Although the weather in Scotland can sometimes make it challenging, the incredible scenery of the country means it is still the ideal place to dine outdoors. You’re almost guaranteed a pretty view wherever you are in Scotland, and it will always be interesting at the very least. Whether you’re visiting the highlands, the cities, or the islands, there are some amazing restaurants in Scotland that offer unusual and beautiful outdoor dining. With some unique and varied menus, offering traditional Scottish dishes and food from all over the world, you can enjoy a hearty, healthy, or decadent meal in beautiful surroundings and with exceptional views. Here are eight restaurants in Scotland where you can dine outside in singular style.
1. The Ivy, Edinburgh
Located in the heart of the city yet tucked away from the main streets, The Ivy on the Square overlooks St Andrew’s Square, one of the most prestigious locations in Edinburgh. The Ivy is synonymous with excellence, and the position of the restaurant in Edinburgh makes it extra special. Diners can enjoy showstopping food while taking in the sites, including the Melville Monument, and the general busyness of Scotland’s capital. The Ivy transforms their outdoor seating areas during various campaigns throughout the year providing a unique experience for guests. This summer, dine outside at the Ivy in Edinburgh and enjoy their “Summer of Love” vibe, celebrating everyone’s favorite season through a floral paradise complete with a two-seater love swing. The Ivy also has a restaurant in Glasgow, so you can eat out and feel the love in both cities.
I love the brunch menu at The Ivy. It contains so many unusual dishes, which for brunch especially, is pretty unique. The rabbit and langoustine pie is something you don’t often see on a brunch menu, and a must-try while you’re there.
2. Banchory Lodge, Aberdeenshire
The beautiful Banchory Lodge in Aberdeenshire has a quirky outdoor dining area. Their “Sitooterie,” which for anyone not familiar with Scottish pronunciations means “sit-out-ery,” is a lovely cozy outdoor space with tables and chairs and booths in beach huts. The brightly painted sheds have been transformed into cozy private dining spaces, bringing a taste of the beach to this grand lodge. Opened last year, the sitooterie offers diners the chance to enjoy delicious drinks and sharing platters in a number of these colorful sheds, all of which are named after fish found in the neighboring River Dee. It’s a really unusual addition to Banchory Lodge that brings a whole new character to the outdoor dining area.
If you like a steak, the Himalayan salt-aged cote de boeuf is something not to be missed. For dessert, the orange and chocolate mousse paired with one of the “pudding wines and ports” is just wonderful.
3. Nick’s At Port Of Menteith, Stirling
Owned by celebrity chef, Nick Nairn, Nick’s at Port of Menteith has a stunning outdoor space. The restaurant’s glass-fronted dining room looks out onto the picturesque, landscaped garden complete with raised beds of fruit, vegetables, and herbs that are all used in the kitchen. It has a garden party feel to it, and each individual table and chairs has its own little patio and pergola, bringing you a sense of private dining within the garden. The space is also fitted with festoon lights making it the perfect sunshine spot for countryside al fresco dining.
Try Paul’s Pizza while you’re at Nick’s for a crispier, thinner pizza made the traditional Italian way. Chef Paul has come up with the crispiest pizza base you’re likely to find anywhere in Scotland, and it makes for a tasty, textured pizza experience.
4. The Ship Inn, Fife
With stunning views over Elie Bay in Fife, The Ship Inn is one of Scotland’s most beautiful settings for a staycation weekend, a casual drink with friends, a barbecue on the beachside terrace, or a delicious sit-down meal. The restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner in its restaurant, pub, and beer garden, using seasonal Scottish dishes created by head chef Mateusz Majeur. The beach view is one of the best in Scotland, and in the summertime, you can expect to see a game of beach cricket taking place — the only place in the UK to do this — hosted by The Ship Inn. The outdoor dining area is right by the sea and is covered by a canopy edged with lanterns.
