes now.
Harry Gow, North Kessock
Crumbly mince pies, melt-in-the-mouth Christmas puddings and delightful seasonal iced cupcakes are just a few of the festive treats that Harry Gow has to offer during the Christmas period – but this established Highland bakery is still a must-visit outside of the festive season. The warming scents of orange, cloves and cinnamon are infused into Harry Gow’s winter treats, blending fruits with spices. The bakery’s boozy rum truffles provide a perfect accompaniment to frothy Belgian hot chocolate. An extra mention must be made for Harry Gow’s beautifully presented strawberry pavlova, topped with berries and fresh cream – it’s the perfect dessert to impress at the dinner table. Remember members can make the most of their exclusive discount in the North Kessock Store.
The Storehouse Restaurant, near Evanton
The Storehouse, near Evanton along the east coast of the North Coast 500, is a self-service restaurant with daily changing menus to take advantage of all the seasonal and fabulous local Highland produce available in the surrounding areas. During the winter months, choose from a tasty variety of traditional stews, casseroles and soups, along with hot desserts and home baking. In the adjacent farm shop, you’ll find everything you need to create a delicious evening meal: from vegetables, to pates, cheeses, meats, confectionery, biscuits and an extensive selection of beers and spirits from local distillers and brewers. Don’t forget, too, that North Coast 500 members can make the most of their exclusive discount at the Storehouse.
Photos: The Storehouse
The Seaforth, Ullapool
The Seaforth’s picturesque surroundings in the heart of Ullapool provide the perfect backdrop for enjoying delicious Scottish food. Even as winter draws in, The Seaforth’s cosy fire ensures a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Enjoy a range of winter dishes, including steak pie with seasonal vegetables, along with a walk around this scenic town.
Photos: The Seaforth
Cocoa Mountain, Dornoch
Winter in Dornoch is a fantastic time, although it can be cold and dreich (wet, cold, dreary and bleak!) at times. Thankfully, Cocoa Mountain has the ultimate solution for keeping the cold weather at bay. This independent café is famed for serving the ‘World’s Best Hot Chocolate’ – and we can see why! Cocoa Mountain’s decadent chocolatey drinks are the ultimate winter warmer – and while the Durness café is closed during the winter months, we’re pleased to report that the Dornoch outlet of Cocoa Mountain is open all year round.
If you don’t have a sweet tooth, opt for a spot of lunch from Cocoa Mountain’s soup menu instead. You’ll find at least five flavours available through the week, though our recommendation has to be the team and customer favourite, spicy bean soup – best served with a freshly made cheese scone, baked with paprika so even the scone has a warmth through it to help keep warm on the frostiest days.
Mac and Wild, Falls of Shin
Follow the Achany Glen road to the forest clearing at Falls of Shin and bask in the glory of food heaven at Mac and Wild. A brilliant fusion of traditional and wild, Mac and Wild has been taken back to its Highland roots by owners Andy Waugh and Calum Mackinnon, following the launch of two successful venues in London. The must-try dish at Mac and Wild’s Highland home is the Veni-moo, the restaurant’s signature and award-winning burger. Stacked with venison and beef patties, the meat is tucked into a brioche roll with Béarnaise sauce, caramelised onions and bacon. Delicious!
The Blue Door Coffee Shop and Diner, Thurso
The Blue Door opened for business in 2011, with the simple goal of making 100 per cent beef burgers and letting the quality of the meat speak for itself. It’s a foodie truism that road trips and roadside eateries go hand-in-hand – so if you’re driving the A9 between Thurso and Scrabster this winter, make a pit stop at The Blue Door. The Surfer Burger, featuring the original family secret sauce, is ideal paired with a milkshake made with The Blue Door’s very own artisan ice cream. With more than 50 flavours, including seasonal flavours such as Reese’s peanut butter, toasted marshmallow, and eggnog, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
AND FINALLY…Take on the ultimate seafood challenge!
Captain’s Galley, Scrabster
One of the world’s leading seafood restaurants, Captain’s Galley in Scrabster, Caithness, is built on an ethos of simplicity, integrity traceability, seasonality and sustainability. This winter, take on the ultimate seafood challenge with the Captain’s Galley. Visit their Scrabster Seafood Bar, and take on the ‘Jumbo Haddock Atlantic Challenge’. If you order and complete eating it unassisted, you will qualify for double loyalty points – ready to spend as part of the restaurant’s loyalty card scheme.
Have you found a favourite winter dish along the North Coast 500 this season? Keep in touch with us on social media to let us know!