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Restaurant review: Outstanding fare at The Creel Inn in Catterline with views to match

The small coastal village of Catterline is home to one of the east coast's finest pubs serving up quality seafood.

The Creel Inn in Catterline makes for a cosy place to stop by for a bite to eat. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson
The Creel Inn in Catterline makes for a cosy place to stop by for a bite to eat. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Soaked through, exhausted and desperate for something to eat I knew just the place we needed to head on the way back from conquering Mount Keen.

My boyfriend, his sister and I had decided ahead of our Lairig Ghru challenge later this month that we needed some practice, so opted to climb a Munro the other weekend instead.

What possessed us to do so on a miserable day is beyond me, but it was the reward after I’d suggested that got me up that hill, and more notably down it quicker than I could have imagined.

The Creel Inn

I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never visited The Creel Inn in Catterline.

Plenty of folk have recommended it, however living on the other side of town, it just isn’t somewhere I’ve frequented.

All I was craving after the long hike was comfort food. Droves of the stuff, and I knew the cosy fire and great grub I’d heard so much about would surely hit the spot.

The Creel Inn with its homely interior. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

The Creel Inn is a seafood restaurant harboured in the small north-east fishing village. To me, it bares more resemblance to a cosy pub, but there is a separate bar and dining area for those who prefer.

Its positioning is ideal if you love to dine with a view as the premises are perched on the cliff edge overlooking Catterline Bay and Harbour.

When we arrived the car park was pretty empty and a man, with a pint in hand, and his dog were sitting outside. I’d phoned roughly 30 minutes before our arrival to request a table, which I was advised wouldn’t be a problem.

Get warm by the open fire in the heart of the restaurant. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

I understood why when we walked in at 3pm. No one else was there.

We were shown through the house to the restaurant area. The table we were shown to boasted the most epic views of the coastline and I could see the fire nearer the back of the room. The venue was cosy so there was no real need for it to be on.

Immediately the sea-inspired trinkets like bottles, ornaments, shells, empty gin bottles and even the odd pair of binoculars can be found in and around the venue.

After being handed our menus, the three of us opted for a pint of soft drink and water each to quench our thirst.

Some of the trinkets on the shelves in the restaurant area. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

The food

There are plenty of options at The Creel Inn, but the menu does heavily centre around seafood.

I was tempted by the shellfish trio for my main with locally caught lobster (half) with mussels in cider and crab claw served with chips all featuring, but its price tag of £34.95 slightly put me off. That said, I ended up ordering the seafood platter at £25.95, which was a little cheaper but didn’t boast the same shellfish.

Starters consisted of a black pudding Scotch egg with parsnip crisps and a Drambuie cream sauce for me (£8.50), hot smoked salmon pate served with quail egg, rocket and a caper dressing for Calum (£8.95) and Laurie’s crayfish bound in a red pepper and basil mayonnaise served with salad and a balsamic reduction £8.50.

Black pudding Scotch egg. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

The trio looked the part when they graced our table and everyone had rave things to say. The colour of the crayfish was bright burnt orange and there were plenty of crustaceans to go around. Calum’s salmon pate looked the least exciting but was a big portion too. The smooth pate glided over the rustic bread and there was plenty of it.

My Scotch egg was absolutely gorgeous. The sauce, creamy, parsnip crisps, crunchy and chewy all at the same time, and the black pudding was so incredibly rich. The only thing that let it down was the egg centre being overdone.

Despite how quiet it was, service was a little sporadic and it was hard to catch anyone’s attention with the server split between the restaurant and bar across the hallway.

I gasped at the arrival of my seafood platter. Seared fillet of sea bass, garlic prawns (which were deliciously good), plus breaded sole goujon and Cajun monkfish served with tomato chutney, garlic mayo, salad and fries all lined the plate.

Dig into the seafood platter. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

This had to be my favourite course of the meal. A seafood extravaganza, the prawns were juicy and in my opinion the best part, so I left most of them until the end.

The same crisp piece of sea bass sat across the table on Laurie’s sea bass and crab linguine (£19.95). Bound in a sweet chilli and lemongrass cream sauce, she forked and spooned the well-cooked pasta while the flaky fish broke up very easily.

Calum’s herb-crusted Chicken stuffed with sun-blushed tomato and mozzarella mousse came served with vegetables, dauphinoise potatoes and garlic cream sauce (£17.95). Again the portion size was very substantial making it excellent value for money.

By the time we were ordering desserts it was closer to 4.30pm and the place had started to fill up with diners coming in for an early dinner.

Sea bass and crab is light yet filling. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

I didn’t dare look at the dessert menu when offered but did suggest the server bring me a spoon when I heard my partner order the banoffee cheesecake with vanilla ice cream and berries (£7.95).

Laurie decided on the white chocolate Crème brulee with vanilla tuile and raspberry ripple ice cream (£7.95). Both desserts were sublime and gobbled up by the three of us in no time.

The cheesecake was light and fluffy and the much-needed sugar hit any Munro bagger needs after a lengthy hike, and the brulee was equally as brilliant.

The decadent, more-ish banoffee cheesecake. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

No brulee or banoffee was left to lick off the plate because we’d done such a good job of clearing every last morsel.

I headed through to the pub area of the venue to pay as I could see our server now in full evening service swing as more tables began to pile in. Bill paid, we bundled back into the car, bellies full and legs now seizing.

The verdict

For those who love seafood I cannot recommend The Creel Inn more.

This fantastic coastal venue offers up some excellent food in its charming, homely restaurant and bar areas, and with views of the sea, makes for a marvellous people-watching spot.

It would be great to see the north-east coast boast more gastro pub-style venues up and down it celebrating seafood in the same way areas of Fife do so well.

My only criticism would be the slightly sporadic service throughout.


Address: The Creel Inn, Catterline, Stonehaven AB39 2UL

T: 01569 750254


Price: £122.65 for three starters, three mains, two desserts and six soft drinks


  • Food: 4.5/5
  • Service: 3.5/5
  • Surrounding: 4/5