The interior is charming

MJ’s Verdict
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I wandered down to the King’s Wark to enjoy a mid-week lunch with B before we head off to Istanbul in a few days, but stepping into this pub fulfilled almost every criteria that I have for a pub. The stone walls were thick and the decor simple, with dark woods, mismatching furniture and a disctinct lack of standing space.

We were both right on time and we sat in the corner next to a couple of windows and perused the menu. I admit that I looked for a website a few days prior, simply so I can help myself make a decision pre-arrival, but it was to no avail since their website is down for maintenance or re-building or something. I didn’t read the explanation, I just kept hitting refresh as if it would make a sudden difference. (It’s been a special week)

When it came time to order, I asked about the seafood stew and if it was creamy, I was surprised to learn that it was cream-based, and I decided against it and ordered the hake from the specials board, which I had to get up and cross the room to read. Very soon afterwards  basket of bread appeared with a few glasses of water. I was in the process of lamenting my passport taking its time to return when B’s seafood stew starter arrived. It looked quite pretty and the spices gave the soup base a lovely warm colour that visually  complimented the rouille that I thought would be too much of an overkill of white on white richness.

Bread basket

After B dispatched the stew, we waited a bit for our mains and watched the pub fill up. I was impressed at the number of punters for a Thursday lunchtime, but if the visual appeal of the dishes going out around us was any indication, then the food looked to be the main draw of this shoreline pub.

Hake with potatoes and lentils

Our mains arrived in fresh and healthy looking glory. My hake was delicately perched on a bed of rocket, sauteed potatoes, clams, and a few lentils. The clams were fresh and well seasoned and the hake was perfectly cooked. The bit of spice from the chili and the texture of the lentils was an added bonus. My only fault with the dish is that I wish it had come with more lentils. The sprinkling of them was nice, but didn’t give the whole dish the substance that the pearl barley gave to B’s red mullet lunch.

Overall, I’d go back to the King’s Wark, I’d love to try a variety of their changing specials, but I know now that I’d definitely need to book.

Blythe’s Verdict
I hate to make mention of the weather, particularly when it’s being such a vexatious creature at the moment, but when I entered the King’s Wark, earlier today, it was grey, sullen and pouty, and by the time I left it was bright, sparkling and smiley. While it would be palpably absurd to attribute the change in its entirety to the joyous lunch we had in the King’s Wark, I’d like to think that it played an important supporting role.

Housed in one of Leith’s oldest surviving buildings, the King’s Wark is a pub serving high quality food to an adoring and loyal customer base. At weekends, it’s packed out, serving hundreds of customers keen to sample the excellent selection of dishes. There’s a strong seafood theme, as you would expect from its location on The Shore, with the daily specials board offering a lovely array of treats fresh from the sea.

Today, MJ and I managed to arrive almost simultaneously, our mutual promptness almost now fully aligned, and we had our choice of tables, so we sat at a two-person spot next to the window. Next time I turned around, the place was filled, barring two tables, showing that it’s very popular during the week, as well. I would always suggest that booking is a sensible precaution.

From their clipboard menus, I chose to start with the seafood chowder, then follow it with the red mullet from the specials chalkboard. Our obliging waitress brought us glasses of water and a nice basket of bread, while we waited for dishes to arrive.

Seafood Chowder

My chowder appeared in short order and looked completely tremendous. It was bright, filled with chunky vegetables, and finished with a nice little selection of mussels and clams. The soup, though cream based, was light and refreshing, allowing the sweetness of the seafood to sing out, and the soft chunks of potato, carrot, swede and celery provide ample hugs of comfort.

MJ had to sit through both my leisurely soup spooning, and a wee delay in the mains arriving after that, meaning that she was just about to crack-out her “feed me now” face when our main courses arrived. Both looked very bonnie, with my fillets of red mullet sitting atop a pearl barley risotto, with chunks of chorizo, proving particularly eye-catching. And it tasted as good as it looked.

Red mullet and pearl barley

The firm flesh of the fish was perfectly cooked, and the texture provided by the pearl barley made each mouthful deliciously satisfying. The oil from the chorizo beautifully coated the barley risotto, ensuring it was flavour-packed, and rocket provided refreshing sprigs of greenery.

We rounded things out with good espresso, then paid for our victuals and were on our way: me to return to work; MJ to enjoy a nice afternoon walk in the remarkable sunshine.

Overall, I was delighted by the King’s Wark. This wasn’t my first visit, but I hadn’t been along for a good while, so it was great to see their impeccable standards being maintained. In terms of food in a pub setting (pub grub really doesn’t quite cover the excellence of what they serve), I can think of few places in Britain that do it better than the King’s Wark. I would be very happy to eat here on a regular basis, as their ever changing menu of seafood delights is a guaranteed winner with me.

the flower was staring

MJ scores the King’s Wark:
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 16/20

Blythe scores the King’s Wark:
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 16/20

Today’s questers were: Miriam, Blythe

We ate: seafood chowder, fillet of hake served with puy lentils, potatoes and clams, fillets of red mullet served with chorizo and pearl barley risotto.

We drank: water, espresso (2)

We wore: yellow jumper, silver earrings

Total bill: c.£30

The Kings Wark on Urbanspoon

Written by BKR