Eurotrip 2019 - Scottish Food, Part 1
I don’t know that people generally go to Scotland thinking about the food, but our favorite meals from this trip both took place in Scotland. The Scotland, England and Wales are all on an island, so there is no shortage of seafood, plus, as long as you’re adventurous enough, haggis is actually pretty delicious.
Once it started raining hard enough, we decided to duck into a pub, grab a pint and watch some soccer. We just got local beers and ciders that were on tap, but the Beehive Inn was super cute on the outside and seemed to have a decent menu. Plus the location is great - it’s right on Grassmarket below the castle.
Our one dinner in Edinburgh is among the top 3 meals of our trip. We decided to go to Grain Store on Victoria Street because the menu they had posted looked delicious. We walked up and they asked if we had reservations - unfortunately we didn’t, but the hostess (who had the most beautiful Scottish accent I’ve ever heard) found us a table in the cutest little nook. We shared a bottle of wine and an appetizer (pigeon carpaccio), and each got an entree. I got lamb and Nathaniel got venison. For dessert we split a pavlova with honeycomb ice cream. Also, I could be totally wrong about this because I was too busy enjoying this meal to write anything down. Next time we’re in Edinburgh, we’re going back here - and we’ll be sure to make a reservation first!
The next morning we had breakfast at The Elephant House. I chose this spot because J.K. Rowling wrote here when she was starting Harry Potter. And this place has FULLY embraced being the “birthplace of Harry Potter”. They’ve got articles and pictures of J.K. Rowling up on their walls, and the bathrooms are covered in Harry Potter graffiti. I had coffee and a breakfast croissant sandwich, and Nathaniel had tea and pancakes. I was worried that it was going to be super busy because it was J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter’s birthday. We went fairly early, and there weren’t too many people there, but as we were leaving, it seemed to be picking up a bit - we’ve noticed that getting places early in general helps us beat the crowds and get nicer pictures without people in them.
We decided to grab a cocktail before dinner - we went to a super cute, trendy restaurant called Revolution. When we walked in, we were surprised to have the hostess tell us that they were full, but we could sit at the high top tables and belly up to the bar to get drinks. We’re not opposed to this at all, but we were so surprised because it looked like half their tables were empty, and stayed empty the whole time we were there. We were able to see the front door while we hung out there, and were amazed to see just how many people they turned away. Not a single person that I can remember walking in had a reservation, so they all either went to the bar or left. I wonder if it’s just a cultural thing - don’t go to dinner in Scotland without a reservation. But either way, we were thinking that restaurant could have made so much more money if they used all those empty tables for the dozens of people who tried to come eat there! That being said, the cocktail menu is cute - lots of options with fun names - but it did take a while for me to get the bartender’s attention, and I waited for our drinks for a long time.
Dinner, though, we DID have reservations for. Right when we got to town, we walked to the River House, which was right across the foot bridge from our hotel, and made a reservation because Nathaniel had done a little research that said this was one of the best spots in town. After exploring and grabbing our pre-dinner drinks, we made our way back to the River House for dinner. We split a bottle of Chardonnay, and had oysters and scallops as appetizers. I’m so glad Nathaniel discovered that he liked scallops just a few nights earlier, because he kept wanting to order them! These were prepared on top of brioche toast and were delicious. The oysters though… I’m not obsessed with oysters like some. I like them. I didn’t use to - my grandma fed me one when I was really little and I didn’t like that ball of boogers in my mouth. But in the last few years I have come to enjoy them occasionally. Usually they’re fine and taste really good with some vinegar or sauce of some sort. But these oysters in Inverness… oh my goodness they were SO fresh and they needed nothing on them. Honestly we should have just ordered a ton more they were so good. For dinner I got hake and Nathaniel got a prawn dish. For dessert we split a lemony cocktail and some polenta cake. The whole meal was good - again, in the top 3 - but the OYSTERS! They were the highlight of that meal, for sure.
The next morning we had a traditional Scottish breakfast at our hotel - many hotels seem to do this in Scotland, which makes grabbing food nice and easy. They also had little packets of Nutella, and I may have snagged a few for car snacks 😂
Before checking into our hotel, we stopped by Old Pulteney Distillery for a quick tasting - again, my previous blog has more info on the distillery.
After checking into our hotel, my first priority (and honestly my first priority in life in general) was coffee - I Googled coffee shops near me and found the Caithness Coffee Company. This was probably the strangest place I’ve ever seen sell coffee. It felt like someone took a random room and put in some shelves and a dresser/buffet to hold some coffee supplies. I didn’t take any pictures because we were the ONLY customers at that time, and I didn’t want to be weird around the one person working there. The coffee did hit the spot, but the presentation was not at all like what I expected when I saw the words “coffee company” in the name.
When we checked into our hotel, we were asked if we wanted to make reservations for dinner - we said no, that we’d look around a bit, but after Nathaniel Googled restaurants in Wick, he discovered that the most highly rated restaurant happened to be the one in MacKay’s, our hotel, so we went back to the front desk and made our reservation. Once dinnertime rolled around, we sat down and, again, were surprised at how many tables were available for them being so insistent that we needed a reservation. The room didn’t feel super fancy like we expected a highly rated hotel restaurant to feel, but the pours of wine were generous and the food tasted good. Again we had scallops as an appetizer, and we had duck and sole (fish) as entrees. For dessert we had toffee pudding 😋
It’s funny - we end up only having one really noteworthy meal per day, but I always have a lot to say about the food - guess we can all tell where my priorities are!