The Wester Ross Food Trail - Gairloch
Just a few miles North from Loch Maree (and a really good stopping off point for a few days, due to its central location on the Wester Ross coast) is Gairloch. One of the larger communities in the region, this has hotels, cafes and restuarants to persuade you to stay here - yes, and several shops, a beach, a golf course, and an award winning museum.
Food trail recommendations here are the Old Inn, the Links, the Coast Coffee Co., the Steading, and for events or outside catering (perhaps there's a group of you staying in the area) there's "Crumbs" (across from the butchers).
The first of these is the Old Inn - a long established hotel in Gairloch with a big reputation, and a large selection of real ales to go with the food. Food plays a very important role at The Old Inn, and guests return again and again to savour the renowned Scottish West Coast seafood and Highland game dishes. The locally landed seafood has won accolades for the Inn, and samples from the menu include Pan seared loin with herb crust on a Prawn Cassoulet - and an interesting offer to customers is that if they have fond memories of and special dish or produce, then let them know about this (presumably in advance!) and the Chef and his team will be pleased to put their skills to the test for you and re-create these memories!
Just a stones throw away from the Old Inn, overlooking Gairloch Harbour, is Coast Coffee Co. – serving great coffee, natural, wholesome food and fantastic views. (NOTE: Closed between Nov - March)
Coast Coffee Co. is fittingly summed up in this recent customer quote…”Perfect Coast Coffee!... What a lovely find! Coffee, cake, soup, scones and an amazing smoked salmon bagel! The only thing I needed was room for more cake!”
But if you fancy a little exercise before lunch (or evening), you should definitely try the 9 hole Golf course in Gairloch. Why is this in a "food trail"? Because the golf club is also the new home of the "Links" eatery - for 2015, this is Gairloch's newest venue for cafe and restuarant facilities.
And finally - onto the Steading! This is situated in a lovely old set of farm buildings, and used to be where cattle were kept (a long time ago!).....many local folk remember the inside when it still had the old cattle pens arranged down the sides! But these days, a different story. Nowadays, this is a really excellent bistro with a commitment to local food, local staff, and providing a range of home made dishes including occasional special evenings that might feature pizza, tapas, seafood, or a wide range of other dishes. Reviews on "Trip Advisor" have been absolutely first rate! Slightly further afield, on the Melvaig Road, is Big Sand campsite - this has the Barn Cafe & Restaurant - local staff, local produce, and an excellent reputation in the area.
Onwards towards locally Smoked Fish, Aultbea, and beyond........