One of my oldest friends lives on Mull and Mull is an awful long way from here. It is remote, it is wild and beautiful, spiritual and unspoilt and on the evening we arrived by ferry from Oban on the mainland, the water was as still as a millpond, there was no breeze and the sun was slowly setting, it was quite something. This was my second visit to Mull, and a first for the Scottish husband and daughter.
Mull is one of the largest and most populated of the Inner Hebrides. (the photo above is not mine, I will replace it when we download some!) We booked into our fabuously pink hotel in Tobermory, the island capital (population 700) and after a glorious evening walk we ate there.
Mull, and indeed Scotland, is renowned for its seafood so I started our short stay with langoustine, of course (and I’ve slipped in the kippers that I had for breakfast the next morning..).
The eating highlight was booked to be Cafe Fish on the pier. There really aren’t that many places to eat in Tobermory and Cafe Fish was recommended by my friend and had featured in a couple of recent newspaper articles as a (the?) hidden gem in the equally hidden gem that is Tobermory. I have got to admit that having emailed them twice to secure a booking and had no response, the jury was out for me, but my local friend had booked by telephone and was confident.
Cafe Fish is more of a cafe than a restaurant, that much is true, it is casual and relaxed, and it prides itself on the quality and freshness of its seafood, indeed if it were any nearer the water it would be in it. The service was generally good – if a little odd at times (guest – “can I get salad with that as well as potatoes?” “No, you have to pay more”. “Can I get rice instead?” “No, you have to pay more” “Can I get a bit of rice and salad?” “No.”. I think this was humour but I couldn’t be sure..anyhow the guest didn’t seem to mind, so it probably was and the menu does make the “sides” clear).
Well the wine and conversation flowed, old tales were swapped and the food served without incident. All of it was good, some of it was stunning. The menu is huge (the specials board is astonishing) and 90% of it is fish or shellfish, my kind of place.
Starters included the freshest Pacific Croig Oysters from the Mull coastline. They tasted of the sea that was only feet away from us on the pier-end and which in the evening sunlight (the sun was still shining even on Day 2) glistened and lapped like the Med. We shared large bowls of spicy dusted crispy Whitebait, nicely spiced and delicate and a Croig crab-cake.
The daughter enjoyed (but couldn’t finish) her enormous Cafe Fish Pie (with salmon, smoked and fresh haddock and queen scallops, topped with creamy potato and cheese), our friends had Sea Bass and I think the Hake or it might have been the Halibut (by this time we had consumed quite a lot of wine and I was tucking into my glorious Isle of Mull Lobster – grilled with hot garlic butter).
The fish was, though, by all accounts, fantastic and my lobster was, as you can see, suberb, tender, and full of meat.
A lovely, boozy, fishy evening was had by all, and for sure, if you ever find yourself in Tobermory, it would be remiss of you if you didn’t try Cafe Fish.