While the classic thing to do in Anstruther is get fish & chips at the famous fish bar, there are lots of other interesting places to eat in town.
Stepping into this pub feels like traveling back in time. The thick stone walls and dark wooden beams make it easy to imagine patrons of centuries past (including an incognito king of Scotland… read the plaque outside!)milling about. The Dreel prides itself on its relaxed vibe. The menu is short but includes plenty of great food, including a very East Neuk-appropriate stuffed crab. The dishes rotate, but there is always at least one very tasty vegetarian option. If the old-world atmosphere isn’t for you, there is also an airier sunroom in the back overlooking the humble and peaceful Dreel Burn.
The Bank or The Waterfront: Mac ‘n Cheese
My sister and I are mac ‘n cheese afficionados, so you can imagine our delight when we found that in Scotland, mac ‘n cheese isn’t relegated to the kids’ menu! There are two places in Anstruther that both do great mac ‘n cheese. Going to the Bank means you get to finish off with the SPECTACULAR banana and ice cream dessert. The Waterfront’s offering is lighter and a little tastier, and the restaurant is ideally located for harbour front people-watching. Either is great, but we’d personally recommend the Waterfront.
Tammy Norrie Tearoom
Although I have a deep and abiding love for mac ‘n cheese, my one true passion is grilled cheese, and nobody does it in Anstruther like the Tammy Norrie tearoom! Situated inside the Fisheries Museum, the tearoom is staffed by a friendly group of formidable women, most of whom are also on Anstruther’s award-winning rowing team. The toasties are so good that it’s rumored the museum’s volunteers would mutiny if they weren’t rewarded with a toastie break during the day. As a volunteer, I can vouch for this vehemently. My suggestion is cheese and pickle toastie complemented by one of the lovely baked goods (my favourite being the fruit and nut bread). On a nice day you may want to sit in the historic courtyard; otherwise the indoor tearoom hosts visiting art exhibitions. In case you’re wondering where the name comes from, “Tammy Norrie” is an old Shetland name for “puffin.”
Anstruther Fish Bar: Ice Cream
Not being a fish person, my main cause for going to the World-Famous Anstruther Fish Bar is for their delicious ice cream. There’s nothing quite like eating ice cream on the harbour. The sleeper favourite here is apple – not a typical ice cream flavour, but an unfailingly delicious one. This ice cream place was elevated to legendary status for me when they served blue moon ice cream. This may mean little to those of you who do not hail from the Upper Midwest, but the creamy, fruity mystery flavour we call “blue moon” is a cherished staple in the region. Elusive outside of the Upper Midwest, the flavour of my childhood somehow ended up at this fish bar in a little Scottish town. I have not seen it there again; true to its namesake, it only appears once in a blue moon…
There’s always room at Eastern Touch, and their extensive menu gives any lover of South Asian cuisine a lot to choose from. The portions are big, leaving you with plenty of leftovers, and they also do takeaway. Everyone has their favourite Indian dishes, but for the appetizer here I would definitely recommend their pakora, and their naan is nice and buttery. With its wall mural depicting Anstruther’s Smuggler’s Harbour, Eastern Touch is a South Asian restaurant with an East Neuk twist.
Though not technically a restaurant, the French deli in Anstruther offers an interesting food selection, including a lot of strange pates and international cheeses.
The Gossip and other places I’ve never tried
The recently reopened Cellar is headed by a former chef of Balmoral and is supposed to offer fantastic cuisine, but I’ve never eaten there so I can’t say for sure. There are quite a few pubs as well as cafes, snack shops, and chippies. Many of them are tucked away in the cobblestoned sidestreets that wind uphill from the sea. From the adorable Mrs P’s to the wild Smuggler’s Inn, there are at least a dozen more places that serve food in Anstruther than what’s listed here, so it’s worth exploring beyond the fish bar to see if there’s anything else you like.
Photo credit: Meg Hyland