The Creel's air-fried Scapa Bay Prawns (aka langoustines) marinaded in mixed paprikas and garlic.
Eating at the Creel
I have turned The Creel into a bed&breakfast with the capability of very occasionally offering evening meals to guests (i.e., it is no longer a walk-in restaurant with an extensive menu but rather a place that sometimes serves good honest cuisine with an emphasis on local Orkney produce). I have also created a room called the Blue Lobster Bar where, once again on occasion and dependant on the availability of good lobsters, I serve those and other goodies accompanied by some seriously interesting wines.
Regarding suppers – I can’t and don't cook very often. If cooking, I buy fresh produce on the day for the day. I cook a single 3-course supper (all priced at £30 per person) using as much Orkney produce as possible. I often cook Moroccan tagines for which our Orkney lamb is wonderfully suited. Sometimes, instead of a restaurant meal, I do a luxury ‘bar’ meal in my Blue Lobster Bar — typically a starter of salami, mortadella, hommous etc etc followed by a lobster sauce meunière. As a great standby when lobsters aren’t available, I substitute a half kilo of langoustine tails, which I marinade and air-fry, for the lobster.
The two greatest influences on my cooking are Elizabeth David and Claudia Roden, from whom (apart from my mother and father) I learnt most of what little I know. I suppose that I was also given direction and taste formation through having spent most of my younger years in France and Morocco.
I am expanding my wine list, but its core will always remain the dozen or so really excellent yet reasonably priced Italian wines I bring up from a specialist importer in London.
In season, I also cook for non-residents as well, if there is room (we are small and aim to stay that way).
There are plenty of other options, however, both within the village and further afield. Here is a list of some of my (and my sons') favourites:
Eating out in South Ronaldsay and Beyond
The fact that the Creel operates in the way it does, does not mean that it will be difficult to find good eating at all levels both on South Ronaldsay and a little further afield. My sons and I love going to the following places:
Our very friendly family-owned local which serves good, economical, and generously-portioned pub meals. This being Orkney, even this can be with a difference – fresh Scapa scallops anyone? You can find out why a little village pub can serve wonderful scallops by eating there and asking.
The Grill (5 minutes' walk) Tel 07585 190696
Gourmet burgers from 10am to 2:30pm at the top of the hill in St Margaret's Hope. A nice way to have a quick, easy, and tasty lunch.
This place has a magnificent cliff-top view of the North Sea, which contrasts nicely with The Creel’s wonderful sea-level view of a Scapa bay, and good food too. I frequently suggest to our guests that they should try a meal there and have had consistently pleased reports.
Orkney beef is the best and The Foveran does some of the best steaks I have ever had. Having taken the trouble to get to Orkney, I think it would be wrong to miss out on treating oneself there to a superb grilled fillet steak (which I don’t cook) in a lovely modern room with a great view over Scapa Flow. A personal favourite.
The Lynnfield (20 minutes’ drive, with grandiose views all the way)
Nice hilltop location overlooking Kirkwall, next to the Highland Park distillery. Beautiful room with antique furniture and very good food. Fantastic selection of whiskies in the bar. A personal favourite.
Leigh’s hamburger van works in the car park between road and sea in Finstown. This is a 3-star experience of all Orkney produce including the beef for the burgers. My favourite at Leigh's is not a burger but fillet of Orkney beef with onions and mushrooms in a burger roll. It's not even expensive! Yet it is an actual fillet steak from one of our top butchers. Leigh cooks it to your preference, so you can have it rare (or in the case of my younger son, who is 14 - blue). It's so tender no knife is required. Meanwhile my older son likes the broughbuster burger, which is meat patties, a fried egg, tattie scone and more. Why he's still thin as a rake is beyond me). One can then enjoys one’s food at the picnic tables on the lawn by the sea while enjoying the million-dollar view of the bay.
The van and its million-dollar view
Or closer to home, we have the Grill at the top of the hill: see my blog post about it here