|Eating out on Skye
||[Jun. 16th, 2015|10:19 pm]
From Talisker we went to our hotel, the Rosedale in Portree, three fishermen's cottages right on the harbour now converted into a family-run hotel with many stairs: it was friendly and comfortable and, provided you can cope with the stairs, I entirely recommend it.
The restaurant is upstairs, and we dined at the table by the window, which gave us a view beyond the parked cars to the harbour. At first all was mist and foreground and faint grey shadows. I enjoyed my dinner, the rosette of thick-cut smoked salmon, the first of many, the fish course with unadvertised samphire, but the food was upstaged by the mist gradually lifting, the island of Raasay appearing over the sea in the evening light. I took a photo-break before the cheese course:
The following night, which was Saturday, we dined at the Bosville, which had been warmly recommended to us by helenraven. Between her visit and ours, the restaurant has been radically refurbished, and now describes itself as a "Scottish bistro restaurant", something quite unlike any bistro I have ever seen in France, very cool and stylish, in fashionable shades of grey and plenty of tweed. The food was nice - the food was very nice, but was it nice enough to justify what looked to us like London prices? You may draw your own conclusions from the fact that I photographed the rainbow arching down into the harbour, and I photographed D. examining the menu, but I didn't photograph the food.
I had langoustines for my first course, and was provided with a finger bowl, but no implements to crack and probe the shell, and no dish for the debris when I was done. The langoustines were accompanied by good bread (this is a motif which repeated through the islands: again and again, the food was good enough, but the bread was special), saffron mayonnaise and a pointless and distracting potato salad. There were salt and pepper shakers on the table, but no pepper grinder, and D., who was eating cullen skink, felt the lack. Our waiter was charming but unable to find a pepper grinder in the kitchens; "What would desperance say?" lamented D. We chose an albarinho from the Rias Baixas, as our best hope for a dry white wine under £30 a bottle - and again, it was fine, but not special.
The main course was venison - tasty, tender venison, served with everything piled into a stack, the meat on the potato on the broccoli on a poached pear and what on earth was that smear of sour cream doing there? But it was a good excuse for a bottle of excellent rioja (this one, I think), full of fruit but not to the extent that the rioja character was drowned out. It went well with the cheese, too, and I noted down something in praise of the blue, but I can't now read what it says.
But the best meal I ate on Skye was not either of these. On our first arrival on Skye, we stopped for lunch at Creelers in Broadford. The outside isn't very prepossessing:
In fact, if I had to define what I understood by the word 'bistro', I'd say somewhere that serves good food with a minimum of fuss. Creelers would be a good example, though it's not a word they use of themselves: they are a serious, though small, seafood restaurant. We had eaten a good breakfast (I'd had haggis, remember?) and had a restaurant booked for dinner, so we needed the lightest of lunches. A bowl of plump, sweet mussels and a glass of muscadet was perfect:
The quality of the food seems to have worked its magic on the photograph, too - that's definitely the best food picture I've ever taken.
Of the restaurants we ate in on Skye, Creelers is the one I want to go back to. Thank you to the 'Lonely Planet' guide for the recommendation: I would never have guessed.
And for dessert, the Windrush café in Struan: we tumbled into it on Saturday morning, just following the road round the island to see where it would lead us, anf it brought us to Struan, where we stopped because we saw the sign saying 'Books'. By the time we'd examined all the bookshelves, we were ready for coffee, and the Windrush café has a menu of twenty-odd varieties, plus Sandy's home-baked cakes (the lime and cardamom cake was delicious, and so yellow I asked whether there was cornmeal in it: no, said Sandy, that's just how yellow our free-range eggs are). There are interesting textiles to look at, hanks of wool and garments remade from repurposed fabrics, and when we'd finished our coffee Sandy let us into the back room, and more books...
After which, it was time to go and look at the broch. But that's another story.