Get comfy for a long read because all I’ve really done on this trip is eat at different (and sometimes the same) places! If you’re more interesting in lunch bites or takeaway, scroll on down to near the end.
The Thai Cafe, Stornaway, Isle of Lewis
I love Thai food so I thought I would try a local restaurant that was recommended for the food. I rang up about 3 hours earlier and managed to get a table for one.
The staff seemed a bit confused as to whether I was there for a takeaway or eating in. The service was poor – I had to ask the same question to 3 different people regarding allergies and even then the kitchen staff didn’t know the answer!
The were pretty busy and looked like they had 3 waitresses on, however one sat on her arse the whole time I was there and left with a takeaway around 8pm, so I don’t actually think she was working.
Although the service was below average, the food was phenomenal. I had the gai tom kha for starter and a green prawn curry with coconut rice. Unfortunately I think the curry may have had a bit of gluten in it as I was a bit poorly afterwards.
Price was £22.15 for two courses and two cans of coke.
Flavour, Tarbert, Isle of Harris
Oh. My. God. Do yourself a favour and definitely book in for this culinary treat!
Chris with his apprentice John treat you to a 7 course meal with local island produce. He’s able to cater for dietary requirements as well and my gluten free courses were pretty similar to the mainstream dishes offered.
Course 1 – langoustine tart and a gluten free cracker with mustard mayonnaise. There needed to be more of this – the wee bite size pieces had me wanting more. My dish was tweaked a bit for the gluten free offering, I believe the mainstream is a haggis bon bon.
Course 2 – hand dived scallop, with roe tempura, bisque and yuzu. I’m just recently on board the seafood train, but scallops are one of my favourites – and this was no exception.
Course 3 – Highland lamb terrine, with locally grown pickled veg and truffle mayonnaise. Obviously I have no idea what terrine is because I did not expect pate on my plate! I really enjoyed the flavours of the pickled radish with the terrine and mayo.
Course 4 – potato, leek and smoked haddock veloute with homemade bread and chilli butter. The soup had a wonderful smoky flavour that went well with the chilli butter. I had store bought gluten free bread with mine (the homemade rolls did look amazing! But trying to perfect gf bread is HARD!) I did suggest maybe instead of using bread to switch to Schar part baked rolls or something similar, as my pieces were quite hard after warming in the oven.
Course 5 – wild venison loin, red cabbage, potato puree and jus. Venison has to be my favourite game meat and Chris had cooked it to perfection. I thought the jus was a bit too salty for me but the mashed potato soaked it up nicely. And I do love a creamy mash!
Course 6 – crowdie with cracked pepper and homemade bramble jelly with a seaweed oatcake. I have found my new favourite cheese! I’ve actually bought crowdie twice now since Flavour and I love it. Chris’ spin on it was delicious.
Course 7 – rhubarb tart, tonka bean custard, rhubarb ice cream and toasted pistachios. My tart was naked to make it gluten free (no pastry), and topped with local berries. The tonka bean custard was delicious and went well with the rhubarb. “You know it’s posh when the ice cream is shaped like Stewie Griffin’s head’.
The dinner was topped off with tea and coffee and homemade Flavour chocolates (of which I bought a box).
Price was £75 and £12 for the chocolates. Flavoured table water included.
Uig Sands, Timsgearraidh, Isle of Lewis
So to start with I wasn’t overly impressed. Looking at their online booking system there were no tables for 1. I checked 3 different days and nothing. Changed it to 2 people and lo and behold, tables galore! So, they’re discriminatory towards solo travellers. Luckily, I made friends with a lovely lady over a Hebridean Facebook page and she offered to go with me.
The price is great – 3 courses for £45 and the food was fantastic.
For starter I had the langoustines with garlic butter and garden salad.
Mains both Cat and I opted for the Uig lamb rack, slow cooked lamb pie, chargrilled red onion and peas. The gluten free option is without the homemade haggis. I also added the chunky chips as a side.
Dessert was the coconut rice ‘doughnuts’, mango sorbet, roast pineapple and sesame popcorn.
We both had two soft drinks and the total price was £110 including a small tip.
North Harbour Bistro, Isle of Scalpay
I went to North Harbour twice as I thought the food was amazing. The first time was a Saturday night around 5pm and it was quiet. The second time was a Tuesday at 6 and it was definitely a lot busier!
My two starters were truffled goats cheese and beetroot and the cured salmon with citrus creme fraiche.
My first main was the slow roast pork belly with Scalpay prawns and wild mushrooms and my second was beef cheek with mash. I think I preferred the pork belly to the beef cheek though.
The Anchorage, Leverburgh, Isle of Harris
The Anchorage is right on Leverburgh port and has a lovely, bright atmosphere. When I rang up to book I was told there were a few gluten free options, and the online menu actually specified allergens as well, which is always a win in my book.
I had a 3 course meal (I swear I’m going to gain at least 10kg by the time I get home!)
