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White Horse Oyster Bar, Edinburgh, restaurant review

Ditch the diet and have dinner at the White Horse Oyster Bar instead, says Gaby Soutar

Published: January 24, 2018
Food: 
7.5/10
Ambience: 
8/10

Alkaline, metabolic, longevity, ketogenic.

There are a lot of trendy diets doing the rounds this January.

Not in my office though, where 2:5 colleagues are doing the classic 5:2, a few are cutting down their vending machine visits from five a day (top sellers: chilli crisps and non-ketogenic KitKats) to four, and the rest are in tight neon Spandex but not doing the matching exercise.

Still, restaurants always need to be reviewed, so I’m going on the seafood diet.

As the joke goes, I see food and I eat it, but I’m also opting for more fish.

It’s healthier than cheese scones or chocolate, top scientists say.

Thus, this new restaurant was the perfect destination.

It’s in the former premises of one of the oldest inns in the city, now owned by the Compass Group – the people behind Edinburgh’s Monteiths, Sygn, Chop House and others.

They’ve respectfully modernised the narrow space, with almost-black walls, a lobster tank, lanterns made from floats, and artfully mounted creels and boat propellers.

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Cool.

No, literally, I had to put my scarf back on in our drafty corner, where we were wedged beside a switched-off radiator.

Other diners stayed tucked, like hermit crabs, into their coats and knits.

That’s OK though, you burn more calories when you’re shivering.

For cocktails, we went for the bitter and biscuity Morello Fizz (£9.50), with cherry liqueur, almonds, lemon juice and champagne.

While, their Fragola Spritz (£9.50), with strawberry infused Aperol, prosecco and soda water, was equally joyous.

From their selection of Small Plates, our favourite was probably the gummy chargrilled octopus (£9.50), with blackened (though not particularly charred tasting) and dramatically undulating kraken-like tentacles, wisps of crispy kale and a citrusy-soy ponzu sauce on the side.

There was also a helping of salsa and avocado nugget topped Scotch bonnet cured salmon (£8.50) – a super generous portion, which boasted a subtly simmering heat.

Although we would have liked more zingy grapefruit, or some wasabi, to have come with the sesame tuna (£9.50), we enjoyed the five cross sections of pink meat, the outers clad in an armour of toasty seeds.

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We could have also had plain oysters for £2.50 each, with Lindisfarne, Carlingford, Loch Fyne and Caledonian versions available, but we thought we’d try the grilled kimchi and the tempura (£3.50 each).

The latter was supposed to come with ponzu sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi mayo.

It didn’t, but no matter, as this simple sea-fresh beast, clad in a fizzily light batter, didn’t need any accoutrements.

I also loved our other single bivalve, with its hint of lip-smacking chilli-infused salty cabbage-y juice.

We may seem greedy, since we’d already eaten almost every star of Blue Planet II for starters.

However, I DO have willpower as I was talked down from ordering the salt and vinegar fries (£4) to go with my main of turbot (£26).

This option was fine, though I was a bit confused by the varying temperatures, with a hot and crispy-skinned fillet, a strangely cold-in-parts caramelised pulp billed as “shallot”, a crude-oil-coloured slick of cold sweet miso and a tepid and not-charred “charred baby gem”.

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A decent dish, but not £26 decent.

Unfortunately, there was quite a lot of shell in my dining partner’s crab linguine (£18.50).

Apart from that, it was satisfying and rustic, with threads of burly pasta, a seam of chilli, tomato, and crispy fronds of fennel on the top.

Like brave soldiers, we shared just one single measly dessert.

The apple tart (£6.50), recommended by the lovely Aussie waitress, featured billowing underskirts of puff pastry, apple petals, a generous slosh of sticky caramel sauce and a blob of plush salted caramel ice-cream.

Delish, so we ate up, and, on the way out, waved at the single lobster in his custom built tank.

Although this place may not help when it comes to slimming down my chubby face, it’s certainly a good advert for the seafood diet.

White Horse Oyster Bar

266 Canongate, Edinburgh

(0131-629 5300, www.whitehorseoysterbar.co.uk)

 

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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