Dory Bistro and Gallery


The thing about the Dory is, it could easily be so twee and even – yes – so annoying being a bistro and an art gallery at the same time, which is honestly, rarely a good combo. 

And yes there is a moment amongst the bustle of this evening sitting, dishes hoisted here, there and everywhere – actually no, ours are not here at all – when I feel deep sigh coming on. Art gallery or restaurant? Jack of all ...

Then I look up and see the boss lady at the pass, already clocking there’s a missing food problem here, making eye contact across the room, steaming smoothly over, soothing us all down, making us feel – snappity-snap, they’re on it. Even better. 

Now a rocket has gone up, she’s sweeping regularly by, giving explanatory and apologetic eyes, providing updates via that magical boss radar until – whoop-whoop – here-it-is, guided in like one of those injured jets to an aircraft carrier, all hands on deck, paddles up, everything slotting into place, so sorry about all that guys. 

Food’s arrived. So yes, I’m sorry, the Dory? It is a proper restaurant. Perched on a proper harbour, in a proper beautiful part of this country: a picture postcard quay that frankly would be startlingly-lethal in Glasgow, complete with a staggering unfenced drop right out there, touching distance away.  

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Bobbing boats and salty sea dogs all add to the allure. And the food? Well, after a brief Fat-Ron joke to the boys about the price of scallops increasing the closer you get to the sea (they were £20 in another restaurant last night) it turns out they’re only £14 here. 

Hand-dived, black pudding, beetroot puree and chanterelles (from the daily spesh blackboard). Have they been halved? We would ponder this but I’m already enjoying them, nothing earth-shattering here, nothing really to see, just a very good, well-balanced suite of flavours, with just enough char to the seafood to elicit delicious caramelising, a flash of sweet beetroot and a plate wiped clean indecently quickly. 

The Big Bopper beside me has chanterelles and chestnut mushrooms in garlic and herb, all on the Western food world’s ubiquitous, becoming tiresome, sourdough. A tenner. A mound, a heap, a veritable mini mountain of forest flavours. It’s good. If we pause for a moment to look around? This place is going full steam ahead tonight: it’s summery, bright, a relaxed babble filling the air, those M&S frocks everyone is wearing adding to the vibrancy. It’s a moment. 

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"Best kebab in Scotland? In here? Seriously?", Ron Mackenna's review

They could fill the place all over again I’m sure tonight, so the prices? The flavours? There are two whole Isle of May mackerel (£20 each) heading to Gibbo and The Goffster, and I won’t mention how much I saw whole mackerel on sale at in Morrison’s earlier today, but yes they are very much in season. Knives slide horizontally along that midriff line on the fishes’ beautiful flanks, the thick, meaty, juicy fillets are removed. Now,  aoili is being smeared along them, roasted cauliflower stacked precariously onto forks and boom: this is good, is the general perception. We’re wondering out loud, at this point in the meal, if the Dory is better than the nearby Kinneucher Inn. Hmm. Verdict? Hard to call. Same market They’re just very different. 

Moving on now to my main: a thick fat fillet of hake, flickers of silvery skin still visible beneath the bubbling caused by the blistering heat of that salamander they’ve clearly mastered in the kitchen, again that appetising bronzing caused by caramelising. Is that a seaweed butter sauce? Ach, can’t remember – wilted greens anyway. Nice dish, good balance, very fresh fish. No complaints here. There were mussels too in white wine and chorizo; a ham terrine with raisins, fig and rhubarb chutney. It’s a lively specials board tonight. 

A chocolate cremeux with a hazelnut crumb, a knockout salted rum caramel and a plum sorbet sweeps across the palate, boosting flagging taste buds with a tart, salty, sweet, soothing crumb combo that puts the tin lid on it. Tell you what? Nice evening.    

15 East Shore
Tel: 01333-311222

Wed-Sun 12-3p, 5pm-8.30pm 

Menu: Mackerel, hake, scallops all manner of seafood, plus some wild woody stuff to shake things up. It’s right beside the sea and the menu glories in it. 4/5

Service: There was a moment, just a moment, when the rush seemed to get too much for the kitchen but handled with style, flair and professionalism. 5/5

Atmosphere: A summer’s night in early September, sun shone, customers gabbed, light flooded into the place. Very pleasant. 5/5

Price: Hey, it’s seafood, beside the sea, in Scotland - it’s around a tenner for those starters, hitting £20 plus for mains. Perfectly understandable. 3/5

Food: This is not fine dining showy off stuff, being instead things you wan tto eat, simple superb hake, satisfying roasted mackerel. Deft handling. 8/10

Total: 25/30