I started with the carrot, coriander and ginger soup and had the Highland ribeye steak with veg and garlic butter. The menu says that it’s supposed to come with chips and has a gf next to it, but on further inquiry the chips are cooked in the same fryer as everything else which obviously makes them NOT gluten free. It was an easy swap to the veg though and they were really delicious.
Desserts didn’t look too promising, but I ended up going with the special after being told it was gluten free – lemon sponge with vanilla custard and berries.
Lochmaddy Hotel, North Uist
The hotel had quiet a few gluten free options which made me happy, as this was an impromptu stay seeing as it was blowing gale force winds and it wasn’t safe to camp.
Looking at the menu, the chicken strips caught my eye, and at £11.50 a plate, I thought I’d top it off with the seafood soup. Little did I know, that me and the hotel have different notions as to what a chicken strip is! And there were four of these ginormous things on my plate! The chips are cooked separately as well!
Breakfast was included in my room price (£90) and included a full English, juice and a pot of tea. I modified mine to removed the sausage and black pudding, but it was still really filling!
All up, including room, breakfast, dinner and 2 ciders it set me back £115.80.
Langass Lodge, North Uist
Langass was one of the multiple recommendations I received on the Facebook group The Hebridean Hub and it was fantastic! It’s a bit out of the way down a single lane rough track, but the Lodge definitely has those Scottish lodge vibes. The bar area is quite dark, cosy and full of tartan. A perfect place for a wee dram!
They offer 2 courses for £35 or 3 courses for £42 – I know you know which one I went for!
Their menu is quite varied and has the allergens listed so I didn’t feel like that annoying diner asking 100 questions! For the first course I went for the courgette fritter but the Hebridean Smokehouse Collections sounded good as well.
Every option on the main course was available as gluten free. I went for the fillet of beef Rossini. It came with wild mushrooms, mash and a béarnaise sauce. At first, the sauce was a bit too minty? (not sure what herb they used but there was a lot of it) but by the end of the meal I was used to it and liking it with the beef.
Only half the dessert menu is gluten free, but I didn’t mind that because the most important option was! Everybody knows I love a cheeseboard so that’s what I got! The cheese offered was Scottish Minger, Farmhouse Cheddar, Morbeir and Blue Murder, paired with a tomato and chilli chutney, grapes and biscuits.
Charlies Bistro, Benbecula
As with all the others, book ahead! The website listed is a separate business and doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the restaurant so call to make a booking. I opted for the surf and turf and a can coke for my dinner here, which came to £31 all up. The steak defeated me so I did end up taking half if it away to enjoy the next day.
Cafe Kisimul, Castlebay, Isle of Barra
Everybody I talked to recommended Kisimul. When I rang up and booked I was told there were a heap of gluten free options available.
They seem to only to do two sittings – 6pm and 8pm. I got an 8pm sitting on my last night, which was a Monday.
Getting the menu I was pretty excited because pretty much all of the starters had a GF next to them – scallop pakoras? Yes please! However, on further investigation, all the “gluten free” starters are cooked in the same fryer as the fish – FALSE ADVERTISING! The only starter I could have was the poppadoms which I had with raita and a homemade mango chutney. The chutney was delicious!
The cafe is billed as a Indian/Italian mix. None of the Italian was available gluten free but all of the curries were.
I went for the chicken achari balti which was good. Had a bit of spice to it. It would have went well with my second coke I ordered, but that never showed up. Though it did show up on my bill! The lass removed it when I pointed that out though.
Croft & Cuan
I contacted Minnie the day before to see what they had on offer and quite a bit can be maded gluten free. I chose the vietnamese prawn rolls, a chicken, avocado and sriracha wrap, a hot chocolate and a pack of crisps. This one was definitely the most expensive lunch I’ve had yet, coming in at £19.90.
I would say if you’re given the option between a gluten free wrap or a sandwich – choose the sandwich! The wrap was quite small (as usual) so it wasn’t wrapped properly and so things fell out. It was also really heavy on the sriracha.
The Vietnamese rolls were fat and they weren’t stingy on the prawns which I liked. It also came with a satay sauce, however you do need a spoon for this as the rolls were too big for the sauce container to dip.
This is more my price range! A gluten free brie and cranberry panini with crisps and two cans of coke was £8.90. The lady who runs the café was really knowledgeable about allergens and assured me that there is a separate grill and that they’re wiped down in between each sandwich. The crisps were checked as well. Unfortunately, the attempt at a gluten free cake didn’t go down to well, so I didn’t get to try that but I love that they’re trying new things!
Joan’s Barra Pizza
Joan’s was recommended to me by my BnB host. After a quick WhatsApp exchange with Maria where I discovered the gluten free bases are homemade and cooked on a separate tray, I pre-ordered for the next day (they’re only open Fridays and Saturdays).
This week they had Buffalo chicken and pesto, chorizo and halloumi pizzas on offer. I ordered two after hearing they’re only 7 inches.
Well, they may be small, but they be mighty! I loved that the base held all of the toppings and didn’t fall apart on me! The two pizzas almost defeated me but I definitely went to bed satisfied (and full).
The pizzas are £8 each which is a fantastic price for what you get.