My grandparents recently splashed out on a new living room carpet. The old one was a migraine-inducing blend of brown and orange and probably hadn’t been changed since the seventies.
The new one is a lovely neutral mushroom colour and brightens the place up and they love it…but the house just isn’t the same. Although hideous, most of my incredible memories of spending time with my grandparents feature that carpet and the new living room seems sterile and akin to an uninvited stranger.
The Fisherman’s Tavern in Broughty Ferry or simply “The Fish” as it is so affectionately known by locals, is an institution. It recently underwent a bit of a facelift with some internal modifications, new decor and new menus. Although a lot of people were excited about the changes, this was a risk as would people’s favourite pub still feel the same? Would change be a positive thing? Or would customers yearn for familiarity?
I absolutely love it. It still feels like a proper, traditional pub. It has not turned all bistro and swanky wine-bar but has retained its definite charm. The bar is still the centre of attention with the restaurant tucked into a snug off to the side and we breathed a sigh of relief when we walked in.
The dining area is smart with en pointe deep grey wood panelling, brown leather banquette style benches and very appropriate marine themed wallpaper to enhance the seaside feel. Condiments and sauces adorn each table which look ready to hold some proper pub grub.
The new menu is also simple yet modern; not laminated or in a folder but neatly printed and independent-looking. It contains the classics that we hoped to find such as scampi and chips and steak and ale pie but also a few curve balls like the roasted pepper & goats cheese walnut wrap with baba ganoush and an Asian veggie burger.
We were gutted to learn that there had been a problem with the day’s fish delivery and so none of the fish items on the menu would be available. My friend is a total connoisseur of cullen skink and had been looking forward to a bowl all morning and my delight at seeing a combination of battered haddock and whitebait all in one item would remain unsated. Still, these things happen and it was a great accidental way to learn that all items rely on fresh fish deliveries and aren’t straight from the freezer.
The starter section of the menu is limited and with the seafood items removed we decided to skip straight to main courses. My friend ordered the haggis and potato pie which was served in an individual oven dish, the mash glistening with barely melted cheese. The biggest disappointment with this dish was the lack of haggis. It was actually present if you looked hard enough but it was the thinnest sliver at the bottom of the dish which was otherwise made up of potato. The jug of whisky sauce was nice and the vegetables a welcome distraction but overall, this dish wasn’t great.
I threw calorie counting to the wind and ordered the dirty burger, the description of which really got the gastric juices flowing. The plate that arrived looked incredibly appetising. The perky brioche bun had been toasted and was balanced atop a delicious-looking tower of loveliness.
The patty itself was charred on the outside and soft in the middle and had been smothered in a really rather tasty chilli con carne. More of the chilli would have been nice as it was good but I realise it was just a topping. The melted cheese obviously went well with the chilli and the crunchy lettuce added a freshness. Sadly, the advertised roasted onions and gherkins were missing which was a real shame but the burger that was there was good. The fries were crunchy and non greasy and disappeared rather quickly.
I had ordered the spicy pickled slaw as a side dish which was really just grated onion and carrot with a vinaigrette dressing but my onion rings were crisp and golden.
I honestly think that our lunch was unfortunately timed and that we caught the kitchen on a bad day and let’s admit, we all have bad days. The food service was bright and friendly and I really loved our surroundings. On each table lay a subtle little coin collection for the RNLI to remind us what incredible and selfless work goes on at the lifeboat station just at the end of the street.
The Fish remains a Broughty Ferry institution and it is so comforting to see a busy, good old pub still thriving amongst the abundance of coffee shops in the beautiful seaside town. The facade of the building is quaint and quirky and the inside is simply charming – dogs welcome which is a real bonus. The pub is part of the community and I hope will be so for generations to come. The menu and decor are moving with the times whilst staying true to their roots and cullen skink and whitebait will be top of our list on our next visit.
Price: Starters £3.75 – £5.25; main courses: £8.95 – £15.95; desserts all £4.45
Info: The Fisherman’s Tavern
Address: 10-16 Fort Street, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, DD5 2AD
Tel: 01382 775941