Love to cook or not so keen, there are options for everyone for eating in when you are staying in Orkney and wanting to support our local shops and food producers. Whether you are in a camper van, on board a boat, or in a cottage, if you have a tiny galley or a fully equipped kitchen you can feast on Orkney food and drink.
One of the success stories to come out of lockdown for take-away foods was Eviedale Bakehouse’s cook-at-home pizzas. These Mediterranean-style sourdough experts deliver the pizzas on Mondays and mid-week to The Brig Larder in Kirkwall and The Dounby Butcher and they are also available from their own honesty shop in Evie which is open at the weekends. If you are staying in the west mainland you can also order cooked pizzas on Friday and Saturday evenings. Perfect for an easy, relaxing evening.
A rummage through Jollys freezers, either at The Brig Larder or at their shop in Hatston, will yield all sorts of delicious ready-to-bake frozen seafood dishes, made in their kitchens in small batches. You might be lucky and find some fish soup, or just buy some of their delicious smoked mussels, some Orkney tatties, milk and a few other veg and make an Orkney Chowder: smoked mussels, smoked haddock or a mixture of the two will be delicious. Add some local sourdough or rolls with some Orkney butter (which TV chefs often rave about), and you’ll have your supper sorted.
Orkney beef is amongst the best and a cut that you might not see outwith Scotland is rib boil - it’s a great favourite here in the islands. It needs a long slow cook after which the meat will just fall off the bones giving you the most fantastically tasty meal. Cook it for a stew then chop the leftovers up the next day, maybe with a small can of tomatoes, and use that as a quick sauce for pasta. I cooked my first smoked mussel chowder and my first rib boil dishes while on holiday here, before we made Orkney our home. All our traditional butchers sell rib boil.
There are fish and chip vans around the islands on various nights: Fridays in Burray and Finstown, and Saturdays in St Margaret’s Hope and Stromness. There is also Jack’s Chippy in Westray. Owned by Pierowall Fish and using their own catch, it is open on Saturday evenings and on Wednesdays too in the season. There are many who say that Westray is the place for fish and chips.
Orkney has an excellent Japanese kitchen which operates as a pre-order take-away with timed slots for collection from a house in Kirkwall. Weekly menus can be found on Sakura Kitchen Facebook and Instagram pages with all the details for ordering.
Their sushi platters are substantial and are perfect sharing food if you are here in a party, and smaller portions are available too. There is a weekly choice of hot dishes, all well packaged for carrying and to stay at a good serving temperature. This is perhaps one of the most surprising take-aways in Orkney.
If you eat a hot meal out at lunchtime perhaps the easiest thing for eating in in the evenings is a giant picnic or deli supper, washed down with local beers and/or spirits. There are plenty of breads and oatcakes, butter, cheeses, cold meats, chutneys and smoked fish to choose from. Try our local smoked mackerel: it’s meaty and delicious.
Burnside is the latest fresh cheese in the islands - it is rather like a firm ricotta. Made by Barry Graham - his granny taught him to make cheese on her Westray smallholding when he was a child - he has recently given up his scaffolding job to make cheese full time.
Orkney extra mature cheddar, at the other end of the cheese flavour spectrum, can only be bought here in the islands. Hume’s smoked olives might not be grown here but they are smoked here and are delicious. And the perfect drink to go with that spread? Try the Orkney Gin Company’s Akvavit.
Twice a 3*** winner at the Great Taste Awards, this Scandi-style spirit makes a perfect long drink with tonic, ice and a slice.
That’s a spread worth staying in for!
Explore Orkney's food and drink sector, and take a trip on the Taste of Orkney Food & Drink Trail.
You can follow Rosemary Moon on Twitter, Instagram and on her website at rosemarymoon.com.