Bit O’Scotland

Over on Westwood Boulevard, between Olympic and Santa Monica Boulevard, you could once get the best fish and chips you ever had, served by cheery older women with (mostly) British accents. The entire menu was fish and chips, shrimp and chips, chicken and chips, some kind of ham and chips, plus various combination plates. I never had the ham but I think it was the only thing in the place that wasn’t fried, except maybe the clam chowder (red), salad, beverages and shortbread. This was all served in an an old house someone had converted into a restaurant that was way too small for the crowd. On weekends, the wait to dine could run upwards of an hour and for some reason, every time I found myself waiting for a table, the party ahead of me included James Coco.

After Bit O’ Scotland closed, the same family opened a restaurant over on Pico near Rancho Park. It’s called John O’ Groat’s and it’s open mainly for breakfast and lunch. But at lunchtime, you can order fish and chips made with the same wonderful recipe. Alas, they don’t have shrimp, scallops or cheery older women with British accents.

62 Responses to Bit O’Scotland

  • Elyce says:

    Bit O’ Scotland was a family favorite! Their fried chicken was the best I’ve ever eaten.

  • Elizabeth (Allen) Sheiman says:

    Having a Scottish grandmother, we went here as one of the few takeouts my grandfather would ever even consider . It was delicious. My grandparents would bring a blanket in the car and then wrap the takeout package up in it so that it would stay hot until it arrived home. I agree with Caroline Jobe and Pat K. – i can’t find GOOD fish & chips like that anymore. The Mucky Duck and Bit O’were the best though!

    DOES ANYONE else remember the Mucky Duck (nextdoor to the Tudor House when it was on Wilshire Blvd?)
    When I’m next in L.A. I will try John o’Groats just to see if they are as good as Bit o’ Scotland

  • Carolyn J Jobe says:

    Bit O’ Scotland – Grew up in WLA and THIS was my favorite place to eat for birthdays etc. I was tiny and ate like a bird, but in there, I ate like a lion – it was SO good! We were told the place was never a house, always a restaurant. I don’t know if it had ever been anything but the Bit O’ Scotland though, as it was always that from the time I was a child until it closed and was replaced by tall, stupid buildings. The only place I have found that even comes close to it for great shrimp ‘n chips is Thousand Oaks Fish ‘n Chips in – yes – Thousand Oaks; in the Ralph’s shopping center – Trader Joe’s is in there, too, FYI. We have take-out once a week there and pretend we’re back in WLA in the 1950-1980’s again. The other “sure thing” for great grub is The Apple Pan. Would someone PLEASE work on making a time machine so we can all go back and get some great food and some great fun?

  • Pat K says:

    I’ve been on the lookout for great fish and chips since I moved away from LA. Growing up with Bit O’ Scotland spoiled me. Nothing compares. (At least not in NYC, NJ, PA, Seattle… the quest continues.)

  • Rob says:

    Began going there in the ’60’s…no lines, just great food…great atmosphere…seemed so pleasantly old fashioned and out of place among the high rises which eventually caused their closing…it was more than a restaurant…it was a place as comforting as the food itself…

  • Bob Radakovich says:

    I loved this place when I was in college. It was very good and I was sad when it closed.

  • Ralph Jones says:

    Stumbled back on this – thinking I should post to this……then discovered, I already did!
    Along with Dennis Sheehan, we both worked at Bit O’Scotland in the 50’s.
    Dennis lived in the 1900 block of Glendon, I lived at 2051 Glendon.

    The Embers was across from the Auto Club at LaGrange and Westwood.
    Two neighbors – Diane and Joyce Cooper – lived on the corner of La grange &
    Glendon and both worked at the Embers at one time or another.

    LAPD motor cops liked to “work” the signal at LaGrange & Westwood (IMO) due to those good lookin’ waitresses working at the Embers!

    23 Skidoo – which later became The RF – was a VERY popular 18-21 beer bar in the 2100 block of Westwood Blvd – popular with the locals and UCLA students.

    There was an old neighborhood bar across the street – Red Rooster – that was handy for a “real” drink when the band at the RF was on a break.

