Skye must hold some sort of a World record for number of quality eating establishments per head of population – we visit Skye regularly and are never stuck for places to dine. We have had the pleasure of experiencing chef Michael Smith’s cooking skills when he was head chef at the Three Chimney’s and when we had lunch at his own Loch Bay restaurant. His recent Michelin star prompted us to return recently for a taste of his dinner menu.
The restaurant is located on the stunning Waternish peninsula near the end of the row of whitewashed buildings that is the village of Stein. We were warmly welcomed back by the lovely Graeme Creamer who heads up a front of house team that deliver the perfect level of service – relaxed, knowledgable and passionate about their restaurant. There is a choice of a five-course fruits de mer menu for £65 and a three-course dinner menu for £39.50. I have a mollusc allergy so we went for the former although Graeme did valiantly offer to make a few substitutions that I’m sure would have had chef rolling his eyes.
Time for nibbling
A bowl of crunchy oatmeal coated mussels and herrings appeared for Donnie to nibble on while chef managed to rustle up some moreish Panisse with an aioli dip for me. You won’t starve here and next to arrive at our table was some crusty homemade bread and scones with a dish of comforting smoked mackerel and crowdie pate. The staff create a lively buzz and relaxed atmosphere finding time to chat with everyone that wants to while still managing to deliver exceptional service.
After an enjoyable nibble-fest, our starters arrived, and I have to confess to coveting Donnie’s pot-roasted partridge with choucroute and spiced bacon. The sharp tang and crunch of the cabbage worked well with the delicate creaminess of the bird. My starter was a colourful mixture of beetroot, Glendale salad leaves with horseradish and topped off with a perfectly soft croft hens egg and some crunchy breadcrumbs.
Donnie’s main of chargrilled venison haunch, seasonal vegetables and brambles was like an ode to Autumn – a delicious feast of Scottish produce on a plate. Everything about this dish was perfect and encapsulates Loch Bay’s ethos of using seasonal local produce to give diners a memorable eating experience.
My hake was plump and beautifully cooked served with delicate feathers of local crab in a glistening pool of sauce. The ribbons of fennel gave everything a lovely warmth that made this another satisfying dish.
We could have shared a spectacular assiette de desserts but decided to have one each for the sake of research purposes. For the record, my favourite was the poached plum lightly sozzled in port and topped with the sour creaminess of crowdie and flaked almonds – delicious. Not far behind was the iced toddy parfait with crunchy honeyed oats although the chocolate and amaretti delice also drew gasps of pleasure. I saved the apple and mixed berry sorbet with calvados jelly as a refreshing end to a dessert-lovers shangri-la.
Loch Bay thoroughly deserve their star not only for their food and first class service but also for giving diners a fantastic showcase of Scottish produce. If you are visiting Skye then you should add it to your itinerary as a must-do – you won’t be disappointed.
To book a table:
Loch Bay Restaurant
1 Macleods Terrace,
Stein, Isle of Skye,
Tel: 01470 592235