Magazine article The Spectator

Food Skye Trails

Magazine article The Spectator

Food Skye Trails

Article excerpt

Skye has two famous restaurants, which is a lot for an isle made of cows and rock. The first, the Three Chimneys, is a restaurant with rooms in a wilderness; they say it is a crofter's cottage.

I have been 24 hours in Skye, cloak flapping, satnav weeping, staring down cattle like lovers and falling into lochs, and I think this crofter might have been a multi - millionaire, a William Randolph Hearst of crofters, or maybe his decorator wife.

(A word on lochs. Stop naming them, highlanders. You ran out of steam with Loch Lochy).

Wilderness chic is a strange thing, a yearning for things that cannot coexist, like climbing up K2 with an espresso machine or wanting to marry bad men. The cottage is so varnished it feels like a museum of late 20th-century urban pretension; the stone floors are pure Hampstead.

I t is formal; if a foodie comes to Skye to eat, and has to drive on one-track roads, and admire the piles of stone the locals make (nothing else to do, says A, who knows the countryside and how it twists the mind to take up hobbies), the meal must be eaten with all the seriousness of an autopsy.

The atmosphere is hushed, expectant, insanely wound up about grouse and prawns, which is probably why the New York Times loved it, and put it in their top five restaurants in the galaxy. Maybe they wanted all their readers to go to Skye and not return?

When my eyes follow a harvestman up the wall, I expect the waiter (small, young, a broken refugee from charm school) to beat it to death, to enhance my foodie pleasure.

I t is that sort of place.

I

have realised, one year in to professional restaurant reviewing, that the reason I fear fish ('fissues') is that I was once forced to eat a raw mackerel by a fake uncle.

I am grappling with this as a tiny cauldron of fish stew is given, unasked, a habit which I detest; if I have to eat what I am given, I will stay home and eat A's 'special' hotpot. …

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