It’s always nice to go to a place which belongs to the category of ‘The best in the UK for…’. This time it’s, unusually for us, fish and chips!
Anstruther is a nice costal village in the East Neuk of Fife, Scotland, and the the celebrated venue is imaginatively called ‘The Anstruther Fish Bar’.
Not only is this the 2009 winner of Yet Another Meaningless Food and Restaurant Competition, but it is also patronised by some of the Great and the Good. This last fact is generally also a poor, sometimes indeed a contrary, indicator of the quality of a venue. So, being in the vicinities, we decided to try for ourselves.
The first challenge for us is getting to grips with the the pronunciation of the word ‘Anstruther’. We fail miserably. Let us just say we are happy this is not a radio broadcast 🙂
Once inside, there is the advertised permanent long queue for the takeaway section. It’s not TOO long only because it is an indistinct Wednesday night – at weekends you have to stand the best part of an hour, but we jump it anyway because we are Italian and we don’t do no queue…, ehm, no, actually because we decide to sit down in the unreconstructed 70’s dining area: plastic tables, cheap lighting, Heinz tartare sauce, tattered menues…
The interesting touch is a screen showing images of fishing, a reminder of the harsh conditions fellow men have to endure to bring fish eventually to our table. This puts us in an expectant and respectful mood.
The bread arrives:
uhm, ok, let’s not build too much on this…
While we wait, we have time to brush up our knowledge:
We have dressed crab, battered haddock with chips, mushy peas, and coleslaw. We can’t be more conservative than that.
We expected the seafood to be very fresh and we were not disappointed. Indeed, the crab was very good. As for the haddock, was it the most flavoursome seafood we’ve ever had? No, it wasn’t. Was it good? Yes it was. And the batter was really excellent, light and airy and fried well and in the right proprtion to the fish. The only real disappointment came from the chips, truly unremarkable. Not much to be said for the peas, either, while the coleslaw was rather good.
The prices are honest, each large course setting you back far less than a tenner, or about 20-30% less if you eat take away. The staff are cheerful and polite. When in the vicinities again (more on this story later…) we will probably be back, also to try their interesting looking ice-cream section. But we are also keen to try their (even cheaper) competitors: we are wondering whether we can really taste a difference between the best fish and chips in these fishing villages along the Fife coast: can it really be the case that their sourcing and their abilities in preparing a batter differ so much?
While mulling over this question, should you feel like a ‘latte’, cappuccino society has arrived here too…