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Eating out in Ayrshire and Arran

Eating out in Ayrshire and Arran is a real treat, these are regions famed for their delectable cuisine. From succulent locally-farmed meats, cherished cheeses and the freshest seafood Scotland’s west coast has to offer, they offer a wide and varied range of gastronomic delights to tantalize the tastebuds. The majority of eateries use locally-sourced ingredients, showcasing the best seasonal produce available.

World-class establishments

Boasting world-class eating establishments, from fine dining to gastropubs and tearooms, Ayrshire and Arran have firmly established themselves as a foodies’ paradise. There’s certainly no shortage of eating out options to suit every appetite and budget. You can choose from gourmet evenings or informal seafood platters eaten al fresco as the sun sets over the sea. There are also specialist award-winning eateries for the most discerning of palates, as well as romantic getaways for that candlelit table for two. For less formal dining options, you can pop into one of the many pubs and bars, where you’ll find not only tasty menus but also Arran Ale and whisky. You’re also sure to meet some of the local characters, as well as enjoy live entertainment with your meal on music nights.

Haute cuisine seafood dish

There are many impressive fine-dining options in Ayrshire and Arran

Ayrshire Braidwoods in the village of Dalry is undoubtedly Ayrshire’s culinary crown in the jewel. A Michelin-starred restaurant, it has achieved the coveted award for a 19th consecutive year, making it the longest standing Michelin-starred restaurant in Scotland. Also a former “Best Restaurant in Scotland” winner, the eatery is headed up by the husband and wife chef team of Keith and Nicola Braidwood. Menus consistently feature the finest local produce, from hand-dived West Coast scallops to Cairnhill Farm beef, and each dish is created with passion, flare and devotion to every ingredient.

Set in Trump Turnberry golfing resort, the 1906 restaurant is always above par, consistently offering some of the finest dining in the region – all against the backdrop of the stunning coastline course. Classic dishes are given a modern twist, with inspiration coming from the land, sea and dramatic skies of Ayrshire. With those breathtaking coastal views, dining at 1906 is a special treat not to be missed.

Boasting world-class eating establishments, from fine dining to gastropubs and tearooms, Ayrshire and Arran have firmly established themselves as a foodies’ paradise

Spectacular seafood

Set in the heart of the local fishing community, McCallums of Troon boasts two establishments: The Oyster Bar and The Wee Hurrie, which is a former Best Takeaway Restaurant of the Year winner. The Oyster Bar serves up fresh seafood, from luscious langoustines to mouthwatering moules, while The Wee Hurrie is a masterclass in the humble fish supper. The best bit? Enjoying fresh fish while overlooking the harbour where it was landed! The Catch At Fins Restaurant, in the village of Fairlie, is a delight and specialises in “farm-to-table” produce. With the Fencebay farm shop and smokehouse attached, diners can be sure the produce is as fresh and local as it comes. Chef Richard Finlay creates innovative dishes and can cater to just about every appetite, so it’s little surprise that advanced booking is essential.

In the seaside town of Largs, new kid on the block The Fish Works is quickly becoming a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike. It was established in 2017 by husband and wife team Ross and Tiffany Irvin and they have taken their 40-plus years of experience in the food industry to create a relaxed dining experience that offers affordable, no-nonsense cuisine. Five quid squid, langoustine scampi and black pudding fritters are just some of the unique dishes on offer. With a strong community ethos and a commitment to sustainability, The Fish Works is already winning plaudits among food critics.

Mussels with bread

Look no further than Ayrshire and Arran for beautiful, fresh seafood

Slightly inland from the coast in the village of Maybole, The Minishant Inn and Restaurant is a family-run eatery that consistently earns sterling reviews. Following extensive renovations in 2012, owners the Beattie family have made it their mission to provide exemplary cuisine and outstanding customer service. The extensive menu caters to every taste, featuring traditional Scottish fare, as well as curries, steaks, burgers and a too tempting selection of desserts. Vegetarian and gluten-free diners are also catered for. Also in Maybole is the Kirkmichael Arms, a chocolate box-cute establishment that offers hearty pub food made with real gusto. The stand-out dish must be the Bad Boy Burger, which is brimming with toppings, ensuring diners are left full and satisfied.

