I was recently a finalist in the ‘Most Dedicated Food Blogger’ category at the Scotsman Food & Drink Awards. I didn’t win, instead the award deservedly went to Foodie Explorers Emma and Mark who are incredibly dedicated in their mission to seek out the best food they can find, then report back to their followers. Apart from catching up with those guys and meeting the lovely Julia Bryce, a fellow finalist who runs her food blog Just Julia as well as Society Aberdeen, an Aberdeen-focussed lifestyle magazine, I also got the chance to meet Roy Brett, head chef and owner of Ondine, an award-winning seafood and shellfish restaurant in Edinburgh.
Roy was there in his capacity of co-owner of The Fishmarket, a new venture based in Newhaven, Edinburgh, and winners of ‘Best Newcomer’ on the night. After talking about food for most of the night, Roy invited myself and my friend Lesley to come along to Ondine for a meal. Of course, we jumped at the chance.
I first heard about Ondine through instagram when I was still living in London. I bookmarked it as somewhere I should try out when I moved back up North, and that is exactly what I did. I took my mum there about a year ago and always meant to go back but as always, life gets in the way and I didn’t get a chance. So, after a rather crappy week, I was very excited to have a good lunch to look forward to.
Lunch started off well, with champagne and beautifully fresh Kaipara Oysters from New Zealand which had just been delivered. I’m pathetic when it comes to spice so I avoid tabasco at all costs, but these sweet and briny oysters didn’t actually need anything except a squeeze of lemon juice.
Then were were the crispy oysters with oyster mayonnaise. There’s something gloriously gratifying about biting through a crisp outer crust and into the tender center of a fried oyster. It’s a beautiful moment when you hear that crispy crust crackling as it gives way, your mouth is flooded with the briny juices from the oyster, and your nose fills with the smell of a salty ocean breeze.
The deliciously flavourful Dunbar brown crab and sweet Isle of Skye shrimps were served on fluffy crumpets with a delicate crispiness on the outside. The final touch of nutmeg really lifted this. If I worked in Edinburgh I reckon I would regularly pop in to Ondine after work, sit at the bar with a nice chilled glass of wine and about 4 or 5 of these!
Scallops were cooked perfectly, my knife melting into them like butter (in this case, garlic butter). They were astonishingly good…sweet, soft and delicate. The Charentaise sausage served alongside balanced the dish with its gentle spiciness.
By this point we were pretty full but then this North Sea Cod with whipped cod’s rose, girolles and lentils with pancetta arrived…
This was an outstanding dish. The transluscent and delicate cod flaked with the lightest of touches, the cod’s roe was rich and salty, the girolles and lentils, earthy and meaty. Accompanied with the rich yet fresh Consolation Juliette Roussanne Sauvage, which had aromas and flavours of peaches, honeysuckle, ripe pears, and honey, this was a heavenly combination.
As full as we were by this point, there is always room for dessert and these ones were belters. I had the rich, silky and decadent Chocolate & Blackberry Parfait and Lesley had the light and fruity Autumn Berry Ice Cream Sandwich.
Both of which were washed down beautifully with this fruity, smooth and intense Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ‘Fara’. When drinking it with the chocolate dessert, it tasted rich and chocolatey, with the berry dessert, all its berry fruitiness was released.
Put simply, Ondine was a delight. The chefs treat the freshest seafood in the simplest manner, allowing the ingredients to shine and the quality is evident in every bite. On top of this, the service was impecable. The lovely Craig who looked after us was incredibly knowledgeable about the food, pairing the wine perfectly. Lesley and I finished our ‘lunch’ at 6.30pm and in our last hour the resturant shifted from laid back chilled mode with a more ‘mature’ clientele into crazy busy ‘early 20s’ kicking off their Saturday night with champagne and oysters mode! This restaurant clearly has something for everyone. Definitely worth checking out the next time you’re in Edinburgh.