Saturday, 29 September 2012

Review - The Famous Award Winning Anstruther Fish Bar

I was recently invited to take part in a conversation about fish 'n' chips on BBC Scotland's 'MacAulay and Co' radio show.  Fred MacAulay, the show's regular host (hence the name) was off during this week and so guest presenter Edith Bowman sat in.  Edith grew up in the Scottish seaside town of Anstruther, home of the famous and award winning 'Anstruther Fish Bar' which has won various awards over the years for the quality of their fish 'n' chips.

We decided it would be wise (and tasty) to do some research before the show and so we took ourselves off to Anstruther to sample the delights of their fish suppers for ourselves.  After just over an hour of travelling by car, we arrived in Anstruther on a fairly drizzly day and joined the queue outside.  Each order of fish and chips is cooked individually and the popularity of the fish bar means that visitors should expect to queue for at least a small amount of time.  As it was, on the day we visited we waited around 45-50 minutes before finally getting our hands on our order.  Customers hoping to sit-in should expect to wait slightly longer still.  As we inched closer and closer to the serving area, we could see that the fish was indeed being fried a single piece at a time.  The batter looked surprisingly thinner than I had imagined it would and the chap preparing the fish looked to be holding the fish fillets in the batter for quite some time (the length of time it took to cook one piece of fish in-fact).

Having acquired our meals, we made our way outside past an even larger queue than we'd been part of on our way in.  The temptation to offload the fish suppers to those waiting outside at a profit was outweighed by our hunger and determination to tuck in to what are, many believe, the finest fish suppers in the whole of the UK.

First inspections of the fish and chips revealed that the Anstruther Fish Bar certainly know what they're doing.  Many chip shops suffer from over filling their frying ranges during busy periods, resulting in oil temperatures cooling down which causes the food to soak up much more grease and oil.  The chips from the Anstruther Fish Bar, chunky and generous in portion size, were grease-free and had obviously been cooked at the ideal temperature.

The fish fillet (100% Haddock) also clearly benefited from being given individual attention by the fish fryer.  The light batter was cooked to perfection, crispy and thin so that it could be enjoyed but didn't overshadow the taste of the fish inside.  The fact that not a single bone was found in our 3 fish suppers deserves special mention too.  It's one of my pet hates in the fish 'n' chips experience that so many chip shops do such a poor job of deboning their fish, and finding a bone early is enough to render the meal a complete disappointment in my eyes.

After driving for just over an hour and spending almost another full hour in the queue, it was going to take something really special to make us feel our journey had been worth it.  Ultimately though, I have to say that the Anstruther Fish Bar delivered on all of their claims and I enjoyed one of the best, if not the best fish suppers I've ever had the pleasure of eating.  The long journey and queuing time means it's unlikely that I'll return anytime soon, but if you're ever in the area (or even somewhere reasonably close), I would highly recommend a visit.

I should mention that another popular chip shop exists just a short distance down the road from the Anstruther Fish Bar.  'The Wee Chippy' is often said to be just as popular with locals, some of whom feel the award winning fish bar is more of a tourist spot than a local chippy.  Regrettably, we didn't get a chance to sample the fare in The Wee Chippy.  Perhaps that return visit to Anstruther will come around soon after all.

The Anstruther Fish Bar is located at:
42-44 Shore Street
KY10 3AQ

More information can be found on their website:

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