Eating Around Western Sutherland

by Keith Savage · 1 comment

The loch's bounty at the Kylesku Hotel, Sutherland, Scotland

Western Sutherland is one of the North Coast 500‘s most sparsely populated stretches. Much of the road from Ullapool to Durness is one lane meandering out of the mountains among boulder-strewn heath, and you’re rewarded for exploring the even smaller coastal roads, like the Wee Mad Road of Sutherland, that run through the region’s small settlements. It’s here where you’ll find some of the best eating options in the northwest highlands, and so I figured it would be helpful to collect a few ideas for you to reference the next time you’re exploring the North Coast 500.

One of my favorite finds was SALT Seafood Kitchen, an unassuming house-based restaurant just south of Achiltibuie serving the freshest seafood you can find in Scotland. Local lass Suzie Macgregor buys the fresh fish and shellfish from fishermen plying the waters visible from the restaurant’s dining room. I enjoyed the dressed crab served in the shell, but I was tempted by literally everything they offered, from the hot- and cold-smoked salmon to the langoustines, mussels, and spineys. All of the food spoke for itself with just the right amount of preparation to make the dishes sing.

Heading north to Lochinver, The Caberfeidh and The Albannach are a pair of great places owned by Colin Craig and Lesley Crosfield. The Caberfeidh is a welcome sight in Lochinver, the only settlement of modest size north of Ullapool. Here you’ll find local, seasonal produce worked into delicious upscale pub dishes like pan-fried scallops with Stornoway black pudding, a dozen creel-caught langoustines, and wild venison meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce. Until very recently The Albannach was a Michelin-starred restaurant, but Colin and Lesley have now moved their dining experience to The Caberfeidh and the last dinner at The Albannach was served in November 2017.

Back on the main A894, the Kylesku Hotel is an oasis at the Kylesku Bridge. Continuing the theme of fresh seafood, the Kylesku Hotel lands much of the seafood it serves at the slipway just a few paces from the restaurant. These days the hotel is a beautifully updated place at a key juncture on the North Coast 500, but even if you aren’t staying here a stop for lunch or dinner is a wise decision. The dining room is kitted out with nautical implements and a great bar with a wide variety of real ales and whisky.

I opted for the widest selection of seafood I could get and received a magnificent sampler platter that included oysters, spiney lobster, smoked salmon, mussels, and calamari. I was stunned by just how fresh everything tasted, the crispness of flavor, and the deftness of the chef’s sensibilities knowing that restraint goes a long way with such ingredients. The atmosphere inside the Kylesku Hotel’s restaurant was the perfect, bright accompaniment to the flavors, and on this sunny June day many people ate on the restaurants’s wooden deck overlooking the lochs.

The Old School restaurant near Kinlochbervie was the last gem on my spin through western Sutherland. A B road just after Laxford Bridge leads out toward Oldshoremore beach, and along the way you’ll find exactly what it sounds like: An old school house turned into a restaurant. Here you’ll find more locally source seafood, game, and farm produce in a stout, one-room building that keeps out the chill. I drove down here from Durness one night for supper, which should give you an idea of the distances you may need to travel for dinner out in the northwest highlands.

I hope you’ve got some new restaurant ideas for your North Coast 500 trip. This area is seafood heaven with the freshest, most delicious morsels I’ve enjoyed anywhere.

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