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Is a new Inverness restaurant one of the most Scottish around? The proof could be in the pudding - Irn Bru flavoured of course.

By Neil MacPhail

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David and Roberta Shayer outside Aye Eat.
David and Roberta Shayer outside Aye Eat.

Is Inverness now home to one of the most Scottish restaurants around?

From its eye-catching feature wall proudly displaying a variety of 120 sporrans, through a golf themed corridor to toilets with plaid patterned floor tiles, Aye Eat, is unashamedly rocking many things Caledonian - and why not?

There are acres of upholstered Harris Tweed on the walls, Inverness tartan aplenty, tables made from recycled whisky barrels, a novel pour-your-own dram dispenser, plenty of bagpipe images, and of course a vivid green Nessie the Loch Ness Monster.

But thanks to the design skills of the couple behind the city’s latest hospitality venture, Aye Eat is high in quality and craftmanship, and certainly not done on the cheap.

A legion of sporrans hanging on wall.
A legion of sporrans hanging on wall.

And while the image is undoubtedly going to wow the visitors to the Highland capital, especially the Americans, co-owners David and Roberta Shayer are keen to also attract local custom to their High Street venture.

The use of Aye in the name is doubly Scottish - commonly meaning “Yes” but in some parts meaning “Always.”

“It is not just all quirky Scottish stuff for the tourists,” said David. “We want the local people to come along too and be impressed with what we have on offer, especially good quality Scottish food.

“As much as possible with have used local tradesmen and materials, and our food will be sourced here too.”

A general view of the large restaurant.
A general view of the large restaurant.

It is a sizeable restaurant seating around 80 at present including two “lodges” that can take parties of seven. and it aims to cater for 500 customers a day at the height of the tourist season.

A second phase of the High Street development is planned for the first floor, with banquets and ceilidhs a speciality.

The couple are very serious about their food offering too, with the kitchen’s major attraction being a world-class Josper charcoal grill and barbecue which customers can see in action.

It is the first Josper in the north and one of the few in the UK, with others used by the likes of Thanestone House near Aberdeen and Malmaison in England. It is so exclusive its Portuguese makers sent it over with a specialist to ensure it is operating correctly.

Highland and Aberdeen Angus steaks and burgers will be high on the menu, along with locally sourced fish specialities, and a varied vegan and vegetarian menu.

And among the desserts will of be Irn Bru flavoured cheesecake and deep-fried Mars bars!

One of the two cosy lodges.
One of the two cosy lodges.

David, (51) who grew up in Elgin, and Brazil-born Roberta (39) have been working on their Aye Eat venture for the past year as well as running their award-winning guest house Aye Stay in Bishops Road, raising their family of three including a boy of eight months, and also working remotely in finance for London firms.

Roberta said: “We are hopeful that the footfall on the High Street, especially when the nearby Inverness Castle visitor attraction opens, will be good for business. It is a really central location and we will be open all year round.”

David, who is on the board of Visit Inverness, added that they are keen to do their bit to attract people to the city especially in the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn.

Aye Eat is getting set for a “soft” opening this Friday.

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