Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
Ambiance
9/10
Food
9/10
Total
0%
February 18, 2024

The Dory Bistro, Pittenweem, restaurant review - fresh seafood and fish in art-filled eatery 

A Sunday lunch of freshly caught fish and seafood is the dish of the day at this award-winning East Neuk restaurant, finds Rosalind Erskine.

To have a lazy Sunday lunch with a sea view is a thing of beauty, which is why so many of the East Neuk of Fife’s quaint fishing villages are home to many places to sit and soak in the view over a slap up meal or award-winning fish and chips.

These villages can be over-run on sunny days in the spring and summer (I have been one of the people in a huge queue outside the fish and chip shop in Anstruther one Easter weekend) but it’s during the winter when things are, as you’d imagine, much quieter.

It’s at this time that my mum and I visit The Dory Bistro, an award-winning restaurant and gallery located on the harbourfront in Pittenweem.

Dory Bistro review
Picture: Dory Bistro

The streets may be quiet in mid February but they’re strewn with seaweed thanks to recent storms and a rough spring tide that’s making itself known with an almost soothing roar. There’s also roadworks taking place here, so parking is as hard to come by as a summer’s day, but despite this we make our way to the restaurant for an early Sunday lunch.

The bright restaurant space has a slight nautical feel with wooden flooring and simple hessian and wood chairs. The walls, which look like they’re painted in Farrow and Ball Dead Salmon, are completely covered in large sea and fish themed paintings.

We settle in with a mocktail - Dory fruit syrup (£4) and Cawston Press rhubarb and apple juice (£3) - both refreshing and reminiscent of warmer days that are hopefully not too far away. After the specials blackboard is brought over and talked through, and menus distributed, we make the hard decision of what to have for lunch.

My mum decided on a starter of Cullen skink with crispy smoked haddock fish balls, (£7.50), while I (after consultation with our very helpful and knowledgeable waitress) decided on the special of cured catch of the day, which was halibut £9.75. It was between this or their seaweed fried Cumbrae oysters, which had been such a cook-at-home lockdown hit that they remained on the menu ever since. 

My starter arrived looking as picture perfect as some of the artwork on the wall, with thin slivers of white fish meat spread across a slate grey plate and dotted with tiny pieces of charred cauliflower and single, vibrant green peas.

There was a mention of the fish being citrus cured but I couldn’t discern that flavour, but the whole thing was fresh and clean tasting, with some texture and depth coming from the cauliflower. This was enhanced with a small side of toasted and liberally buttered round of rye bread, cut into small triangles.

The Cullen Skink was a modern take on this classic, with two round crisp coated haddock balls floating in a creamy sea of herb flecked soup. Delicious and a much lighter touch than the usual rib-sticking traditional offering.

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For mains, I was once again undecided between the fish of the day (hake) served with seaweed sauce, salt-baked carrot, blood orange and fennel salad or the special of Pittenweem surf clams tagliatelle (£26). The clams were from a new fishing boat and seasonal, so I opted for that dish, safe in the knowledge that the hake would be on the menu more often if I was to return.

My mum went for the special of seaweed breaded cod, French fries, leaves and a gribiche tartare sauce (£19.50). My pasta, a huge portion, was served in a beautiful deep blue pasta bowl and topped with bright green and deep purple leaves from the kitchen garden.

A good portion of clams were included and, once de-shelled - mixed into the gloriously creamy, white wine sauce. A shattering of herbs and lardons cut through this creamy mix, which was made sweeter thanks to the shellfish. The cod has been cooked in a seaweed crumb, giving it a depth of flavour that can be missing from batter. The chips were crisp and the sauce was rich.

As we ate, the restaurant became busier and busier, with diners and four-legged friends abound (it is dog–friendly during lunch service only), no mean feat at this time of the year. Every so often, walkers and visitors stop outside to view the menu and look in at the bustling atmosphere, which is taking on a buzz to match the tide outside.

We decide we’re too full for dessert, although the baked pear and gorgonzola fondant with pine nut baklava and toasted pecans catches my eye as does the affogato with Dory ice cream. Another dish for next time.

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Sitting looking out at the fishing boats, many of which will have supplied the restaurant that morning, and watching the roll of the tide after such a lovely meal was something really special.

While setting only adds to the experience, the food and freshness of the ingredients are key here making it easy to see why The Dory Bistro has once again been mentioned in the Michelin Guide. The season and weather may not have been on our side this time, but given my indecision over the dishes and how good everything was, I am certain we will return to join the fair weather crowds to this charming part of Fife.

Tags:
The Dory Bistro & Gallery, East Shore, Pittenweem, Anstruther, UK
The Dory Bistro & Gallery, East Shore, Pittenweem, Anstruther, UK, KY10 2NH
01333 311222
Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
Ambiance
9/10
Drinks
8/10
Food
9/10
Service
9/10
Value
8/10
Total
0%
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