Fishers in Leith (Edinburgh): A Seaside Touch in the City

Fishers in LeithIt’s been beautifully sunny and warm here in Edinburgh this week — a shocker, I am told, this early in spring. (It’s been said to me more than once: “You’ve brought the weather from New York with you!”)

The gift of good weather always makes me crave the water — much more so these few days, as part of the enchantment of Edinburgh is the constant sound of seagulls in the backdrop. This may be a big city but its soundtrack is that of a charming seaside town — all the more reason to venture out to the water.

When I mentioned seeking water, Jill, the co-owner of the very lovely bed and breakfast 4 Morningside Place, had suggestions galore. Go to Leith, she said, telling me the tourist traps to avoid once I get there.

“My favorite place,” Jill noted, “is Fishers.” Now, Jill strikes me as a woman of very good taste, judging from her beautiful home, incredibly pretty garden and delicious breakfasts. So she didn’t need to tell me twice — as soon as I could get my shoes on, I hopped on a bus …

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The Harbour Takeaway (Scotland): Fish, Chips, And a Vista

SetonDorset Boy knows I need to see the sea.

I can’t possibly consider living in any city that’s not near a massive body of water. I’ve been spoiled, you see, growing up in Singapore, where a short bus ride in just about any direction would land me on a shore, looking out at a vast expanse of blue — ever the perfect spot for a good sit and a hard think.

So, on the first clear day in Scotland that a visit to the water seems possible, we pack into the car and head north.

I wonder aloud if we’re headed to Musselburgh, where I’ve heard there’s a terrific fishmonger whose fresh lobster and local catches have earned him a staunch following among regional cooks. I wonder if we’re headed to the Forth Bridge, an 1890 architectural wonder stretching 8,296 feet across the scenic Firth of Forth.

Dorset Boy has other plans, however. He simply says, “Fish and chips” …

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Rockaway Taco (Rockaway Beach, N.Y.): A Delicious Reprise

It isn’t truly summer until you’ve had your first fried fish taco. (So I believe, anyway.)

Going by this policy, summer still hadn’t hit for me in early August. This late in the game, that certainly had to be fixed.

So on a recent morning, even though I had only just been to Rockaway Taco in New York‘s Rockaway Beach a few days before, I decided it was time to return …

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The Wharf (Rockaway Beach, N.Y.): A View — With Food on the Side

Remember how I mentioned that people love to tell me where I must eat when I travel?

Well, The Wharf in New York‘s Rockaway Beach is certainly not one of those places.

Check it out, yes — I definitely heard that. With its outdoor dining deck with sweeping views of the water and Manhattan’s skyline in the distance, The Wharf’s vista for a sunset cocktail can’t be beat. But eat? We had read and heard enough about the food to know there were probably better restaurants in Rockaway Beach.

Even so, on a recent evening, as our cocktails on that famous deck were disappearing, the vaunted view was nudging us to stay.

How bad could the food truly be? We decided to find out …

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The Shop at Andaz Fifth Avenue: Style, With Some Substance


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As hotel restaurants go, the shop at Andaz Fifth Avenue tries pretty hard.

Determined to cast itself as a New York restaurant, it likes to broadcast just how local it is. Its Web site rattles off a litany of New York purveyors — eggs hail from Feather Ridge Farm in the Hudson Valley; lox comes from Russ & Daughters on Manhattan's Lower East Side, which has been providing New Yorkers with smoked fish since 1914. And there's even a self-conscious little area that sells snacks made by small, lesser-known brands in New York.

This is all in line with the in-the-know feel that the hotel, part of Hyatt Hotels & Resorts' chain of boutique properties, tries to give off. It's a pretentiousness you can already sense from the fact that it is the shop — spelled all lowercase, the hotel insists — and not, well, The Shop. (You'll have to check out my review of the hotel in the New York Times Travel section for more on this Andaz.)

How would the food stack up against all this posing? We decided to find out …

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