In the seaside town of Largs, new kid on the block The Fish Works is quickly becoming a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike. Five quid squid, langoustine scampi and black pudding fritters are just some of the unique dishes on offer

Exotic cuisine

The Black Bull in South Ayrshire town Tarbolton is another fantastic choice, with an eclectic menu offering up both classic and more unusual fare, including pigeon. As well as offering an extensive drinks selection, the staff are knowledgeable and a warm welcome is always extended. Buckley’s Cafe Bistro, in the heart of Prestwick, offers diners simple and affordable cuisine in a laidback setting. Headed up by a team of passionate food enthusiasts, its innovative approach continues to attract new customers. As well as the Bistro, which serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and light-bites, the team also offer outside catering for private and commercial clients, and host monthly pop-up events, where diners can enjoy more unique dishes. Pulled pork, goats cheesecake and buttermilk pancakes are just some of the tempting treats available.

There are plenty of options around the region for visitors out on a day trip, and perhaps not looking for a full sit-down meal. Bhaile Bakery and coffee shop in the heart of Ayr is one of those places where you can enjoy freshly-made bread, bakes, sweet and savoury treats for breakfast, brunch or lunch. You can also pop in for takeaway options, at any time of the day. In addition to the myriad of Scottish and seafood restaurants in the region, locals and visitors can also experience a wide range of more exotic cuisines, including Indian, Italian, Chinese, Thai and American.

Motherland Spice in Saltcoats is always popular, serving up an authentic taste of the sub-continent at very affordable rates. They will even create bespoke dishes for you that aren’t normally on the menu. The Torranyard Tandoori in Kilwinning, owned by Harry Singh and his sons, is famed for its delicious lamb bhoona – with none other than Hollywood A-lister Hugh Grant proclaiming his love for the dish on a previous visit. Pizza and pasta lovers are spoiled for choice in Ayrshire, with a variety of top-notch Italian restaurants dotted throughout the area. Adesso in Irvine, Vito’s Italian in Ayr and Quei Bravi Ragazzi in Troon are just three of the many places to sample la dolce vita.

The iconic Nardini’s Cafe in Largs remains the top choice for gelato fans, who come from far and wide to sample the famous ice cream. An institution since 1935, Nardini’s art deco interior evokes a real sense of nostalgia. Oriental food lovers can tuck into Chinese and Thai food at several locations throughout the area. Thai restaurant At Home in Ayr is a hidden gem well worth seeking out, while the Dragon Royale in Kilmarnock never fails to disappoint. The trend for American-style burger joints is also growing, with some fantastically-themed classic diners popping up. Oceans 11 American Bar and Diner is festooned with memorabilia, making it a great place to visit for food or a quick drink. In Kilbirnie the retro-styled Galaxy Cafe harks back to 1950s America – think harlequin checkered floors and red lacquer furniture. Chicken wings, burgers and the thickest of milkshakes make for a truly authentic American diner experience.

In addition to the myriad of Scottish and seafood restaurants in the region, locals and visitors can also experience a wide range of more exotic cuisines, including Indian, Italian, Chinese, Thai and American

 

Eating in Arran

The compact size of the island – it’s affectionately known as “Scotland In Miniature”, after all – belies its richly-deserved reputation for producing world-renowned food and drink. The Taste of Arran project, for example, brings together some of the island’s finest food and drink producers to offer a tempting array: everything from chocolates and ice creams to oatcakes, chutneys and choice cheeses. And let’s not forget the many specialist ales, beers and whiskies. Arran Dairies, the Island Cheese Company, Robin’s Herbs and the Arran Chocolate Factory are just a small sample of what this tiny island has to offer, while the Arran Distillery and the Arran Brewery fly the flag when it comes to beverage production. With so much on offer, it’s little wonder that Arran is a firmly-established foodie destination in its own right.

