Restricted opening hours was a common theme when I asked members of a Nairn social media group to share their thoughts on the town’s food and drink scene last week.
“[They] need to be open more,” said one respondent who, like the others, was referring to the restaurants, bars and takeaways in the area.
“Holidaymakers and locals struggle with some of the opening hours, but I realise times are hard just now.”
Another person’s comment, which was among a total of 83 on the post in Nairn — Our Town — Our Views (boasting 6.7,000 members) read something very similar.
“[The] only poor thing about the town are the closing times of carryouts,” they added.
“When holidaymakers ask where to get food after the pubs close, they look aghast that they cant get anything.”
So, are there plenty of takeaways open ’til late for food and drink in Nairn?
I quickly realised that this was a stirring topic among the Nairn community.
Upon further research — relying on information found on Google — I made some discoveries on several local takeaways.
Nairn Tandoori is open from 4.30pm to 10pm while Lorenzo (a pizza shop) is open from 4pm to 11.30pm Sunday to Monday and 4pm to 12.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Lucky House Chinese Takeaway is open from 4.30pm to 11pm Tuesday to Sunday. The same goes for Thai Cottage, however it is closed on Tuesdays rather than Mondays.
It seemed as though there was plenty of variety for foodies in the area well into the evening.
However, another respondent said: “Even if they were to stay open until 10.30pm [implying that they don’t], it would be a benefit.
“But I tried last week to get something delivered at 9.30pm to work and nothing was open.”
This has been an issue among care staff too, with another local writing: “Care home staff in Nairn finish their shifts at 8pm.
“[There’s] no chance of getting a takeaway most times.”
The issue of cafes closing too early (4pm specifically) was also raised.
Opening hours aside, the variety on offer — for breakfast, lunch and dinner — is hailed as ‘remarkable’
Nevertheless, plenty of respondents praised the variety of food and drink in Nairn, with some referring to it as “fantastic”, “excellent” and “remarkable.”
Four local business owners who spoke up failed to see fault in the area’s hospitality scene as well.
A fantastic sign.
Nicola Mackinlay, 45, and 26-year-old Megan Mclean — partners at Makes by Megs and MNM’s Café, which boasts one branch in Nairn and another in Elgin — said: “We honestly can’t think of what Nairn is lacking.
“There is really good variety for a town of its size and has a little bit of something for everyone.”
With more than 120k followers on their social media platforms combined, the largest being TikTok, it’s safe to say that the business partners know a thing or two about what foodies want.
On our way back from a quick trip to Inverness we stopped off for lunch at Nairn and happened upon @sundancernairn – oh my goodness, what a treat! The most amazing setting and the most amazing food. And incredibly good value!
— Jez Conolly @jezconolly.bsky.social (@jezconolly) January 12, 2023
Their Nairn café serves around 500 customers per week, while local social enterprise and zero-waste shop The Highland Weigh welcomes as many as 1,000.
“The variety of choice in the town provides options for both locals and visitors,” says founder and managing director Amanda MacArthur.
“In our experience, businesses are supportive of each other — both as customers and in providing encouragement and support.”
A call for more vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free food
The Highland Weigh, which opened in November last year, also boasts its own vegetarian café.
Amanda went on to say: “Our café uses wholefoods from the ingredients in the store to make healthy soups, dahls and granola.
“Our sourdough comes from The Bakery in Inverness and our vegetables are delivered from Swansons Food Wholesalers.
“As a business, we are passionate about delivering high quality meals and sourcing ingredients as locally as possible.”
The vegetarian dishes available in Nairn were praised by several people on my group post.
The gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options were to an extent, with some saying they could be improved.
“I wish more places did gluten and dairy-free, [it’s] hard to get [and] limited in all shops,” and “most places have good vegetarian options, not so plentiful with vegan options,” were among the comments.
In contrast, another respondent wrote: “Food quality and variety is excellent and surprised at gluten-free and alternative choices available.”
Katrina Ashford, of Rose Cottage Country Kitchen, also emphasised that variety is not lacking in the area.
“I love that we live in an area where fantastic food and drink is all around us,” says the 59-year-old, from Moss-side.
“Although Nairn has grown considerably in the last few years, there is still a community spirit.”