The owners of Dunkeld Fish Bar are celebrating after being named in a list of the UK’s top 50 fish and chip takeaways for the second year in a row.
Scott Davie and his wife, Shannon, have owned the chippie for 11 years and were delighted to receive the news of retaining their slot on Fry Magazine Awards list.
The awards were decided following visits from unannounced mystery diners to shops and mobile units, with owners evaluated on more than 40 aspects of their business including the quality of the food, customer service and Covid-19 safe practices.
As well as the running of the business, the produce was also assessed on the crispness of chips, the fish quality and value for money.
Currently operating with a team of eight, Scott says there will be 13 to 14 members of staff come the summer months to keep up with demand at Dunkeld Fish Bar.
He said: “It is absolutely wonderful. It is our second year on the trot we’ve got this. We got in the top 10 for the restaurant and top 50 for the takeaway. It is a great morale boost, especially at this time of year. Everyone is trying so hard to make everything perfect and with the locals back out and about a bit the team are absolutely buzzing.
“All of our products are cooked fresh to order. The team love their jobs and Dunkeld is such a special wee place. We have great banter with the customers. The staff, the product and the customers just make it the winning formula.”
The fish bar is not a stranger to accolades having bagged numerous awards over the 11 years Scott and his wife have owned the business.
“We won the title of Fish and Chip of the Year a few years ago, the Best Fish and Chip Shop Award at the annual Dine-In Scottish Takeaway Awards in 2018, and won five stars from the Federation of Fish Friers,” revealed Scott.
“We’re always trying to push the boundaries and find the next new thing. It is a family business so we sit down with the staff and listen to what they are saying and their ideas.
“We want the best for everyone. We trial their ideas and I think that is what keeps it fresh and helps us on our winning streak. We keep everyone involved and the team love it. It gives them a great sense of pride when they have won things.
“It is a great career choice for them and I want to make it a good place to work. I have a low staff turnover and the team I have has been with me for five, six years. The staff are so important to the business.”
Deep frying all sorts
Making deep-friend Brussels sprouts and clootie dumping at the Dunkeld shop at Christmas, Scott says that deep-frying Cadbury Creme Eggs at Easter is now becoming an annual event, with his staff now encouraging him to start offering “sweet of the week” – a different deep-fried sweet on a weekly rotation.
He added: “One of the guys said to me that we should try and deep fry a different sweet every week. We gave it a shot. We have the Mars Bar all the time and when I am at the cash and carry, I buy a case of sweets and we go for it.
“Every Easter we have Creme Eggs and that is three times more popular than any other. Usually I’m doing 50 Mars Bars a week, the same as the sweet of the week, but the Creme Eggs are three or four times that a week which is mental.
“We’ve done the orange Twirl, Yorkies, Wagon Wheels, Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Topics, Toblerone, Starbars and we did a whole Champagne and strawberry gateaux before. Everyone thinks it will be greasy but the batter actually protects it. Because we cook it at such a high temperature the batter seals, so when we took the cake out and cut it the sponge was light and fluffy – it was amazing.”
And while haddock and chips remains his most popular dish, Scott adds that his puddings and onion rings regarded as top choices too, with many customers opting for them.
He added: “We do amazing onion rings with Spanish onions – they are massive. Our white pudding comes from Yorkes of Dundee and our haggis, black and white puddings are all made for us. They are made especially for us. We use as many local suppliers as we can and it is great produce we use.”
Looking to retain their place in the Top 10 Best Restaurant category when it is announced in May 2022, The Fry Awards will also return next year to help showcase the talent working in the industry.
Reece Head, competition organiser, said: “Without doubt, the last 12 months have been tough for fish and chip takeaways and many will not have dealt with this level of crisis management before.
“Allowed to stay open during the pandemic, there was a lot they had to implement in a very short space of time to operate in a Covid safe manner.
“Many had to flip their businesses to click and collect and delivery, serve at the door, introduce card payments and work in much smaller teams, but they did and they kept the nation fed including our elderly and vulnerable, those shielding and our key workers.
“This year’s judging criteria took into account these changes and we’re delighted to acknowledge that, despite the difficulties and added pressure.”
The full list of the top 50 fish and chip takeaways can be found here.