Kate's Canteen

The day to day activities at the distillery are the perfect way for the team here in Tarbert to work up an appetite. Whether it's our distillers at the copper pot stills looking to put a little fuel in their own bellies or other team members seeking to keep their energy levels up, it's to the Canteen here onsite that they turn.

Run by Kate MacDougall, the distillery canteen is a fabulous, but down-to-earth, place to find some fresh local fare to fill up with when hunger and flagging is felt. And in the spirit of our striving to be the most social of distilleries, access to the food and fine tea and coffee served here isn't confined to the staff alone. All guests and visitors to our place of work are very welcome to sit down at the long, sturdy, wooden tables alongside us too. 

Born in South Africa, Kate grew up around good eating, from helping in her parents’ restaurant to enjoying the most convivial of her country’s outdoor cooking culture...Braai. Fresh from the family kitchens, Kate earned an apprenticeship under the tutelage of award-winning chef Bernhard Hess before travels led her out of Africa and onward here to our Harris shores. It was while working in a local hotel she met her Hearach husband Ewen who returned with her to the small town of Montagu in Capetown to run the family restaurant. 

But as is so often the way, the mysterious pull of this beautiful island endured and, as the ideal place to raise their new daughter Meg, Harris’ calling finally proved too irresistible to ignore. Today, Kate is back with us and proving to be the perfect person to run our canteen, her passion for good food and superlative service simply shining through...

“I love the idea of the Canteen being an area where guests and staff can meet and make connections. The menu is simple, using local suppliers and seasonal produce, showcasing the ingredients with a rustic and wholesome feel. We try to do everything a little bit different here at the distillery (enemies of average!) so while our menu may be really small, what we do, we try to do well."

As befits a working distillery, Kate's canteen doesn't stand on ceremony. As in kitchens across the Outer Hebrides the tables are communal places, a chance to gather informally, catch up on gossip and share a story or two. As winter takes hold, there are hearty, rib-sticking soups to be had, freshly made each day using vegetables from local Borve Lodge Estate gardens, providing warmth and respite from the outdoor elements.

Helping to bring a little sweetness, our home baker, Irene Morrison, is whipping up fantastic scones, cakes, brownies, fruit loaves, lemon loaves and shortbread. All perfect foil for the piping hot mugs of tea being served, made with our own distillery blend by Stornoway’s Hebridean Tea Store.

And for the busier seasons ahead we are collaborating with Isle of Lewis Cheese Company using their delicious Crowdie and developing a cheese specifically for us. We’re also working with nearby Amhuinnsuide Castle to bring in beautifully cured and smoked salmon as well as delicious venison products for Summer 2016.

The canteen will be open from Mondays to Saturdays, 10am until 5pm each day with Kate at the helm and no doubt one or two of the distillery staff enjoying a break from their spirited proceedings. Come in, take a seat at our table and break a little bread with us any time you’re passing by...

< Back to journal