Helmsdale Chippy: Thistles and Coos Review

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

We will let you in on a little secret of ours... we LOVE food!

We like to research and find local cuisine to try. As we researched Scotland, “Fish-n-chips” was a must. Having been to Boston numerous times and eaten my way through that city, their fish-n-chips are pretty damn amazing.

Gauntlet is dropped, so let’s see what Scotland has to offer. #challengeaccepted

We find ourselves in the seaside village of Helmsdale, Scotland. Helmsdale is located on the east coast in the Sutherland region of the Highlands.

A bit of history on Helmsdale, it was planned for the forced resettlement of Highlanders after the tragic Highland Clearances (1750-1860).

After a brief stay in Glasgow, we drove north to Inverness and then further on part of the North Coast 500. Our lovely Airbnb, The Piper’s Cove, faced the North Sea and was a Scottish mile from Helmsdale.

We love how the homes in Scotland all names...wonder what we would name our homes?

Leyna’s Manorhouse or Willow Haven #easilydistracted #squirrel

Having done our research on the area, we found a “chippy” off the main street in Helmsdale.

FYI: A Chippy is Scotland’s way of saying fish-n-chips.

We are unsure of the actual name of this Chippy because the name is listed on their sign as “Simply The Best Take Away Food.” We do know it is located next to La Mirage restaurant.

It is literally one door down across the street from the Nisa Local store on Dunrobin Street. #googleit

When you find the single door for the Simply The Best Take-Away Food restaurant, don’t be deterred by its low-key presentation. This place is a hidden gem.

When you walk into the Take-Away, you will notice a larger-than-life Elvis statue in the corner. When you look at the decor of La Mirage, we believe the Elvis statue is friends with the policeman statue next door. Their flair for decorating is quite unique. #ThankYouVeryMuch

*Just in case you are in the mood to splurge, you can buy your very own life-size Elvis statue.. just saying!

With Elvis as your bouncer, the food has to be good right? Maybe we should have asked for a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. Hmmm.

After the giggle fest and fawning over the Elvis statue, we being friendly Americans chat up the locals in the Take-Away. This truly is the best way to find out what to order and where to go. Don’t be a shite about it or overly weird and most locals are willing to answer your “I don’t know how to count change in local currency” type of questions.

Helmsdalians (we just made up that word) are very friendly and sometimes difficult to understand when they talk really fast. We took their recommendations and ordered the chippy. “It is the BEST!”

Our Review

We have created a short list of everything we loved:

  • Portion size of the fish - the size of the 2 pieces of fish was crazy! Natalie and I could have shared a meal and still had leftovers. Had we had our husbands with us, they would have enjoyed their meals plus some. One dinner platter was enough to feed 2-3 people, easily.

  • Price was amazing - obviously we paid for our dinner before we saw the fish and were impressed with the affordable price. After getting our dinner, the price was almost robbery. For the food you get and the price - highly recommended.

  • Fish was delicious and locally caught. You can’t beat that! According to our husbands, when you add in a little Malt Vinegar, you will experience nirvana. We just think it tastes amazing.

  • Breading was perfect. It is the breading that can make or break a good fish-n-chips. We were impressed because the breading was NOT greasy or doughy. If it is greasy and soaks into your french fries - #yuck Or if the breading is doughy and undercooked - #gross.

  • Loved by locals. When locals frequent a restaurant, you know the food has got to be good. You want to eat where the locals eat and not the tourists. You will find authentic and local ingredients. You WANT this.

  • Ready in 5 minutes (or less). When you are at a Take-Away, the goal is efficiency. We were in, ordered, food delivered and out the door in what felt like 5 minutes. #lightningfast


Now onto what we didn't like. This list is shorter because what we didn’t like is minor.

  • Even though we loved the portion sizes, we wish someone would have told us how large the pieces of fish were. We would have decided to SHARE. We couldn't eat it all, and we hate wasting yummy food.

  • As Americans, we are used to getting our condiments free of charge. So when we had to pay for extra sauces (ketchup, malt vinegar, and mayonnaise) we were not prepared with the correct change. #lame Also, it took us 20 minutes to find the change in the proper currency. #moneytalks

  • This last one is more of a word of warning than a “dislike.” When you are transporting the huge chippy from the Take-Away to your Airbnb, keep track of all your french fries. If you accidentally drop a french fry that was stuck under the fish and goes undiscovered overnight, your car will smell to high heaven in the morning. It is a roll the windows down, hang your head out the window, rotten fish smell. #yark

To finish up our review of the “Simply the Best Take Away” in Helmsdale, we want to recommend you find this little gem. When you are on the last leg of the North Coast 500, if you started near Fort William or you started near Inverness and Helmsdale is at the beginning, make time to stop by and grab a Chippy to go.

Walk down to the coast, gaze out at the North Sea and be grateful for the life you have been given. #gratitude

As Anthony Bourdain would say, “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.”

Don’t be afraid to share with a friend, unless you think you can eat the entire dinner from this Take-Away.

If you get the chance to visit Helmsdale and you take our recommendation, let us know.

Comment. Post a Picture. Email Us. Sky writing is acceptable too. We would love to hear from you.

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