SHIELDAIG, IV54 8XN
Remote enough to make its Inverness postcode look totally inappropriate, the Shieldaig Bar & Coastal Kitchen is part of the famous Tigh an Eilean (House of the Island) Hotel. It's here that the majestic Torridon Mountains meet the western seas. Upper Loch Torridon is just round the corner. Wildlife is abundant, with otters, seals, white-tailed sea eagles, oyster catchers and pine martens. Then there are the deserted beaches and walking trails. From a croft at the magical-sounding Little Loch Broom, the An Teallach Brewery supplies real ales to the traditional bar, where live music and ceilidhs add a weekend buzz. The sea provides much of what appears on the menu, especially the shellfish landed daily by fishermen using environmentally responsible creel-fishing and hand-diving techniques. Ways of sampling this local bounty in the restaurant include gratin of crab with pink grapefruit; seared Hebridean scallops with Serrano ham; and escalope of West Coast sea bream with Provenšal confit. The land also does a pretty good job with food, among other things rack of Scottish Blackface lamb with herb crust and lamb jus. An alternative eating place is the more casual Coastal Kitchen, not that the main restaurant is particularly formal. Here the local seafood is just as imaginatively prepared but with the emphasis on simplicity, such as the hearty seafood stew or one of the speciality pizzas from the wood-fired oven. To watch the often spectacular sunsets, choose a table in the courtyard or one of the first-floor decks. The hotel also owns the village's general store, where you can buy provisions, postcards and most-day-to-day necessities.