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.

32 Responses to Bit O’Scotland

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Yvette says:

    So cool. :)

  • 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.

  • Joseph says:

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

  • Ronnie Sperling says:

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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, 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.

  • 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.

  • Quigs says:

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

  • Shelley says:

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

  • 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.

  • 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 .

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Aston Banniser says:

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

  • Fred says:

    Barb
    The restaurant at pico was the Scotch and Sirloin

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Richard says:

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

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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:

    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 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.

  • 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

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