Anstruther's Fish Bar (Anstruther)

Location: Anstruther, Scotland
Address: 42-44 Shore Street
Type of Meal: Lunch

Anstruther's Fish Bar is located right on the pier so fresh fish is what you’ll expect and get.  In fact, on top of their takeaway counter sits a sign that proudly announces which fishing company caught the haddock for the day.  The restaurant is simple with a take-out area as soon as you enter (£5.90 for the haddock), a dining area with about a dozen tables in the middle and an ice cream parlour at the other end.

But, don’t let the casual interior fool you, Anstruther is serious about fish and chips and won many accolades including being recognized the Best Fish and Chip Shop in Scotland and the UK’s Fish Shop of the Year.  Discreet Scotland Tours brought us here right after our visit in the St. Andrews district and noted its popularity with visitors and students of St. Andrews University – including the infamous Prince William.

Having walked around all morning, we decided to eat in and luckily scored a table.  Everyone had to try their speciality, deep fried haddock (£8.25), although Anstruther offers other seafood such as sole, hake, cod, prawns and crab.  For those who don’t like seafood (gasp), deep fried chicken, pizza, burgers, curry chicken, macaroni & cheese and savoury rolls are also available.  

The haddock when dining in costs a bit more but does come with bread & butter (regular sliced bread), a selection of sauces (ketchup, tartare, malt vinegar or brown sauce (aka HP sauce)) and a hot drink. I went with the tartare sauce which sadly was a packaged Heinz variety that’s meritocracy actually ruined the fish – in the end I just ate it plain with some malt vinegar on the chips.

The batter is light, crispy and not greasy at all allowing the freshness of the fish to shine through.  Meanwhile, the haddock is just cooked through so that the fish retains its moistness.  Portion sizes are fairly large with the paper platter containing one and a half fillets and a significant amount of chips. The chips are ordinary yet still tasty and just needs some salt (found on the table) to give it some flavour.

Not having grown up on fish and chips, I must say this is one of the best versions I’ve tasted. Admittedly, I have had a similar calibre fish and chip in Toronto at Rock Lobster where they make a wonderful house-made tartare sauce. My father-in-law, who eats it more and has tried other UK locations, ranks this as one of his top picks as well.  In the end, I wouldn’t make a special journey to Anstruther’s Fish Bar; but, if you happen to be in the St. Andrews area you should definitely stop by.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!