IN other news we spent this afternoon at a tiny but newly-crowned Michelin-starred restaurant also on Skye. Not eating – just talking. Let’s just say that when I suggested to chef Michael Smith that he might squeeze an extra table into his already fully booked restaurant for us I stupidly also let slip that I was coming here, to Scorrybreac, tonight. “Ah, I’m not giving you a table then," he said, “if it means Calum Munro loses out.” And he didn’t. Can you believe that? Though Calum Munro wouldn’t have lost out. As anyone who knows me will confirm, I can easily eat two dinners.

Anyway, I mention all this because myself, Gibbo and Robbie sit here perched at a table high above Portree harbour considering my starter of Skye venison tartare. Yes, that is raw venison. Around us we’ve got cheery Skye waitresses, some genuinely buzz-cut Americans and a large group of what look like continental bikers. There was truffle popcorn and an excellent black pepper and mushroom amuse bouche to get things going. Freshly baked bread. We’re squeezed quite comfortably into a restaurant that could once have been someone’s living room. And yet we’re very glad to get in. The earliest booking available was 9.30pm – and that was made well over a week ago.

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Earlier, a local had wistfully told us that his neighbours are right now banging up sleep pods in their gardens to rent out to Koreans through Airbnb while a Dutchman swore blind there was no point visiting the Fairy Pools during daylight lest we be trampled by crowds of lovestruck couples. Such is life these days on Skye, which is currently in the grip of a Hebridean gold rush. Tourists galore, even in damp, dreich and drizzly October with mists blotting out the majestic Quiraing.

Frankly? Tonight we would have settled for any of the scampi-land offerings that are usually available in Scottish resorts. Instead? Venison tartare. Velvety, tender, seasoned and soused with lemon, vibrant sorrel to the side, a vague tangy smokiness to that heather aioli. There’s a dish of Drumfearn mussels, Thistly Cross cider, fennel and thyme. Now. I’m not sure a pot of mussels, wherever they are from, should ever be on a menu as otherwise sophisticated as this, but the liquor is pleasant and the tourist demands for them are apparently relentless. The same sweet mussels appear far more successfully around the plump, white, crisply seared fillet of hake with smoked leeks I have as a main course. Very, very good leeks, incidentally. There’s some creamy mash in there and a faint cheese-inspired richness to the sauce that ensures it's all soaked up with that lovely fresh bread they keep bringing to the table.

At this point I can reveal that the Calum Munro Michael Smith mentioned will look out curiously from the kitchen as we are heading out. That’s not because he is in the presence of a fat food critic but simply because during one of our conversations with the waitress – she’s home from Bristol for the weekend helping out with the rush – I mention I know Calum’s sister. I also know his dad. Well, er, I know who he is, having paid to see him many, many times, many mad student moons ago when he was the frontman of Gaelic rock superstars Runrig. Though I keep that last bit to myself.

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By the time Calum looks out we will have shared the remnants of Robbie’s duck breast, scooped up crisp Viewfield carrots and wondered whether smoked cauliflower with carrot top veloute and Orkney cheddar will ever be a mainland thing.

We’ll have spooned great gooey and oozing dollops of a stupendous dark chocolate fondant infused with Talisker, while shaving curls from the homemade bay leaf ice-cream. We will also have wondered what part of the Douglas fir went into the panna cotta with Douglas fir – because it wasn’t the tasty bit. But we will have considered overall it was a very good meal.


7 Bosville Terrace, Portree (, 01478 612069)

MENU: Cutting-edge Scottish – venison tartare with burnt heather aioli, hake and Drumfearn mussels, and Talisker dark chocolate fondant. 4/5

ATMOSPHERE: It's high above Portree harbour with a cosy and comfy cottage feel. 4/5

SERVICE: Friendly, chatty and very relaxed. First-rate. 5/5

PRICE: In the midst of a Hebridean gold rush they are to be commended for keeping the prices down to £39 for three courses. 3/5

FOOD: The venison tartare is a triumph, the main courses deftly handled and the dark chocolate fondant an all-round winner. 8/10

TOTAL: 24/30