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Isle of Skye native returning to her roots with launch of new Gaelic-focused cafe venture

Café Cùil has opened on the Isle of Skye.
Café Cùil has opened on the Isle of Skye.

A new brunch and lunch spot inspired by the Hebrides has officially opened its doors on the Isle of Skye.

Café Cùil, previously based in Dalston, London has welcomed its first customers this week after the concept was tested with various successful pop-ups previously held on the island.

Owned by esteemed head chef, Clare Coghill, the Isle of Skye native has brought a new cafe to the quaint village of Carbost.

She aims to champion and preserve Gaelic culture while serving up a vibrant, quirky menu influenced by the Island’s plentiful seasonal produce.

What will be on offer at Café Cùil?

Diners can expect an East London influence in the heart of the Hebrides, with a rotating seasonal menu using locally-sourced produce from the island.

Ingredients such as wild garlic, woodsorrel, and chanterelle mushrooms will feature on the menu, and Clare plans on showcasing specialty coffee supplied by Skye’s Caora Dubh which is roasted on their premises.

Some of the dishes on offer.

The first iteration of the menu includes Lochalsh beef brisket rarebit with Orkney cheddar, a poached egg with onion jam, tattie scone stack with square sausage, Isle of Skye black pudding, fried egg and spicy sriracha, and Scottish wholetail scampi tacos with crushed peas, spring onion, fresh coriander and spicy tartare sauce.

The café seats 80 covers and is just a stone’s throw away from the Fairy Pools, Talisker Brewery and Glenbrittle Beach and will be open Wednesday to Sunday from 9.30am to 5pm.

Menus in Gaelic

Café Cùil (Cùil: Gaelic meaning for nook or nest) aims to celebrate the diversity and vibrancy of Gaelic culture, providing a safe space for speakers with menus available in both English and Gaelic.

It warmly welcomes the use of Scotland’s founding language, while maintaining Skye’s place as the historical centre of Gaelic culture.

Clare Coghill plating up.

Preserving the culture and employing young Gaelic speakers from the Island is non-negotiable for Clare. She returned home to the Isle of Skye from London at the height of the pandemic in 2020, in search of a better quality of life, access to better produce, and to re-immerse herself back into the Island’s rich heritage.

The owner and head chef grew up on Skye working for the family-owned Sligachan Hotel and after a stint career in TV and film production, she returned to cheffing and hospitality.

Clare was crowned winner of My Kitchen Rules in 2017 and frequently features on BBC Alba as a contributor.

Inside the venue.

She said: “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.

“Cafe Cuil aims to bring a unique take on brunch and diversify the Island’s offering for locals and tourists alike. Forget ham and cheese paninis, brisket rarebit with smoked cheddar and chilli jam for the win!

The menu focuses on promoting local.

“I’m hoping we will continue to put Skye’s excellent food reputation firmly on the map for day time casual dining as well as fine dining already available.”

Clare has also managed to employ 10 to 15 staff with a mix of both full and part-time. She has been working in hospitality since the age of 14 and previously also worked at Lighthaus Cafe in East London and top Scottish London-based venue, Deeney’s Cafe in Leyton.

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