    I had the honor of testifying on behalf of The RF at an ABC hearing in downtown L.A. – as one of the Glendon residents (the Cota Brothers) were persistent in attempting to close it down – and were ultimately successful.

    The RF briefly located to Pico Blvd on the edge of Santa Monica, but it wasn’t successful there -and went away for good.

  • Sandy judkins says:

    Loved Bit O’Scotland. When my grandparents visited from out of CA we went there every weekend. They also had fabulous fried chicken.

  • John Hindsill says:

    Sorry, Bruce, although I ate at the Bat Rack several times, I cannot remember seeing any celebrities there. Truth to tell, I rarely recognize them in the flesh. In the early sixties I passed Debbie Reynolds three times and failed to recognize her…even when my friend told me who it was. Same thing Yvette Mimieux at the Tail O’ the Cock on Restaurant Row, and I was sitting looking into her booth for at least half an hour. I did, however, recognize an elderly Karl Malden at Fromin’s Deli on Wilshire Blvd.

  • Bruce Campbell says:

    The Bat Rack

    John Hindsill, or anyone else who remembers The Bat Rack, I would love to hear more of your memories of The Bat Rack. I have fond memories of meeting Jerry West and Dean Martin there when I was a kid.

  • Michael J Stubblefield says:

    OH MY GOD that shortbread!
    I’d buy it by the box I’ll never forget those pink boxes. I need a hit LOL
    I’m praying that the sister restaurant has this stuff. I just pulled up their menu and there was no mention of the shortbread. I’ll call when I wake up tomorrow
    meanwhile I can dream. I also miss Liz Brooks bakery in Westwood. She made the best pound cake on the planet. Why did I ever leave LA?

    Mike Stubblefield

  • Cat finch says:

    Hi all

    I’m trying to trace a cousin, Gracie Hendry originally from Dundee but emigrated to USA. Last information I have is her being married to Jim and running/owning a British/Scottish bar in Santa Monica.
    I’m die to visit LA this year and would really love to see the place she called home.

    Cat Finch

  • David Unrot says:

    While a student at UCLA, I often went to Bit O’ Scotland. It was a very popular restaurant, along with Ships, with many of us, because the food was great and fairly priced. My favorite dish was their Finan Haddie, which I could never get anywhere else. The piece de resistance from Ships was, of course, the Shipburger, especially around 2-4 a.m. Nothing comparable today, anywhere.

  • John Hindsill says:

    I’m not Barb, but I think not. The Velvet Turtle was on Sawtelle tween Pico and Olympic. FWY 405 had a southbound off-ramp directly across the street from it.

  • Jim Cicchinelli says:

    Barb, was it “The Velvet Turtle” ?

  • John Hoffs says:

    The mystery has been solved! I was visiting L.A., where I haven’t lived for 26 years, and went back to explore where I thought the long lost restaurant on Westwood Blvd. was. A storekeeper directed me a couple doors down to 2279 Westwood Blvd., now “Pamper & Play,” and told me it was indeed called Hatton’s, and he used to get ham sandwiches there when he was a kid–he’s 61 years old; I’m 56. Yay! Now I can rest in peace knowing that “The Home of the Virginia Baked Ham” was not just a dreamy illusion in the recesses of my imagination! Please share your memories of Hatton’s–if you have any!

  • John Hoffs says:

    Solve a decades long mystery for me, please! What was the name of a restaurant on the west side of Westwood between Olympic & Pico that closed in the 70s and had a neon sign on the stucco building front that said “Home of the Virginia Baked Ham” and “Your hostess, Adele” or something like that. It might have been George Hatton’s but I’ve never been able to confirm it.

  • Bill T. says:

    Does anybody remember a small restaurant about 1/2 block south of Bit O’ Scotland that was perhaps named “The Embers?” It was on the NE corner of Westwood Blvd and La Grange. I vaguely remember a small neon animated sign that looked like burning logs. In spite of living nearby and passing it hundreds of times, I don’t recall ever going inside. It may have been a patio sort of thing. Can’t find a thing about it online, but it was definitely there at least through the mid to late 50s.

