July 12, 2009

The Creel

Tags: Restaurant, Scotland

While holidaying in the Orkneys we ate dinner one night at The Creel, regarded as one of the best restaurants in Scotland (according to our guidebook). It also has a long list of awards (AA rosettes, Good Food Guide and a Scottish Restaurant Chef of The Year), most of which it displays on its walls. The menu is quite simple and short - a choice of around four starters, with a similar number of mains - all skewed heavily towards local seafood.

We had the scallops and a langoustine salad for starters. The scallops were good (for what they were - I’m not a huge fan of that shellfish), but the langoustines with orange and a pesto dressing on the salad were excellent. For mains one of us had hake with squid and aubergine and the other halibut with mashed cauliflower and peas. The halibut was just about 30 seconds cooked beyond its best, but the hake was perfect. For both the accompaniment were particular highlights. However, the one issue was salt - there was way too much. This is something The Creel has in common with nearly every restaurant we visited in Scotland, so perhaps that is just the Scottish style. Still, to my palate it stopped a very good dish becoming a great dish.

We had no dessert, and the whole meal came to £67 with a couple of drinks. Very reasonable by London standards and not that much more than some of the other places we visited while away. The service and decor were fine. One thing to note though is that it is a small restaurant and all the tables were taken when we were there on a Tuesday night - booking is essential. Well worth a visit and I would try it again if in the area.

As an aside, I would also like to say the lunch I had at the Skara Brae Tourist Centre was excellent. It may just look like a standard canteen, but the quality of the food is very high with friendly and helpful staff. I almost drove back there a second time just for lunch. A hidden gem, and if you are in Orkney it behoves you to see Skara Brae and then eat lunch on site (or take away).