First of all, I will admit that the Glencoe Inn and Gathering was not high on my list when I visited Glencoe about a month ago.
Not because I didn’t want to visit, but more because my friend Megan was incredibly eager to try another venue.
So why did I end up at The Gathering?
The Glencoe Inn and Gathering
After being on hold for the third time with her favorite place, I went back to Google and found the menu for The Gathering.
It looked like your typical pub fare and after a hike in the Pap of Glencoe it actually looked like the perfect place to relax and unwind.
I called again to make a reservation. I was informed by a friendly member of staff that unfortunately they did not take reservations, but he advised key times which he thought would be quieter.
The climb itself was pretty relentless. The rain held up most of the time and the slippery scramble over the rocks got us a bit riled up. We relished the pockets of sun that helped dry us off as we ascended and descended the peak.
We were starving after a few hours away and were looking forward to a good meal.
I had read on The Gathering website that they claimed to be home to ‘one of the best fish suppers in the Scottish Highlands’. It’s a bold statement and I was happy to put it to the test.
On site, there’s a steak and lobster bistro, Red Shed Pizza (an outdoor pizza shack near the parking lot), a fish and chips offering, and the bar and grill.
We opted for the casual bar and grill.
It had a very informal feel with old pews used as pews and old photos and magazine covers used as artwork.
There was almost a canteen and a school canteen, with the kitchens at the front open and the service points there too.
There was also a slight industrial and church feel to it, but what really sold this place was the views from all directions.
The scenery was breathtaking and the fog that was setting in hid some of the larger hills and mountains.
When we arrived it took a little while for the staff to greet us which wasn’t a problem as we could see they were busy.
We were seated next to a window and handed a menu. Thirst came, so we ordered soft drinks and water right away.
When we visited, there were only three entrees to choose from. Tomato and garlic soup, smoked salmon and soda bread and Loch Leven mussels.
None really jumped out so I suggested we order half portions of some dishes.
I had my eye on the sticky barbecue pork back ribs with a secret sauce (£10 for half a portion) while Megan suggested the cauliflower gratin with Isle of Mull cheddar, brie and rustic bread with olives (£5) and added seared smoked pancetta for £2.50.
When our makeshift starters arrived I could only laugh when I saw the fries on the side of the ribs. I completely forgot to tell our server not to care, but alas we ate them.
There was plenty to eat in the ribs and the sauce was delicious. Smoky, sweet with a little spice in there. We both loved this dish, although we ended up leaving fries. For a half portion it was a great helper.
The cauliflower was boiling so we had to be really careful when we got back. The stringy melted cheddar cheese lasted for days, so you had to carefully maneuver it and the veggies in your mouth.
There was plenty of it and it was incredibly rich and the bread on the side served to soak up some of the sauce.
Our server told us that the fish supper and the pizzas were the most popular dishes, so we ordered them for the main course.
The place was filling up as night approached 6:30 p.m. with families and walkers. There was plenty of seating fore and aft but the dreich weather forced everyone inside. Even the strange dog slept under the tables.
The Real Man Haddock (£14.50) as described on the menu was a big portion and I liked that it was served on faux parchment paper newspapers. It was nicely presented but I don’t know what made it a “real man” haddock.
I was craving fries, but these were thick, crispy and well done. The fish was nice, but neither it nor the batter had much flavor.
Alongside the fries were mint peas, tartar sauce and a salt and pepper Beach Comber salad with hand-picked coastal seaweed sheets, pepper arugula and salted glasswort tossed in lemon juice and olive oil. It was all very pleasant.
As for the pizza, there was a choice of seven barbecue chickens, ham and pineapple, vegetables, seafood, venison, etc. Megan opted for the Hot Highland beef version with Scottish pepperoni, smoked Scottish mozzarella, heirloom tomato, green pepper, red onion, Tabasco, jalapeno peppers (£13).
It came from the pizza shack outside where it was baked in a wood-fired oven.
Megan felt it was a bit “style over substance” with the spice and flavor lacking.
She also thought it was quite mushy and I didn’t get much flavor either. Tabasco sauce punch was non-existent and even the jalapenos didn’t add much.
The cheese was melted and we both agreed it was eye candy with the colors on it. Purple from the red onion, red from the pepperoni and green from the peppers.
We decided not to eat puddings as we had made ourselves sick with the amount of food we had ordered, supposedly per day, and returned to our accommodation.
There’s no denying that The Gathering is a place built to bring people together.
By the time we left it had really filled up and pizza and fish and chips were flying around the room.
He filled in a hole after a long hike and while it might not have been our first option, the crew certainly helped us out when we needed food.
*The menu has changed since this review was conducted. The Highland pizza and the cauliflower gratin have no to the new menu.
Address: Village of Glencoe, Tyndrum Road, Glencoe, Ballachulish PH49 4HP
P: 01855 811245
- Food: 3/5
- Performance: 4/5
- Surroundings: 3/5
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[Highs and lows at The Glencoe Inn and Gathering]