A Restaurant Worth Travelling To: The Three Chimneys, Isle of Skye | sheerluxe.com
In this series, we travel to some of the UK’s very best restaurants. These establishments are destinations in their own right and merit a day trip or overnighter. This month, we paid a visit to the far-flung Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye for an unforgettable meal...
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The concept…

In 1985, Shirley and Eddie Spear launched The Three Chimneys, a bistro-style eatery serving home-cooked, traditional Scottish dishes with a fine-dining twist. It was unlike anything the island had ever seen. Soon after launching, the restaurant began achieving recognition and awards, including Scottish Restaurant of the Year in 1990 and a Michelin star not long after. In the last four years alone, the team has retained AA Three Rosettes for fine dining, a Visit Scotland five-star rating for its accommodation and won The Good Food Guide’s Editor’s Choice for Restaurant of the Year 2018. 

In 2019, this global reputation remains (in 2018, the Wall Street Journal described The Three Chimneys as one of the “five restaurants genuinely worth travelling for” in the world), but there’s been a change of guard. This April, the restaurant with rooms was purchased by Scots-born international hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray. Thankfully for fans of the restaurant, Gray’s aim is business as usual, with the introduction of additional investment over time. The Three Chimneys is now a part of his new Scottish hotel and restaurant collection, The Wee Hotel Company, and Shirley Spear will still be involved with the much-loved site. Here's what to expect from a stay over at this longstanding Hebridean bolt hole.

The setting…

Over the last three decades, the Spears have turned the restaurant’s remote location into its USP. The Three Chimneys is housed in an original Skye croft house on the edge of Colbost, a small village on the north coast of the island. From the restaurant windows, guests can gaze out over the sandy shoreline, gaping expanse of loch and towards Dunvegan Castle, the ancestral seat of Clan McLeod: trust us, locations don’t get much more Scottish than this. The rustic charm extends inside, where the original croft stone walls are a feature, the place settings are crafted from local slate, the chairs woven with tweed and the vases filled with thistles. If you’re looking for further immersion, book into the Kitchen Table, where there’s no partitioning, glass or cameras: just an uninterrupted view of the chefs at work. The space can seat eight people as one party, reserved for exclusive use for two or more, or shared with other couples.

The food…

The core value of The Three Chimneys is working closely with producers and suppliers on the island: most of the kitchen’s ingredients are sourced from the crofters, foragers, fisherman and farmers living within a few miles of the restaurant. In the kitchen, head chef Scott Davies and his brigade create dishes which reflect this wealth of ingredients, alongside a nod to the island’s ancient Nordic connections. Of the set menus, we loved the ‘Skye, Land and Sea’ option, which comes in at a very reasonable £65pp for seven courses. While the menu changes with the season, expect to sample the likes of apple-cured Sconser scallop with roe parfait, coast herbs and rapeseed oil; scorched Dunvegan langoustine with tempura oyster, braised fennel and smoked mussel ketchup; Dunvegan crab with peas, smoked almonds and yoghurt; and peat-smoked haddock ravioli with buttered leak, mushroom dash and pickled dulse. Our Denhead strawberries with white balsamic, black pepper and honey blossom were a lovely light way to end a meal.

As with all restaurants of this calibre, it’s all in the details and often the off-menu items are the ones that delight the most. All set menus come with the option of local cheeses, served with homemade oatcakes and walnut loaf, and every meal begins with a selection of moreish fresh-from-the-oven bread and seaweed-flavoured cultured butter. Seasonal canapés are always served with pre-dinner drinks and the petit fours – morsels of homemade honeycomb and fudge when we visited – were the perfect final bite.

The verdict…

Yes, it’s unpredictable Scotland, but whatever the weather The Three Chimneys offers the perfect excuse to escape for a long weekend break, or celebrate a special occasion. Whether you’re a gang of friends exploring the island as part of a Highlands tour (there are plenty of whisky and gin distilleries nearby, which make for great group activities) or a couple wanting to leave city life behind in favour of a few days filled with wholesome walks, sea swims and cosy pubs, this special restaurant has to make it onto your must-visit list. We’ll admit that the journey from London is rather a long one, but if organised well you can be at the restaurant within six hours of leaving the capital, tucking into some of the freshest, best-cooked seafood you’ve ever tried.

Where to stay…

The House Over-By is a comfortable, stylish place to stay overnight, right next-door to the restaurant. In fact, anyone who books a bedroom is automatically allocated a table for dinner. There are six luxury suites, all spacious and furnished with six-foot wide, king-size beds and lots of locally crafted design details. Each room also comes with a direct sea view and access to the garden and its pathway to the seashore. The en-suite bathrooms feature a large, double-ended bath tub and power shower, plus a selection of Temple Spa toiletries, warm bath towels, bathrobes and slippers. The perfect place to relax after a hike along the atmospheric vistas of Talisker Bay, Waternish, The Storr or the Quiraing.

How to get there…

Daily flights from Gatwick to Inverness take 1h40m and start from £24.99 one way. From Inverness airport, the drive to the Isle of Skye takes two hours along beautiful Highlands roads, past Loch Ness and Eilean Donan castle – perfect for pitstops if you’ve got kids. Once on the island, it’s a further 1h30m to Colbost. There are various car hire options at the airport and non-drivers can book one of the regular coach journeys onto the island from Inverness bus station.

Colbost, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland, IV55 8ZT 

Visit ThreeChimneys.co.uk 

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