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Catch of the day at The Seafood Bothy

Proud owner Maria Lewis at The Seafood Bothy.
Proud owner Maria Lewis at The Seafood Bothy.

Seafood Bothy clings to the harbour entrance at Stonehaven like a limpet – any further out and it would topple into the sea.

In fact, the nearest landfall looking east is Norway.

This little haven for shellfish lovers must have taken some batterings from wild seas over the past couple of years since galloping onto the foody scene.

Maybe more of a trot as home to Seafood Bothy is a converted horse box.

But the most pleasing thing of all is that it is still afloat  despite everything coronavirus has done.

Eager customers lining up for grub at The Seafood Bothy.

The business appears to be doing rather well as devotees weave their way towards it around the small seaside port for takeaways.

A staycation boom has brought an unexpected  bonus for the Bothy as visitors flood the town, as they did on the day we visited.

Seafood Bothy’s horse box on the quayside is adorned with flags (decorated with crab and lobster artwork, I think) and is not what you might expect to see in this popular little tourist resort.

It might cling like a limpet, but posh street food is the name of the game here for owners Maria and Wes Lewis.

Diners are mesmerised by daily offerings of lobster, prawns, crab and crayfish caught just hours earlier.

Maria is a cheerful and entertaining frontwoman who welcomes customers.

Fisherman Wes sets off in his little boat called Even Less before dawn most days in search of a catch up to five miles out.

The faithful Even Less boat, where the magic happens.

Obviously Maria hopes he does not live up to the boat’s name, but comes back with plenty for the business in his pots and nets.

I asked about the boat’s curious name and it is a bit of an in-joke – apparently, his last boat was called  Not a Lot. The Even Less makes perfect sense now you know.

On his return to port every afternoon Maria starts preparing the next morning’s dishes.

It’s quite a partnership, but there is also an age-old bond between us and fresh-caught fish from the sea;  there is nothing quite like it.

The takeaway meals are served in fish and chip boxes plastered with bygone pictures of people engaged in this beloved food trade.

One shows a window message at chip shop from the old days underlining that special relationship with the slogan: “From sea to plate”.

There’s a delicious menu on offer.

Here the distance from sea to plate is as close as it gets: you can eat fresh lobster, crab, prawn, crayfish and scallops while staring out to where they were caught.

You might need to be as old as me to remember the 1970s television drama, When the Boat Comes In.

Starring James Bolam, it was set in a poverty-stricken Geordie town after World War One.

It was memorable for many things including a stunning title song, based on a version of a 19th century folk ditty Dance Ti Thy Daddy.

Nobody who heard it week in week out could ever forget it; we were all singing along in those days while trying to imitate the singer’s distinctive Geordie accent.

“Thou shalt have a fishy on a little dishy;

“Thou shalt have a fishy when the boat comes in”.

Time for lunch at the Seafood Bothy.

It’s as basic as it gets when it comes to depending on food and the Bothy has a similar relationship with the sea, which is so close it feels the spray.

I was humming it again as we drove into the harbour area.

We could actually pull up to within feet of the Bothy, with tied-up boats on either side. The couple’s own  trusty vessel was just a few feet away.

Not everyone is comfortable with manoeuvring around in these potentially hazardous quayside spaces.

There are signs for the unwary about crashing into the water, but there is a  convenient harbour car park close by and it’s a short walk to the centre of Stonehaven.

There are a couple of small tables and chairs behind the horsebox, but customers generally find a nice spot to sit and eat – easy in a picturesque place like this – or take it back to their cars.

Seafood Bothy is open  Thursday to Monday from 11 to five, but that’s about the only thing which is set in stone.

The only difficulty is deciding what to have.

The catch dictates menu variations which means you have to be flexible, but  that is part of the fun at a unusual place like this. Be warned: they might even run out of some stuff.

We arrived slightly early as Maria was just setting up for the day, but she was happy to chat.

Her only other company was a trio of Mallard ducks, who are regulars, and they help keep swooping gulls at bay.

The funny thing is that the  first offerings I saw were sticks of rhubarb on the counter along with local eggs, honey and artisan bread.

Maria was doing her bit for other small local enterprises, but menu boards displaying the day’s catch leave you in no doubt about the main business of the day.

A crab wrap, don’t mind if we do.

Seafood platters, at £12 for small and £22 for large, are crammed with langoustine, salmon, mussels and crab and are the stars of the show.

But I could not resist lobster and prawn burrito in a wrap for £12, with generous chunks of fish along with rice and cheese.

The heat of Maria’s own chilli sauce, served in a separate pot, gave the flavours a lively contrast.

Meanwhile my wife enjoyed half-lobster and prawn salad at £19.50, and Maria split the shell to make it easier to eat.

The Seafood Bothy is as fresh as it gets.</p> <p>

Every now and then she might hold up a freshly-caught lobster for people  to admire.

The Verdict

We scoffed our food in our car parked just yards away  watching a steady stream of customers arriving.

We could not find room for Maria’s mackerel pate and crackers, so enjoyed them at home later.

Saved for afters.

As we tucked in at the  pier we also watched  fishermen readying boats and equipment for their next trips.

The authentic taste of the sea does not come much better than this, and all for just over £36 for two.

Cost: £36.50


The Seafood Bothy at Stonehaven Harbour



This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.