Northern Fish Restaurant, Elgin

So, we got to Elgin and to be fair there isn't much to report. It's a nice enough place. Unexpectedly grand with a big wide main street, classical architecture etc. The funny thing was it hadn't changed in five years. But the important point to note is not one but two classic caffs thriving in its main street.

Happily The Northern Fish Restaurant was still intact with its pristine booths so we stopped in for dinner. The macaroni cheese was nothing to write home about but surroundings were very pleasant and the boys enjoyed picking songs from the jukebox which played everything a little too fast.

Northern Fish Restaurant, Elgin

I can't place this time-wise - any ideas? There's a nod to rounded corners but all the angles are straight. What does that mean? The proportion of the tables and seats is a bit stingy. You have to perch on the bench to reach the table. But the formica has a jolly 1950s aspect to it. Sometimes I ask the owner but we were stuck at the back in this case.

Ca Dora

A cafe of this calibre would lighten any high street but Elgin is graced with two. Further up the high street, towards the town centre sits the Ca'Dora which has lost its shopfront (the horror) but retained its fabulous low rounded booths (very similar to Glasgow's magnificent Val D'Oro). It was a curvy antidote to the Northern Fish Restaurant, and was busier, suggesting the chips were of a higher order. Experience shows that the quality of the chips is much more important than the quality of the surroundings. Can't say fairer than that.

We were on holiday in Tuscany this year and went to a place called Barga.

It turns out that it was the main town that supplied Scotland & North East England with its Italian population - it's twinned with East Lothian and has an annual Fish & Chip festival!

Next time you're in an Italian-run cafe, ask them. I'd be interested to see if it's true.

It's completely true! I've been to Barga years ago and the car park was full of Scottish cars.

I know a lot of the Glasgow ice cream families are from Barga/Lucca. My dad knew the Fazzi family (big Glasgow restauranteurs) and we went to visit them out there. Paolo Nutini's family also come from there, fact fans.

I was surprised at the amount of Italian cafes in the north-east, as I've always seen it talked of as a west coast thing. I wondered if those families (Rizzas and Mieles) were from Barga too or if there's a north-east equivalent where everyone in Italy emigrated from.

Will investigate further. Thanks for asking :)

Your cafe pictures are always great. I can almost smell the chips. That salt and vinegar photo is poetry on Formica.

The fish restaurant looks fascinatingly Spartan. I rather like a bit of no-nonsense utilitarianism in a cafe but I have known benefit offices that displayed more in the way of concessions to comfort and gaiety. This was the one with the jukebox?

Who'd have thought you could still find a cafe with a jukebox in the UK? Do you think there's still one somewhere with a jukebox and a pinball machine? What was the most recent thing on it, and what did your boys find to pick?

I thought of your Val D'Oro pics the moment I saw the Ca'Dora one. Does that mean those circular booth ends are some kind of Scottish-Italian thing? Or have they ever been spotted south of the border?


Hello Spud.

The jukebox was here, yes. It had an odd mixture of old and new. We chose Michael Jackson x 2, ELO - The Diary of Horace Wimp (my choice), Grease is the Word and something else that came out as Coldplay. It was all vinyl - very impressive.

I'd love to know about the booths too. Hmmm...

There's something distinctly sinister about the first image. It immediately made me think of Kubrick's The Shining...

Those condiments are a delight, though, as is the photo thereof.

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