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Railway Station Food

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May 31, 2014 / Scottish / By
Anna

The first experience I can recall of eating in a restaurant at a railway station was on a school trip in Christchurch, New Zealand in the 1960s. I was used to fresh vegetables from my father’s organic garden; of course, we did not know it was an organic garden then. We also ate freshly caught fish, and sometimes a venison steak. This was country food, not haute cuisine. When I was presented with a plate of boiled sausages in lumpy gravy, a barely edible dish, I made an effort.

Move on thirty years or so and I tried to buy a cappuccino at a station on the border of some forgotten Eastern European country. Again, a dismal failure!

However, my attitude to railway station food changed with an espresso at Termini in Rome. It was delivered to me rather unprepossessingly in what looked like a medicine cup. But it was delicious. Bitter, but not too bitter.  Strong, but not too strong. I began to trust railway stations again.

Then, on a recent trip to Scotland, railway station food climbed to new heights. My husband and I stopped for the night on the mainland side of the bridge to the island of Skye in Kyle of Lochalsh. We settled into a terrifyingly neat room in a B&B that we had chosen because it had a Cabbage Tree out the front.  It seems harsh to complain about your accommodation because it is too neat and clean, but I did. I was scared to relax. I was catapulted back to uncomfortable Sunday afternoons in the over-furnished and sterile living rooms of unfriendly great-aunts whose houses were perfumed with bleach and disinfectant.

We decide to go out for a walk and to look for somewhere to eat. My husband is fond of trains, so we inevitably wandered down to the small and disused looking railway station. But imagine the tall guys delight when a train pulled into the station.

I was motivated more by hunger than a desire to see a train, so I noted that what must have been the waiting room in the past was now a seafood restaurant aptly called The Seafood Restaurant, although many other possible names came immediately to mind.  I scanned the brief menu, and it looked promising.

The Seafood Restaurant is a small restaurant decked out in casual, fishy chic that leans more towards fishy than chic, but inviting nonetheless.  We were squeezed into a table for two. This never pleases the tall guy, but the delight of eating in a railway station stifled any complaints. The service was prompt, despite the restaurant being full. So I was soon drooling over the menu, in a state of anxiety lest I make a poor choice. This is a kind of disability that I suffer from in restaurants that seem to be taunting me by offering all my favorites. I deal with it by delaying my choice until the last possible moment.

Luckily, it is not an extensive menu, and what is on offer is dependent on what is fresh on the day. This always seems a good sign to me. And everything I ate was delicious. The oysters were a decent size for once and deliciously fresh. The mains were served with good, wholesome, Scottish tatties, but the flavors of the dishes where more complex than those favored by traditional Scottish cooks. There were plenty of herbs including coriander. So it was wholesome, fresh food elevated beyond home cooking. The portion sizes where plentiful, and this was reflected in the prices. While moderately expensive, this restaurant is worth a visit and is not outlandishly costly.

As the dining room was small, we were easily able to overhear the conversation that was struck up between two other couples. They were both traveling on motor bikes and one couple had broken down. Their bike was being fixed in the town, but they had not been able to find a place to stay and it was getting dark. Being Italian, they had concentrated on finding a restaurant rather than a bed for the night. The other couple rang the owner of the B&B they were staying in, established that there was room for their new friends and that the owner would whip down in her car to collect them when they had finished eating. It seemed like a perfect demonstration of country manners, and the tall guy and I wished we had put food before a bed so that we could tag along.

Having spent a rather awkward night worrying about rumpling wee Janet’s sheets, we headed off to Skye, a bleakly attractive island with some pretty spots such as the seaside town of Portree where we were treated to a concert by two kilted young buskers. The pastel colored houses that line the waterfront are very attractive in sun or gloom. And there are plenty of places to eat. We had coffee and cake sitting outside in fine drizzle. It felt just right.

There is a fantastic restaurant at the Kinloch Lodge, but that is another story and I am not sure if I am allowed to tell it. 

N/A

Country: Scotland

Province/State: Highland

City: Skye

Address: N/A

Zip/Post Code: N/A

Location Tips: N/A

Phone: N/A

Website:N/A

Price Guide:$$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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