What's in a view?
Updated: Aug 26, 2019
You can't eat scenery. That's what the development agencies say when proposing to build a nuclear power plant/aluminium smelter/windfarm/puffin smokery slap bang in a Site of Special Selfie Interest. And I read recently that you should regard spectacularly-sited places of digestion with suspicion: you pay for the position. The grub is secondary to the vista.
Shetland is my home, and surrounded as we are by water (being islands, that's quite normal) a view of the sea and what swims in and under it, or lands on it comes with the territory. But eating out in a seaside location is harder to accomplish than you might think.
Fjara (Norse word meaning beach or shoreline), though, in the island capital Lerwick, offers a custom-built cafe-bar-bistro experience with picture windows and a small terrace, looking out over Brewick Bay and with everyday views of seals, orcas, seabirds and local cats killing their chicks. What's more the company Shetland Webcams offers 24-hour views from its (movable and zoomable) 'Fjaracam' entirely free. So you can eat and home and still enjoy the view. It's also right next door to the Tesco with the best view in the world. If Fjara wasn't in the way.
But Fjara is actually a very good option for everything from a quick pint (craft ales and the likes of Peroni on draft) to morning coffee, breakfast, obstreperous cocktails and dinner. They do a proper dinner, too, though it's a short menu specialising in local seafood and meat.
The doctor and I booked for an early dinner at 6.00pm, and the place was filling up quickly. It can get very busy and it's worth reserving a table. The interior is spacious and welcoming in a Scandic-Costa kind of way and not just wheelchair accessible, but comfortably so. Staff are pleasant and speedy, once they get going.
And the food is good. Proper (not vacuum packed and pre-cooked) Shetland mussels in a fine garlic and cream sauce. Fine sweet potato soup with good warm bread. Grilled megrim, the thick bits of the fillet about perfect, the thin a wee bit frazzled. But very tasty. Fried haddock in panko breadcrumbs and semi-roast-tattie superchunky chips just about perfect. Home made tartare sauce. Generous servings. Good coffee (espresso was fine, single a double; I have had a mediocre latte in here once but I forgave them for providing a passing killer whale). House white wine OK (three sizes of glass) but Kopperberg non-alcoholic pear juice may be the most disgusting beverage on the planet. Should've had the Becks Blue.
Read the (various, short)menus here. Have a gander at the webcam. Fjara is a good option for breakfast, snacks, and sound Shetland produce treated with respect and served with a bit of style. If you're in Shetland, book ahead. Orcas not guaranteed. Be aware that you may see one munching a baby seal while you consume your dinner. I recommend a swift Highland Park 12 as a digestif.
My view? Go see. Stay for a drink. The food is good enough to match the panorama. And yeah, those are the most desirable council houses in the UK...next to the free golf course.