Café Cùil, a Hebridean brunch and lunch spot, previously based in Dalston, London is making a triumphant return to the illustrious Isle of Skye this month, birthplace of owner and head chef Clare Coghill.

Clare returned home to the Isle of Skye from London at the height of the pandemic in 2020. “I had more of a sense of belonging to the Highlands and I felt less connected in the big cities”, she tells us. “The pandemic made me realise that quality of life and environment are important to my wellbeing”.

Nestled in the quaint village of Carbost, and a stone’s throw away from the famous fairy pools, this isn’t just any ordinary café. Café Cùil aims to champion and preserve Gaelic culture whilst serving up a vibrant, quirky menu influenced by the island’s plentiful seasonal produce. “I love to use locally-sourced produce because I grew up eating it”, Clare says. “Fresh seafood and local produce is all I knew. I even used to dive for my own scallops outside my house as a youngster!”

The National:

Based in heart of the Hebrides - the historical centre of Gaelic culture - the café will boast a rotating seasonal menu using locally sourced produce of the island. This includes mouthwatering wild garlic, woodsorrel, and chanterelle mushrooms. Speciality coffee will be supplied by Skye’s Caora Dubh, and will be freshly roasted on the premises. 

The first menu offered up includes brunch and lunch options – from Scottish Wholetail Scampi Tacos with crushed peas, spring onion, fresh coriander and spicy tartare sauce, to their Tattie Scone Stack with square sausage, Isle of Skye black pudding, fried egg and spicy sriracha.

Visitors can also look forward to dishes in the works by Clare to come soon - such as hand-dived scallops benedict, and Loch Bay lobster roll with Talisker whisky bisque. 

Cùil in Gaelic means “nook or nest”. The café aims to celebrate the diversity and vibrancy of Gaelic culture, and this is kept alive and integrated throughout the café’s setting, with young Gaelic speakers from the island employed to work on the premises. “I am a fluent speaker of Gaidhlig and grew up speaking it with my peers. As I grew older, I noticed that it was in need of revival.

The National:

“I feel that the cafe is a way for me to do ‘my bit’ for raising Gaelic awareness. I have a fully bilingual Gaelic menu, and handwritten signs on the wall that says 'bruidhinn Gaelic' (speak Gaelic) and 'tha Gaelic beo' (Gaelic is alive!)”

Indeed, the reopening of the café is a key moment for both Clare and the culinary scene of the Hebrides. “After years of living and working in London, I always dreamt of one day returning home to Skye and opening my own eatery. I’m so excited to finally open Café Cùil’s doors again from a stunning nook in the Hebrides.

“I look forward to dishing up a little slice of Gaelic hospitality for our visitors!”