Everyone knows the weather in Scotland is unpredictable at best, cold and wet at worst. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent many beautiful blue sky sunny days in Scotland, but you have to expect some rain and, depending on what time of year you visit, some snow and some cold conditions. But having traveled around Scotland a lot in winter, I’ve found a few upsides to the cold. And one of them is staying cozy inside with a good meal while a real fire roars away beside you.
They’re some of the simple joys in life, a real fire and excellent food, and they’re best enjoyed when it’s cold outside. I’ve picked out some lovely restaurants in Scotland for cozying up next to a fireplace. Some I’ve been to myself like Mara, and some I’ve yet to visit, like The Restaurant at Hotel Du Vin, Glasgow. Here are five cozy restaurants with a fireplace to experience in Scotland.
1. Bistro Du Vin
I love eating somewhere with a bit of history. Bistro Du Vin is found on The Royal Mile in the old town of Edinburgh, right in the middle of the action, and it was once a poorhouse, then an asylum. It’s a historic building and many of its original features are still there, including a beautiful old fireplace. On cold evenings you can enjoy a meal and a drink here while someone stokes the real fire in the fireplace.
You can imagine its former life, but this restaurant is a world away from a poorhouse now. There’s a very traditional-looking bar, but the bistro serves homemade French food, making this a very interesting place to eat. If you like historic buildings and restaurants with intriguing pasts, you can spend hours inspecting the walls, ceilings, staircases, and fittings for evidence of this restaurant’s history.
What to Order At Bistro Du Vin
I’m not super experienced in French food, but I was surprised to see some really good vegetarian and vegan options on the menu here. You can’t go wrong with the freshly baked sourdough baguette to start; French bread is always amazing. The white bean and vegan merguez sausage cassoulet is so good — whether you’re vegan or not. For meat eaters, the duck, pork belly, and sausage cassoulet is the one I’d go for.
The dessert menu is compact, but it does have a chocolate mousse with crème Chantilly and a vegan chocolate and banana mousse. Chocolate mousse is enjoying a moment this year, so I’d definitely pick one of those. The wine list is a reasonable size, not too long to be overwhelming, but more than enough choice. I choose the Beaujolais, which is a really good mid-priced wine that goes great with the cassoulets.
2. The Bonnie Beastie
A traditional pub with a wood-burning stove and cozy armchairs, The Bonnie Beastie was formerly the Red Lion pub before it was refurbished last year and reopened with its new name and whole new look. The pub was always called “the beastie” by locals anyway, though I’m not sure why, so the new owners made a good move in running with the name. It’s been transformed from a no-frills village pub to a smart and elegant gastro pub. It’s still a cozy place to eat and it still has the wood-burning stove, it just has more modern interiors and décor now.
What to Order At The Bonnie Beastie
As we’re in Scotland, the Speyside haggis sausage rolls with a whisky sauce has to be the starter. The seafood is especially good here, so for the main dish, I recommend the Scottish sea trout filet with smashed tatties and a tasty parsley pesto dressing. The Bonnie Beastie has really moved away from its former regular pub vibe and now serves some great cocktails along with the revised food menu. The salted caramel espresso martini is an espresso martini with extra caramel flavor and is really like a dessert!
It’s not only the roaring fire in the centerpiece fireplace that makes Mara restaurant in Dornoch cozy, it’s also the sea hushing on the shore outside and the stunning night sky. It feels cozy in Mara all year round, with candlelight and low-level music, but on cold evenings with the waves reminding you of the wind and the rain outside, it’s even cozier. The restaurant at Links House, right by the golf course, Mara is a relaxing place to nurse a whisky before dinner and then spend some time in the bar after your meal with amazing views over the landscape.
What To Order At Mara
Mara serves a six-course meal, including a pre-starter and petit fours to finish, so make sure you’re hungry when you arrive. This is fine dining in a luxurious setting, and the evening meal is more of an event than just a meal. Be prepared to take your time over your meal and be prepared to be here a while; it’s well worth the time it takes. The menu is seasonal, so it may differ depending on when you visit, but I chose the vegetable scotch broth to start and the venison as a main course.
For dessert, if you like a cheese board, this one is especially good. It includes pickled walnuts that were worth it alone, they are so good. There’s a very extensive wine list and the sommelier is very knowledgeable so can advise you on which pairs best with your food. I’ve never forgotten the Chilean Casa Marin sauvignon blanc I had here.
Pineapple restaurant is located in Meldrum house, an 800-year-old manor house, now a luxury hotel and restaurant. When it comes to dining at Meldrum House you have options. You can dine under the stars in their all-new dining pods on the grounds, coupled with the Titan Sky Bar, a bigger dome that houses a stunning bar. You can enjoy casual dining down in the 1236 Cave Bar, the original larder and storehouse that dates back to the year 1236, which is now an atmospheric whisky bar that’s right in the heart of the building and has original stone walls and domed stone ceilings. Or you can dine in Pineapple, where there’s a stunning old original fireplace to keep you cozy. If you’re like me, you’ll do your best to try all three while you’re there!
What To Order At Pineapple
If they’re on the menu when you’re in Scotland, you have to order the haggis bon bons as a starter. These are haggis shaped into small balls, coated in breadcrumbs, and fried. If you’re unsure about haggis and haven’t tried it before, these are a great introduction. For a main course, I recommend the honey and chili sesame salmon. It’s an interestingly varied menu at Pineapple, and I like that dishes with a little kick sit next to traditional Scottish dishes. This one is served with miso broth, which I love.
If you like bananas the Taste of Banana dessert is really good. It’s banana bread, banana ice cream, and butterscotch sauce. From the wine list, I chose the Riesling from Thanisch Estate, Germany. Riesling is having a moment right now and this one goes perfectly with the chili salmon.
5. The Restaurant
Hotel Du Vin, Glasgow
The lovely tree-lined street Hotel Du Vin is situated on is a moment of calm amid the busy city. The building was once a Victorian townhouse and is now a characterful hotel and restaurant. The Restaurant, as its simply named, is oak paneled and very atmospheric, staying true to how it would have looked in its Victorian era. It feels like a step back in time when you enter the wood-paneled room. The old brick fireplace has a traditional grate fire in it, which brings even more atmosphere to the restaurant while you enjoy the food. The Restaurant also offers private dining, with a larger table in a private room.
What To Order At The Restaurant
The Restaurant is passionate about using local ingredients and providing Scottish seasonal dishes with a modern slant to them. It’s worth trying some of the local dishes, and I’d start with the Orkney crab. For the main course, I’d choose the Ayrshire pork jowl and langoustine tails, which are served with an oyster sauce. It might not be particularly Scottish, but the lemon curd souffle for dessert is a must while you’re here.
They have an extensive wine cellar here and you can choose a wine from the regular wine list or one from the wine cellar list. It’s worth going for the wine cellar list if it’s a special occasion, or if you probably won’t be back this way. Yes, there are some pricey wines on this list, but there are also some reasonably priced wines. I choose the Gamay Dom.