Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- The Boathouse, South Queensferry

Forth Bridge at Night

The Location
The Boathouse, 19B High Street, South Queensferry, (telephone 0131 331 5429) overlooks the Firth of Forth and the two spectacular bridges across the river - the old railway bridge (seen above at night) and the more modern road bridge.

South Queensferry has always been an important harbour town for travellers, making the journey over the Firth of Forth to Fife. It`s named after Queen Margaret who in the 11th century would use the town as a crossing point during trips between her palaces in Edinburgh and Dunfermline. A ferry service across the Forth between North and South Queensferry continued for 900 years, until the opening of the new Forth Road Bridge in 1964.

These days, South Quensfery is easy to get to by bus, if you don't wish to drive. (Number 43 from Edinburgh direct to the High Street).

The Boathouse is above the beach where the famous "Loony Dook" takes place on New Year's Day. A crowd of brave swimmers annually takes a quick dip in the Forth around midday on 1st January. You can either take part or perhaps book a table for a special brunch being served that day. Note. The Boathouse will be taking a well-earned holiday from January 3-27th, 2004.

The Restaurant
The creation of the Boat House by owner and head chef Paul Steward is the end of dream come true. Having spotted the building right on the beach, he knew it would be perfect as a seafood restaurant but quickly found out that it already had a potential buyer who was wanting to turn it into a family home. His strength of determination and a good business deal followed and Paul was able to purchase the Boat House

The Boat House Seafood restaurant opened in April 2003 and has quickly found a host of regular diners who travel some distance to eat here for lunch or dinner. And no wonder. The setting of this old white washed boathouse is superb, tucked away off the High Street down a short flight of steps just above the beach. It has its own outdoor decking with tables and chairs for al fresco meals in warm weather. Inside, arriving on a cold winter night, it was very welcoming and cosy with the candles lit on each table and the animated buzz of happy diners. There are two separate rooms, one for smokers and non-smokers with old polished pine tables giving the atmosphere a genuine "country inn" atmosphere. Around the walls are old photographs, antique curios, books and ephemera all connected with South Queensferry, the sea and fishing. And sitting by the window we had a perfect view of the Rail Bridge, lit up in the night sky. Every so often a train would go over, adding to the magic.

The Food
This is fish lovers' paradise. The menu changes daily, based on the best fish at the market that day. Starters include a rich and creamy seafood bisque, Loch Fyne smoked salmon, mussels with a parsley garlic cream sauce and home-made smoked haddock fishcake which is a popular favourite here. This is what I selected and I was not disappointed. It was a large round "cake", softly golden crisp on the outside, with tender flaky haddock and potato inside. I heard that this starter portion at dinner is served as a main portion for lunch!

Then on to the main course. Perhaps pan fried West Coast scallops with a white truffle scented olive oil, or a classic grilled whole lemon sole with lemon butter, or wild halibut fillet with a fresh ginger, pink peppercorn and orange jus. The Seared Tuna steak, cooked medium rare, is imaginatively served with a sweet chilli, coriander and spring onion dressing to give it a tasty, tangy bite. Delicious said my dining companion as I tucked into a chunk of roasted monkfish dressed in a rosemary, baby garlic and olive oil sauce. Both dishes were expertly cooked and presented with care, and served with a bowl of mixed vegetables and potato dauphinoise.

For those who prefer meat, there is always a choice, perhaps breast of duck or prime sirloin steak with Portobello mushroom and plum tomato sauce.

The wine list is excellent with very reasonable house wines, carefully selected. A very knowledgeable sommelier/waiter, Alasdair, will also advise.

If you enjoy ending with something a little sweet, then there's fine selection. What about Sticky Toffee Pudding, a perennial favourite or Chocolate Tart with crème fraîche? Alternatively a superb platter of local Scottish cheeses served with crusty bread and oatcakes.

The lunchtime menu is equally scrumptious with a few lighter, smaller dishes - pasta and fishcakes as main courses, but still the emphasis on the freshest seafood with daily chef's specials.

The Bill
Lunch - starters average £4.00, main courses £6.50, sweets £2.95. Dinner prices- starters average £4.50 with main courses around £15.00 and sweets £3.50.

The Boathouse is a real hidden gem of a restaurant. Why not plan a trip now to South Queensferry for lunch or dinner.

Vivien Devlin

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