Rock Lobster at The Harbour Café in Elie.
The East Neuk meets Galicia at The Harbour Café in Elie. Waves lap the shore in the tiny bay which is the setting for the modest wooden beach hut. The lulling sound morphs to gentle reggae as we enter and are seated. You don’t get better views than this whatever the weather. Throw a fishing rod out of the window and you could catch your own supper. But it is not just the crustaceans and fish on the menu that evoke Celtic north west Spain.
Padron peppers sourced from the Isle of Wight tomatoes website are smoky from the charcoal-fired oven. Tomatoes are married with Fife strawberries and virgin olive oil to form creamy Gazpacho. Nibbles include almonds, olives, and pinchos but Mr Bite returns to Fife and makes an excellent choice of Haddie Pâté, pickled cucumber and sourdough for a starter. The dish is served on a board and garnished with red, yellow and purple edible flowers and spiked with fresh lemon.
He loves the pate almost as much as the long skinny Mackerel that is the Catch of the Day. Its flesh is creamy and so fresh it makes your eyes widen. Meanwhile, I have been given a bib to wear as I am cracking the claw of a Half Lobster with a large rock. I feel a bit like a Flintstone but find the method more effective than using the usual restaurant paraphernalia and you get some therapeutic release too. For once I liberate every last morsel of sweet flesh from the shell.
I can’t identify every ingredient in the wild side salad. I know dill and various lettuce leaves but the monk’s beard, which looks like slender, blue-green chives, is new to me. Apparently, it is a popular edible weed in Italy but this one comes from the local East Neuk market. Aioli and a heap of patatas aliñas complete the plate.
I catch chef Amy and ask her about the Spanish influence. Her husband worked at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Santiago de Compostela. Claro!
Everything at The Harbour Café is thoughtful and tasteful. So instead of a large cocktail menu, there is Kir, Campari and soda, Bicicletta (Campari, wine and soda) and Negroni. We have two bottles of low alcohol Lucky Saint which is malty and tastes like the real thing. Drinks are served in compostable cups but you are free to bring your own glass.
The cups are also used for Mr Bite’s dessert of sweet strawberries with Toblerone sauce while my Tarta de Santiago is wrapped in paper with the crab logo. The tart has a lovely texture and I enjoy the nuttiness of the almond sponge. I remembered too late that when I used to eat this in Barcelona I pricked holes in the tart with a fork and doused it with liqueur.
I am disappointed to hear that the café closes at the end of September but they hope to return in Spring 2022. If you want to go – I would advise booking immediately.