This seafood restaurant would be in the running for a least attractive restaurant location award, despite being near the sea. You approach it through a grim, grey bit of Troon and drive through an industrial area past a timber yard. The restaurant building is a converted hydraulic pump house, and there is an associated fish and chip shop next door for those who do not wish to linger.
The red-brick building has bars on the windows and sign “Oyster ar” (sic), which does not inspire confidence as to the owner’s grip on building maintenance. The room inside is casual but pleasant enough, with no tablecloths but a high ceiling and assorted nautical pictures on the walls. From the window you can see a fish market, though this fairly small market deals mainly in langoustines, most of which are apparently pre-bought and head off to the continent. This unpromising location apparently has a good local reputation and indeed had plenty of diners when we visited.
There was a short wine list with no vintages listed, starting at £14.95. Domaine Defaix Chablis was £27.95 for a wine that costs about £12, and Lucien Jacob Peuillet was £45 for a wine that sells in retail premises in the £14 - £21 range, depending on vintage. I drank water at this lunch.
Langoustines with garlic butter (£8.95) had several small langoustines served in their shells, cooked a little too long and whose delicate flavour was drowned out by a vivid green garlic sauce, served alongside some token salad leaves (barely 11/20). Smoked salmon may have been home-smoked but it did not have particularly good flavour, and was served with capers and more of the sort of salad you might see at a 1970s carvery.
Haddock and chips (£10.95) featured good haddock but a poor, pale and soggy batter, along with tartare sauce out of a jar and hand-cut double cooked chips that were a long way from crisp (10/20, a waste of decent haddock). The best dish by a long way was baked halibut with asparagus with a caper and tomato dressing (£15.95). Although the skin was burnt, the actual flesh of the halibut was nicely cooked and the fish itself fairly fresh. Sadly the asparagus was poorly prepared and not well cooked, while the dressing lacked flavour, but at least the generous slab of halibut was good (12/20).
Service was distinctly slow but pleasant enough. The bill came to £26 a head for two courses before tip and with mainly water to drink. Based on this experience it is hard for me to grasp why this place is so popular with the locals.