In January 2020, Matt and Karina Hoseason took over Frankie’s Fish and Chips in Brae, Shetland. Little did they know that the next two years were to be plagued by Covid shutdowns and restrictions that would send trade tumbling at this normally busy cafe and takeaway.
It has taken until this year, with festivals back on and tourists finally confident to return to the island, for the new owners to fully experience what summer is like, with trade increasing four-fold on the winter. Fortunately, they had asked former manager John Gold to return to help them run the business.
“It’s like I’ve never been away,” says John, who in 2015 helped Frankie’s win UK’s Best Fish & Chip Takeaway. “The cruise ships are back and the festivals are happening and, of course, everybody wants to book in here. We can squeeze about 30 in the cafe and, when the weather is good, we can do the same again on the balcony.”
Known for being Britain’s most northernly fish and chip shop, Frankie’s serves up daily specials including MSC certified haddock, mussels, scallops, squid and crab, much of which Matt and John hand-select fresh each day from the fish market 25 miles away in Lerwick. Also on the menu are Amity langoustine tails caught by trawlerman Jimmy Buchan and his team at Amity Fish Company in Peterhead.
Served either battered or in panko breadcrumbs, Frankie’s sells 10 langoustines to a portion for £11.50 or customers can enjoy a mixed seafood box where they sit alongside salt and pepper squid, haddock and monkfish. For just 60p more, customers have a choice of dips including homemade tartare sauce, garlic, sweet chilli and Marie Rose.
“The taste and the texture of the Amity langoustine are far superior to anything, they are just beautiful,” says John. “The amount of folk that come in and comment on the scampi, especially during the summer when the tourists are up, is incredible.
“It’s probably a bit more expensive than the normal frozen breaded scampi I could buy, but we use fresh fish straight off the market, our mussels are delivered first thing every morning, and when we go and get the scallops the guys are literally still scraping the shells, everything is that fresh. There’s no point serving premium fish and premium seafood and then using cheap scampi.”
With customers intrigued by the listing on the menu, John is only too pleased to explain what Amity langoustine tails are. “A lot of folk come up and ask what they are so we explain about Jimmy Buchan and his boat, and nine out of ten of them say. ‘oh, yes, we know Jimmy from the Trawlerman TV series,’ and so they know the provenance of the product.”
The logistics of getting produce to Frankie’s isn’t always easy. Although there is a daily ferry service from Aberdeen, it can take up to 12 hours and sailings are weather dependent. Amity, however, always ensures Frankie’s has enough langoustines.
“Jimmy is brilliant,” says John. “He understands the weather and knows when the boats are going to be cancelled, so he’ll say, ‘it’s no bother, I’ll send you up four boxes’, and it will be on the ferry that night and with us the next morning.”
Amity Fish Company 01779 474609 www.amityfish.co.uk