Bosville Terrace, Portree, Skye
We’re holidaying on the Isle of Skye, and we’re awed by its beauty. Our remote cottage has an uninterrupted view of Staffin Bay, and we’re happily spending our days walking the hills and cliff tops, our evenings barbecuing and drinking wine. But we love to eat out too, and so we spend a little time researching what’s available. Friends have recommended The Three Chimneys and Kinloch Lodge, but both are a little too far away; neither of us fancies a ninety-minute drive either side of dinner. And google has another suggestion.
Scorrybreac is a tiny restaurant in Portree, a manageable forty minutes down a winding mountain road. Situated above the harbour, its simple furnishings and minimalist menu bode very well indeed. This looks like just the kind of place we like. Indeed, it’s the kind of place a lot of people like, and friend google makes it very clear that advance booking is a must. We witness the truth of this advice from the comfort of our window seat, as disappointed potential diners are turned away in droves.
It’s a family affair, run by the Munro brothers, one of whom shoulders the entire front of house responsibility. Hats off to him: he’s friendly, taking time to answer questions and enthuse about the food, whilst still maintaining a brisk and efficient approach. In a place this small (there are only eighteen covers), the simple three course/three options menu makes perfect sense. And, at £45 a head, the pricing seems sensible too.
The wine list is short but nicely varied, but – as I’m driving – we don’t get to try it out. Philip has a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc, which he says is good and ‘lemony.’
We’re given a bowl of smoked popcorn to graze as soon as we sit down and, soon after ordering, an amuse bouche appears. It’s a carrot and turmeric purée, topped with larch pines, which is an interesting touch. Next to arrive is a slice of warm soda bread with whipped caramelised butter. Yum. I’m impressed, and I haven’t even started my meal yet.
To start, we both order the monkfish carpaccio, which comes with beetroot, orange and crème fraîche. It’s the freshest tasting dish imaginable, the fish all melt-in-the-mouth loveliness, and the accompanying pea shoots adding a welcome zing. We’re informed that the oil on the plate is Douglas fir, and its piny flavour is something new to us. It’s good, complementing the dish perfectly.
For his main course, Philip has the lamb rump with wild garlic and Jerusalem artichoke. The meat is rich and soft, the flavours bold and intense. I opt for the cod with mussels, cabbage and vanilla. It’s beautiful: really light and delicate, although it does become a little watery after a few minutes.
We order everything on the pudding menu, and share what we receive. There’s dark chocolate, caramel and malt ice-cream, which turns out to be a cremeux type thing, almost viciously bitter, but artfully tempered by the ice cream and honeycomb. Then there’s sea buckthorn, meringue and almond, which is a slice of deliciously moist cake served with an orange mousse and a light Italian meringue. These are plate-lickingly good, although we refrain from actually doing so. Just.
To finish, we have cheese: generous slices of brie, blue cheese and smoked cheddar, with chunky oatcakes, fruit and (a simple but genius touch) honey.
Scorrybreac is a little treasure of a place, and definitely worth booking if you like fine dining without a fuss.