Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Review - Ondine

So, a belated write up of a trip to Ondine, Roy Brett's new(ish) restaurant in Edinburgh; you might not have heard of Roy before but you'll have certainly heard of his food with 4 years as exec. chef at Risk Stein's place in Padstow and another 4 years heading the operation of the Dakota hotel chain and specifically manning the helm at the award winning Dakota Forth Bridge where he was garnered with awards including Scottish Seafood Chef and Scottish Hotel Chef of the year.

Anyhoo, Roy has now fulfilled a long held ambition and opened his own restaurant in Edinburgh City Centre – it's a bright and open room which is part of the Missoni Hotel building (but not part of the hotel); for those without local knowledge, a large glass wall overlooks Victoria Street and specifically the entrance to "Espionage" a club much beloved of students and stag parties, I suspect this may be where to sit for the best views of street theatre on Friday and Saturday nights. We went for lunch but for some reason I'm finding this really amusing and can't wait to go on a weekend night.

So, the food – as one would expect from a chef with such a seafood pedigree (and a restaurant named after a water nymph), the menu is predominantly seafood with a good lot of crustacean and a few other options as well as a selection of both daily and weekly specials.

We couldn't decide what oysters to have while perusing the menu so they had no problem providing a selection of Fine de Claires, Maldons and Cumbraes – all good but for the price the Cumbraes were far superior to the Fine de Claires. Starters were shared in so far as I had half of Fiona's treacle cured salmon and wouldn't let her near my barbecued salt and pepper squid; I despise reviews that constantly glow but in this case I can't fault either dish, both were far above average.

I then had half a dozen langoustines with cocktail sauce for a main, and just to be sure a portion of the beef dripping chips; the langoustines were mammoth and juicy and the cocktail sauce perfectly adequate but I'm never sure why cold seafood tastes better in France than it does at home - both use Scottish produce! Perhaps it's a state of mind? Anyway, both the cooking and produce were spot on and the chips! The chips came from an old uncles' memory when everything smelled and tasted better, I can't wait to have them again. I can't remember what Fiona had, I think it was Grilled Seabass with brown shrimps, she seemed to like it but I was too busy protecting my langoustine and chips to pay much attention. For not fishy people, there are several other good options based on both meat and veggies.

Pudding was the only disappointing note of the meal, we shared some doughnut thing which had a white chocolate custard thing to dip the d-nuts into; it was all just a bit too sweet and a bit too much for us, not exactly in keeping with the rest of the menu.

Service was great (especially as we managed to pitch up without a reservation in the opening week) and we were made to feel completely welcome by everyone, despite being a bit scruffy and having a 6 month old with us. On the downside though was a junior Maitre d' (I think) who seemed to enjoy bossing about the waitresses and from my observations, made every single error of service in the room that lunchtime; the waitresses and the real Maitre d' seemed to put up working with him well, I'd probably have knocked him out if I had to work with him.


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