Scotland is home to an array of world-class restaurants, and so if you’re planning a trip there, then it’s worth booking into at least one or two of the top eateries north of the English border.
Here’s a look at how to do just that, and where you should add to your itinerary if you’re a foodie who wants to experience the best of Scottish cuisine.
Get reservations made for you with a private tour
First, it’s worth mentioning that a service like privatetoursscotland.com is a godsend when it comes to securing a table at the restaurants we’re about to discuss.
Many of these venues are booked up weeks or months in advance, so having a tour company on hand to deal with all of the reservation-making on your behalf takes all of the hassle out of the process.
With that out of the way, let’s get on with going over some of the most exciting, innovative and compelling restaurants in Scotland.
Cail Bruich, Glasgow
Like many contemporary dining locations, one of the main tenets of Cail Bruich is that the dishes it serves are made using ingredients that are sensitive to the current season.
This is about sustainability, of course, but also about showcasing the local produce that’s available, as well as the skills of chef Lorna McNee and her team.
In terms of what to eat, the ever-changing nature of the tasting menu means that it’s difficult to pin down one particular item to recommend, because you’ll rarely get exactly the same options on different days.
That said, the seafood courses are usually a particular treat, so keep your fingers crossed that something tasty has been caught on the morning of your booking.
The Glenturret, Crieff
Overseen by chef Mark Donald, The Glenturret is an intriguing proposition, positioned as it is within the Lalique brand family that’s better known for its glasswork and jewelry.
The dining experience is close to being unique, as you’ll be eating at tables housed within a small but opulent space set aside within a distillery that’s actually still operational.
At most six tables are available for any one session of service, so this really is an experience that you need to plan in advance to avoid disappointment. And once again you’ll be blown away by the fruits of the sea that get served, with langoustine, sea bream and lobster all stars of the tasting menu.
It may only have been around since 2018, but Fhior has managed to establish a solid reputation as a restaurant in Scotland’s capital that has to be experienced if you’re a food fan.
As you’d expect, seasonality is once again the name of the game here, and the menu adheres closely to what its owners consider to be Scotland’s culinary history, meaning that you can expect ingredients that are sourced from land and sea alike, then combined to show off their flavors to perfection.
Depending on the timing of your trip, you might be able to enjoy scallops plucked from the shallows, lightly seared and served with a rich reduction, topped with caviar or a close equivalent. This is just one example of the many, many dishes that make Fhior a fabulous, family-run restaurant worth shouting about.
And of course because this is an Edinburgh-based restaurant, it also leaves you within easy reach of many of the other sights and attractions that the city has to offer, from Greyfriars Kirkyard to Edinburgh Castle.
Bar Brett, Glasgow
It may pitch itself as much as a wine bar as a restaurant, but that doesn’t mean that Brett is anything other than excellent when it comes to its food options.
In fact you won’t be surprised to hear that it’s actually the creation of the same people who conjured up the aforementioned Cali Bruich, and so you can bet that the dishes will really punch above their weight in terms of quality and flavor.
The wine list is extensive, and the staff are experts when it comes to pairing beverages with the different menu items on offer on a given day, so if you fancy a tipple then you’ll be able to wet your whistle in style here.
So long as they are in season and on offer, picking up a plate of six oysters at Bar Brett is something that will tickle your taste buds and make you feel more attuned to Scotland itself.
Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Gleneagles
Located in the renowned Gleneagles Hotel, this is an award-winning restaurant that isn’t only perhaps the best venue of its kind in Scotland, but perhaps the entirety of the United Kingdom, depending on which ranking system you go by.
Regardless, if you’re lucky enough to snag a reservation at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, you’ll have your socks knocked off by the array of tantalizing menu items that are available on a given day.
The a la carte line-up is impressive, and includes everything from lobster and foie gras to monkfish and lamb. There is also an entire vegetarian menu, which means that even if you’re not a meat-eater you can still experience everything that Scottish cooking has to offer.
Boasting not one, but two Michelin stars to its name, this restaurant is only open for evening services, so unfortunately you won’t be able to factor in a lunchtime visit.
Even if you have to rethink your plans, it is well worth making changes so that you can tell your friends back home all about the unforgettable meal you had at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie.
We’ve only really talked about high-end Scottish restaurants, which might make you think that this is a country where you’ll only ever pay through the nose for a meal.
Thankfully there are also literally thousands of other eateries that are deserving of your attention, albeit without the recognition of the Michelin guide to brag about. So follow your nose and you’ll surely find fine cuisine across Scotland.