Thanks to my father’s very real love affair with food, I grew up with the attitude that one of the most important parts of any travel is eating well. “How was the food?” is the first question my dad asks whenever I return from any trip, whether its to the next state or across the ocean.
All of my overseas adventures have been to the UK, which isn’t typically lauded for its cuisine – I’m sure you’ve heard the stereotype that the Brits boil the flavor out of everything they eat. Despite this, my culinary experiences in London and around Scotland have been anything but bland. There’s no denying that they stick to heavy comfort food, with a focus on meats and gravys, but nearly everything I ate during my recent trip to Scotland was absolutely incredible. So, to combat this unfair reputation, I’m sharing the some of my favorite meals from around the country, including the requisite haggis!
Roasted Duck Leg | The Butterfly and The Pig, Glasgow
For dinner on our first full night in Glasgow, we trekked over to a pub called The Butterfly and The Pig, which Jeanine had recommended to her. We were absolutely starving (you’ll find this to be a theme on our trip) after spending the day touring the Necropolis, a large, beautiful Victorian cemetery, and the adjacent Glasgow Cathedral.
The Butterfly and The Pig was a beautiful little pub with a separate dining room and the staff were able to squeeze us in for dinner before their evening reservations began. I had my eye on the steak pie until I saw roast duck leg on the specials menu. I love roast duck, and the Butterfly and The Pig did not disappoint! The duck was cooked to perfection and the gravy complimented the meat, potatoes and snap peas beautifully.
Haggis Meatballs with Whisky Sauce | Hootananny, Inverness
We arrived in Inverness for the second leg of our trip after a long day that included two separate hikes at Finnich Glen and Castle Urquhart, and a harrowing four hour drive from Glasgow on some of the most narrow, winding, mountainous roads I’ve ever experienced. Exhausted, hungry, and a little stressed, we all needed a good meal and a couple of beers. Luckily, there were dozens of adorable pubs a few blocks’ walk from our flat, and we popped into one called Hootananny.
Feeling adventurous, Kelsey, Jeanine, and I agreed to split and order of haggis meatballs with whisky sauce. You have to try haggis when you visit Scotland, right? As it turns out, we made a great decision. The haggis meatballs were delicious and tender, and the whisky sauce was absolutely dreamy. It reminded me a little bit of my dad’s beef stroganoff, which is one of my absolute favorite comfort foods.
Bonus: Here’s a video of the amazing Scottish folk musicians we saw at Hootananny!
Roast Pork | Platform 1864, Tain
While we were in Inverness, we took a day trip out to Tain – about a 35 mile drive – to visit and tour the Glenmorangie scotch whisky distillery. The tour was fascinating and we definitely recommend it! Kelsey, Jeanine and I are all whisky drinkers, and Glenmorangie is my dad’s favorite, so you know we brought a few bottles back with us, as well.
After the tour, we headed over to the nearby town, Tain, for lunch and found Platform 1864, an adorable restaurant attached to the train station. Kelsey and I both ordered the roast pork, which was unbelievably tender and flavorful. The slices of pork (in gravy, of course) were accompanied by both boiled and fried potatoes and homemade apple sauce.
Hunter Chicken Pie | Rose Street Brewery, Edinburgh
When we were in Edinburgh, we dedicated one evening to celebrating Kelsey’s birthday and went to an Irish bar on Victoria Street for live music and dancing. Jeanine and I made fools of ourselves by ordering a pitcher of mojitos at an Irish bar in Scotland, but otherwise, we had a great time!
The next morning, understandably, we were all feeling a little rough around the edges, but things completely turned around for me when I had this delicious hunter chicken pie with potatoes and boiled vegetables at Rose Street Brewery. The pie crust was flaky and golden, the chicken was tender, the gravy was thick and rich and I finished every bite.
Sticky Toffee Pudding | Whiski Rooms, Edinburgh
For our final dinner in Scotland, we decided to go all out and headed over to Whiski Rooms, one of the most highly rated traditional Scottish restaurants in the city. We’d spent the morning touring Edinburgh Castle, where James IV of Scotland and I of England was born, and, unsurprisingly, we were starving. Since it was the tail end of Fringe, a month long arts festival in Edinburgh, and a Friday night, nearly everywhere was busy, but we were able to get a table after only a 30 minute wait at the bar.
The food was amazing, but the best part was easily the sticky toffee pudding, which had become our go-to dessert during our trip ever since we first tried it in Inverness. A sponge cake made with dates, paired with toffee and raspberry sauce, and served with vanilla ice cream, this dessert is warm and sweet and salty and delicious. We split the order between the three of us and our waiter laughed when he returned a few minutes later to see the aftermath.
Kelsey’s Pick: Haddock and Chips Supper | Cromars, St. Andrews
Personally, I’m not a big fan of sea food, so fish and chips is not a favorite, but Kelsey, would happily eat fish and chips for every meal. In fact, she made a conscious effort not to do so during our trip and to try to mix things up instead. But she insisted I include Cromars in this post, which was recommended to us by the woman who owned the St. Andrews Airbnb we stayed in. Kelsey absolutely raved about it, and the breading and chips were both delicious. I, however, opted for a sausage supper instead.
Have you been to Scotland or tried any of these restaurants? What are the best meals you’ve come across in your travels? Let me know in the comments below!