A Chef’s Guide To Ross-shire

By Ellie Smith

4 months ago

The best places to eat and drink in the Scottish region

Bordering Sutherland on one side and Inverness-shire on the other, Ross-shire is one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. The region is home to a variety of different landscapes: from the fishing village of Ullapool to the spa town of Strathpeffer, plus the picturesque coastline and beaches of Gairloch and Gruinard. This means there’s an abundance of great produce, which is put to good use across the county’s many food spots. Here local chef David Smith, who currently heads up the kitchen at restaurant-with-rooms The Dipping Lugger in Ullapool, shares his recommendations for the best restaurants in Ross-shire.

David Smith

David Smith, head chef at The Dipping Lugger

Chef David Smith began his culinary career as a kitchen porter in Inverness, going on to work at Café Number One under Norman MacDonald MBE. He spent time in a string of top kitchens, including Le Gavroche and Boath House in Nairn, before joining the team at The Dipping Lugger in 2019. In 2022, the restaurant attained three AA rosettes, alongside a listing in the Michelin Guide a year later. David and his team are inspired by cuisines from all over the world, focusing on local ingredients – including scallops from the Loch Broom just outside the restaurant window, and game from just three miles away.

Best Restaurants & Food Spots In Ross-shire: David Smith’s Pick

Highland Liquor Company Bottle Shop, Ullapool

A great little shop in our village, just around the corner from us. Very well stocked with an abundance of predominantly Scottish spirits and beers, and wines from around the world – and home to their award winning Seven Crofts gin, exactly what you need after a long day. 

26 W Argyle St, Ullapool IV26 2TY, highlandliquorcompany.com

Rocpool Restaurant, Inverness

Fantastic food cooked by the team and fronted by owner Steven Devlin (an ex-chef himself), using local, seasonal produce, served in a stunning restaurant on the River Ness. The restaurant has two rosettes and never disappoints, definitely a must if you’re in the area.

1 Ness Walk, Inverness IV3 5NE, rocpoolrestaurant.com

Dalmore Farm, Alness

A personal favourite place to go for me as it has a brilliant selection of local vegetables and meats and has a wonderful cafe on the side too (the cakes are to die for). 

Dalmore Farm, Alness IV17 0UX, dalmorefarm.co.uk

Sutor Creek, Cromarty

Set on the shores overlooking the Cromarty Firth, this family-run restaurant offers beautiful food to sit in or takeaway. A particular favourite is the beer battered haddock with hand cut chips. 

21 Bank St, Cromarty IV11 8YE, sutorcreek.co.uk

George Cockburn & Son Butcher, Dingwall

The butcher that we use at the restaurant and also Scotland’s first ever haggis champion and black pudding, which are on our breakfast menus. The steak pies are brilliant too.

21 Bridgend Ave, Dingwall IV15 9PZ, cockburns-haggis.co.uk

The Dipping Lugger

The Dipping Lugger

Cheese and Tomatin, Inverness

Staggeringly wonderful woodfired pizzas (it’s named after the village where the owner lives). It’s got a super cosy room upstairs called the snug that I would highly recommend trying to book and trying the ‘scotch’ pizza.

10 Stephens Brae, Inverness IV2 3JN, cheeseandtomatin.com

The Storehouse, Foulis Ferry

The storehouse is known for its wonderful location, sitting on Cromarty Firth, and the cheese selection is a highlight, offering a diverse array of local produce including a brilliant cider from the local Novar Estate. 

Foulis Ferry, Evanton, Dingwall IV16 9UX, thestorehouse.scot

Connage Highland Dairy, Ardersier, Inverness

Makers of award-winning organic cheeses on their farm just outside Inverness, which also has an incredible cheese shop on the farm, stocking an incredible selection of cheeses from across Scotland, the rest of the United Kingdom and even Europe.

Milton of Connage, Ardersier, Inverness IV2 7QU, connage.co.uk

Find David at thedippinglugger.co.uk