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The Shack, Arran, restaurant review - follow the Airstream trailer for seafood on the island

Published: April 29, 2023

When you’re on the Isle of Arran, you don’t expect it to be sunny ALL the time.

The secret is to shoehorn any activities in, while grey clouds are distracted by another part of the island.

We lingered in the car in Lamlash, for a few minutes, while waiting for another April shower to abate and watching the shadows move across Holy Isle and the Firth of Clyde.

This street food business’ Airstream caravan, parked by the tennis courts, was a beacon of fair weather hope, with its blackboard outside.

As soon as the sun’s rays bounced off its silver roof, it was time for the magpies to strike.


We split into two factions and the first commandeered a nearby picnic table.

The rest of us quickly rattled off our order at the counter of this place, which opened in 2021 and pops up across the island, mainly in Brodick, but also here and in Blackwaterfoot.

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It’s owned by local couple Calum and Laura McFadzean. For 40 years, Calum’s family were the proprietors of Brodick Bar and Brasserie, where he worked in the kitchen, and he was formerly head chef of Dakota Edinburgh. Laura’s experience is in hospitality and includes front of house at Edinburgh’s Chophouse and Castle Terrace Restaurant.

The focus of their menu is seafood, and we ordered practically everything fishy on the menu. Apart from mum, as she was in the mood for a burger (£11) and decided to eat it in the comfort of the car. She’d just had her hair blow dried. No potential shower was going to get near that perfect coiffeur, which had been sprayed with half a bottle of Elnet. They gave us a buzzer and we waited for the okay to collect our stack of white cardboard boxes from the hatch.

The al-fresco crew’s first choice was the tempura soft shell crab (£11), which featured two of these leggy critters, in a crispy, brittle and copper-coloured batter. They were served with a wedge of lime on the side and zesty ponzu dressing.

I’d gone for the monkfish scampi bites (£12). There were five of these, each with an interior of pale and soft flesh. The sturdy Panko crumb was proof that none of them were casting a clout. Although the accompanying bright yellow piccalilli was a good one, with cauliflower and courgette, I wouldn’t say it’s the most natural partner for the subtle seafood, though I enjoyed both separately.

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The set of six Malibu king prawns (£11), in a russet crumb, weren’t noticeably coconutty, as billed on the blackboard.

Maybe they'd holiday-ed somewhere else this year. Still, they were fleshy beasts, with a bouncy bite, and came with a very sweet and sticky soy and rum-laced sauce.

The eldest niece (£11) was very impressed with her hearty helping of peach-coloured seafood chowder. There were corn and peppers floating on the surface, but she was dredging for the bigger catches - the fat wobbly mussels and prawns, chunks of sea bream, salmon and haddock, all of which had sunk to the bottom of the cup. We should have brought a chunk of Blackwater Bakehouse baguette to soak up the remaining broth.

The youngest duo in our party went for small helpings of fish and chips (£8 each), with haddock in a pale batter, side ramekins of chunky tartare sauce, and a huge clutch of skinny fries underneath.

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We’d ordered a couple of sides (£4 each) of chips too, since the grown-up’s seafood portions are relatively neat. These were monolithic. We could see a kittiwake giving us the side-eye, as we picked over the remains, and ended up shutting the box so it’d stop its silent nagging.

And what of the only motor-picnicker?

“That was gorgeous,” was the verdict, when we collected her remains (nothing but a completely empty box). Apparently, there had been a thick blanket of melted cheese on the top of the burger, which was hewn from Arran Butcher meat, as well as the usual trimmings like lettuce and tomato.

“Lovely bun, too”.

Still, The Shack is definitely not your average burger van.

It’s much more fancy than that.

Whenever it stops raining, look for the sun reflecting off the silver trailer, and strike fast.

Isle of Arran

Instagram @theshackarran

monkfish scampi

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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