By Katie Macleod
On the Isle of Berneray, neither locals nor visitors will be able to miss the brand new, bright blue Berneray Shop and Bistro, located just a few minutes from the ferry terminal and the causeway linking the island to North Uist.
The newly redesigned and licensed bistro is open year-round for lunches, homemade cakes, and teas and coffees, as well as for evening meals from April to October, while the attached shop is also an off-licence that sells local produce and meats.
Formerly Ardmaree Stores and the Lobster Pot Tearoom, the business was bought over and rebranded at the end of 2017 by Lochmaddy-based Abigail Nicholson and her husband Ruairidh, who – as well as installing a commercial kitchen and new flooring – have transformed the space with a nautical-style design that complements its seafood-filled menu.
Evening bistro-style meals are available from 5.30pm-8.30pm during the high season of April to October, with seafood options like lobster and langoustines supplied by Ruairidh himself, who works as fisherman. “We’re also trying to use local suppliers as much as possible,” explains Abigail, referencing island businesses such as JA Macdonald for fruit and vegetables, Kallin Shellfish for crab meat, Munro Butchers for meat, and Stag and Macleans Bakeries.
Lunches will feature homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and baked potatoes, with customers being able to choose from fillings like local crabmeat and Lochmaddy Bay langoustines. Vegetarian, vegan, and other dietary requirements can be catered for, and the Bistro can also host private parties for up to 24 guests.
There has already been high demand for evening meals, from both locals and tourists; as a result, Abigail and Ruairidh have hired a full-time chef, Joe Stewart, who will be working at the Bistro alongside his wife, Nicola Macdonald. Katie MacDonald and Morag MacIssac, who worked for the business in its previous incarnation, are staying on, too. “They’ve been a great help to both myself and Ruairidh, and are a great part of the team,” says Abigail.
“I’ve worked in the retail and hospitality industry since I left school, and love working with the public,” Abigail continues.
“The locals have been very supportive, and very welcoming to Ruairidh and I, and we’ve already had a lot of repeat custom.”