The Mishnish Hotel in Tobermory has opened a second restaurant in partnership with chef Ross Caithness as owners Les and Meg MacLeod shelve their retirement plans.
They’ve created a business partnership with experienced fine dining chef, Ross Caithness, who has worked with chefs including Martin Wishart and Tom Kitchin, and turned the unused upstairs space into a twenty cover fine dining restaurant, called An Cala Ciùin – translated as The Calm Harbour.
Ross said, “Our joint vision lined up perfectly on the style of restaurant we wanted to open. I am very grateful as it’s not every day as a chef that you get the chance to put everything you’ve worked for into something you can call your own. We all felt that An Cala Ciùin would be something different to add to the already brilliant array of restaurants on the island.”
“We are delighted about teaming up with Ross, it’s provided a new exciting focus in the business which we had been ready to sell,” said Meg MacLeod, who is one of only two families that have owned “The Mish” as its locally known, in its 160 year history on Tobermory’s famous sea front.
“We had thought of retiring, and actually went as far as listing the Hotel with an agent. We wanted to find the right kind of owner for this very special business which obviously has meant so much to us since we became its custodians in 2014,” she added.
Meg explained that her existing casual dining restaurant within The Mish, “The MishDish”, which is in the downstairs part of the building, already had a very fine reputation for locally caught seafood “which is another reason why tourists come to Mull.”
“Teaming up with Ross, with his incredible menus, has given our guests, day visitors, and local customers the choice of two different styles of dining depending on what they are looking for. The MishDish is also very popular, with a wide choice of dishes. We can’t wait to showcase both places in the run up to Christmas,” she said.
Originally from Dundee, but having worked all over Scotland, and abroad, Ross continues the story, “I had worked on Mull before, spending a season up at Cafe Fish in Tobermory where I was lucky enough to have free reign on working with some of the best seafood straight from the boats,” he said.
“I loved the job and I loved the island, but to gain even more experience in fine dining, which I now felt was my niche, I moved to Edinburgh to work at The Kitchin under Tom Kitchin. I’d say this is where I really honed in my skills as a chef, working with the best Scottish produce with classical French techniques. We had a brilliant team there and worked so close with what was best in season. The menus would change weekly, so it was a constant learning environment to be in. I would have to credit Chef Tom for where I am as a chef now!”
From there Ross went on to spend a year and a half working in a restaurant called Mardignon, in a small town called Bassano del Grappa in the North of Italy.
“Again, I had super seasonal ingredients to work with, but learned that beautiful dishes can be made by just getting the best out of three simple ingredients,” he said.
“After returning from Italy, I floated around doing some agency work, trying to figure out what my next permanent move would be. I came back over to Mull to help out Ryan who was the chef at The MishDish, just for a few weeks initially. It was about six years since I had last worked on the island, so it great to come back and see what had changed, and meet up again with the locals that were still here.”
“I think it took about three days of being here when Meg and Les approached me about the restaurant upstairs which they had a vision of opening again as a fine dining restaurant. It didn’t take too much thought on my part to realise that we were all on the same page about what we envisioned for the place.”
In Meg’s words, “we realised Ross was absolutely fantastic, just what we had been looking for, and that this was an opportunity not to be missed.”