Great food, great service and a great ambience!
Distance from Mey House: 6 Miles
Google maps link: http://goo.gl/maps/J33d1CbnvF82
If you read our food and drink reviews you may detect a certain frustration with many of our local restaurants as they occasionally fail to provide all of the critical elements of a successful dining experience. However, thanks to the launch of Stacks Bistro at John O’Groats (taking its name from the local Duncansby ‘sea’ Stacks), you can now get fresh, imaginatively cooked food served by attentive friendly staff in an environment that is both quirky and comfortable. Although please be aware that Stacks is currently open for evening meals on Thursday, Friday and Saturday only.
Stacks is a partnership between mother and daughter team Teresa and Becky Wymer who between them know a thing or two about hospitality, customer service and good food. Teresa (who leads the front of house team), ran a very successful local B&B for over 10 years whilst daughter Becky (head honcho in the kitchen) has worked at Nick Nairns Cookery school in Aberdeen, The Dores Inn on the shore of Loch Ness and the famous Three Chimneys on Skye.
The restaurant is situated right at the heart of John O’Groats, seats no more than 30 and its décor definitely inspires you to relax and not take life too seriously! We like the eclectic mix of furniture, the colourful colanders that double as lampshades and the imaginative use of reclaimed wood on the walls and service counter.
We first dined at Stacks one lunchtime – a table for four was sought and quickly provided. A mixture of salads, sandwiches and hot meals were chosen from the fixed menu though lunchtime specials were also available on the chalk board. Portions were generous, delicately presented and served with a smile.
So impressed were we, that a week later we returned for a romantic evening for two and once again, we were not disappointed. After delicious starters (hummus with flatbread and Italian crab-cakes) I selected the a la carte option of Porchetta served on a bed of Polenta whilst Sally-Ann opted for one of the daily seafood specials – giant crab claws and salad. Desserts of poached pear and mango cheesecake were squeezed in too, followed by coffees and aperitifs. The bill was a very reasonable £60.
What is refreshing is that this restaurant takes full advantage of its location, buying its seafood daily off the fishermen as they land their catch at the John O’Groats harbour and its vegetables from a local croft. The downside of this superbly fresh cuisine is that the Chef cannot be sure what she will be preparing that evening – we were treated to succulent crab during our visit but the following day, two of the biggest lobsters I have ever seen were its substitutes. What a fantastic lottery to participate in!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Do not expect any deep fried food here at all – no battered fish, no fried scampi and definitely no chips! Closed Monday; open 10am til 5pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday; open 10am – 10pm Thurs to Saturday.
GREAT FOR: Local produce cooked with imagination.
RECOMMENDATION: If you are not sure what any of the items are on the menu, ask for help. The table staff are knowledgeable and eager to encourage you to try something a little different.