For many a year the Larachmhor Tavern in Pittenweem has been on my radar but only in more recent times as a place to go to eat.
With its renowned arts festival having visitors flocking in from throughout the country and a thriving number of holiday homes, Pittenweem has lost some of its vibe as a working town.
There’s still shellfish coming ashore at the harbour but the market’s fortunes reflect those of the fishing industry.
There is much that is quaint and couthy about the town and, from the outside, the Larachmhor – or the Larachs as it’s known locally – would seem to be keeping in step with dressing up for the tourists.
But it describes itself as a traditional old fishermen’s pub and when you step inside you’ll find that’s exactly what it is – a real pub where working fishermen and others arriving in the harbour come to drink and eat.
And it’s dog-friendly, which is always a plus from the get-go for me.
Have you ever been abroad and come across a place that the locals use and you realise you’ve stumbled on a gem? That was my thought when I first dropped in on a sunny Bank Holiday Monday evening recently.
There are few airs and graces about the place but there was a genuine welcome, friendly and unpretentious service and, on that occasion, great food all round.
As you’d expect from its harbour side location, there’s a heavy emphasis on seafood.
I’m happy to be corrected but listing the haddock and cod as “locally landed” on the menu implies it’s fresh off the boats just feet away but I’m not sure if whitefish is landed anymore at Pittenweem.
However, that aside, on that first visit I had some of the plumpest, sweetest, juiciest langoustines I’ve had the pleasure to dip into a Marie Rose sauce and my only regret was that my much preferred choice of garlic mayonnaise wasn’t offered as an alternative.
So it was with a hearty appetite, much relish and high expectations that I made a return trip recently.
Which made the outcome such a letdown.
Yes, the welcome and service were as friendly but the food just didn’t hit the same high mark, or at least two of the three plates didn’t.
I plumped for the half and half fish and chips and was more than happy with my small fillets of plain and smoked haddock in crisp batter but the other half’s breaded fish was nothing to write home about and daughter’s Larachmhor special burger had all the trimmings to make it great but was so overcooked it was tough and dry.
However, special mention has to be made of the hand cut chips – they at least were as good as I remembered.
I like the Larachmhor and I’ll probably give it another go – it has location, authenticity and friendliness in its favour but it needs to be able to delivery on consistency of quality if it wants to win new customers with prices comparable with better food and service of other eating places dotted along the East Neuk.
The Larachmhor Tavern
6 Midshore, Pittenweem
Tel: 01333 311888
Food: Three stars
Value: Three stars
Service: Three stars