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The Tolbooth, Stonehaven

The Tolbooth is a long-established fish restaurant overlooking the harbour in the north-east ‘food town’ in Stonehaven. It’s one of several great places to eat (Marine Hotel, The Ship, The Carron Restaurant, Mollys, The Bay) in town. Like all good fish restaurants, it’s expensive. We usually go there once a year in the summer when it’s light and we get a view of the harbour. However, the view on a February winter’s night (a birthday meal for me) has its own attractions.

Stonehaven harbour by night

Stonehaven harbour by night

The menu is fairly short with daily specials and I went for the specials on this occasion. Shetland mussels to start, followed by a whole grilled sea bass.

Shetland mussels

Shetland mussels

I’ve eaten mussels in a number of countries but, to my mind, Shetland mussels beat them all and these were no exception. Fat and juicy, with a tasty sauce. Sometimes, especially in France, you get an overwhelming number of mussels but the portion here for a starter was just right.

Sea bass with ginger mash

Sea bass with ginger mash

My main course was whole sea bass with a ginger mash. There were some unnecessary smears of something or other here but the fish was beautifully cooked and the mash had a nice hint of ginger. Ginger mash is an idea we’ll try at home. My wife Anne had the scallops, which were excellent.

Baked alaska

Baked alaska

I rarely eat sweets but was talked into it by my wife and daughter who wanted to try the baked Alaska. I didn’t much like it so was happy to give most of it away. It had a cloyingly sweet meringue coating around the ice cream centre. OK for those with a sweet tooth but the Lavender Creme Brûlée was much nicer.

We drank Muscadet sur lie and the overall bill worked out about £45 each.  About the norm for a good Scottish fish restaurant.

Service was excellent and, although not completely full, the Tolbooth had a good atmosphere. It is reliably good and definitely worth a visit.

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