IT’S NOT OFTEN you come out of a restaurant and think “that’s the best meal I’ve ever had”, but that’s exactly what happened to me when I dined at Iain MacLellan’s Lochindaal Hotel a few months ago, when I sampled his signature seafood platter there.
So I was intrigued to visit his new venture, the Lochindaal Seafood Kitchen, when it opened just along the road in Port Charlotte. Iain took over an existing concern when the previous owners moved out and added to his already excellent food offering in the Hotel.
Would it come up to the same standard was the immediate question? Having now been there for dinner (seafood platter again, but you can never have too much of a good thing) I can confidently answer the question with a resounding “yes”.
Using only the freshest of ingredients collected daily from fishing boats at the quay as the day’s catch is landed, Iain and his skilled and experienced chefs bring the very best of local seafood to the table. The only circumstance in which the food might be fresher would be if it was cooked on the boats themselves.
Featuring locally caught lobster, scallops, langoustine and crab, the menu is a seafood lover’s delight. However, the Kitchen also produces a wide variety of other choices, all using local produce. A sample dinner menu might include Balmoral chicken with mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables and whisky sauce, or a succulent 12 oz sirloin steak, or a seafood pasta with langoustine, crab and scallops.
There is also a wide selection of beers and wines from around the world, plus of course an extensive range of whiskies from Islay’s famous distilleries, including some extremely rare and much sought-after bottlings which cannot be found anywhere else.
The piece de resistance on the menu, however, is the world famous – as featured in the New York Times – aforementioned seafood platter, which has to be ordered 24 hours in advance such is the demand for it from locals and visitors alike. Mine featured a mountain of seafood; lobster, more langoustines than I could count, scallops the size of ping-pong balls, and several crab claws, served with chips and bread and butter. Truly a feast fit for a prince.
Islay has a fair smattering of great places to eat out, but The Lochindaal Seafood Kitchen offers a gourmet experience the like of which will be found in scant few places elsewhere on the island or indeed around the globe. It’s worth making the trip to Islay solely to sample its menu alone, even if you do nothing else on this fascinating island.
The Lochindaal Seafood Kitchen, Port Charlotte, Islay. 01496 850000
Getting there: daily Loganair flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Calmac ferries from Kennacraig to Port Ellen and Port Askaig several times a day.
Where to stay: Lochindaal Hotel, Port Charlotte: 01496 850202: Dha Urlar B&B, Bowmore: 07967 505991
Getting around on Islay: Jim’s Taxis, Bowmore: 07967 505991