When the summer weather decides to show its face and you fancy fish and chips, in my mind, there’s only one place to go – The Bay Fish and Chips.
Located in Stonehaven along the beach front, the award-winning fish and chip shop is something of an institute.
Hailed as one of the top eateries to try in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Eatlist this year and the UK’s top entry in the guide, The Bay Fish and Chips is not just a tourist hot spot, but a popular place with locals, too.
One of my favourite places to grab a fish supper, the chipper, run by local man Calum Richardson, has been open since 2006 and has continued to make waves ever since.
Having won various awards, and priding itself on its passion for promoting sustainable fishing and supporting various local producers from across the region, it’s no surprise people swarm to the eatery on mass, especially on a gorgeous evening.
Taking advantage of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route now being open, I drove out to Westhill, picked up my sister and scooted off down the road to Stonehaven.
Just 20 minutes later, we arrived at the beach front.
It was a beautiful sunny night, and although a little crisp with the breeze, the view was incredibly picturesque.
Having arrived at 7pm I had mentally prepared myself for the mammoth queue I’d anticipated to embrace on the drive over.
And of course, in true The Bay style, the line of ravenous customers was out the door.
Parking up, we joined the back of what seemed like a never ending line, prepared knowing that we may be waiting a while.
In the queue, I ended up bumping into a few of my friends, colleagues and old school pals which definitely helped pass the time – Aberdeen is such a small place at times.
We eventually rocked up to the pass area where we were greeted by a very friendly member of staff and placed our order with him.
Despite having studied the board for the past 20 minutes, I immediately panicked when asked “what are you after?”
Crumbling, my sister jumped in, “A haddock supper, cheeseburger supper, onion rings and mushy peas.”
What I like most about The Bay, apart from its delicious fish, is you know exactly where your food is sourced and where the potatoes your chips are made with are grown.
That day’s catch was from the Ocean Endeavour PD625, and the tatties were argia potatoes from Abbey Farm in Whittlesey, Cambridge.
After ordering, it took around five to 10 minutes to get our food – not long at all considering the volume of people who had descended on the eatery.
The aromas coming from the other side of the counter had my stomach rumbling.
Finally making it to the head of the queue, we ordered some tartare sauce to take away with us. The homemade tartare sauce is a real highlight, and having had it before, I was adamant I wouldn’t be leaving without a pot of my own.
We requested salt and vinegar on both the fish and chips, the cheeseburger supper and the portion of onion rings. One of the chefs asked us if we wanted to add fried onions and chilli jam to the burger and we both responded with a firm nod.
Grabbing some disposable cutlery and napkins we received our cardboard boxes packed with our tasty dinner and made a bee line for the exit.
We decided, because it was a nice night, that we’d sit outside on one of the benches close by with our dinner.
Prepared to fend off any seagulls who might dare to swoop down and grab a bite for themselves, there was no fighting off needed as there were hardly any hanging around.
Opening the box I melted at the smell which hit me. The fish looked perfect, and the chips, well there was a lot of them – exactly what I was hoping for.
My sister’s cheeseburger looked just as appetising, so much so we decided to half both our meals to experience the best of both worlds.
The fish was beautifully cooked in the batter and the haddock flaked away as I cut into it. It was soft and the crisp, golden brown batter was rich in flavour. I picked up the wedge of lemon that was hidden within the box and squeezed the fresh citrus juice all over the fish. This further enhanced its delicate flavour.
The chips were proper chipper chips. Thick and cooked perfectly, they were lovely and fluffy inside. I dunked them into the homemade tartare sauce. Bursting with flavour, the sauce was the ideal accompaniment to the dish and there was just enough of it for me to lather my fish in.
As for the cheeseburger, it too was very appetising and packed full of the sweet caramelised fried onions. Soft, the onions added a lovely sweet flavour to the burger. The patty itself was tender, but much thinner than I’d expected. It was from Davidson’s the butcher in Inverurie which meant the quality was going to be very good – which it was. The cheese was very pungent and really overpowered the burger so I removed a little of it to ensure I could still primarily get the taste of the meat. The cheese had melted and had been cooked on top of the burger while it was in the oven which meant it had covered the whole patty.
We’d ordered a side of mushy peas, and to be honest, I think we’d underestimated just how much food we had. They were enjoyable, but were an added extra more than anything. The portion was a hearty one at that, and we hardly made a dent in it as we wanted to savour as much of the cheeseburger and fish and chips as possible. Even the onion rings defeated us and we had to leave a few behind.
Watching the tide come and go as evening gave way to dusk, it was the tranquil surrounding where we enjoyed our meal that truly made this experience of The Bay my best yet.
I just managed to finish my fish supper, although my sister decided to take some home, there was just so much food.
The Bay Fish and Chips is something of a household name in the north-east of Scotland now.
Award-winning, it’s clear to see why the eatery is hailed one of the best chippers in the area, not just for its cracking food, but for the friendly, helpful faces who are always happy to help out.
The food is high quality and the business’ ethos of sustainability and encouraging its customers to recycle is very admirable.
The food was exceptional and a special mention has to go to the fish supper and the tartare sauce.
Definitely worth the drive out to Stonehaven. And if you’re not too full, you can always nip next door to their neighbours Aunty Bettys for an ice cream.