Try the beer-battered haddock and chips. There’s no better place to eat fish and chips than by the sea, and at the Ship Inn, you have the beach right beside you while you enjoy this traditional fish dish.
5. The Bridge Inn, Ratho
This award winning gastro pub is situated on the banks of the Union Canal in Ratho, just 7 miles west of Edinburgh. The Bridge Inn is a community pub with rooms at the heart of the village. Head Chef Tyler King prides himself on producing delicious, locally-sourced food using vegetables grown in the pub’s own walled garden by in-house gardener David, as well as home-bred pork, which is perfect for pork crackling. The outdoor terrace is a great spot to watch the world go by. The terrace overlooks the river, where riverboats amble by, and has a view of “the bridge.” In the summer you can expect selected seasonal menus and fresh cocktails on offer.
As well as the usual bar menu, The Bridge Inn has recently opened an evenings only restaurant within the inn, called Bridge Fifteen. The duck breast with pickled pear is especially good.
6. Atholl Arms, Dunkeld
Atholl Arms has a lovely spot just over the bridge into Dunkeld. It’s a traditional inn turned boutique hotel, and the views of the bridge from the hotel are very atmospheric. They have an intimate restaurant inside the hotel, but nip over the road to their outdoor terrace and you can have lunch or dinner right next to the river. This feels like authentic dining alfresco, with wooden picnic benches on a terrace next to uninterrupted views of the water flowing by. It’s a beautiful spot, and the terrace has a well-stocked bar, so you can stay and take your time over a drink. This is also a dog-friendly hotel, so after dining outside you can take your dog inside with you too.
The seafood basket is incredible, large, and full of seafood bites. If you’re vegetarian and vegan, Atholl Arms has a really impressive choice in vegan dishes, some of the most varied options I’ve seen.
7. The Azalea, Glasshouse And Bothy Restaurant, Glenapp Castle
Glenapp Castle is a grand Victorian castle once owned by the Earl of Orkney. It’s now a stunning country hotel, which still retains many of its original features. The restaurant at the castle is perfect for outdoor dining. Guests can sit outside The Bothy, which overlooks the azalea pond, or enjoy views of the walled garden from outside the glasshouse. The Victorian glasshouse sits inside the walled garden, separate from the rest of the castle, and feels intimate and private. The restaurant opens onto the outdoor terrace seamlessly, bringing the indoors out and the outdoors in.
Guests can even enjoy outdoor dining on Glenapp Castle’s Hebridean Sea Safari. The Hebridean Sea Safari includes two nights exploring the Scottish coastline and two nights at the celebrated Scottish castle. Guests can also choose to take a more bespoke trip by including more nights along the coastline. With all the comforts of Glenapp Castle, guests travel with a professional crew who, not only look after them, but also take them on an adventure towards remote islands, coastal castles, and distant inns. What’s more, a private chef joins the team on board to cook up sumptuous feasts along the way, with goodies such as lobster, oysters, indulgent racks of lamb, and mackerel. These ambrosial delicacies are fresh and delicious and are exactly what guests need on this boating adventure.
8. Chez Roux Restaurant, Cromlix Hotel, Dunblane
Chez Roux at Cromlix Hotel gives you beautiful outdoor dining with a quirky element. The wrought iron tables and chairs out on the terrace at this historic hotel are delicate and pretty, and the lawn that stretches out in front of them is lush and speaks of summertime. But as you sit down to enjoy your meal, you might notice something intriguing on the lawn. There, ready for you to play if you can, is a giant chess board complete with giant pieces. Chez Roux, run by Michel Roux Jnr, offers the kind of fine dining you’d expect from this chef dynasty, and set in such unique surroundings, it’s an experience in outdoor dining. The country house setting seems to make everything taste like summer, no matter what the weather is doing.
The butter roasted Perthshire venison is locally sourced and served with an unusual peanut crumble. Finish with the warm dark chocolate fondant with clotted cream ice cream, and make sure to have a Bellini in the bar.
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