Thirty Knots: Buzzworks harnesses the power of the Forth

Hospitality powerhouse Buzzworks first made a name for itself on the Ayrshire coast, opening a series of award-winning bar-restaurant venues in Troon, Prestwick and Ayr, before spreading inland to conquer Ayrshire itself.

Twenty years on, it seems entirely fitting that the company’s expansion into the east of the country has also taken hold at the waterside, beginning with the mirroring of its triumphant Troon Yacht Haven establishment Scotts into the equally nautical setting of South Queensferry’s Port Edgar Marina.

This year, Buzzworks’ Forth estuary footprint grew bigger with the opening of the boldly different Thirty Knots, located eastwards along the Queensferry shoreline in the grand old 19th Century stone building formerly operated as The Three Bridges.

Both of these locations are dominated by those three bridges, with the Scotts venue sitting close to the two Forth Road crossings, and Thirty Knots now nestling within a stone’s throw of the huge stanchions supporting the tracks onto the iconic Forth Rail Bridge.

As a spectacular setting for an event meal, or a family lunch outing, you couldn’t ask for much better in Scotland’s central belt. Handy for the major motorways and just a 10-minute train ride out of Edinburgh, but idyllically isolated and as rural as a Highland fishing village, albeit one framed by towering feats of civil engineering.

Surprisingly, however, Thirty Knots’ interior design does not revolve around access to this view. Quite the opposite in fact, as it pulls off the fiendishly clever trick of making every table seem like the best in the house, whether it is near a window or not.

Against dark décor made dense by countless pieces of framed pop-art, cunning use is made of both roof-mounted pendants and petite rechargeable table lamps to place each table setting, of whatever size, in its own ring of light. The lay-out, although essentially open above waist height, is divided by some bench seating and subtle use of upholstered partitions. The combined effect is to give each couple or group their own distinct comfort bubble, without isolating them from the overall buzz of dining out.

Thirty Knots downstairs space is subtly sectioned into three areas – with room made for larger parties to the left of the main entrance, family and couple dining dominant in the central portion, and more casual café style seating at the right-hand end, where the main bar sits in a room made brighter by floor-to-roof windows.

Now that this downstairs operation is up and running, plans are afoot to open an upstairs private event space that can accommodate up to 100 guests, while the spring and summer will undoubtedly see Thirty Knots’ smashing Forth-facing outdoor terrace come into its own for alfresco food and drinks.

The venue is being overseen by operations manager Stephen Buchanan, who has long been a key part of the team at Buzzworks and now primarily focuses on the East and new openings. He said: “Thirty Knots is an incredible addition to our existing business and offers something entirely different to our successful Scotts Bar and Restaurant at Port Edgar Marina.

“The concept is something that we’ve been carefully crafting for quite some time, with world-class designers contributing to the completion of this amazing new venue.

“Providing a relaxed and welcoming environment, that is warm, comfortable and accessible to all, has been at the centre of our every thought since we started work on Thirty Knots, many months ago and we are proud to have delivered just that.”

Roast breast of chicken, with pancetta & caramelised onion, buttered greens, garlic potatoes, and a red wine jus

Buzzworks describes the Thirty Knots food offering as an ‘accessible gastro-pub menu featuring a modern twist on some traditional classics’.

A spokesperson for the Buzzworks culinary team explained: “We’ve focused on fresh, seasonal produce to create an eclectic menu to excite and delight our customers.”

So alongside classic fish and chips, steak and ale pies baked fresh to order, and luxury roast chicken and garlic spuds, there are ‘Nagasaki Crunch’ starters, karrag chicken bao buns, wild mushroom tacos and a signature ‘King Rib Supper’ with skin-on fries and Katsu ketchup.

Chorizo crusted Atlantic cod, crispy potatoes, buttered greens, with lemon & herb butter

“We are all about encouraging our chefs to explore their culinary creativity and showcase their skills and we look forward to refreshing our menus regularly – and every ingredient that goes on the customer’s plate has been well thought-out with a twist of reinvention,” said Buzzworks.

“We’re also proud to source our ingredients and produce from some of Scotland’s finest suppliers, including the award-winning Campbell’s Prime Meat in Linlithgow.”

Predicting this year’s food trends, the team reckons that comfort food will be making a comeback, particularly with the cost-of-living crisis.

Strawberry cheesecake with vanilla ice cream

“When people are going out, they’re looking for absolute comfort food. If they’re spending money, they want something that they know they’ll enjoy and look forward to.”

Having recently been named in the top ‘100 Best Companies to Work For in the UK’ list, Buzzworks is proud of its staff benefits, not least the health and wellbeing incentives.

Stephen said: “Hospitality is a fun, vibrant and rewarding industry and at Buzzworks, we really consider wellbeing, flexible working and work life balance as key priorities.

“We always look to ensure our team is well looked after, with fantastic rewards and progression opportunities, and the opportunity for them to really share their ideas and opinions across all aspects of the business.

“We’re always on the lookout for incredible people to join our team and if you or someone you know would be interested, please get in touch or pop into the venue – we’d love to see you.”

Great service from motivated staff is central to the offering at Thirty Knots, and there was indeed a cheerfully upbeat atmosphere when SLTN popped into the venue for a midweek lunch on a bright February day – alongside a healthy crop of patrons.

Food and drinks were served with enthusiasm and alacrity, which was perhaps to be expected with a journalist in the house – but there was no missing the spring in the step of a staff with a hit on their hands, literally singing to themselves as they flitted between the warmly lit tables.