In the first of the new ‘Days Out From Edinburgh’ section the Anstruther Fish Bar was visited by The Edinburgh Blog.
Anstruther was originally a small fishing village in the Kingdom of Fife, but has now adapted into a tourist town. Anstruther is home to the Scottish Fisheries museum, pleasure craft that moor in the harbour, interesting architecture and narrow streets that are pleasant to the eye. It’s also located on the Fife coastal path. A car journey from Edinburgh to Anstruther will take around 90 minutes (there is lots of free on street parking) or you could opt for the train to St Andrews followed by the short bus tide to Anstruther.
Though I wasn’t visiting Anstruther for the buildings nor the museum: their award winning fish and chips were my sole sightseeing attraction. The Anstruther Fish Bar has won Scottish Fish and Chip shop of the year three times, including recent victory in the 2006/2007 awards. It’s been served numerous quality awards, featured in several newspaper columns and television programmes and has even been visited by Tom Hanks. Much evidence of these endorsements can be seen on the restaurants interior walls in the form of newspaper cuttings. After getting the final nod of approval from some friends who had made the homage from Edinburgh to the Anstruther Fish Bar I finally decided to set forth on my journey.
Queueing is a fact of life at the Anstruther Fish Bar, with waits of an hour not uncommon. When we arrived just after 2pm the queue snaked outside the entrance door and far down the road. A waitress walked down the queue asking who was for takeaway and who wished to eat inside. We were assured the queue would take no longer than 20 minutes, but it turned out to be just over 30. Our choice to dine at the table proved a wise one, as some persons who joined the takeaway queue at the same time of us were only just leaving with their fish and chips as we were finishing our meal. The Anstruther Fish Bar is never short of trade and I did feel slightly sorry for the fish and chip shop further up the road who was serving only a handful of customers.
I sat on a chair firmly fixed to the floor, a slight inconvenience as I felt too far away from the table; I sat slightly angled away from the door to the ice cream parlour entrance as it continually thrust open, blowing the fiery wind into my face, before the door slammed shut; I sat with a polystyrene cup infront of me and a can of coke by it’s side. But just as my annoyances with the surroundings were about to boil over along came the waitress. There they sat in a cardboard tray, glistening in the light and exhibiting themselves like a catwalk model. Thick cut chips, each one of them perfectly formed, along with two pieces of haddock in a pristine looking batter. The taste was out of this world. As the first chip hit my tastebuds the table suddenly seemed a perfect fit for my body shape; the wind became a gentle breeze, with the doors constant slamming a mere vibration; the polystyrene cup became a golden chalice. As the fish entered my mouth I became even more absorbed. I was now totally oblivious of my surroundings and could only concentrate on devouring this healthy sized portion of fantastic fish and chips worthy of celebration. The two pickled onions (12p each) and mushy peas(75p) I had ordered as extras were also excellent, but nothing could and nothing will take away the brilliance of the Anstruther Bars fish and chips.
The haddock and chips I ate cost Â£6.55, but this included a cup of tea plus bread and butter. I also ordered a couple of tomato ketchup sachets, that really weren’t needed, though at 20p each their price was excessive. The Anstruther Fish Bars menu is fairly extensive with lemon sole, crayfish and crab available on the seafood side together with a range of chicken dishes, burgers, sausages and pies composing the more traditional options. From looking at other tables choices and mine there seemed, with little wonder, no divergence from the famed fish and chips. The Anstruther Fish Bar also serve Scottish produced wine that seemed quite popular with many of their diners. Service was friendly enough, with a young workforce kitted out in matching white uniforms.
So the journey and the waiting had been worth it. At long last I had discovered some truly memorable fish and chips in Scotland. These were perhaps the best fish and chips I have ever eaten; over the years I’ve eaten quite a few. I rounded the meal off with a very pleasant takeaway ice cream cone from the parlour located inside the Anstruther Fish Bar.
If a trip to Anstruther just for fish and chips seems a little over the top (it shouldn’t!) don’t forget that Anstruther is a pleasant enough place to spend a few hours looking round and also has many pubs to occupy your time. A popular option is to call off at Anstruther Fish Bar for a fish and chips dinner after spending the day at St Andrews, which is only 9 miles away.