  • Phil A. says:

    For John Hindsill,

    I ran across a site discussing BBQ in Culver City. The place everyone was raving about was STERN’S BBQ which closed in the early 1980’s.
    Also the store was on nearby Washington Blvd. and not on Sepulveda.
    Go to your search site and punch in Stern’s. You will find many postings to describe the place.
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil A. says:

    For John Hindsill,
    I am aware of the BBQ joint you are speaking of, but only because I have seen several references to it on some of the other restaurant sites which Mark manages. I do not remember the name and I myself was never a patron.
    I would think someone else can offer up the name in short order.

  • John Hindsill says:

    I don’t get out to that area much anymore since my cousin moved out of Raintree. But the last time I was there I did not see Petrelli’s as drove south on Sepulveda–I must have not be paying attention. I certainly would have recommended it.

    Phil A., perhaps you remember the name of the BBQ place on Sepulveda with the sawdust on the floor; it was on the west side of the blvd. not far from Petrelli’s I think.

  • Phil A. says:

    For JSimpson ;
    I would happily recommend George Petrelli’s Steak House right here on Sepulveda Blvd. The restaurant has been in the family since uncle Joe Petrelli opened his original smaller version in 1931.
    I was a frequent patron in the mid to late 1960’s and my friends and I enjoyed everything about the place.
    I would say my patronage fell short when the restaurants in Marina del Rey
    started sprouting like mushrooms. The Pieces of Eight was fantastic on all counts plus great people watching. ( all the tanned boating babes )

    When I relocated to Redondo, The Latitude 20 became my #1 expense.
    I loved the owner Hop Louie, his food and fabulous drinks plus the Island themed entertainment.

    Back to Petrelli’s , this place will meet or beat any expectations you may have. I am willing to bet my wife’s retirement package !
    Your guests will be impressed.
    Phil Ankofski

  • John Hindsill says:

    All the places I used to eat at when I lived in the area are gone. I think only Tito’s Tacos and Johnnies Pastrami are still going–but I’m not sure they would be meeting friendly.

    Perhaps Dinah’s on Sepulveda hard by Centinela Ave., if it still is around, would be a good choice. I do remember the apple pancakes. Yum!

  • JSimpson says:

    I need to set up a small dinner meeting at a landmark restaurant (restaurant with a bit of history) in the Culver City area. Any suggestions?

  • Richard says:

    Pico &Sepulveda…NW corner restaurant was call SCOTCH ‘N SIRLOIN, a steakhouse.

  • Cindy says:

    Thank you Bit O’Scotland for the wonderful memories! Best fish and chips ever, and the shortbread! Delicious! Thank you for suggesting John O’Groats. I will have to stop by and get an order of both for my Mom, who is now 90 years old. She will be thrilled!

  • Steven R Sager says:

    It’s funny that when you reach a certain age you seem to spend more time looking back to various times in your life which bring back warm memories.

    My parents, who are both gone now moved to the United States from Canada when I was six years old. That was in 1952. My mother was a War Bride from England. She married her Canadian soldier then after the end of War immigrated to Canada with thousands of other War Brides.

    After arriving in California they got to know other folks who had made the same move. They started a social group called the, British American Club.

    Some of their first meeting were held over dinner at the Bit O Scotland. Even after the club grew to a size that the Resturant could not hold all of the meeting members at the same time, it always remained a favorite spot for all to come to with their family’s.

    I remember being allowed to drive the family car every Friday night with my dad when I was being taught to drive by him to the Bit O Scotland for our order of take home fish and chips. What a warm memory.

    Although my parents stayed in California, I returned to Canada in 1967. Yet every year when I came home to visit, my dad and I would take that same trip on Friday night to the Bit O Scotland for our pick up order of fish and chips. And I always drove.

  • John Hindsill says:

    Thank you, Fred, now I can rest easy. It’s funny how much I remember of the place, the people, and the area…but not the name of the of the @X!& restaurant. I don’t know if Barb is still visiting, but now I can concentrate on unimportant things.

