We booked dinner at Scarista House with high expectations. On arrival we were ushered into a study by a waitress, log fire sadly not lit and the room cold, without background music. Two further sets of guests arrived and we were handed menus. No choice is offered, either three courses for £43 or £49.50 for four courses. Canapés arrived, slightly curious oily balls of a dough texture which needed the spicy sauce to enliven them. We chose the house red wine (south American and very pleasant) and awaited dinner. We were duly ushered through to the rather cold dining area by the waitress. A figure presumably the front of house manager or owner was visible in the dining room however as he did not introduce himself to us all evening we remained none the wiser. The starter arrived. Harris enjoys an abundance of fresh local seafood. Why anyone would present ingredients such as fresh scallops,crab and prawn chopped up in the form of a cheese tart is a mystery. No marks for presentation then and unremarkable flavours or texture. The main course was beef and this was good,tender,cooked medium pink exactly as per the menu. The accompaniment of mashed potato and a very modest portion indeed of two veg in a jus was however as unimaginative a presentation as the starter. Prior to dessert the front of house manager/owner at last turned the heating up. Dessert was billed as hazelnut meringue with blueberry sorbet and raspberries. This was voted acceptable if not out of the ordinary and the square multi layer presentation was unusual. Two of us went with the cheeseboard instead of dessert which again was pleasant enough but contained Welsh, Irish and Yorkshire cheeses, a rather bizarre selection for supposedly one of the top eating establishments in Scotland bearing in mind the available local produce. Finally, Petit Fours were served in the now-warm study. These were good. The bill of just over £200 would have represented questionable value for a dining experience that fell well short of our expectations overall. The lack of ambience and absence of interaction with the owners being one detraction, the generally unimaginative fare being the other. I say 'would have' because there was a final twist. Our bill had seemingly been discounted by a £25 'voucher' without explanation.As we had heard another guest mention a voucher we assumed the discount related to a deal with our accommodation provider. However the answer emerged a week later, when a business colleague I had visited in Stornoway asked if we had enjoyed the wine. Appreciative of my breaking my holiday to meet him, my colleague had phoned Scarista and said he would pay for our wine. Inexcusably this was not mentioned.Thus I was left in the embarrassing position of my colleague thinking for a week that I had failed to acknowledge his kind gesture, until he himself raised it. We have tried to present as balanced a review as possible but whatever reputation Scarista may have had in the past will take it a considerable effort to recover in our eyes. At present we feel the dining experience on offer at Scarista has nothing particular to set it apart from the competition. As a postcript - we ordered take away seafood (starter and main) from a local croft the previous day and found both the presentation and flavours superior.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.