Bute Food Journey
Enjoy a gastronomical journey around Bute, an island renowned for its beef and delicious cheese. Follow the food trail around the coastline and discover some amazing eateries serving up the freshest seafood, the tastiest home baking and delicious local, seasonal produce.
Start your food journey in Rothesay, the island’s chief town and a seaside resort brimming with character, cafés and characterful restaurants. There’s lots to see and do here. Don’t miss the Victorian toilets, a masterpiece of marble, ceramics and brass.
Musicker is a wee gem of a café just a few minutes walk from the ferry terminal. The friendly owners love music, so as well as fantastic coffee, cakes, paninis, sandwiches and home-made soups, you’ll also find CDs, music books and guitars and other musical instruments for sale. Brechin’s on Bridgend Street is another eatery for music lovers. This licensed restaurant in the centre of Rothesay is a great place to enjoy wonderful food and drink and live jazz. The tasty menu features local ingredients, such as Isle of Bute Rib Eye Steak Au Poivre with Garlic Butter. Look out for the Jazz Suppers and Sunday Lunch with Jazz.
You’ll find Harry Haws right in the heart of the town, just across the road from the 12th-century moated Rothesay Castle. It’s a brilliant neighbourhood restaurant: warm and cosy with friendly staff serving up wholesome, tasty, homemade food for lunch and dinner. The chef uses local suppliers where possible, and you’ll find Bute beef and local seafood, such as mussels, on the menu. The rolls are made fresh every day by local bakers the Electric Bakery. The burgers are delicious. Try the ‘Tamed’ Boar Burger, a pork burger topped with black pudding and caramelised apple. We’ve heard that the crab cakes, made with local crab meat, are very tasty too! And while you’re there, the castle is also well worth a visit. Check out the circular curtain wall, which is unique in Scotland.
Another local favourite is The Waterfront Bistro, located in a former Victorian chemist’s shop right by the harbourside. It’s a lovely place to grab a light lunch or take your time over an evening meal. You’ll find plenty of locally sourced food on the menu, generous portions and the most fantastic view over the harbour and Rothesay Bay to the Cowal Hills. Follow the smell of fresh baking to The Electric Bakery on Montague Street. Bute’s only bakery also has a café serving up a selection of good old fashioned cakes and pies. Try an empire biscuit with your cup of tea or a Scotch Pie with your chips. Perfect for a rainy day!
There are several Zavaroni cafés and takeaways in Rothesay, all owned by different members of the Zavaroni family, offering a mix of fish and chips, pies and – most importantly – ice-cream that is to die for. Try Café Zavaroni just opposite the ferry terminal. The Kettledrum Café is another good place to grab a bite to eat when you get off the ferry.
Mount Stuart and Ettrick Bay
From Rothesay, follow the A844 coastal road south to Mount Stuart, a spectacular neo-gothic house set amidst acres of lush woodland. It’s open from March to October and is a fabulous place to spend an afternoon. You’ll find a number of eating options there. Enjoy an afternoon tea in the upper floor of the Mount Stuart Visitor Centre and take in the panoramic views over the gardens and across the Firth of Clyde. You can even make it a sparkling one with the addition of Prosecco! The Courtyard Tea Room, housed in what was the coal sculleries, serves up lovely cakes and sandwiches. If you prefer to picnic in the grounds, just ask for a cool bag.
When you’re ready to move on, make time for a wee drive around the island. The A844 will take you south and loop you up the west coast of Bute via Stravanay, Ambrismore, Meikle and Kilmory and will return you to Rothesay via Port Bannatyne.
But first you need to make a short detour via the B875 to Ettrick Bay on the west coast. The beach is about a mile long and is the perfect place for a walk and – if it’s sunny – a paddle in the clear waters. When you’ve worked up a decent appetite, head inside for tea and cake at Ettrick Bay Tearoom. Tuck into some delicious home-baking (the meringues are sensational) and enjoy the views over the bay to Arran.
Double back along the B875 and pick up the A844 again. If you have time, the Port Inn in Port Bannatyne, just a few miles north of Rothesay, is a great wee welcoming pub offering good, home-cooked fare such as mince and tatties and fish pie. The beer garden is a top spot to enjoy an ale or two on a sunny day. It’s popular with sailors and locals alike. If you’re sailing, the Port Inn is just a 250m walk from the pontoons at Port Bannatyne Marina.
From here make your way back Rothesay.