Apparently, walking over cobbles activates pressure points on the base of the foot that promotes good health. I’ve no clue whether or not this takes in the eyes, but something for your eyes to take in is the view at the new Scotts at South Queensferry’s Port Edgar Marina, Ayrshire-based Buzzworks first foray in the east. I was originally going to kick off this piece with something like ‘stunning panoramic views of the Forth Road bridges that really take your breath away’ but this falls massively short because this raised building’s first-floor vantage point, from which you not only get an eyeful of the bridges but also a clear view down the Firth toward the horizon, oil rigs included, makes you want to bleach it onto the back of your retinas. Or move there.
This is the third Scotts for the Ayrshire-based business – the original is at Troon while Largs plays host to the second.
On the day I hung by I was able to corner two of the busy Buzzworks directors, Kenny and Colin Blair, as they buzzed about the place for their take on their latest opus. Said Kenny, “This stands out from our other two venues because it is so industrial. It’s an old boating shed and its original steel structure was so dominating that we had to take it into account.”
Colin added, “My greatest fear was that we were taking on this big tin shed at the water’s edge and we had to make it warm and cosy, hence the now trademark fires – and the botanicals, we can’t forget them. The place is full of plants.”
He continued, “I call the design ‘warm industrial’, like the gorgeous velour seating paired with a table fashioned from an old piece of circular wood encased in an industrial steel ring. We got a lot of what we used for the interior from an industrial salvage reclamation yard and industrial meets opulence is the essence of what we’re doing here.”
Buzzworks favoured many of the companies who have been responsible for the successful look and design of their existing outlets including Jim Hamilton who presided over the design, Transition and Stevenson’s of Ayr – the upholstering experts.
Jim Hamilton told DRAM, “It was a pleasure to play with a large format warehouse space, with a world-class backdrop.
“The challenge was to balance out the industrial language of the existing warehouse with the incredible view out to the 3 industrial behemoths spanning over the river, with an interior that would sit comfortably within this mix. The final interior is cosy and warm set against a world-class backdrop.
“Scotts benefits from being on the upper deck level of the marina as it enhances the clear views across to the river, the hills and the three bridges.
“We adopted a theatrical approach to the design by stage setting a series of key elements that form the core of the interior: the island bar (and canopy) and seafood counter, the restaurant area set around the low hanging tree, the bar area snug and terrace and the flexible private dining area.
In the current ‘Instagram’ climate, Scotts with the bridges in the background, you will struggle to find a more photogenic setting for a bar and restaurant in Scotland.
He concluded, “It is an aspirational space that is light and refreshing in the daytime but it really comes alive when the lights dim in the evening.”
There are five areas to Scotts, with an elongated horseshoe-shaped bar at the centre, and going clockwise from the entrance (with the bar in front of you) is the restaurant, private dining room, bar, snug and outdoor terrace. The floor is predominantly polished concrete, and the entire back wall is clad with untreated ‘blonde’ planks of wood with an orange light shining through the gaps.
The bar looks like a shed shape, a very stylish shed, with a tiny apex roof and a big old clock facing the glass-wall entrance. The bar top is made from mahogany, and the bar-front is pained dusty gold and constructed from squares that resemble the plastic holder in a box of chocolates once they’ve all been snaffled. Along the bar are gold-coloured lamps and around the bar are gold birdcage-like lampshades, and at the very tip of the bar where is curves are two stainless steel ‘bath’ areas for ice to keep the wine chilled, above which are big meat hooks on a rail.
Opposite this end of the bar, on the back wall, is the servery, and this three-sided alcove entrance to the kitchen has a bit of a Spanish
vibe to it. There’s an old wooden screen at the bottom of it that looks like it’s straight out of a Spanish church, like a confessional booth screen almost. Along the top of it are stone vases in all different shapes and sizes.
The restaurant commands the very best views of the place, being at the corner of Scotts, with walls of windows allowing customers to dine in style and comfort and drink in the view at same time. This area has parquet flooring, and with its exposed-pipe-and-fan industrial ceiling and eclectic mix of industrial-meets-opulence, with beautiful green and blue velvet chairs and brown squidgy leather chairs in tan paired with metal, marble and wooden tables, is representative of the rest of the space. This area is separated from the bar in the centre by a row of teal leather banquettes, and from the private dining area by huge floor-to-ceiling shelves containing a range of vases and plants and bric-a-brac.
View aside, the focal point of the restaurant is the tree in the centre of the space, with three horseshoe-shaped booths upholstered in green velvet all backing onto it by forming a circle. The tree isn’t real of course, but it looks real, and hanging around the tree are industrial lights, the types that normally are caged in factories. This area also has huge oversized vases with even more plants in them.
The Private Dining Room boasts a cosy glow thanks to the flame-effect gas fire embedded in the wall (complete with logs stacked below) and this area also obviously benefits from the shelving divide with the restaurant. This area also has parquet flooring and a rug that both contribute to its cosiness.
The bar area on the opposite side of the horseshoe bar boasts emerald green booths, in a rougher velour to the sumptuously smooth blue velvet chairs that, again, have used elsewhere.
The bar segues into the snug, which in turn segues into the terrace (accessible through patio doors), and the snug incorporates the same design elements as the rest of Scotts like the colours and fabrics, lots of plants etc. with the biggest departure being the zigzag tiled floor that spills out onto the terrace and a whole wall of wood that looks like the wooden tiles on the roof of an alpine lodge. The lighting in this area looks like it’s been housed in wicker basket shades and there’s also a wooden ‘tree’ (looks like a tree branch) coat stand. Out on the patio is a selection of wicker chairs, marble-top tables, and plants, and with a view like that is understandably understated.