The Puffer Bar and Restaurant, Easdale

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An island gem offering fish and chips with your perfect cuppa


The Puffer, a mere minute or so from the ferry pier on Easdale island is, according to new owners operating at about 3/4 steam power. Hopefully this summer will be on full steam ahead. Affectionately called Puffers, these were the slow delivery vans of their day, serving west coast communities only accessible by sea. Immortalized by the Para Handy books, films and who can forget Gregor Fisher giving his all on board the imaginary boat, the Vital Spark’? An apt intro here for very vital sparks Rachel Devine and her partner who, having retrained as a chef during lockdown re located from London to Easdale? Why? I wondered? After all she not only worked as a journalist on The Sunday Times in Scotland but also has now retrained as a cognitive behavioral therapist?
The answer lies predictably, as everyone knows, through a Mum – in this case, her Mum….
‘Well, Mum had lived on adjacent Seil island and we had visited so many times we thought if we moved here and ran a café and we would look for the smallest most remote cafe we could think of buying nobody would ever pay us any attention and we’d be able to stumble our way through’.
There hasn’t been exactly time for stumbling along. Coffee, tea, sandwiches, utterly delicious cakey and biscuity creations are all on offer. Sitting on benches that echo the views outside, as they are upholstered wonderful sea greeny blue tweed, as are soft turquoise pottery cups and saucers, scoffing chocolaty traybakes and eyes peeled on an enchanting and on Easdale, the requisitely wheelbarrow.
Wheelbarrow? Locals line them up at the ferry ‘terminus’ in order to load up their goodies, cases, groceries, lazy children, sacks of chicken feed…. You name it, which is then pushed up to your cottage. Locals come in. The ferryman comes in for his essential coffee to blow the cobwebs away… Loads of local support, says Rachel, but also surprising numbers in these tentative post COVID days of Germans, Italians and even an American couple who’ve visited from California nine times in the past ten years.
The Puffer is a small super friendly space . Rather like Easdale island itself. Perhaps an estate agent would describe it as ‘compact’? So people love it because the cottages are small, the ferry is small (more of that in a minute), and its appeal is wide and universal. A former slate quarrying island, the flattened stones scattering the shore are used for the World Stone Skimming Championships.
So how are things now?
“Well, we did think that we would shake it up a bit and try out our own ideas, perhaps selling more unusual sandwich choices? And then you know at the end of the day we quickly discovered it’s the seaside and everybody wants fish and chips and I suppose we didn’t realize just how Important this is”. They did find out pretty sharpish.
“One week after opening we bought however many fish we could thinking this will be loads for the weekend or so and within four hours I had to drive back into Oban at the speed of light to get more from the Fishman fishmonger.”
Sadly we had to leave before fish and chip time. More for you though?

*The ferry runs across every fifteen minutes or so. It is speedy. So much so that we managed to hold the record on the day we visited for missing it 3 times owing to various members of the party forgetting vital things left in the car, dashing up to the shop for a map, dashing up to the toilets… looking the wrong way. I cannot admit more.

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