Food – The best part of the day for me, as cooking and eating sit near the top of my list of life’s loves . Fortunately, for a small group of islands, Shetland has a lot of restaurants. I’ll try and offer some useful information about a few of them, hopefully it’ll be helpful to anyone visiting. If you want any further help you can e-mail me. Lerwick is the main centre of population and has a number of eateries, some good and some not so good. Let’s start with the old favourites, Chinese and Indian. There are two Chinese Restaurants in Lerwick. The newer of the two is The Great Wall. THE GREAT WALL Known locally as Da Muckle Dyke, it’s centrally situated at the towns’ main bus stop. It actually used to be part of the bus stop, which is odd given that it resembles a Chinese Pagoda. As well as looking the part from the outside, The Great Wall is nicely decorated internally in a modern Chinese style. The front of the building is all windows, offering decent views over the harbour to Bressay. The menu is extensive, offering a wide selection of both Chinese and Thai food. Plenty of sizzling house specials in the 6 – 8 pound range make this a pleasant and reasonably priced place to go for a feed. They have a decent selection of drinks available, backed up by a good wine list. There is a takeaway in a separate part of the building. Overall Daisybelle gives this one five stars The Great Wall Restaurant can be found at the Viking bus station, Commercial Rd, Lerwick. Tel. 01595 69 3988 THE GOLDEN COACH This has been a Chinese restaurant for over two decades, so has endured all of the mandatory Cat Chow Mein stories in its day. The restaurant is in an ordinary building on the end of a terrace of houses, near the Town Hall. Pleasantly decorated, giving a subtle Chinese effect, they have western background music, fish tanks and photographs of the Far East to dis
tract the hungry customers. The menu includes small selections of Chinese, Korean, Malaysian, Thai and Cantonese dishes. Whilst the food is always good, the styles of cooking are not consistent, indicating a high turn over of Chefs. Having said that, the food is now probably the best it’s been since opening. The choice of drinks is fairly limited, but adequate. Similarly priced to its rival, and also offering a takeaway service downstairs, it weighs in at four stars. The Golden Coach Restaurant is at 17 Hillhead, Lerwick. Tel. 01595 693848 THE RABA The Raba has been in existence for over ten years now, and has built up a good following of faithful customers in this time. A small, unassuming building that looks like a shack with a blue tin roof, it sits opposite the Viking bus station. Inside is unpretentious but nice enough, with the takeaway by the front door, but is still atmospheric enough to entice people back. This is helped on by the staff being very friendly and humorous. They also throw in the occasional freebie for regulars. Like many Indians it offers a number of exotic lagers, but not much else to get excited about on the drinks front. The food is great tasting and inexpensive though, and that’s what it’s all about. The usual Madras’s, Kormas, Rogans, Tikkas and Vindaloos are all very worthy, as are the small selection of specialities. A word of warning, watch yourself coming out of the toilet, as you round the corner there is the potential to collide with waiters exiting the kitchen. I know, I sent two Tikkas flying while at a business dinner, much to the amusement of my colleagues. The Bengal Chicken is highly recommended, and taking into account the blue tin roof, The Raba scores 4. The Raba is situated at 26 Commercial Rd. Lerwick. Tel 01595 695585 THE SPICE OF INDIA Since ceasing to be the towns premier sweetie shop nearly a decade ago, this buildi
ng, on the corner of the main road, has had a number of culinary guises, all of which have eventually foundered. Presently it is a decent Indian restaurant, that is nicely decorated, warm and if it was full, would be atmospheric. Unfortunately it never seems very busy and I fear for its future. The menu includes a very large selection of excellent specialities. The food sometimes seems a bit over spiced, would be the only criticism that springs to mind, but generally is very good. The Murgh Anwaka is very good, but only if don’t mind plenty of onions. There is a bar shared with the takeaway area, so you can have a drink if you’re waiting, but it has the usual limited selection. Close in price to its rival, though the specialities are dearer, The Spice of India also gets 4 stars from Daisybelle. The Spice of India is at 33 North Road, Lerwick. Tel. 01595 690400 MONTY’S BISTRO Monty’s Bistro is one of Shetlands best restaurants in my opinion. Situated on the top floor of an old house, up one of Lerwicks’ many lanes, an ever-changing range of food from around the world awaits you inside. The portions are not large, but obviously have a lot of TLC put into them, and nearly always hit the spot. Monty’s is a bit pricier than a lot of its competitors, with main courses in the 9-13 GBP range. They have an extensive wine list, fortunately many are sold by the glass as they start at about 15 GBP a bottle. The owner/chef likes to come out and get feedback on his cuisine, a nice touch I always think. It really has a nice feel to it, being basic but friendly with its rough wooden finish and bright colours, and is also very handy for the pubs afterwards, being opposite the Lounge Bar. Through the day they offer a fixed menu, with tasty dishes in the region of 4-5 pounds. Downstairs is the Deli, also open in the day, but I’ve got to admit I’ve never been in, as upstairs is
