Published: April 2011
There's no such thing as having a quick bite to eat at the Pavilion – not in my case, anyway.
And I'm not referring to its service, as staff are welcoming and attentive; what I mean is, once I'm settled, I find I can easily idle away two hours watching all the action along Thurso's seafront.
You see, for me, the family-run Pavilion is in the perfect location, at the heart of Thurso's esplanade. On a sunny day the stunning views stretch as far as Orkney, and encompass the headlands of Holborn and Dunnet. It's great, too, to be able to relax and enjoy the comings and goings from Scrabster along with the adventures of the town's ever-growing surfing fraternity, enthusiasts keen to test Thurso East waves in all conditions.
Even on the darkest of winter days – and, let's face it, we've experienced a few of those in recent times – there's still plenty to see as each weather front, bringing with it rain, hail and snow, passes over the town from the Pentland Firth. I was holed up at the Pavilion once in January while the town was enveloped in a cloud of the white stuff. I could have been many miles from home, at the edge of a North Atlantic storm, but all the time I was safe in the knowledge that the restaurant's well-stocked drinks cabinet and popular daytime menu would cover all eventualities.
My latest lunchtime dining experience was as enjoyable as ever. I took up position by a window and began the customary read-through of the restaurant's menu – a formality really as, when it comes to food, I'm not the most adventurous. When I know what I like, I tend to stick with it. Why risk disappointment?
My meal of choice was steak and onion on a toasted baguette with side salad. The meat was warm and tender, and melted in my mouth against the fresh and crunchy lettuce, peppers (which came in every colour), red onion, tomato and cucumber. It was accompanied by cold, curry-flavoured pasta and spicy nachos, all for a reasonable £7.80. Throw in some entertainment in the form of (perhaps unintentional) radio sing-alongs emanating from the confines of the kitchen – on this occasion it was the chef's choice of "99 Red Balloons" and "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" – and I'd argue this is pretty good value for money.
The menu, of course, extends much further than I give it credit for here – one snack which comes recommended is the smoked haddock and onion fishcakes with balsamic vinegar, garlic bread and salad (£7.50). There are also daily specials, a small selection of desserts, and, for those wanting to enjoy afternoon tea or coffee in this small yet comfortable establishment, a wide selection of delicious-looking home-made cakes – a welcome treat whatever day of the week.
Quality of food: 8
Menu choice: 7
Value for money: 8
Summary: Good food at reasonable prices, with stunning views across to Orkney. Sing-alongs from the kitchen are an added bonus!
The Pavilion Restaurant
Tel: 01847 893500