Published: October 2013
As the name suggests, there are no airs or graces about this fast food eatery on the historic fishing village's High Street.
It's a chippy.
And it's in Avoch.
Simple as that.
And yet there's a little more to the takeaway than meets the eye. You'll notice two major plus points before you step through the front door: easy parking right outside and the presence of well-maintained picnic benches overlooking the harbour a few metres away. On a nice day, this is a very pleasant spot to sit and pass a half hour or so. Certainly beats stinking out your car with the odour of salt and vinegar and chips.
You might even be tempted to make a day of it and jump aboard one of the dolphin cruises which leave fairly regularly nearby. The details are signposted at the harbour. After eating, you may also fancy a wander through some of Avoch's quirky streets.
Popping in on the spur of the moment (and starving after a spot of mountain biking at the Red Rock Learnie bike trails between Rosemarkie and Cromarty), we realised we had no cash, only a bank card. The chippy doesn't accept debit cards, it turns out – something of a theme, for some inexplicable reason, with a number of takeaways in the Highlands.
However, that wasn't a major problem. We were helpfully directed to an ATM just up the road (and given the option of a cashback at the local Co-op should there be a problem with the machine). The chipper was happy to get cracking with our order while we went in search of cash. A nice touch which leaves you feeling your custom is valued.
Now, here's the thing: the variation in what's turned out by fish and chip shops in the Highlands is quite remarkable. You'd think it'd be simple enough to produce a decent fish supper but it's amazing how few really hit the spot. Some appear to scrimp on the quality of fish (bad move) and others dish out tasteless, waxy chips that fall horribly short of expectation.
Avoch Chippy's menu goes a step further than most with this signature dish for starters – as you might hope from a village with such a distinguished maritime heritage. You can opt for battered or breaded haddock (nice to have a choice not widely offered in similar establishments). A standard fish supper sets you back a very reasonable £5.80. For an extra £2.10 you can super-size the haddock. Truth be told, the standard serving proved to be pretty generous – and, more importantly, well above average in the quality stakes.
Underneath the crispy batter – all too often used to cover a multitude of sins – there's a moist, tender fillet of fish complemented by crispy chips which (hallelujah!) taste like chips should.
Have you ever ordered chipper suppers for everyone and then discovered yourself left with an awful lot of spare chips? With small children involved, it tends to happen a lot. That's why it was helpful to be signposted to an admittedly small but box-ticking children's menu on the menu: £2.99 will get you a smaller fish, sausage or chicken nugget supper dished up in a colourful carton with a wee puzzle book and crayons thrown in. Making an effort for the child market addresses an important but often overlooked section of the population. If they're happy, chances are the parents will be too. The portions fill a hole without any waste. While it's not rocket science it is amazing how seldom staff make an effort to point out these options.
The menu – a printed version is available to tempt repeat orders – covers the standard fish, chicken, sausage, burger and pie options an throws in some kebabs for good measure. Side orders from onion rings to garlic mushrooms and pickled mussels are also on offer.
Now Ross-shire does not lack in the haggis stakes. The Avoch Chippy however lists Stornoway haggis on its menu – a brand with its own proud heritage. The haggis supper (£3.99) also easily passes the quality threshold. And if haggis isn't 'Scottish' enough for you, feel free to sample the battered Mars Bar (I kid you not). That we left for another time...
Quality of food: 9
Menu choice: 8
Value for money: 9
Summary: It really does do what it says on the tin. Opening times – Noon-9:30pm.
32 High Street
Tel: 01381 622288