Giant scallops and a view of Oban harbour: this is how Scottish seafood should be served

We make it along to this West Coast icon

There never seemed a rush to get to the Oban Seafood Hut.

You know that some places will always be there, so are filed under ‘mañana, mañana’. As decades pass, your visit gets mothballed.

However, when we were heading on holiday to the island of Luing, and hunger struck in the middle of Oban, we knew where to gravitate.

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Oban Seafood Hut's scallopsOban Seafood Hut's scallops
Oban Seafood Hut's scallops

Head towards the Calmac ferry terminal, and look out for the green shack.

It’s been in situ since 1990, and I doubt much has changed since opening, except that they sadly lost their founder, John Ogden, back in 2023.

Since then, his family have continued the winning legacy. Well, if it ain’t broke, as evidenced by the queue that had built up, on a June afternoon, even though it was nearing 2pm and pouring with rain.

You can choose from langoustines, crab, a shellfish platter, cockles, whelks, oysters, or any manner of locally-caught sea life - all the options are chalked up on a blackboard. Take note that it’s cash only, so you may have to make a wet and hangry dash to the machine at the end of the pier. You won’t need too much of a withdrawal. We ordered four items, and the bill was only £28.70, which threw me.

Lobsters on the counter at Oban Seafood HutLobsters on the counter at Oban Seafood Hut
Lobsters on the counter at Oban Seafood Hut

“Have you missed something off?” I asked the server, in her green apron and cap.

But, no. Cheap as chips. Speaking of which, there are none of those, or sourdough, or chimichurri. Middle-class foodie preferences haven’t hit this place, and, I suppose, neither have the inflated prices that might accompany those gourmand extras.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget my set of six scallops (£14), since I’ve never encountered such giants.These were like jumbo marshmallows, with huge roes in the shade of a freshly converted Buddhist monk’s robes. And they were so fresh that I’m sure a marine veterinarian could do a decent job of resuscitating them, presumably with a bit of CPR to the rhythm of Octopus’s Garden.

We ate them standing, under an awning, since the pews were taken. See, no frills.

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Oban Seafood HutOban Seafood Hut
Oban Seafood Hut

Usually, I want comfort with my lunches - a nice padded seat. This time, I didn’t care. These fishy stubs had commanded my full attention. They were served with retro trimmings - a bit of iceberg, a couple of slices of tomato and lemon, a tub of DayGlo bright and sticky sweet chilli sauce and triangles of brown sliced bread. That carb may be low rent, but it absorbed all those juices like a Jiffy pad.

There was also a portion of mussels (£5.95) - at least 40, which filled both sides of a cardboard burger container. They were buttery and fleshy guys, and I slurped every last one. Although these had been billed as being steamed in garlic and wine, those ingredients were almost homeopathic in their presence. It didn’t matter, they were perfect in the nude (okay, a negligee, because I did see garlic, even if I didn’t taste it).

We were standing opposite a young American guy, who was knocking helpings back as if they were tequila shots.

“Is this the most sea creatures you’ve eaten in one sitting?” said his pal. He answered in the affirmative.

Oban Seafood Hut's blackboardOban Seafood Hut's blackboard
Oban Seafood Hut's blackboard

We also tried the hot smoked salmon sandwich (£4.95). Apparently, Ogden started his business with prawn versions of these, and our eyes boggled at the door-stopper size of these heavily stuffed sannies, also made from that sliced bread.

It was gorgeous, with robustly smoky and salty fish, though only half could be managed in one sitting.

Next up was the small pot of spring squid rings (£3.80), served in sweet chilli sauce with cling film over the top, so you could take it away and eat it in the car, much to the driver’s chagrin. At least I didn’t drop a hoop into the footwell.

After that fishy feast, we felt like a postprandial float in the sea, like bloated otters. Instead, we headed to the cafe from Hinba Coffee Roasters (62 George Street, Oban, www.hinba.co.uk), who also have two branches in Glasgow.

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We were revived by a comfortable seat, along with an iced latte (£3.80) and a flat white (£3.50), both excellent, and some great cakes - an isosceles of millionaire’s shortbread, with a thick and ridged layer of milk chocolate on top, and a jammy-middled raspberry and toasted coconut slice (£4 each).

I recommend visiting both of these places when you’re in Oban.

They’re way too good for the backburner.

Oban Seafood Hut, Calmac Pier, Oban

How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £28.70

Food 8.5/10, Ambience 8.5/10

17/20

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