I was asked to contribute a list of my favourite island eateries for The Herald Magazine's special edition published on April 21, 2018. I've visited most of the islands, from the Clyde to the Shetlands via the Outer Hebrides, yet the exercise of compiling this list helped crystallise for me that, compared to just a few years ago, the food offer in these relatively remote places has improved beyond recognition in terms of the quality - and availability - of the fresh local produce they offer in a range of wonderful venues from roadsite shacks to art galleries to Michelin starred restaurants.
Heathbank Hotel, Northbay, Barra
Restaurants are rare here, so this charming eaterie, whose menu focuses on locally sourced seafood served in contemporary style, is a gem. The pan-fried haddock atop a pile of minted peas and courgettes from the local community-run kitchen garden is stand-out.
The Bute Kitchen, Mount Stuart, Bute
The old kitchen at the magnificent 19th-century Mount Stuart mansion is the place to try home-made Cullen Skink with smoked haddock by Rothesay fishmonger Ritchie's, or a haggis sausage roll by Macqueens butcher in the town. Finish with an ice-cream by Zavaroni's, the island café run by the family of the late popular singer Lena.
The Boathouse, Gigha
You'll get the freshest shellfish and seafood, caught by local fishermen and divers, at this stunning shoreside eaterie. Try the house fish curry of monkfish, snapper, scallop and king prawns while gazing across the Sound of Gigha and watching the gannets dive. Check out the "fresh in" board for dishes from the day's landings.
Lochindaal Hotel, Port Charlotte, Islay
This tiny, traditional pub restaurant is justly renowned for its huge seafood platter of whole fresh local crab, lobster, scallops, langoustines and mussels, all supplied daily by island fishermen. They need 24 hours' notice, and it's worth £100 - if you can bear to share.
Croft 36, Northton, Harris (pictured top)
Wild Harris rabbit stew from this roadside take-away shed is recommended. Run by a husband and wife team, their compact menu features locally sourced seafood, meat and game - and it operates successfully on an honesty scheme.
An Lanntair, Kenneth Street, Stornoway, Lewis
The seafront arts hub serves the local and international creative community with a café-bar menu (in Gaelic and English) showcasing produce form the Outer Hebrides. The Crofter's Breakfast of Stornoway black pud, Lewis haggis and local beef sausage is a must.
The Ninth Wave, Fionnphort, Mull
Canada-born Carla cooks while Mull-born Jonny does front of house - and fishing – for the menu at their traditional croft house. Look out for the sea urchin and scallop spring rolls and Sound of Iona langoustines with Cointreau dressing.
The Foveran, St Ola, Kirkwall, Orkney
This family-run restaurant works closely with local suppliers, using their produce imaginatively. Try the Foveran fillet of Orkney beef or the slow-cooked pork belly with griddled pears while admiring the views over Scapa Flow.
Loch Bay Restaurant, Stein, Skye
Chef-patron Michael Smith has gained the Misty Isle's only Michelin star at his shoreside restaurant in the fishing village at Waternish. Classic French techniques shine in his Scottish cooking, perhaps best showcased in the seven-course Skye Fruits de Mer menu.
Hay's Dock Cafe Restaurant, Shetland Museum and Archives, Lerwick
The menu at this dramatically-designed museum is designed to showcase the island's fishing and crofting heritage. Best for the chowder of locally caught ling, tusk and smoked haddock – while observing the historic working docks and beyond to the Sound of Bressay.