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Duck's Inn, Aberlady, East Lothian, restaurant review

The Duck's Inn is an enjoyable Saturday night treat, offering high quality in a relaxed setting, finds Kaye Nicolson

Published: November 9, 2015

With East Lothian on the doorstep, there’s little excuse not to get out of the city for the day and enjoy some sea air and a change of scene.

But when there are so many restaurants in Edinburgh, the neighbouring district risks being overlooked by diners seeking a good meal out.

However, the picturesque wee village of Aberlady is home to a gem which has the menu, setting and chef to rival the Capital’s finest.
As we walked into the cosy bar at Duck’s Inn it was clear it was a popular haunt with locals for an afternoon pint - always a good sign.

"I was presented with a riot of colour which was almost too pretty to eat"

Once through in the restaurant section of the old Kilspindie House, which dates back to the 17th century, we were shown to a candlelit table by the window.

Owner Malcolm Duck came over to welcome us - a personal touch which he did with other tables throughout the evening.
Duck’s unveiled a revamped menu after head chef Michal Mozden took up the mantle in July, and his attention to detail shines through all the dishes.

Locally-sourced game and fish feature heavily on the menu, which was a hit with us.

To start, I went for the Belhaven smoked salmon, served with pink grapefruit, watercress mousse, wild rice and sesame (£11).

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I was presented with a riot of colour which was almost too pretty to eat; a generous slab of smoked salmon, topped with a large helping of mousse and decorated with the various accompaniments.

But eat I did - and it was even better than it looked; the pink grapefruit and watercress were a perfect complement to the melt-in-the-mouth salmon.

My other half started with the Port Seton langoustine and confit pork belly, lemon and tarragon gnocchi, pickled mushrooms and langoustine tea (£10).

Again, it was beautifully presented - a fresh langoustine resting on a plump piece of pork belly, surrounded by flavoursome sauce.
He said it was best described as an Asian fusion dish, a welcome departure from more run-of-the-mill starters.

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I don’t usually go for chicken dishes, but the roast chicken breast and glazed wings had come highly recommended by the waiter.
The meat arrived surrounded by elegant swirls of jus and a refreshing twist on the usual trimmings.

The dish (£22.50) was served with black truffle, charred leeks and black bean; a delicious mix of flavours which worked well with the two different cuts.

My starter and main were complemented by a few glasses of cold Sancerre.

My partner, who, begrudgingly, was designated driver for the evening, enjoyed a generous portion of loin and smoked boudin of venison, served with puy lentils, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, macerated quince and calvados jus (£26.50).

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He was enjoying it so much I had to pinch a mouthful, just to confirm that the venison was as tender and juicy as he said it was.
Our plates were clear and we were by no means in need of a dessert, but we were persuaded when we saw the menu, which continues the fine-dining stamp reflected in the previous courses.

After some dithering, I went for the Valrhona chocolate marquise, served with pistachios and a mango and banana sorbet (£7.50).
The chocolate melted in the mouth, and the fruity sorbet lifted it from being too heavy.

The creme caramel with macerated pineapple and coconut sorbet (£6.50) was also a hit with my partner.

Duck’s, a restaurant with rooms which is being gradually refurbished, proved to be an enjoyable Saturday night treat, offering high quality in a relaxed setting.

The bar offers traditional pub grub fare, giving more options for those who would prefer to go for a plate of fish and chips or a burger, while there is also an appealing tasting menu.

During November, groups of ten or more are being offered a £40 a room rate if they book the tasting menu in the private dining room; or it’s £50 for a room if you have a restaurant table booked.
That sounds tempting - with the added plus that we could both enjoy a drink.

Kaye Nicolson writes occasional food and travel reviews for the Scotsman titles. She's a food-loving farmer's daughter who is always on the look-out for the perfect hearty meal and a good G&T.

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