There are some buildings that become synonymous with a city or town, they’re immortalised in everything from postcards to artwork. From Glasgow’s armadillo to Edinburgh castle, these landmarks create iconic city skylines.
But they’re not just found in cities, many of Scotland’s small towns also have these markers of place, with Oban’s being the red roofed buildings on the north pier (along with the green seafood shack).
These buildings were once the railway station for the seaside town, but are now home to an Italian restaurant Piazza and Ee-usk, a seafood restaurant the name of which means fish in Gaelic.
The restaurant has been voted best Seafood in Scotland in the past, and continues to be a popular spot for tourists and locals, given its reputation and proximity to both the ferry and the current railway station, plus it has beautiful views across the bay to islands of Kerrera and Mull.
Ee-usk is run by the Macleod family, and prides itself on using locally caught fish and seafood (why wouldn’t you when you’re this close to such bountiful produce?)
Their list of fish is as varied with Halibut, Turbot, Brill, Megrim Lemon and Dover Sole, Ling, Lythe, Hake, Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Monkfish, Gurnard, John Dory, Squid and Octopus, all appearing on the seasonal menu over the course of the year. You’ll also see scallops, langoustine, crab and lobster for those partial to some west coast shellfish.
We bag a table for an early lunch on a sunny Saturday in early July, and manage to bring the dog as there’s a covered seating area next to the main restaurant that’s dog-friendly.
The menu is hugely varied and opens with pictures of different fish and seafood, before detailing exactly where in Scotland their seafood, fish and meat comes from.
For example, the oysters are grown from seed by Caledonian Oysters on the shores of Loch Creran, the langoustines are caught by David Fraser from the waters and sea lochs surrounding Oban while the smoked salmon and trout are supplied from the Inverawe Smokery and, if you choose to have some meat instead of fish, the Scotch beef is supplied by local butcher Alister Jackson.
After taking all that in, we’ve worked up an appetite so decided to share a large bowl of mussels for a starter (£15.95). Simply served in white wine, cream, shallots and garlic butter, these turmeric hued beauties were fresh and sweet, and were quickly demolished, with the creamy, salty sauce slurped up with spoons (sadly there was no promised crusty bread supplied). Despite this, it was a delightful start to the meal and probably best we didn’t overload on carbs.
For the main course, I chose monkfish in batter (£19.95) while my boyfriend opted for the trio of salmon (£18.95). Other mains include langoustines served cold with salad or hot with garlic butter; lemon sole served battered or breaded; haddock in batter or breaded or for something lighter there’s a seafood salad or mussels and chips.
The monkfish was a decent portion of four fat golden cheeks, a good side of skin on chips, a pot of caper flecked tartare sauce (which could have been four times the size, given how big the monkfish pieces were) and a side salad of lettuce, tomato and small chunks of soft yellow beetroot, all liberally doused in a vinaigrette (a bit too much for my liking).
The fish was soft and meaty, and fell away from some of the crispier bits of batter while the chips were well seasoned, skinny cut and crisp - just the way I like them.
This is a dish to get you ready for a breezy ferry crossing or a long walk, I was planning either but enjoyed it all the same. Across the table, the lighter dish of salmon - hot smoked, cold smoked and fresh, came with a small pot (again too small) of horseradish cream, the same side salad and chips as my monkfish.
A plethora of pink fish arranged around the salad, with the chips in their own pale, it was a fresh, smoke-fest (and an ideal meal for anyone wanting to try this famous Scottish export for the first time) with the heat of the horseradish cutting through the smoke and oiliness of the fish.
Again the chips here were crisp and well seasoned but the salad wasn’t overdressed. We were too full for dessert but did take time to eye up the sticky toffee pudding, creme brulee, homemade meringue and lemon cheesecake.
A dessert platter of bite size selection of chocolate mousse, lemon cheesecake, creme brulee and meringue is a great idea for those that can’t choose. Ice cream is also available as is an extensive range of cheeses from George Mewes.
After lunch we took a leisurely walk by the water with the dog, before heading to the car and home. On leaving Oban there’s a sign to haste ye back with a lovely illustration of the town, including the red roofed restaurants. After such a lunch, we will indeed.