Diners Get a Taste of the Finer Things; Top Chefs and Better Produce Are the Perfect Ingredients for Quality Restaurants

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DINING out in Scotland has become a whole new experience in recent years. As a nation, we've finally found our identity.

And the proof of the pudding is in the number of highly successful Scottish restaurants offering local cuisine, made with local produce.

Seafood, game and even Scottish wines along with the traditional malts and liqueurs have become the rule, rather than the exception.

A run through Scotland's top restaurant guides would leave you hard pushed to find a restaurant that isn't offering a Scottish menu.

And we're not content to just settle for mince and tatties. Scottish fare has been elevated quite rightly to the creation of dishes that involve fusion and a lot of creativity.

Diners have become more discerning and expect the best. And they are finding it, thanks to more Scottish producers bringing more flavours to the table.

Thankfully, there are excellent sources of information to help cultivate the Scottish palate, such as the Scotch Beef Club, where members encourage the use of Scotch beef in their kitchens.

Meanwhile, the Seafood Trail, from Eat Scotland, allows diners to explore not only the seafood but areas of natural beauty and dine in those restaurants who specialise in quality Scottish seafood.

The rise in the number and stature of Scottish restaurants has been matched by award-winning chefs, who happily admit that they wouldn't be able to produce such great menus if it wasn't for Scotland's great produce.

"We've come a long way," is how chef Michael Kilkie describes Scotland's rise in the world rankings.

He said: "In days gone by, we were following what other people were doing. I think all that has changed - dramatically.

"Today, we are certainly up there with the best and perhaps we really are the land of food and drink."

As an award-winning chef, Michael's passion is undoubtedly Scottish seafood.

And he's happy that Scotland delivers a fantastic bounty from the sea, with excellent producers providing the very best.

He said: "It's important for us to have producers that we can trust and rely on to give us the best. If you get a good relationship with a producer then that pays dividends."

His advice to Scots looking to take advantage of Scotland's enviable reputation for food and drink is very simple: "Just go shopping."

For Jaqueline O'Donnell, of The Sisters Restaurant, Glasgow, there's the added benefits of improving the nation's health and finding that the enthusiasm for Scottish produce is rubbing off on our children. …