Creelers, Skye (Scotland)

We noticed Creelers out of the corner of our eyes while trying to find our b&b in Broadford. It didn’t look like much but when time came for dinner on our first night on Skye, it was conveniently close at hand. Lunch had been at the Oyster Shed in Carbost, and after touring Talisker we’d driven aimlessly for a good while and didn’t want to drive again after dinner. (I can recommend the drive from Broadford to Armdale highly; though I suggest that if, like us, you stop your car in random places to walk down to the shore, you take care, unlike us, to not step into what turns out to be very soggy terrain.) Having learned our lesson in Drumnadrochit, we’d made reservations for dinner. 

We dried our shoes on the radiator in our room and rolled down the hill to Creelers. Looked at more carefully up close, it looked even less promising. And when we went in, the feel of the room suggested we’d probably get serviceable food at best. Instead, what we got was some of the best seafood we ate in Scotland. The cooking turned out to be French of the easygoing, bistro variety. The focus is primarily on local seafood. There are other things on the menu but based on our experience, the local seafood is the way to go. That said, this is Creelers’ 20th year in business so they’re doubtless making lots of people happy with the other stuff on the menu too (though if you look at the reviews on TripAdvisor, not everyone agrees). The dining room is a little bit crowded and not all the stuff on the walls was to my taste—the view of Broadford Bay, however, was excellent. More importantly, of course, the food was good.

What did we eat? We got three things off the daily specials board and one off the regular menu. I had a special to start: “quartet of local seafood”. It featured razor clams, surf clams, mussels and cockles in an “orange-scented liquor” and was just dynamite and at £9.50 for a huge portion perhaps the best value across all our meals in three months in the UK. The missus started with a huge pot of local mussels steamed in white wine with butter, garlic and parsley. We can’t recall having ever eaten better mussels than we had at Creelers that night: the mussels were plump, flavourful and perfectly steamed. There was a saffron aioli with the mussels but I don’t think either of us bothered with it. For mains we both went to the specials board: I got the “braised local monkfish tail in a soy-pernod-cream reduction” and it was quite good; the missus got the “crayfish tails pan-sauteed in a dry-sherry etouffe” and it was excellent. Both came with various veg and green salads. Oh yes, the boys got pizza from their children’s menu.

Pictures follow. See below for notes on the service, which was not at the level of the cooking.

So, the service. I don’t want to make it seem like I was expecting high-end service at a casual restaurant in Skye but while our young server was perfectly friendly, he was also more than a little clueless. He tried to take our order twice; after clearing our starters he ignored us for a while and then came to offer us dessert—he looked confused when we said we weren’t ready to think about it yet and then realized he hadn’t yet brought us our mains. It also took a long time to get and pay our bill. None of this came close to marring our dinner but the service was noticeably less adept than at all the other places we ate at in Skye (or Islay, for that matter). The food—especially the mussels and the seafood quarter—rose above it all. Looking at my credit card statement I see we paid $100 for all of this food (plus a whisky). Not cheap but you’d pay more for seafood of this quality in the US—but you’d also get better service. Still, I would eat again at Creelers in a heartbeat if I got to go back to Skye (which, sadly, is unlikely).

Coming up tomorrow: part 2 of my report on Bowmore (focusing on the tour). Coming up next week: Ardbeg on the distillery front, more Malaysian food in London, and more seafood on Skye.

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