Gourmets from across the globe visit Argyll and the Isles to experience the region’s incredible food and drink. From the freshest seafood to traditional delicacies, world-class distilleries to venison from the hills, there’s a huge array of delicious local produce on offer. What’s more there are countless restaurants and cafés serving up this fine fayre. Some of these are just a hop and a skip from Glasgow. Escape the city, enjoy stunning scenery and treat yourself to an Argyll culinary experience – all in a day from Glasgow.
Luss Seafood Bar
The pretty conservation village of Luss is just a 30-minute drive from Glasgow. It’s a hugely scenic location, sitting on the banks of Loch Lomond. And right at the heart of the village you’ll find Luss Seafood Bar, a fabulous restaurant serving up the finest selection of Scottish seafood alongside fresh seasonal produce. The menu features beech-smoked salmon produced in the village by Luss Smokehouse. Take a short walk up to the smokehouse to watch the fish-smoking in action and buy smoked salmon and trout from the shop.
Bute is Argyll’s most accessible island. It’s easily reached from the Central Belt of Scotland and makes an excellent day trip from Glasgow. Hop on the train at Glasgow and you’ll be in Wemyss Bay in around 50 minutes. From here, the ferry crossing to Rothesay on Bute takes about 45 minutes. You’ll find loads of great options for eating, but for something really special head south to Mount Stuart, an incredible 19th-century manor house. Bute Kitchen at Mount Stuart has lots of lovely Bute produce on the menu, including meat from Macqueen’s butcher, smoked fish from Ritchie’s and ice cream from Zavaroni’s. Work up an appetite with a stroll through the glorious gardens.
the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar & Restaurant
For seafood fresh from the loch, you can’t beat the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. Sitting at the head of Loch Fyne on the Cowal Peninsula, this seafood restaurant is just over an hour’s drive from Glasgow via the famous Rest and Be Thankful mountain pass. Loch Fyne Oysters produces seafood in the loch, as well as smoking fish on site, all of which is served up in the beautiful restaurant. Feast on local seafood, from oysters straight out of the clear water of Loch Fyne to Loch Fyne kippers. Just up the road is Fyne Ales, where you can take a brewery tour and buy beer as well as beef from the estate’s Highland cows to take home.
For world-class dining, a trip to Inver on Lachlan Bay is a must. It will take a little longer to get there – it’s about an hour and a half from Glasgow – but it’s well worth the effort. Voted among the ‘Top 5 seafood restaurants on the UK coast’ by Condé Nast Traveller, you’ll find stunning dishes on the menu, featuring lots of local seafood, meat and game. Enjoy a simple lunch of fresh seafood and home-made sourdough bread for lunch. For dinner it’s a fixed, four course menu of modern, creative Scottish cooking. There’s also the option to stay over – Inver offers luxury bothy accommodation.
The fishing port of Oban, known as ‘Scotland’s Seafood Capital,’ is a fantastic foodie day trip from Glasgow. The train journey from Glasgow to Oban, part of the scenic West Highland Line, takes around three hours. Oban is packed with great places to eat and drink. Take a stroll to Oban’s South Pier, where you’ll find one of the town’s top fish restaurants, the Waterfront Fishouse. Treat yourself to fish and shellfish landed at the quay just a few metres away. Feast on a plate of oysters from nearby Loch Creran, try some Isle of Mull scallops or a seafood taster platter. For exceptionally fresh seafood try Oban’s famous Green Shack on the CalMac Pier. It’s an al fresco dining and takeaway-only shack serving up sensational seafood platters.
Hop on the train at Glasgow’s Queen Street and in just 45 minutes you’ll be in the beautiful Argyll town of Helensburgh. It’s got a thriving food culture and is home to some excellent restaurants. Head up to Sugar Boat on Colquhoun Square in the heart of the town. This relaxed, informal neighbourhood bistro offers fabulous food in a warm and welcoming environment. There’s plenty to see and do in Helensburgh for the day, including the fascinating Scottish Submarine Museum. You could grab some fish and chips from the Wee Kelpie before catching the train home.
The Georgian town of Inveraray is around an hour and a half’s drive from Glasgow and offers a choice of great places to eat. Samphire, a small seafood restaurant at the south end of the town, has made quite a name for itself. The chef prides himself on serving up the freshest seafood, letting the main element of each dish shine through without over shadowing the delicate flavours. The grade A listed building has been lovingly renovated. Make sure you visit Inveraray Jail and Inveraray Castle while you’re in town.