Seafood Bothy clings to the entrance to Stonehaven harbor like a limpet – further it would tip into the sea.
In fact, the closest landing point to the east is Norway.
This little seashell lover’s paradise must have taken a few hits from the wild seas in the past two years since its gallop on the food scene.
Maybe more of a trot because Seafood Bothy’s house is a converted horse box.
Best of all, it’s still afloat despite everything the coronavirus has done.
The company seems to be doing quite well as enthusiasts make their way to the small seaside port for take-out meals.
A holiday boom brought an unexpected bonus to The Bothys as visitors flood the town, as they did on the day we visited.
Seafood Bothy’s horse box on the wharf is adorned with flags (decorated with crab and lobster artwork, I think) and is not what you might expect to see at this popular little tourist resort.
It might hang on like a limpet, but chic street food is the name of the game here for owners Maria and Wes Lewis.
Diners are mesmerized by the daily offerings of lobster, shrimp, crab and crayfish caught a few hours earlier.
Maria is a cheerful and entertaining frontwoman who greets clients.
Fisherman Wes sets out in his little boat called Even Less before dawn almost every day in search of a catch for up to five miles.
Obviously, Maria is hoping he doesn’t live up to the name of the boat, but returns with plenty for business in his pots and nets.
I asked about the curious name of the boat and it’s a bit of a joke – apparently her last boat was called Not a Lot. The Even Less makes perfect sense now you know it.
When she returns to port each afternoon, Maria begins to prepare the dishes for the next morning.
It’s quite a partnership, but there is also an age-old bond between us and the freshly caught fish from the sea; there is nothing like it.
Take-out is served in fish and chip boxes covered with old-fashioned images of people involved in this beloved food business.
One shows an old-fashioned window message in a chip shop emphasizing this special relationship with the slogan: “From the sea to the plate”.
Here the distance between the sea and the plate is as close as possible: you can eat fresh lobster, crab, shrimp, crayfish and scallops while looking at where they were fished.
You might have to be as old as I am to remember the 1970s TV drama When the Boat Comes In.
Starring James Bolam, it is set in a poor town in Geordie after WWI.
It was memorable for a lot of things, including a mind-boggling title song, based on a version of a 19th century folk song Dance Ti Thy Daddy.
No one who heard it week after week could ever forget it; we were all singing at the same time, trying to emulate the singer’s special Geordie accent.
“You will have a fish on a small dish;
“You will have a fish when the boat arrives”.
It’s as basic as it gets when it comes to relying on food, and the Bothy has a similar relationship with the sea, which is so close it smells like a spray.
I hummed it again as we drove through the port area.
We could actually stop a few yards from Bothy, with boats moored on either side. The couple’s trusty ship was only a few yards away.
Not everyone is comfortable maneuvering in these potentially dangerous dock spaces.
There are signs for the unwary of crashing into the water, but there is convenient parking at the nearby harbor and it’s a short walk to the center of Stonehaven.
There are a few small tables and chairs behind the van, but customers usually find a nice place to sit and eat – easy in a scenic location like this – or take it back to their car.
Seafood Bothy is open Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., but that’s about the only thing set in stone.
The trap dictates the menu variations, which means you have to be flexible, but that’s part of the fun in an unusual place like this. Be warned: they might even miss some things.
We arrived a bit early as Maria was getting ready for the day, but she was happy to chat.
His only other company was a trio of mallards, which are regulars, and they help keep diving gulls at bay.
The funny thing is, the first offerings I saw were rhubarb sticks on the counter with local eggs, honey, and artisan bread.
Maria was doing her part for other small local businesses, but the menu boards displaying the day’s catch leave no doubt as to the main activity of the day.
The seafood platters, at £ 12 for the little ones and £ 22 for the grown-ups, are full of scampi, salmon, mussels and crab and are the stars of the show.
But I couldn’t resist the lobster and shrimp burrito in a wrap for £ 12, with generous chunks of fish accompanied by rice and cheese.
The warmth of Maria’s chili sauce, served in a separate pot, gave the flavors a lively contrast.
Meanwhile, my wife enjoyed a half lobster and shrimp salad for £ 19.50, and Maria split the shell open to make it easier to eat.
Every now and then, she may brandish a freshly caught lobster for people to admire.
We laughed at our food in our car parked a few yards away as we watched a constant stream of customers arrive.
We couldn’t find room for Maria’s mackerel pie and crackers so we enjoyed them at home later.
As we settled in at the pier, we also watched the fishermen prepare the boats and equipment for their next trips.
The authentic taste of the sea doesn’t come much better than this, and all for just over £ 36 for two.
Cost: £ 36.50
Seafood Bothy at Stonehaven Harbor