Tea with ESB : No. 2 : East Highlands Edition

Hello everyone!

Welcome back to my blog. If you haven’t read my latest post about my perfect day in Paris for Valentine’s Day, from breakfast in Montmartre to ice-cream in the Luxembourg Gardens, you can read it by clicking here!

In this post, as part of my Tea with ESB series, I want to share with you my pick of the cafes I visited on a recent trip to the East Highlands.

My Tea with ESB series is all about the best tea shops and bakeries, giving you the lowdown on the tastiest tea and cake I can find. Today I am featuring two – The Pier, Lochside Lairg, and The Courthouse, Dornoch. For each café, I will describe the location, atmosphere, and food and drink to give you a flavour of how I enjoyed it, with an at a glance cupcake rating reflecting what I thought.

On a recent trip to the East Highlands in Scotland, I was surprised to discover how many delicious bakes I came across. Since my last visit 5 or so years ago, a number of up to date and modern cafes which have cropped up which delighted me. Young passionate people seem to have injected the area with enthusiasm and new ideas which made the cafés I visited a real treat and why I felt the need to share them with you. The baking and experience lived up to and beyond the beautiful scenery, which is one of the traditional reasons to venture this far north, and made my visit even more special.

To accompany this post, here’s my cover of Rodgers and Hart song, ” ‘Cause we got cake,” which epitomizes all the mouth-watering bakes I got my chops around!


Pier 13

Website : http://www.pier-cafe.co.uk/

Address : Lochside, Lairg, Sutherland IV27 4EG

Cupcake rating

Cupcake ident for The Pier


If you could imagine a perfect place to situate a café in the Highlands, I don’t think you could come up with a better place than this. Perfectly nestled by Loch Shin, you can watch the world go by over the water, while you sit and enjoy your freshly baked cake. The unpromising outside of the building does not do justice to the warmth and comfort on the inside of this café/restaurant so don’t drive past!


Walking in from the often inclement Scottish weather, you are greeted by friendly staff who instantly make you feel at home. I was immediately drawn to the variety of home-baked cakes, which were lined up on a weathered wooden side board, before settling down in front of the roaring wood burner. As customers come and go, it feels like an open house where locals – family and friends – pop in to enjoy coffee and a catch up before continuing with their day.


The cakes were beautifully baked and displayed in glass covered domes with so many new and different flavours I had never encountered before. However, a special mention has to go to the Orange Marmalade Cake, beautifully moist and glazed with orange slices, and Oaty Biscuits, which were sandwiched with a fluffy buttercream and were slightly like treacle tart in biscuit form.


Dornoch 7

Website : http://www.thecarnegiecourthouse.co.uk/tea-room-deli/

Address : The Carnegie Courthouse, Castle Street, Dornoch, IV25 3SD

Cupcake rating 

Cupcake ident for The Pier


The Courthouse Café, as the name suggests, is situated on the first floor of what used to be an old courthouse. It is right in the centre of the cosy town of Dornoch, with an ancient cathedral and great access to the beach, which is a perfect example of the understated beauty of the East Highlands. Apart from the grandeur of the exterior of the courthouse, getting to the café can seem daunting as you have to make your way past a tourist information office. But once you make your way up the grand staircase, you will be surprised by how lovely it is.


At the top, you are greeted by a sparkling café with wooden floors and smart looking furniture, so you might be mistaken for thinking you had pitched up in a London tearoom. However, the main attraction is a painted mural that is populated by famous faces connected with the local area including golfers and even Madonna, who got married at Skibo Castle.


The extensive range of cakes and bakes are as tempting to look at as they are to eat. A special mention to the Ginger Cake which was so moist and lovely I had to have another piece. Also, the tea I drank was made with real chamomile flowers which added extra luxury to the experience.

I was so chuffed to discover such delicious bakes in the East Highlands. It really was a real advert for Scotland – the people, food and landscape altogether!

What are your recommendations for cafes for me to visit in the UK? I’d love to know your favourites!

See you next time for another post but in the meantime,

Happy Tuneful Baking!

English Singing Baker x



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s