Those who have long memories of Inverness' dining scene have had to make some pretty radical mental adjustments recently.  The town has always had some decent restaurants and cafés but, over the last decade, it has come to host the largest concentration of good eating places in Scotland outside Glasgow or Edinburgh.  The reviews here on Tripadvisor provide a good guide (in this reviewer's opinion) to what's on offer. 

At the top end of the scale are Abstract on the east bank of the river (the subject of one of Gordon Ramsay's television programmes) and Rocpool Reserve on Culduthel Road  (the more opulent cousin of Rocpool City near the Ness Bridge).  These are superb restaurants, probably among the top twenty in Scotland; Rocpool Reserve is also a gem of a hotel: check the reviews.  Then there is a clutch of very good eating places, all in a similar price bracket and all offering imaginative, very competent cooking using the great ingredients available in the Highlands.  Longest-established are Café 1 on Castle Street, Rocpool City (or the Rendezvous) beside the Ness Bridge and The Mustard Seed, in a nicely-converted old church at the bottom of Fraser Street.  Newer arrivals include Contrast Brasserie (a lower-priced relation of Abstract);  The corner grill on church/ union street (particularly strong on aberdeen angus steaks); and The Kitchen, a new, three-storey modern building on the west bank of the river about 200 metres downstream from Rocpool City.  Out of the town centre, for example in the Kingsmills area and on and near Old Edinburgh Road, there are hotels offering some very good bar meals at prices a bit lower than the places mentioned above, and further out still, Dunain Park off the A82 has an excellent reputation.

Most of these operate on the modern Scottish organic aberdeen angus steaks The corner Grill.  Abstract and Contrast are firmly French in approach.  Special mention must be made of La Tortilla Asesina, a wonderful little tapas place at the top end of Castle Street.  They do great tapas in as authentically Spanish an environment as you could find outside Spain; they offer language lessons too.  The town also has an ample supply of other styles, with Indian, Chinese, Italian, Mexican and Thai all on offer.

If it is an intimate dinner for two or parties of four or six, River House on the north side of the river on the corner of Greig Street is excellent. The chef owns the business so not open every day, but this also ensures a really personal approach.

For more modest fare, there is a range of honest-to-goodness cafés and delis scattered around the town centre.  Girvan's (bottom of Stephen's Brae) is deservedly popular.  Nearby, there's more French fare on offer at Délices de Bretagne.  The Castle Restaurant on Castle Street may be chips-with-everything - but what chips!  It's been doing what it does very well for generations.  For a lighter snack, two places to try are the wonderful Leakey's bookshop, in a vast converted church with log fire in winter, and the Old Town Deli sadly now closed.  Leakey's is at the north end of Church Street, the Old Town Deli near the south (Castle) end. 

The great thing is that places like The corner grill lunch for £7.95, Rocpool, The Mustard Seed, The Kitchen, Café 1, Contrast and La Tortilla Asesina offer very good food at prices that won't make your eyes water; in several cases, you can also sample their wares on pre-theatre menus which typically offer two courses for under £12 a head, sometimes with a glass of wine included.  Even on the à la carte menus, prices for mains typically run between £9 and £15.  Only at Abstract and Rocpool Reserve will you pay a bit more, but then they do offer an altogether more ambitious level of dining.  The surroundings in all these places are pleasant and the standard of service is generally pretty good.  So bon appetit!