too tempting. A definite 5 star establishment. Monty’s Bistro and Deli is just off the market cross, at 5 Mounthooly Street, Lerwick. Tel. 01595 696655 THE LERWICK HOTEL The Lerwick Hotel is a single storey building that screams prefab, but not in a horrible way. The bar meals are served in the bar – surprise, surprise. The said bar is a very attractive room, expensively finished in dark wood with a number nooks and crannies to sit in. Unfortunately the food doesn’t live up to its surroundings. Recently my partner and I ate at the Lerwick and were very disappointed. It’s the first time I’ve really complained about a meal (It was Mushroom Italiano), the wine and tomato sauce was far too intense and the alcohol hadn’t been allowed to boil off, I like strong tastes but found this inedible. The waitress went to speak to the chef, and the response we got was “Chef says if you don’t like mushrooms you shouldn’t have ordered them “. Chef didn’t even have the balls to come out and speak for itself. My partners Stroganoff was so creamy it was like a sweet, and we left very disappointed. Previous meals have tasted very like they’d been defrosted, so we’ve decided not to go back. Since then I’ve had several business meals in the restaurant, which have been very good. The restaurant overlooks the South of the harbour, so I would tentatively recommend it for a summers evening. The food here is pricey, and the poor bar meals, at over a tenner a go, only win the Lerwick 2 stars. If you still want to eat here, it’s The Lerwick Hotel, 15 South Road, Lerwick. Tel. 692166 THE MARYFIELD HOUSE HOTEL A five-minute ferry ride away from the centre of Lerwick is The Maryfield House Hotel, on the island of Bressay. It’s only a 150-yd walk from the ferry terminal at the other side, and the food here is well worth the fare. The
Hotel is a large, attractive looking building, maybe 150 years old that must have belonged to someone rich many moons ago. The restaurant is lovely, the lounge bar less so, but bearable for the delicious food. Prices range from 8-12 GBP and the menu has a large selection of fresh Prawn dishes, great for me, as I don’t really care for meat. I highly recommend this one and I’ll certainly be going back for more. Remember to book, for two reasons. It’s often busy, and there’s no other restaurant on Bressay. Ferries run approximately once an hour. Four and a half stars. Easy one this – The Maryfield House Hotel, Bressay. Tel 01595 820207 THE GRAND HOTEL This is a bonny old building that dominates the centre of Lerwick. The Lounge bar is very nicely finished, and is dimly lit with an open fire. The food on offer is a good variety of bar meals, in decent portions and at a reasonable price. I’ve never eaten in the main restaurant apart from breakfast (That’s another story though), so can’t really comment on the food there, but it’s a nice ornate room that should lend itself to a decent evening out. There is a fair selection of drinks available to wash it all down with, and Daisybelle rates this at 3 1/2 stars. The Grand Hotel, 149 Commercial Street Lerwick. Tel 01595 692826 THE SHETLAND HOTEL This is an ugly, rectangular building that is first thing anyone disembarking from the Aberdeen Ferry clamps eyes on. Unfortunately, this means the view from the restaurant is the P&O dock – unappetising at best. The bar food comes in large, not too expensive but unexciting portions. The restaurant menu is so laden with meat that I’ve always taken one look and then departed, so the eating stage hasn’t quite been reached yet. I’ve eaten in the function rooms at organised “doos” and the food has been ok. Both the public eating rooms are very n
icely decorated though, but only good enough to be awarded 3 stars. You can’t miss this one – The Shetland Hotel, Holmsgarth Rd, Lerwick. Tel 01595695515 BUSTA HOUSE HOTEL Located about 20 miles to the North of Lerwick, the Busta House Hotel as a building alone is very interesting, being several hundred years old. It allegedly boasts ghosts amongst the attractions, and is full of antiques. I would say it’s worth spending the night in this historic hotel as it also has one of the largest selections of single malts in the country, so you shouldn’t have to drive home. The bar food is very good and reasonably priced, and the bar itself, like the restaurant, is a delightful room. At about 25 GBP a head for the 4-course restaurant menu I think it’s quite good value, and give Busta a deserved 4 ½ stars. You’d better get your maps out for this one – Busta House Hotel, Busta, Brae. Tel 01806 522506 THE MID BRAE INN Sitting across the bay from Busta, this is really the local pub, but worthy of a mention in the food department. An old converted croft building, set in – amazingly for Shetland - a grove of trees, it is finished in stone and dark oak, rendering a cosy atmosphere. They do an interesting variety of bar meals that all come in absolutely huge portions. Most of the dishes are very good and reasonably priced. The only complaint about this place is the incredibly slow speed of service, so don’t go here if you’re in a hurry. Of special interest is their Vindaloos, the vinegariest I’ve ever had, and worth sampling if you’ve got the inclination for hot food. Book at the weekend, as they can be very busy, The Mid Brae gets 3 ½ stars. The Mid Brae Inn, Brae. Tel 01806 522634 Well that’s your lot. Also highly recommended by reputation, though I’ve never tried them, come The Spiggie Hotel and Burrastow House. And one to a
void, by virtue of its alleged shoe leather steaks, is The Kveldrso House Hotel. I hope this has been useful, writing it got me slavering so much that halfway through we had to pop out to the Raba for another delicious feed. So I’m sitting here like a stuffed pig.