eat out inverness

Fig & Thistle – An Inverness Beauty

When we first moved back, there was a prosecco and tapas bar on Stephens brae that we never got to try before it shut down. It’s not the first time that somewhere closed down here before I got to it and it makes me want to throw my toys out of the pram. But then Fig & Thistle opened where the prosecco bar once was and happiness was restored. The restaurant has zoomed up to the top of my favourites list so much that this isn’t the first time I’ve written about it, read the other time here. It’s well deserved though, and that post is over two years old. We were in for a birthday dinner but it’s worth noting that they have a lunch menu with mains around the £8 mark.

For starters, both were chosen from the specials menu. Smoked haddock croquettes with accompanying aioli and pickles were lovely. The croquettes themselves were cooked well, a nice crunch but not overdone. The aioli and capers/pickles lifted the whole thing up and my only request would be a little more fish in them. This is the second time I’ve had them so they are winners for me.

The specials board had a seafood risotto that sounded amazing and they very kindly made a similar one as a starter portion for us. I’ve had risotto in here a few times and the chefs make the most gorgeous risottos that I’ve ever eaten, it’s such a strength of theirs so look out for them on the menu. This was the highlight of the meal by far and when we got home we were still trying to figure out how they got the mussels to taste so charred! Beautiful prawns and mussels, little sweet scallops with the creamiest of risottos, it was perfection.

For mains, I chose another dish from the specials board – duck breast with figs, crispy potatoes and jus. The duck was soft, the figs had been dried to intensify their sweetness and the potatoes had a fantastic crunch to them. It was served with a curried purée that gave the dish a splendid warmth. Another winner.

The only dish chosen from the main menu was sirloin steak au poivre. The steak was cooked exactly as ordered and came with a silky, creamy sauce. The homemade chips were crunchy and fluffy inside, and the veg was expertly cooked.

Now, by the time dessert arrived I’d forgotten about taking photos so there are none. Could be something to do with the wine (Chardonnay then Malbec-both highly recommended) but hey-ho, it was my last day as a twenty one year old (ish…and a bit more). The creme brûlée and mango cheesecake were both moreish and solid good cooking. A great way to finish the meal.

I almost breath a sigh of relief when one of my favourites is still as good on a return visit, and Fig & Thistle always step up to the plate. It has a relaxing, informal atmosphere that puts you at ease and dishes that are accomplished and flavoursome.

I’d love to see them change the a la carte menu as it hasn’t changed much since opening, but the specials board always contains some gems.

From a selfish point of view, I’m so glad that Fig & Thistle opened up here. If you couldn’t tell already, it’s a good place in my eyes. Other people that I’ve spoken to have said the same so it’s nice to hear that they have been welcomed to Sneck with open arms. I hope they’ll stay!

Price point: starters around £6-7

Mains around £15-20


How Contrasting Was Contrast?

Let me set the scene; it was lashing down with rain, stormy and cold, the streets were pretty empty. We practically ran from the High Street along the river to Contrast Brasserie in the upscale Glenmoriston Hotel. A friendly man greeted us at reception and took our coats before whisking us off to the warm, inviting & cosy restaurant. There’s nothing better than escaping a cold, wet night. It was an encouraging start to our meal at Contrast.

The dining room is beautiful – rich, warm tones made us feel relaxed in our surroundings.

The pre-theatre menu had four starter choices but we both opted for pate based on the fact that we’d never make it at home. It was served with granary bread (only one slice but the staff were pro-active in offering more), apricot chutney and dressed leaves. I like a bit of salad with my pate so I was happy. The pate itself needed seasoning and perhaps some herbs or something to lift it.


Loin of pork, caramelised watermelon, pont neuf potatoes & mustard sauce was overcooked for our taste. The watermelon didn’t blend with the dish & the caramelisation was lost on us but the potatoes were lovely. A mixed bag really.


My seabream fillet with green olive & herb potato cake, saffron espana and chorizo oil sounded amazing. The fish was cooked well – the skin wasn’t crispy but I never eat the skin anyway. I just wanted more flavour – seasoning on the fish before cooking, more olives & herbs in the potato, more chorizo oil (or the fish cooked in it) and more saffron espana. The espana was like a foam so melted as I was eating.


There were two waitresses on and they seemed to be helping each other to ensure a successful service. We couldn’t help but listen in as the table next to us wanted to taste the steak sauce before ordering it. She explained that they use the meat juices during cooking to make it but he wasn’t happy. They had already been difficult with her & I really wanted to step in. Never off duty!

The sticky toffee sundae with meringue, caramel sauce and chantilly cream was nice.


My chocolate fondant (not on the pre-theatre menu) had the richness that it should and I enjoyed it.