  • Fred says:

    The restaurant at pico was the Scotch and Sirloin

  • Aston Banniser says:

    My Treat Place while studying at UCLA…circa 66-71…loved the Fish and Chips..

  • Laurie says:

    I loved this place. I have such fond memories of my family going to dinner there and getting the fried shrimp and sharing it. At that time, my family had to make meals stretch. Aside from that, my mother never went home without a shortbread cookie. Love it.

  • Ralph Jones says:

    I lived in WLA on Glendon, a block over from Westwood Blvd, just N. of Olympic.
    Hung out in WLA and Culver City. Lots of cronies from Venice, Uni, and Culver High Schools. I went to a Catholic (all boys then) HS – Chaminade,
    which was just a couple of blocks from Hamilton HS.

    Of course I spent time at Robert’s DI, and *LOTS* more at “The Handout” – the Hamburger Handout – AKA “Club 19”.
    Scot’s at the corner of Pico and Westwood Blvds – next to the Pickwood theatre was another popular spot.

    OK – back on topic….during my HS days (late 1950’s) I *worked* as a bus boy at the Bit ‘O Scotland. So did one of my buddies – Dennis Sheehan.
    The owners (Scottish folks with accents) were the Hill family.

    Not all the waitresses were “old ladies” – as one of the gals went to Uni (Noreen Hampson) – while another (Detta last name=?) went to Hamilton.
    Detta drove a “custom” 50’s era Plymouth – which was a bit unusual (Fords & Chevs were the norm).

    IIRC – When the Hills retired, their daughter (Betty?) and son-in-law took over, but didn’t seem to have the same business acumen as her parents.
    Or, possibly the real estate on Westwood Blvd became to valuable to hold onto.

    As an employee – we got to have an outstanding meal of fish & chips after the restaurant closed – – but long after moving on to other jobs, it was still one of my favorite WLA eateries.

    CC Rider.

  • Mike L. says:

    I have missed this place for so long! We’d get fish and chips to go in pink cardboard boxes. By the time we got them home, the boxes would be soaked through with grease. But it was GOOD grease, dammit! I have NEVER had fish and chips as good as Bit ‘o Scotland’s. Even in Iceland or England. And those ladies were so sweet and kind! Nice to know there are others out there with fond memories of Bit ‘o Scotland!

  • Karen Gilmore says:

    I worked just south of Wilshire Blvd on Westwood in the early seventies and Bit o Scotland was my favorite Friday night dinner spot. I loved the fish and chips so much I never had anything else. I always brought home some shortbread though, it was the best .

  • Lilly Greenfield says:

    Growing up in WLA, this was a favorite in my family. I loved the fish and chips and the salad with shredded beats. I’ve eaten fish and chips in a lot of different places, and this one was the best…aside from fish and chips in Scotland.

    I was hoping you would have a photo. I remember it was a little house set back from the street.

  • Shelley says:

    A favorite spot for regular family dinners out. I believe I ate my first fried oysters there at about age 10.

  • Quigs says:

    Barb, I believe the name of the cafeteria near May Company on Pico is Mannings.

  • Bill T. says:

    In the 50’s we would sometimes get our Friday night fish dinners from that curious little house-turned-restaurant set well back from Westwood Blvd. It was my youthful job to walk over there and pick up a bag full of tasty fish & chip takeout meals, each one neatly packed in a little pink box. Can vividly remember the oily, vinegary delight of those crusty chunks o’ fish and the tasty fries. One of those nice ladies with the funny accents knew me by name, I could count on a nice pat on the head from her on each visit.

    A very cramped restaurant by any measure. The entrance and waiting area was positively tiny. But that only added to the homey feel of it.

  • John Hindsill says:

    Barb, you are, of course, correct about the Fox and Hounds. I will now never be able to sleep again until the proper name comes to me. Since discovering this site earlier in the week, I’ve thought about nothing but the restaurants of my youth no longer around, many of whose names escape me.

    But some I do recall–the Carousel Ice Cream Parlor, La Barbera’ Pizza, Carillo’s Mexican Restaurant, Madrid Restaurant on Pico, The Bat Rack, Madame Wu’s Gardens, The Broken Drum, The Nine Muses in Hollywood, the Hamburger Handout amongst others.

