The Sheiling & Ella's Cafe
After the long hike to Quiraing, we were tired and wet. A small, local café near the sea sounded like a perfect spot to eat and warm up. The day was cold and foggy, and Ella’s Café in Sheiling had its warm doors open for us.
The large, arched stencil style black writing was loud and basic. We walked into a space that seemed like a large vintage souvenir shop with a café-restaurant occupying the other half of the room. There were some people in this white house, that looked quite simply from the outside.
Organic and local was the reigning theme there. All items on the menu specified whether they were vegetarian, nuts, gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free (to our surprise, quite a few options). The café’s run by the owner and a helper with a small and efficient menu, and cash-only model.
We ordered the Cheese and Oatcakes - all Scottish-made with local biscuits, home-made chutney, and leaves from Skye. A simple dish with three cheeses from the inland - Inverness and Aberdeen. There were no creameries on Skye, so this was as close as we could get with local dishes. At the same time, it was a bit odd considering all the pastures and roaming farm animals everywhere by the roads. At least some sheep cheese must be made here, no? Complementing our meal were a cup of Cafetiere Codee coffee (fair trade organic) and a green tea.
Spicy Dal came with potato fritters, coriander, and pine-nut chutney along with the local greens. Dal? All the goodness was in a flat bowl that looked like a lentil chili, a tad spicy with some small chopped veggies. The dish was wonderful and intensely flavourful with a small pesto side, perfectly topping the fritters. In addition, a small salad side with chutney helped balance it all off.
There was a digital jukebox in the corner, blasting upbeat nostalgic (50s-60s) oldies - mostly MoTown tunes, to set a relaxed mood.
The souvenir shop within the cafe (or vice-versa?) had a second purpose - entertaining guests while they waited for their meals. We saw a full table get up to get lost exploring the many objects and memorabilia, but we passed on the opportunity ourselves.
Smokey light air outside with hints of sea salt brought in a feeling of a small town. There was not much else to do around the area but to marvel at the mountains and fast-moving clouds across the sea. That’s what the herds of sheep seemed to be doing all day long from their sloping pastures.