At the north end of the island, close to the ferry terminal at Lochranza, The Sandwich Station is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of place. Occupying a tiny building, it’s a must. Using the finest local ingredients, including artisan breads from the Blackwaterfoot Bakery (walnut sourdough, anyone?), this is definitely not just an ordinary sandwich shop. Generous portions, friendly service and a commitment to sustainability and the environment are just some of the many reasons to stop off at The Sandwich Station.

Situated in Corrie, half way between the ferry ports of Brodick and Lochranza, Mara Fish Bar and Deli is a blue-hued eatery that pays homage to Scotland’s seafood history, serving up dishes lovingly-crafted from Arran-sourced produce. Mara, which is Gaelic for “The Sea”, is a self-proclaimed casual seafood takeaway, with an imaginative menu that includes delicacies such as Pollack Thai fishcakes, Whiting tacos with guacamole and even Arran octopus with polenta and salsa verde. Customers can enjoy their food from the outdoor seating area, which has some of the best sea views on the island.

Octopus

Enjoy in a delicious plate of Arran Octopus

One of the three dining experiences at Auchrannie Resort in Brodick, Brambles Seafood and Grill is a laidback affair, serving up delicious dishes with an emphasis on the local. Arran suppliers are used where possible, including lamb, venison and sausages from the Arran Butchers, bread and oatcakes from Wooleys, and ice cream, eggs, jams and chutneys from Arran Dairies. Seafood is at the heart of Brambles’ cuisine, but lighter bites, sumptuous desserts and children’s menus are also available.

The compact size of the island – it’s affectionately known as “Scotland In Miniature”, after all – belies its richly-deserved reputation for producing world-renowned food and drink

Dairies and distilleries

South of Brodick in the village of Lamlash, The Old Pier Tearoom is a traditional cafe serving up old favourites. With simple, well-prepared and hearty meals, dining at The Old Pier is a treat for visitors to the south of the island. Cheese lovers will particularly enjoy a visit to Torrylinn Creamery in Kilmory, where they can see the cheese being made by hand. The award-winning Dunlop Cheese is made from milk from Arran dairy cows. Another celebration of all things cheese can be enjoyed at the Island Cheese Company, a family business formed in 1991. Its shop, crammed full of delicious cheeses of all shapes, sizes and strengths, is located on the original dairy for the Home Farm that supplied the Lords and Ladies of Brodick Castle for centuries. If enjoying Arran’s fine food outlets proves to be thirsty work, be sure to stop off at Arran Brewery next to Brodick Castle. Here you can witness the art of traditional brewing from the visitor centre’s viewing gallery – and, of course, appreciate why the natural blend of Arran water and local ingredients by sampling for yourself the range of very special ales.

No visit to Arran is ever complete without a trip to the distillery, which is located in Lochranza. Since it opened in 1995, it has employed only traditional methods, using wooden washbacks and copper stills. Its location, meanwhile, offers perfect water for the whisky – cleansed by granite and softened by peat as it tumbles down from the mountains. Slainte! Of course, sampling the fine selection of malts is a must – but so is having a bite to eat at the Cask Cafe. Meat and cheese platters showcase the very best of the island’s produce, and the bar, not surprisingly, has the most comprehensive stock of Arran whiskies in the world. The cafe also has a gallery, featuring original works from local artists and even by some of the staff themselves. It’s incredibly family-friendly too, making it a great place to stop off with hungry young holidaymakers.

While Ayrshire and Arran eating out options are typically concentrated on the eastern part of the island, Cafe Thyme in Machrie is an excellent spot for those wishing to venture further afield. With an inspired menu, including Turkish-style pizzas and vegan treats, it’s well worth a visit. The large outdoor play area makes it ideal for families to relax and enjoy a leisurely lunch. If cosy country pubs are more your style, there are plenty of options on Arran. The Drift Inn in Lamlash offers classic pub grub as well as innovative contemporary plates. In Brodick The Ormidale Hotel serves up simple, home-made bar meals in an informal pub setting and is a favourite meeting place for islanders.


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Image credits: ©Adolfo Félix/Jesse Hanley/Joe Watts/Louis Hansel/Nerise Gokpinar/Viviana Rishe/Wouter Meijering/Unsplash; Shutterstock.com

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