Where to Eat
Elliots (Scottish contemporary)
With its vases of orchids, its attractive young waitstaff and its appetizer of “Scottish tapas,” Elliots epitomizes a kind of fashionable eatery that hardly existed here a decade ago. But whether you welcome trendiness or try to avoid it, you’re apt to appreciate the restaurant’s sophisticated food. And for all its of-the-moment dishes, some of the best feature local ingredients, such as Ayrshire lamb and west coast langoustines.
132 Main Street, Prestwick, Ayrshire; 011-44/1292-677-677, elliots-prestwick.com. $$$
George Hotel (Gastropub)
If hunger calls during the lengthy drive between Glasgow and Machrihanish, this is the place to stop and replenish. For six generations, members of the Clark family have welcomed wayfarers to their spirited haunt in the lochside town of Inveraray. The snug, low-ceilinged bar offers a selection of cask-conditioned ales and more than a hundred whiskies. An adjoining pub, warmed by peat and log fires and hung with coats of arms, serves appropriately hearty fare.
Main Street East, Inveraray, Argyll; 011-44/1499-302-111, thegeorgehotel.co.uk. $$
MacCallums Oyster Bar (Seafood)
Few restaurants in Ayrshire are more enjoyable than this one, housed in a converted brick building at the far end of Troon’s working harbor. The freshness of the seafood is suggested by the whiff of brine off the water as you approach the front door. It’s fully announced in nimbly rendered classics such as raw oysters with shallot dressing, as well as Cullen skink, Scotland’s traditional smoked-haddock chowder.
The Harbour, Troon, Ayrshire; 011-44/1292-319-339. $$$
Wheatsheaf Inn (Scottish)
There’s much to be said about the updating of Scottish cuisine, but sometimes a visitor craves food informed by tradition rather than infused with the latest exotic spice. At this cozy seventeenth-century inn, popular offerings include warm smoked salmon and chicken breast stuffed with haggis. The Wheatsheaf is ten minutes from Royal Troon and Prestwick, and the proprietors count Seve Ballesteros and Tom Lehman among their notable guests.
3 Main Street, Symington, Ayrshire; 011-44/1563-830-307, wheatsheafsymington.co.uk. $$
Wildings (Scottish contemporary)
This modern restaurant just up the road from Turnberry features an impressive, fairly priced menu and wine list. The spacious dining room, furnished with striped banquettes and a blue-tile bar, may be a bit too brightly lit, but savory entrées including rack of lamb and peppercorn-encrusted duck are food for the soul.
Harbour Road, Maidens, Ayrshire; 011-44/1655-331-401, wildingsrestaurant.co.uk. $$$$