Food and Drink in Lerwick (Shetland Islands)
Thanks to the islands' far north latitude, as close to the North Pole as Greenland and Alaska, the archipelago of Shetland, and Lerwick especially, may not seem like a diner's paradise. However, that assertion couldn't be more wrong, with some of the freshest seafood, outstanding lamb, lush produce and fabulous bakeries. With a bounty of options, here's our pick for the perfect lunch in town -- order a plate of blueshell mussels to start, then a roast native lamb served with Shetland black tatties or roasted salmon and then finish with the cheese plate. Since the dairy is all made on the island, the selection of both cow and sheep's cheeses are out of this world.
More than just great food, Lerwick and the surrounding Shetland towns are also known for their beer, with two craft brewers (one in town and one in Unst) and a craft spirit distiller that has won the admiration of gin lovers around the world. In addition to gin, the distillery will also start producing Scotland's most northerly whiskey.
Here are some local and tourist favorites that provide the perfect bite and accompanying ambiance.
Captain Flints: One of the most popular pubs and bars, Captain Flints sits right above Ellesemere Store in the center of town. Like the rest of Lerwick, the decor is very natural, with dark wooden linings and flags. Featuring live bands on weekends, the pub's largest crowds come Friday and Saturday nights. For lunchtime visitors, the stunning views of the Small Boat Harbor and neighboring island of Bressay make for an inviting atmosphere. For a cocktail, don't miss the gin and tonic made with locally distilled gin and seaweed. (Market Street; +44 1595-692-249; open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.)
Fjara Cafe Bar: Situated on the rocky shores of Lerwick, you can't beat the breathtaking vistas that can be seen through Fjara Cafe Bar's floor-to-ceiling windows. This cafe serves a little bit of everything, from freshly baked pastries and coffee at breakfast to small lunch plates with seafood and beer to larger beef dishes and specialty cocktails for dinner. Opt for the fresh salmon bagel and a cup of soup, which is changed daily based on the catch. Even if you don't have a sweet tooth, don't leave without trying the sticky toffee pudding -- it's a life changer. (Sea Road; +44-159-569-7388; open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. with lunch starting from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Hay's Dock Cafe Restaurant: Not only is the food a fan favorite for visitors and locals alike, the location can't be beat. Hay's Dock Cafe Restaurant is perfectly located right inside the famed Shetland Museum & Archives, offering you direct access to the history of the island. The cafe is known for their creamy chowder (loaded with fresh catch and smoked potatoes and leeks), so get that to start. For an entree, the smoked haddock and leek risotto is an elegant mix of gourmet techniques and rustic fare, especially when paired with a classic Lerwick Brewery IPA. (Hays Dock; +44-159-574-1569; open 12 to 3 p.m.)
Gurkha Kitchen: If you're thinking the only kind of fare you'll find in Lerwick comes battered with chips, you're wrong. Home to some of the best Nepalese cuisine this side of, well, Nepal -- Gurkha Kitchen is a perfectly surprising lunchtime option. Not only is the food some of the best on this list, it's also some of the cheapest -- making it a great option for budget-conscious visitors. Order the naan, which is made fresh in-house, paired with the spicy and succulent Nepalese special chicken or Himalayan spiced lamb. The restaurant is small, but boasts authentic decor -- like Gurkha statues and posters (highly prized soldiers named for their bravery in the British army). (33 North Road; +44-159-569-0400; open 12 to 2 p.m. for lunch)