Eating in Scotland, haggis and all
Even a princess — Kelly Macdonald, who's the voice of princess Merida in new film "Brave" — has to eat when she goes back home to Glasgow.
The New York Times
As soon as Kelly Macdonald, 36, the voice of the Scottish princess Merida in Pixar and Disney's new animated feature "Brave," finishes filming a season of the HBO television series "Boardwalk Empire" in New York, she returns to her home city of Glasgow, Scotland. There, she loves to scout out new restaurants and visit old haunts.
"All the pleasurable beige foods," she said, "I get them out of my system the first week I'm home."
Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Macdonald about eating in Scotland.
Q: Where should visitors to Glasgow go for traditional Scottish food?
A: I love Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery, one of the oldest restaurants in Glasgow, with dark-wood paneling and tartan upholstery. The menu has all kinds of locally sourced fish like sea trout, sea bream, seared scallops. They do an amazing sole meunière.
I go to Cafezique for Scottish breakfast: sausage, bacon, eggs, baked beans with black pudding, which is basically blood with sausage (it's delicious, but you don't want to think about it too much). At chip shops, I love to get potato fritters. You put them in a Scottish morning roll, then add ketchup and butter; we don't have the highest rate of heart disease in Europe for no reason.
You can't leave Scotland without trying haggis, and a very good place to do that is the Ubiquitous Chip. Their version is with venison, an offal of minced esophagus, heart, lungs and liver, simmered with onions, allspice and thyme.
Q: Any international restaurants?
A: The city has large Italian and Indian communities, so there are many good restaurants of those kind. You should see the massacre us Scots do to those cuisines: deep-fried frozen pizzas in chip shops, and Indian restaurants serve pakora with this pink dipping sauce made of cream, chile, mint jelly and ketchup.
The Stravaigin, a restaurant in the West End, does amazing curries. So oddly, if you wanted a very good curry, you go to a place with a very Gaelic name. It has a great atmosphere, with a big bar and open fire.
Q: What about restaurants outside the city?
A: The best restaurant I've ever been to is the Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, which is a gorgeous 1920s hotel and golf course in Perthshire.
Whenever I'm in Argyll and Bute on the west coast, I always order langoustines with butter at Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. On the other side of the loch is Inver Cottage Restaurant, which looks out onto the ruins of Old Castle Lachlan. The menu is a wonderful mix of Scottish and European: steak and Guinness pie with Cheddar mash, and then roasted eggplant with mozzarella.
When my mother lived on the Isle of Skye, we'd go to the Three Chimneys. It's a small white cottage, and the food is unbelievably good. It's very Scottish: chicken stuffed with skirlie, a fried oatmeal with onions; and lamb sweetbreads with peaty gravy. You're at the edge of the moors, all black and heather, so it's quite surprising to find this cozy restaurant in such a spooky place.
Q: Is summer a good time to go to Scotland?
A: Sometimes we get gorgeous weather, but the summer is not much different from the winter — rainy. Still, the sun sets at 10 p.m., and it's dusky until nearly midnight, so you do get to see the beauty longer.