A restaurant in the Highlands has beaten eateries across the country to be named the Regional Winner for Scotland in the Good Food Guide Local Restaurant of the Year Awards. The Whitehouse Restaurant, in Lochaline has been nominated by its customers to be the top local choice in Scotland, despite its remote location. The Whitehouse Restaurant is described by the Good Food Guide (GFG), which is published by Waitrose, as being “about as remote as you can get without leaving the mainland”. Its address makes it one of the hardest to reach restaurants ever to have won a GFG award. Diners travelling from outwith the local area will most likely have to take a ferry.

Owned by Sarah Jones and Jane Stuart-Smith, The Whitehouse prides itself on cooking with locally sourced ingredients. Salad and vegetables are grown where possible in their own garden and they also source food as locally as they can, including lobsters from The Isle of Mull, which is just across the water. One happy customer, who nominated the restaurant, said it has “local, fresh food, prepared unpretentiously and supremely well.” Head Chef Mike Burgoyne was lured to The Whitehouse by the array of food that would be on his kitchen doorstep and has worked there for 5 years.

The standard of entries was so high for Scotland, the GFG has also highly commended The Mountain Cafe. The Mountain Cafe in Aviemore is owned by Kirsten Gilmour, originally from New Zealand. Gilmour is also Head Chef and has added a Kiwi twist to her local sourced menu. The cafe has a strong focus on community and offers cookery lessons to local primary school children.

The annual reader-nominated awards recognise the best neighbourhood eateries across the UK. And to mark their tenth year, the awards have been renamed 'Local' Restaurant of the Year*' to encourage diners to look much closer to home and champion the unsung restaurants right on their doorstep. The GFG also only looked for new winners this year, with the hope that smaller, lesser known establishments would be discovered.

After sifting through 30,000 nominations, the editors of the GFG have announced the top dining establishments in each of ten different UK regions. The awards are based on public nominations with a panel of GFG judges choosing the most outstanding for their overall winner, which this year is Wine & Brine, in Moira, Northern Ireland.

Elizabeth Carter, Waitrose Good Food Guide Editor, says, “The simple formula of a kitchen that cooks fresh to order is the very principle on which our guide was founded. We have always maintained that the best restaurants offer creative, memorable food based on quality, seasonal and local produce. In other words no pretensions or gimmicks, just first-class food cooked from ingredients deeply rooted in the region. A commitment to their community and a strong relationship with local suppliers is what makes a restaurant truly local.”

Speaking about The Whitehouse Restaurant, Carter continues “Mike Burgoyne is a skilled chef using fabulous ingredients, serving them beautifully but with bags of enthusiasm and fun. He knows how to write a menu too, with Highland this and Scottish that, so that you end up wanting to eat everything. And the blackboard menu gets rewritten on the spot as new produces comes in. Why aren't there more places like this?”

Joint owner of The Whitehouse Restaurant, Sarah Jones said, “The Whitehouse team are totally blown away by the news. This is so huge for such a small, locally run restaurant on the West Coast. We have always prided ourselves on showcasing Morvern, Lochaber and Scotland, so to be recognised for this is immense. The fact that it has been through customer recommendation that we have received this award makes it even more special to us. A heartfelt thanks to all who have endorsed, supplied and eaten with us and not forgetting the community of Lochaline for their continued support.”