The dining room decor and the service were both spot on but the flavours were too delicate for our palates. Their website states that they use simple flavours – it is on brief in a way but I wanted the simple flavours to sing.

Have you been to Contrast? What did you think? Comment below…

Sundaes On Monday In Rocpool

If I was choosing one restaurant in Inverness that people speak most highly about, it would have to be Rocpool on Ness Walk. It has gone from strength to strength since the Pieraccini’s opened it in 2002, had an owner change and has now cemented its status as one of the city’s finest. We went a little over a year ago & were served the best mussels in chorizo I’ve had so we were confident in our choice.

Eating early, we took advantage of the pre-theatre menu. 2 courses for £16.95 is more than I’m used to for a pre-theatre menu so they were setting the bar high from the start.

On entry were greeted by who I would say is probably the owner and were made to feel comfortable. He stopped for a chat then got the night kicked off with a Caorunn.

Not wanting to fill myself up, I chose the salad option for starter. The menu described it as ‘fresh pear and pecorino cheese salad with minted broad beans and lemon’. Mint in a salad used to scare me but Jamie Oliver has recently sorted that out, phew. The salad was well balanced with the right ratio of leaves to the creamy cheese, sweet pear and fresh broad beans. I could have eaten a whole plate of those broad beans.


Mr S tried the scrambled egg and crab on toast with cress and spring onion creme fraiche on a recommendation from his dad. He was very happy. It’s such a simple but great idea & they executed it pretty perfectly.


For main course I was between the seabream and steak tagliata but eventually chose steak because Mr S was having it and I thought I’d get jealous. The description of ‘Scotch rump steak ‘tagliata’ style carved pink over fresh rocket leaves, fine beans and butter roasted new potatoes with salsa rosso and lime’ definitely sounded worth the two pound supplement, we thought we were getting a bargain. The potatoes were delicious – well cooked, seasoned and flavoursome. The rocket could have done with lots of salsa rosso through it to add zing. The meat was too chewy for me and I left more than half of it. I was surprised that Mr S found it chewy because he likes tasty cuts of fibrous beef like hanger. The meat portion size was far too big for either of us and we’d have preferred more quality over quantity in this case. Not one to order again but I saw other tables with the seabream and haddock and it looked nice.


Since the main was a flop, I was having a dessert (like I need an excuse). We decided on the homemade honeycomb ice-cream with popcorn and hot chocolate sauce. Let’s just say that this was a star indulgent dish from Rocpool. It was like an elegant version of an American style sundae. I wanted to lick the glass.


I have to mention the toilets! Very plush looking sink area, clean toilets and they are unisex. Was very strange going into the toilet at the same time a man did, and doing my lipstick next to a gent washing his hands but I got used to it.


The service, wine, atmosphere, starters and dessert were all getting top marks so, although neither of us liked the main course, we still want to come back soon. We’ll maybe do one more pre-theatre before parting with our a la carte pounds but we’re sure we’ll be won over by it.

A Song In Little Italy

I’m a big fan of Italian food, whether it be traditional or modern style. A traditional Italian restaurant should have charm, Italian owners and red checkered tablecloths (cliché as it sounds). Little Italy on Stephen’s Brae has all of the above. It has been in Inverness for a few years but I had never got around to trying it so a few months ago – before the hectic move – we visited this tiny venue.


Little Italy restaurant sits next door to Little Italy Tapas & Prosecco Bar, where we almost went for lunch. I was peckish for a pizza so we saved tapas for another day.

As we are big sharers, we ordered a pizza and a pasta between us. The pasta was Linguine Salsicia Italiana but we swapped the linguine for penne. The pasta was slightly more cooked than al dente but it was flavoursome. I’m a total Italian sausage lover (why we put breadcrumbs and things in our sausages is beyond me) so this was always going to be a hit with me. A bit of parmesan or grana padano and the sweet tomatoes are lifted immediately.


The ‘Brindisi’ pizza that we chose had similar ingredients to the pasta but why change a winning formula? The normal tomato & mozzarella base was accompanied by mascarpone, onion, peppers, chillies, spicy Italian sausage and rocket. I’m getting better with how much spice I can take so even had some of the chilli, Mr S is at last converting me. Even although there was both mozzarella and mascarpone, they hadn’t overdone the cheese. The toppings were tasty and the rocket gave a leafy lightness with a peppery hit.


Whilst we were waiting for an affogato to share, the Italian restaurant owner broke into song in the dining room! I’ve been told since that this is a regular occurrence and, as surreal as it was, I liked it. It’s the kind of thing that in most places could have gone either way but Little Italy manage it.


The affogato arrived in a martini glass with three big scoops of vanilla ice-cream and the shot of espresso poured over. It was nice, I was distracted (and clapping) by the singing man, and the meal had been a success. Somewhere I would return to for sure.

