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How a taste of the Isle of Bute will leave you wanting more!

How a taste of the Isle of Bute will leave you wanting more!
With magnificent Victorian architecture, glorious gardens, beautiful beaches and fabulous walking and cycling, Bute has all the ingredients for an unforgettable island adventure. What’s more, this compact Scottish island is awash with great-tasting produce. Delicious beef and lamb come from livestock that feed on the island’s lush pasture, while seafood is hauled from the surrounding waters. You’ll find an abundance of eateries serving up this fabulous local food in stunning locations, from beachside cafés to fine-dining restaurants by the harbour. Here are eight ways to tuck in and enjoy a tantalising taste of Bute.

Start your food journey in Rothesay, the island’s chief town and a seaside resort brimming with character, cafés and characterful restaurants. Musicker is a lovely café at the heart of town. It’s only a few minutes walk from the ferry terminal and sits across the road from the 12th-century moated Rothesay Castle. The friendly owners love music, so as well as fantastic fresh coffee, home-baking, sandwiches and home-made soups, you’ll also find CDs, music books, guitars and other musical instruments for sale.

Harry Haws, just up the road from Musicker, is a brilliant neighbourhood restaurant: warm and cosy with friendly staff serving up wholesome, tasty, homemade food for lunch and dinner. The chef uses local suppliers where possible, and you’ll find Bute beef and local seafood, such as mussels, on the menu. The rolls are made fresh every day by local bakers the Electric Bakery. The burgers are delicious. Try the ‘Tamed’ Boar Burger, a pork burger topped with black pudding and caramelised apple. We’ve heard that the crab cakes, made with local crab meat, are very tasty too!

The Waterfront Bistro is another top spot for eating in Rothesay. Located right on the harbourside, with views over Rothesay bay to the Cowal hills, this is a wonderfully relaxed place to enjoy great home-cooked food using fresh, local ingredients. Pop in for coffees, snacks, light meals and baking during the day. Evening meals are served on Fridays and Saturdays only. Make sure you leave some room for dessert – by all accounts they’re mouthwatering!

For traditional Scottish hospitality and excellent seafood, head to the Victoria Hotel on Victoria Street where you can choose to dine in the Ghillies Bistro downstairs or the slightly more formal Victoria’s Restaurant upstairs. The view onto Rothesay’s Winter Gardens and the sea beyond is stunning. Enjoy the chef’s seafood of the day, which could include mussels, scallops, langoustines, lobster and seabass, depending on seasonal availability. Meat lovers can tuck into delicious steaks from the grill.

From Rothesay follow the coastal road south to Mount Stuart, a spectacular neo-gothic house set amidst acres of lush woodland. There are a number of excellent eating options here. The award-winning Visitor Centre has a coffee shop where you can grab sandwiches, snacks and fresh coffee. The restaurant upstairs offers small plates, afternoon teas and Sunday lunches all featuring locally sourced, seasonal produce. Enjoy delicious food with panoramic views over the gardens and across the Firth of Clyde. The Courtyard Tea Room, housed in what was the coal sculleries, serves up cakes and sandwiches. If you prefer to picnic in the grounds, just ask for a cool bag. Mount Stuart is open from March to October.

Further south you’ll stumble upon the Kingarth Inn, a traditional country inn and pub that’s popular with locals and visitors alike. The chef serves up the most delicious home-cooked food featuring the very best local and home-grown produce. Bute lamb, venison, langoustines, mussels, cheese, milk and cream are all used to create a delicious, seasonal menu. The atmosphere is relaxed with indoor and outdoor eating areas.

Over on the west of the island is one of the best seaside cafés in Argyll. Beautiful Ettrick Bay is a fabulous mile-long stretch of sand and is the perfect place for a stroll. When you’ve worked up a decent appetite, head inside for tea and cake at Ettrick Bay Tearoom. Tuck into some delicious home-baking (the meringues are sensational) and enjoy the views over the bay to Arran.

Find out more about things to do and see on Bute.

Header photo: afternoon tea at Mount Stuart.
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