    My two all time favorite memories are still around in Culver City … Johnnie’s Pastrami (first legal beer) and Tito’s Tacos. But alas, I am hardly ever in the area anymore.

  • Barb says:

    John Hindsill – The Fox and Hounds was on Wilshire Blvd. That was a fabulous restaurant. The restaurant I’m talking about is like a miniature version of that. I think the reason that it’s so hard to remember is that I was just out of high school and was just experiencing the restaurants around town – This one didn’t last long after HS. I believe it was gone by the late 60s. Thanks so much for your response though. Sounds like you had a fun youth.

  • John Hindsill says:

    Barb, hello to a fellow Gondolier 8-10 years ahead of you. I’ve been racking whats left of my brain for the Pico-Sepulveda intersection of the mid-sixties.

    I don’t really recall Roberts D/I that well, and I think it was replaced by a United Rent-all or some such. But I really do remember the restaurant. In the period ’66-’67, I used to go to the piano bar, there, frequently. I became platonically friendly with Bebe, the cocktail waitress, and Sandra Alexandra, the piano singer. Occasionally I had dinner there. The name of the restaurant has eluded me for two days (it’s been nearly 50 years ago), but I now think it was called THE FOX AND HOUNDS. Hope that rings a bell with you.

  • John Hindsill says:

    Bit o’Scotland is a fond memory. My wife and I, still in our twenties, had dinner there one time only. The food was good of kind, but my wife said she’d not go again…almost every patron that evening was a gray or blue haired person. The demographic skewed too old for her. Well that was nearly fifty years ago, and I wonder if young folks think that of us today.

  • Barb says:

    PS: We are also looking for the wonderful cafeteria that was located south, right next to the May Company on Pico Blvd. It was between the MayCo bldg. and the strip mall that ran from Overland Blvd. to Westwood Blvd. on the north side of Pico Blvd. It was a large cafeteria and it was only at this location for a couple years. Any information will be welcomed. Many thanks to you.

  • Barb says:

    I absolutely love tis blog. So happy that I ran across it. Found a few restaurants I’d been looking for from my youth. Some of my high school friends are trying to find some information and pictures of Robert’s drive in (drive thru?) restaurant, with carhops and all, on the southwest corner of Sepulveda and Pico Blvds. We are also looking for the name of the steak house restaurant that was across the street from Robert’s that was on the northwest corner of Pico and Sepulveda Blvds – We can’t remember the name of the old hunting lodge-esque brick steakhouse for the life of us. Do you have any info on this. We are a group of Venice High School Alumni members who graduated in the mid sixties and are trying to remember the restaurants we went to with our parents and had our first dates at. Any information or photos would be appreciated. Is it possible for you to give me a heads-up if you find any information on these two restaurants or find photos of them prior to your posting so that I can let the others know? It would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

  • Ronnie Sperling says:

    John O’ Groat’s in Encino stays open for dinner and always has the Bit O’ Scotland Fish, Chicken, and Shrimp.

  • Joseph says:

    There’s now also a John O’Groat’s in Encino.

  • B Woods says:

    After reading this on the old version of the page, I visited John O’ Groat’s in the summer of 2007. The place was packed on the day I wandered in, but the fish n chips was just as good as you describe.

  • Yvette says:

    So cool. :)

  • Craig Printup says:

    I loved this place. Here is an anecdote: I was waiting in line here with a friend (circa 1982) and the line went way out the door through the patio. It was hot out, and I asked one of the older waitresses if we might have a beer while waiting in line. She replied, “Aye, ye cannot, for everybody’d be wanting one!” Shortly thereafter, the waitress came and got my friend and I, and ushered us to a room in the back. The room was a break room for the waitresses. We were allowed to sit with the waitresses and drink imported beers while they rested their feet and talked shop. My best restaurant memory ever!

  • Bill Warren says:

    Bit o’ Scotland was the first restaurant where I had fish and chips that I liked. I haven’t tried that at John o’ Groats, but I have often bought their shortbread, another carryover from the old place–and just as great.

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