The Tigh an Eilean Hotel offers two very distinct and very attractive choices to residents of the hotel, or to anyone else wishing to dine in the beautiful coastal village of Shieldaig. The slightly more formal option, for which the hotel has been awarded 2 AA Rosettes, is to dine in the hotel's own dining room. The alternative is to eat in the Coastal Kitchen, the bistro-style restaurant that occupies the upper floor of the Shieldaig Bar, next door to the hotel. You can read our hotel review for Tigh an Eilean here.
While this allows people a choice of dining styles and surroundings, there are elements that remain constant. The commitment to sourcing everything as locally as possible applies to both the hotel restaurant and the Coastal Kitchen. Much of the seafood is sourced very locally indeed, some of it from the village's own pier just round the corner from Tigh an Eilean.
Turning to other aspects of the dining choice, it is worth noting that while the Tigh an Eilean Hotel and its restaurant open from mid March to the end of October, the Shieldaig Bar and Coastal Kitchen remain open throughout the year. And while the hotel offers a dinner service and packed lunches for guests, the Coastal Kitchen serves food through much of the day. Finally, the Coastal Kitchen offers a choice between indoor eating with a sea view, and the roof terrace above the hotel restaurant.
When we visited, the Coastal Kitchen menu offered an enticing mix of dishes ranging from snacks, starters and salads to classic meat dishes and a large selection of fish dishes. The meat dishes on offer ranged from steak tartare to beefburgers, while the fish dishes included seafood stew, fish and chips and local moules mariniere. There was also a large daily specials board including pizzas "from the hill", "from the garden" and, of course given the location, "from the sea". The latter came with a topping including langoustine, crayfish, capers, anchovies, braised orange fennel and coldwater prawns.
But for those looking for the very best in dining, a compelling choice for dinner is the Tigh an Eilean's restaurant. This comfortable and spacious room is the largest in the hotel, and offers excellent sea views out over Loch Shieldaig to Shieldaig Island. Dinner is served from a daily changing fixed price menu offering three main courses preceded by amouse bouche and soup. When we visited, the former included a beautiful little quails egg scotch egg, while the soup course was a tasse of smoked haddock soup with almonds and curry oil: amazingly complex and quite superb.
The menu offerings at Tigh an Eilean tend to be original dishes you don't find elsewhere. This reflects a policy of providing food it is as interesting to prepare as to eat. Meanwhile menu rotation is tailored to the longest staying guest at the hotel on any given day, so even if you are staying for a week or more, you will find a different set of choices every day. This approach gives rise to some truly outstanding - as well as original - dishes. One of the starters on offer when we visited was "ravioli filled with a medley of local seafood served with stir fried iceberg lettuce and a ginger and crab sauce". Mains on offer included "pan fried five spiced duck breast" and "paupiettes of west coast sole and Loch Torridon crab". The sweets were every bit as good as the rest of the meal. The "mille feuille of strawberries and shortbread and Chambord laced cream with berry coulis" was probably the best sweet one member of the reviewing team had ever eaten.
Breakfast at Tigh an Eilean is also extremely good, offering freshly prepared food cooked to order for your main course, following a buffet style starter course including a choice of fruit, juice and cereals. An unusual feature is the daily breakfast specials. On the day of our visit these were locally smoked haddock or eggs Benedict. You can read our hotel review for Tigh an Eilean here.