Lunchy Munchy At La Tortilla Asesina

Finding your feet in a new city can be hard – even if you’ve lived there before a million moons ago. You get lost and you don’t have favourite places to go, it’s a blank canvas. Exciting but unfamiliar and my control freak side hates the thought of giving somewhere rubbish my money.
Luckily we seem to be off the starting block by finding somewhere that has convenient opening hours, is near to work and that we feel welcomed and at ease in. La Tortilla Asesina on Castle Street is a Spanish tapas restaurant that also has a bar area. A wee post-work glass of vino with some Spanish ham is my idea of bliss so you can see why we’ve been a few times.
Last week after a mortgage appointment (yes, we are hopefully getting our house!) we felt like a celebratory lunch so ended up in La Tortilla Asesina.


We have actually been here twice before in the last few years and the first time didn’t think much of it. The menu was massive and I think they were doing too many mediocre dishes – definitely quantity over quality. But the last time we visited before we moved up the road, they seem to have streamlined things and concentrate on doing more with less dishes.

(Love their sense of humour!)

I’ll get my bugbear out of the way first – when you google this place no website comes up and their Facebook didn’t have any menu handy that I could see. Websites are expensive so I understand why small businesses don’t always have them but if they don’t then a pinned post of their menu on Facebook or regular photos of it (and on Twitter) then I often don’t go to places. Going to a new restaurant is all about reeling you in but La Tortilla is putting no bait out.

So it was unsurprisingly quiet on the Wednesday lunchtime that we visited. They do a fantastic lunch deal with two tapas for £5 that we didn’t know about – why they are not screaming about this on social media I don’t know.

Mr S and I shared a selection of dishes and they gave us free bread too. My first choice was chipirones – fried tiny baby squid. I would never have ordered this before but my father in-law loves it and after trying his I’m hooked. Chipirones just seems to have so much more flavour than calamari and less rubber to it – more like little fishy, salty bites. They were lovely and crunchy – a definite high point.


We had a prawn dish each because Mr S wanted the battered prawns with garlic mayo and I wanted the Gambas pil pil. He was happy with his prawns and I was enjoying mine. A little more chilli and garlic wouldn’t have gone amiss but they were still good.


Our meat choice was pollo chisporroteante, which is sizzling chicken strips marinated in mojo sauce and fried with onions and peppers. It was yummy! Full of flavour, the chicken wasn’t dry and the oily pan sauce was perfect for mopping up with bread.


We had patatas bravas to accompany the meat and the ‘chips’ were soft in the middle but golden on the outside. The sauce is usually spicy but this lacked flavour.


A tomato salad finished our selection of goodies well and provided some much needed veg.


We left after lunch with full bellies and contented smiles… I think we’ve got our first favourite.

Life Begins At 30

A couple of months ago I posted on Girl Around Glasgow that I was moving back up to Inverness – that was an emotional day!

I’m now in Inverness, very behind on Glasgow blog posts with all the craziness of moving and trying to get Highland Foodie started.

You can find the latest mention for Girl Around Glasgow here.

I thought that I’d start Highland Foodie with a wee introduction and thank you to everyone who has followed my blogging journey so far. I enjoy it and it is a bit of escapism for me so I hope that you like it too. Girl Around Glasgow is still staying for now but I also need your support for this site so enter your e-mail on the right and get an e-mail every time I post on here. You won’t get spam and I don’t post that often so it is not a big commitment.

For those who don’t know me, I grew up in Inverness and moved away to Glasgow to study at 18 years old. I’m now 30, and ready to come home and settle. Many things about Inverness remain the same (my parents still live in the same house) but the restaurants & cafes have changed a lot so there’s plenty to explore. The social media presence is less vocal in the Highlands & it’s much more difficult to find the good ones so tell me your favourites.

This week our Glasgow flat is officially sold and no longer ours. I feel teary every time I think about it even though I know it is the right long-term decision. We have offered on a house up here so fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly or my folks are stuck with us forever. It’s tempting because we are being very well looked after! Work has taken up more hours than I care to mention since the move but we’ve fitted in a few treats including drinks and tapas at La Tortilla Asesina & dinner at Rocpool. I also have lunch at Little Italy to write about as well as my girly weekend in Aberdeen.


My current ‘to go to’ list in the Highlands includes Cafe 1, The Mustard Seed, River House, River Cafe and McGonagall’s as well as a few coffee and cake cafes. If you know of any others that you think I’d like then please comment below or email – I want to find all of the best places. I’m also looking for the best food suppliers… who sells the freshest fish, the meatiest charcuterie, where can I buy fresh farm eggs and where do I find special occasion meat?