These are eight of the best restaurants in Scotland to visit in autumn
Instead we’re celebrating the bars and restaurants that come into their own as soon as it’s nearly time for the clocks to fall back.
If they have an open fire, a view of copper-leaved trees, a hearty rib-sticking menu and a bit of twinkly atmosphere, count us in.
As well as the ones on our shortlist, our foodie friends have also recommended Cringletie House Hotel, Fonab Castle (beautiful views), Loch Lomond Arms, The Pierhouse Hotel, The Sheep’s Heid Inn and Inverness’ Foyers Lodge, with its backdrop of pine trees.
So whether you’re looking for a log fire or the cosiest dining room, here are a selection of eight recommendations for the best restaurants to visit in Scotland this autumn.
The Copper Dog
Along with Edinburgh’s Grain Store on Cockburn Street, this pub and restaurant, part of a four-star whisky hotel, is photographer Alexander Baxter’s favourite hang out.
“It’s MADE for autumn”, he says. They’ve got lots of exciting plans this year (watch this space) and have recently had chefs from London restaurants Nobu and Scott’s over to operate a sushi pop-up. If raw fish doesn’t seem right for autumn, maybe you’ll prefer their truffled macaroni cheese with a black pudding crust.
The Craigellachie Hotel, Aberlour, www.craigellachiehotel.co.uk
The Dreel Tavern
This tavern dates back to the 18th century and is full of atmosphere – and probably a few ghosts.
However, it’s not just the indoors that’s cosy. Vikki Wood, co-owner of The Wee Restaurant in Fife, says: “It’s a favourite of ours for outdoor dining, with blankets, hot water bottles and patio heaters.
"It kept us going in the dark winter days. Very friendly service too”.
The menu is hearty, with dishes including Shetland mussels, crab linguine and duck breast with celeriac puree, roasted shallots, raspberries and jus. Maybe it should be renamed The Drool Tavern.
16 High Street West, Anstruther, www.dreeltavern.co.uk
Apparently it’s pretty tricky to get a room at this place, especially at this time of year, when Grandtully is looking especially bonnie.
However, you don’t have to stay over to enjoy their menu, which includes an 8oz rib eye with Balnaguard chanterelles and foraged salsa verde, or a pork chop with dahl, pickled shallot and mustard seeds.
If you’re brave enough to sit outside, there’s a wood-burning stove to keep you warm. After lunch, go next door for a hot chocolate at Iain Burnett, The Highland Chocolatier.
Grandtully, Strathtay, www.ballintaggart.com
“I always enjoy it when the stove is on,” says owner of the Electric Spirit Co, James Porteous.
“I say ‘always’ because it makes it sound like I go all the time. I wish”.
Of course, this restaurant is fab in the summer, but the magic really happens at this time of year, when it gets very hygge, thanks to the textural furnishings, high ceilings and candles.
They have exciting things in the pipeline, with a new chef James Murray at the helm. Expect to see his influence on the menu now, with lots of smoking, interesting cuts of meat, fermenting and pickling.
10 Lady Lawson Street, Edinburgh, www.timberyard.co
The Flying Stag
Get some insulation on your bones with dinner at the bar in The Fife Arms, which just won Independent Hotel of the Year at The Cateys.
It features a ‘flying’ taxidermy stag with ptarmigan’s wings by artist James Prosek. As well as a pudding of sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce, there are main courses of haggis, neeps and tatties with Lochnagar whisky sauce and skirlie, or wood-fired Wark Farm hogget gigot chop with roast tomato, slow cooked peas and green sauce.
And they’ve got a darts board, so you can play autumn’s number one indoor sport.
Mar Road, Braemar, www.thefifearms.com
Gastropubs were made for autumn, especially when it comes to this new venue, with executive chef John Molloy, also of nearby pizza restaurant Nonna Said, at the helm.
“It’s got candles, big leather seats and fab comforting food,” says creative director of Hollicom, Heather Suttie.
They also claim to offer the best fish and chips in Scotland, with a take that features cod dusted in vinegar powder and served alongside tarragon mayo. You can also visit them for a hefty Sunday roast.
363 Argyle Street, Glasgow, www.dukesumbrella.com
“Ask to dine by the fire in the lounge, not the dining room,” says whisky consultant Blair Bowman.
We didn’t know you could do that at this upmarket hotel, with its Chez Roux restaurant, but we love the idea of eating in their plush lounge, where there’s always a fire on the go, and huge sofas that are almost impossible to prise yourself from.
If you’re eating in here, you can order from their bar menu (from noon until 10pm), which includes an Aberdeen Angus Burger and lemon tart for pudding, or the RouXpress Four Course Tasting Plate (available 12-3pm).
Muirfield, Gullane, www.greywalls.co.uk
We can’t be the only masochists who enjoy a walk on a beach in the colder months.
If you’re visiting nearby Elie, to have your hair whipped about and sand blown into your eyes, warm up afterwards at this incredible place.
They have a small lounge area, with a fire, but the dining room is also very couthy (in a stylish sort of way) and they offer cockle-warming dishes including rabbit, smoked bacon and chanterelle pie. If their rice pudding is ever on the menu, we urge you to order it.
Kilconquhar, Fife, www.kinneucharinn.com
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.