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Restaurant Review: Drift, North Berwick

This “clifftop cafe” boasts the most beautiful views over the Firth of Forth

Published: June 26, 2021
Categories:
Food: 
7.5/10
Ambience: 
9/10

Sugar is the traditional sixth anniversary gift.

This is the one I’ve been waiting for, better than diamonds, rubies or sapphires. I can get divorced now, and know that we reached the zenith.

To celebrate, we went in search of the sweet stuff, to North Berwick. First stop was Bostock Bakery for breakfast.

I wanted to be the girl with the biggest cake, so I chose the eponymous bostock - toasted brioche that was thickly thatched with frangipane and flaked almonds.

The pastel de nata were amazing too, and each was done and dusted in three perfectly custardy and flaky bites.

There was a short break, for digestive purposes, then we headed to Drift for lunch.

This “clifftop coffeehouse” recently took on a head chef, Lewis Lane, who has experience at Timberyard, among other restaurants, to take the venue in a smarter direction. It’s such a gorgeous vantage point, with infinite views out to the water, wild grasses and the guano-covered Bass Rock, which looks like a giant slab of lamington cake.

Their light lunchtime menu (they’re also doing brunch) features seven options.

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We shared a small version of the Scottish smorgasbord (£14.95), and a couple of bottles of pop - Bon Accord Ginger Beer (£2.75) and Summerhouse Hint O’Mint (£2.75).

Our starter was the ultimate picnic selection. There were three triangles of cheese - a mild and creamy goat and blue, as well as Isle of Mull cheddar, plus four musky half moons of Great Glen Charcuterie salami, one of which featured venison and whole green peppercorns. We also had a ramekin of peppery crowdie, another of raisin heavy chutney, and quarters of fig, as well as capers, smoked cashews, green olives, chunky thyme oatcakes and their homemade butter.

“The mackerel of the day is sea bass”, said our lovely waitress, when it came to our main course.

I like to think of mackerel being chameleonic. Maybe tomorrow it will play an octopus. It is the Daniel Day-Lewis of fish.

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Anyway, I went for this dish (£13.25), and it was impossibly gorgeous-looking.

The piece of fish seemed to be unseasoned, with flavour provided by pastel coloured cubes and rolls of cucumber, pickled carrots, nasturtium leaves, salty samphire, tiny blobs of dill creme fraiche, apple matchsticks, and some minuscule smudges of a zingy powder, which dissolved onto my tongue before I could work out what it was. Be warned, if you’re going to choose this as a main course, you’ll need the homemade rye and caraway bread (£2.50).

We also had the asparagus, oak smoked bacon and spring onion tart (£11.50) - another simple dish, with the most punch coming from the bacon chunks. It came with a salad featuring apple, radish and pea shoots, though we couldn’t taste the billed white truffle dressing.

Before we tackled the pudding, we thought we’d have a romantic stroll, which turned into an extreme sport. The hill down to the ironically named Quarrel Sands, is crazily steep. I watched a woman run down it, like a mountain goat, but I had my clunky Mr Men shoes on, so I clung to the rope that runs between stakes, on the first part of the descent, and slowly picked my way down. It was worth it at the bottom, with deep pile sands and rock pools.

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I thought we could have our From Here to Eternity moment, but instead we lay prostrate on the dunes, like two burst lilos, and dozed. I only opened my eyes once in a while, to check the tide wasn’t lapping at our trainer soles.

We re-bagged our table once we’d struggled back up the hill, as fast as a pair of geriatric donkeys in Santorini.

Along with a macchiato (£2.50), he went for the upmarket rhubarb dessert (£7.95), which featured a layer of cream, rhubarb and orange blossom jelly, a few struts of poached rhubarb, candied pistachios and buttermilk gel. I opted for a restorative double espresso (£2.85) and the mojitea cake (£2.95), which I presume was something to do with the Bird & Blend Tea Co’s mint and lime MojitTEA that they sell in their wee shop here.

It turned out to be a plain tasting muffin, with a swirl of buttery icing on top that made it look like St James Quarter. I couldn’t taste the mojito elements, but a ratio of sponge to icing that was probably 60:40 made it alright with me.

That’s probably way enough sugar for one anniversary.

If only every year could be quite as sweet.

Canty Bay

North Berwick

(01620 892817, www.driftalong.co.uk)

Places to try Nearby


The Lawn, Marine North Berwick, Cromwell Road, North Berwick (www.lawnrestaurant.co.uk)

Due to open in mid-July, this restaurant will be part of the new Marine North Berwick. It’ll be headed by former MasterChef finalist, Chris Niven, who has created an exciting menu that includes his special take on a marmalade sandwich.

Bostock Bakery, 42 High Street, North Berwick (www.bostockbakery.co.uk)

Get along early to bag this place’s bostock, as well as cruffins, croissants, sausage rolls, bagels, and great coffee. Baking heaven.

Steampunk Coffee, 49a Kirk Ports, North Berwick (www.steampunkcoffee.co.uk)

This cafe hasn’t reopened for sit-in yet, but you can still take away their excellent coffee - as a single hot drink or a whole packet of their own roasts - as well as snacks like their chocolate chip cookies and cheese and chilli jam straws.

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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