After enjoying a few distilleries on the Isle of Islay, we moved on to the Isle of Skye and a wonderful hillside Airbnb overlooking green pastures full of sheep and, on clear days, the sea.
We spent a day sightseeing around the island with its sensational views across the sea to other islands in the Hebrides, as well as Dunvegan Castle and its springtime gardens, and then arrived in Portree early for our dinner reservation at Scorrybreac. The tiny restaurant (it seats 18 in one cozy room) overlooks the harbor and is unpretentious. There’s no foyer to speak of and the restroom is located up a narrow flight of stairs with the other stairway and the hall roped off as private spaces.
We were seated early at a prime window table overlooking the harbor and the rocky hillside across the harbor from which the restaurant gets its name: “speckled rock,” an apt description for the view.
Scorrybreac is listed in the 2019 Michelin guide and we enjoyed a meal worthy of that status. It’s a three-course fixed menu with three choices (including vegetarian) for each course (45 pounds, about $75). The website describes Chef Calum Munro’s food as “modern Scottish with French influences.” It is sourced locally, including venison from Skye, freshly caught seafood and locally grown salad leaves.
Given its tiny size, reservations are necessary. We saw three people turned away who showed without them. Dining is leisurely, but there’s enough time for the restaurant to turn tables once. It’s open from 5-9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
While we perused the menu and the hand-written wine list, we were served home-baked warm bread with whipped butter. A tiny bowl of cauliflower whipped with local cheddar cheese started us off—what a delightful surprise. I am no fan of cauliflower, but would have eaten as much as could be put in front of me of this dish.
The wine list is limited, but with good choices at reasonable prices including a small-lot Sonoma Pinot Noir from Parducci. This is a special occasion restaurant and we saw one American couple celebrating their anniversary with the Pinot Noir at dinner and then ran into them at the coffee shop the next morning. They praised both the wine and the restaurant. Reading past reviews, the restaurant used to offer a wine/food pairing, but has dropped that option. Wine is offered both by the glass and bottle.
I started with a local single-malt from a nice collection, while our daughter opted for a gin (made on a nearby island) and tonic and my bride enjoyed a local beer.
Our daughter started with the local venison tartare accompanied by burnt Heather Aioli. I selected the cured monkfish (very thinly sliced) with beet root, Mandarin slices and Crème Fraiche. My bride tried the celery terrine accompanied by Strathdon blue cheese and hazelnuts. All were inventively presented and quite tasty.
For entrees, it was the lamb rump accompanied by a Spanish Rioja for our daughter, while we both enjoyed the perfectly cooked Hake filet with crab, cabbage and vanilla. We paired it with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
My bride opted for the cheese plate for dessert, while our daughter savored the dark chocolate delice with caramel and coffee ice cream. I selected the rhubarb parfait with a creamy meringue and almond. Again, all were delightful.
Between the three of us, we tasted eight offerings from the kitchen that were uniformly excellent. Service was relaxed and attentive, despite the restaurant being down one team members (three instead of four).
So, if you’re headed to Skye and want an extraordinarily fine meal, make your reservations before you leave.
By Tim Hunt