As you can guess from the name, this is a very fishy place – or plaice…apologies, the fish puns are now imbedded in my head. It was opened in August 2012 by the owners of the fishmongers next door in Scotland Street. It excites me to see a fish restaurant being opened by a fishmonger because it makes me think that the fish will be exceptionally fresh.
This tiny restaurant is in a strange location – conveniently next to Shields Road underground station but inconveniently far away from other bars, restaurants and free parking. Regardless of location, this place is fully booked most days and nights so it obviously hasn’t deterred diners, even in this penny pinching recession. This was my second visit to the cafe, with my first in the opening few weeks and the gas went off. Bad luck but it didn’t put me off & it was only my lack of planning that caused such a long delay because you have to book in advance.
First things first – don’t expect your taxi driver to know where this place is. Just ask to be dropped off at Shields Road underground then walk the ten metres towards the blue sign. It’s teeny inside and I’d estimate that it sits about 30 people on tables then another 10 on bar stools. I love the interior with the marble & black bar oozing class and the seats & bar stools bringing cushioned comfort.
The starters all sounded appetizing but I have been wanting to try sardines for a while now so when I saw them on the specials menu with lime & black bean I made an immediate decision. The other two were swithering over which starters to have so we decided that we’d share the sardines along with a fish cake and squid.
The Shetland squid was wok fried with sugar snap peas, garlic, lime & black beans. It was so flavoursome that I kind of want to go back and order some for lunch with bread. I have never tried black beans with seafood before but it managed to accentuate the fresh flavours and bring a salty soy dimension.
The fish cake had a different aspect to it with masala spices and was served with a chilli, lime & coriander mayo. Again it was delicious and we enjoyed the departure from a normal fish cake.
fish cake £7.00
Only one out of three of us at the table had ever tried sardines so I can’t really draw any comparisons on how well the dish was executed. I liked the flavours and the fish tasted fresh but, I admit, the bones put me off a little. This is apparently how they are served in every restaurant so not a reflection on The Fish People Cafe but I would prefer the fish with less bones.
We ordered a bottle of the Picpoul De Pinet, a crisp french wine that should pair well with the fishy main courses. The wine list is reasonably priced for a seafood restaurant & centres around whites to go with the fish. Bottles of wine range between £16.50 and £30 with our bottle coming in at £20.
On to main courses and no-one had even entertained the idea of ordering the lonely non-fish dish on the menu. Instead, there was chunky fish stew, shellfish linguine and hake that went down a treat.
Having tasted them all I would say that the seafood linguine with coriander, chilli & rocket was my favourite. This was recommended by our waiter so it’s nice to know that the staff have tried the food.
Seafood Linguine £13.50
The fish stew was full of fresh fish & seafood in a tomatoey broth. A little fiddly to eat but well worth it.
Fish Stew £14.00
It was served with little toasts, a pot of gruyere & a pot of saffron rouille.
Fish Stew Accompaniments
My baked fillet of Tarbert landed hake came on a stew of tomato, chickpeas, chorizo, roast peppers & lemon. I enjoyed it but I should have picked something more fishy from the menu because the chorizo & tomato dominated the dish. It would be good for someone who is still experimenting with fishy dishes because of the other flavours.
I was far too full for dessert, as was everyone else, so we had some coffee to round off the meal. It was served with some melt in your mouth tablet, almost as good as my Auntie Lou’s and that’s a big compliment.
I am so glad that we found this restaurant, especially as it seems so seldom known about. It is now on the list of where to take any Inverness lodgers that appear at my door – if they are fish lovers.
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