The Shore Grill & Fish House needs to navigate some troubled waters, says Gaby Soutar

There’s a new bridge across the Firth of Forth.

If you live in Scotland, you will know this, unless you have been living in a cave.

Or you are my sister, who drove across the six-week-old Queensferry Crossing, with its white suspenders like the lines on a maths protractor, and didn’t even notice.

She could’ve been doing a Herbie the Love Bug, or motoring across turtles’ shells, as long as it got her from a to b.

It took us a while to get a booking at this new restaurant, which, thanks to its location and view, has been rather busy with bridge botherers.

It’s part of a refurbished hotel, which looks as if it’s been built from brown Lego bricks, and you arrive at the front door by looping around and under the end of the bridge, sort of like the beginnings of tying a tie.

Inside, and the plush design includes organic-looking wooden details on the ceiling, like the skeleton of a boat or a whale’s baleen.

The menu is well designed, from the team behind Edinburgh’s fancy Twenty Princes Street and cocktail bar Juniper.

We shared a pair of starters, but neither were quite right.

The stuck-together U-shaped bits of gluey treacle-cured salmon (£6.50) were OK in themselves, but they’d ditched the conventional partners – sweetness, zing – in favour of a bunch of unflattering accompaniments.

There were quarters of not-peppery-enough radish, a nutty clumpy crumb of some sort, micro-herbs and, on a separate slate, a pair of plain linseed crackers.

All of which made for a dish that was dry in texture and flat in flavour.

Our set of sticky baby back Creole ribs (£6.50) were strangely ascetic too, with a gelatinous rather than sticky sauce, scrawny meat and almost zero seasoning, especially when it came to the apple slaw.

Things didn’t improve much when it came to mains. The real stinker was the mackerel, mussel, prawn and shellfish broth (£13).

Who knows what made it a broth, perhaps it was a deconstructed version, or can be counted as such because of the meagre liquid elements – a daub of brown fishy stock and an algae-coloured “wild garlic and spinach” clotted jus smeared along the rim, like some dock leaf juice on a nettle sting.

There was also a clump of dauphinoise potato topped by a piece of burnish-skinned mackerel, five in-the-shell cold mussels, and a handful of prawns, which were translucent in the middle.

We flagged up the uncooked element, and there was a prodding post-mortem over at the pass, then it was never to be mentioned again.

Our cod (£13) option was much better, once you’d peeled back the floppy bandage of skin.

It came with a chilli-spiked beer sauce, a shoal of brown shrimp, tenderstem broccoli (described as burnt on the menu), and caramelised “malt onions”.

A decent combo, at last, even if, initially, this option had come with a strange side – a second salmon starter – instead of the baby new potatoes (£3) side dish we’d ordered.

My fillet steak (£28) was pretty pedestrian, with a clod of garlic and parsley butter on top, and a punnet of chips (which I’d accidentally ordered double of, since nobody pointed out that they came with the steak – £3).

Another addition of smoked bone marrow (£3) smelled amazing, but one halved bone had its emptiness disguised by a thatch of onions.

Their puddings are the best bit. We were cheered up by a fluffy and tropical-tasting lemon and mango cheesecake (£6), with pineapple chunks on top, a chevron stripe of mango coulis and a scoop of coconut ice-cream.

While, lime and blueberry posset, with crumbled (“smoked”) meringue, pistachio crumble and a powder they described as lemon sherbert (£5.50) was jammy and zingy.

Saved by the dessert, though I still think this restaurant needs to navigate some troubled waters.

They may continue to snag a few bridge twitchers by distracting them with an incredible view, but, to some people, including my sister, the Queensferry Crossing is just a road.

The Shore Grill & Fish House

Doubletree by Hilton Edinburgh – Queensferry Crossing, St Margaret’s Head, North Queensferry, Fife
(01383 410 000, www.theshore-queensferry.co.uk)

 

The Shore Grill & Fish House, North Queensferry, restaurant review
Food55%
Ambience70%
63%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (5 Votes)
51%

About The Author

Gaby Soutar

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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