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May 24, 2013

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The Cafe Fish team celebrate victory at last year’s awards

OK, ladies and gentlemen, silence please. Drum roll….

There is less than two weeks to go before the prize-giving ceremony at the Scottish Restaurant Awards takes place. Which restaurants will come out on top? Who will be crowned the Chef of the Year? Which business will lift the Restaurant of the Year award?

All will be revealed. But not today. Instead, today, we’re going to profile the three businesses competing in the Best Seafood Restaurant of the Year category.

[Cafe Fish in Edinburgh's Stockbridge][3]
Cafe Fish in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge

Cafe Fish

Taking them alphabetically, Edinburgh’s Cafe Fish is the first on the hook. A relative newcomer to the capital’s seafood scene having opened in 2009, Cafe Fish relocated from its old Leith address in 2011 to swim in the swanky new waters of Stockbridge.

The success of the move was confirmed when the business won the Best Seafood Restaurant of the Year award in 2012.

It’s a fun space which mixes 1930s original Art Deco features with a shiny new aluminium oyster bar.

Obviously, the fish and seafood are the real draw. At Cafe Fish, the menu is populated with predominantly Scottish produce and it’s all fresh.

The kitchen keeps it simple. Think grilled half lobster with a chilli, garlic and herb butter accompanied by chips or baked Scrabster lemon sole with brown shrimps, capers and a parsley and lemon butter.

[The Fish People Cafe in Glasgow][5]
The Fish People Cafe in Glasgow

Fish People Cafe

Opened in 2012, the Fish People Café is a new seafood restaurant located by the Shields Road Subway Station on Glasgow’s Southside.

What makes it stand out from many other seafood restaurants is that the Fish People Cafe is supplied by the fish monger next door. In fact, it’s owned by the same people. It’s not quite a net to plate supply chain but it’s not far off it.

At the Fish People Cafe, the kitchen likes to add a little global spice to Scottish fish and seafood. So, haddock fishcakes might come with a little masala spicing and a chilli, lime and coriander mayo while the grilled fillets of grey sole and king prawns are accompanied by wok-fried greens, chilli oil and lime.

[The Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant in Stonehaven has a New England feel to its decor][7]
The Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant in Stonehaven has a New England feel to its decor

The Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant

The Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant in Stonehaven is possibly the most dramatically located of all the finalists. Set in the first floor of the town’s 16th century tolbooth, the restaurant is on the northern wall of the harbour. Windows overlook the boats bobbing in the harbour and some of the fish which ends up on diners’ plates is landed just outside.

Although the restaurant is part of Stonehaven’s oldest building, both the decor and the menus at the Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant are fresh and contemporary. As you might expect, locally sourced produce is the key to the kitchen’s ambitions.

In addition to the regular menus, the blackboard features the ‘daily catch’ with freshly caught langoustines, lobster and crab a regular feature. The chefs aim to produce light, aromatic sauces and dressings which enhance the fish without overpowering its flavours.

Popular dishes at the Tolbooth include the Stonehaven crab soup and the hand-dived, West Coast scallops which are served with a bacon crisp, sweetcorn, pea purée, sautéd potato cubes and a bacon foam.