White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar
As I’m sure I’ve said before, Lunchquest runs at about a 10-12 day backlog, so the start of our 2018 reviewing year is generally around the 20-somethingth of December. This period is often home to some relaxed cafe stops and light grazing, but this year with visits to 305 Cafe, Henri and Taisteal under my belt, it has been an absolutely smashing start to the reviewing year.
This trend continued with a Hogmanay lunch stop at the White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar on the Royal Mile.
From the same stable as the Chop House, Monteith’s and Sygn amongst other places, this is not a restaurant group that I’ve universally enjoyed but I’d heard strong reports from the White Horse’s first few weeks of trading.
I was joined today by Rene and Kathryn who splendidly hosted me when I visited Oxford last year, and two first time questers, Catherine and Joni.
Another friend was along for the fun in the shape of Stephanie who was running front of house, today. She looked after us in splendid style throughout with excellent recommendations both on wine and food.
As you might guess from the name, the main attraction at the White Horse is seafood, with oysters very much to the fore. Fortunately for Rene and I, the rest of our chums were not oyster lovers so we got to split an excellent half dozen to ourselves.
The menu offers an express lunch selection as well as sharing plates and a full a la carte. After a little bit of debate, we settled upon all of the sharing plates. The crab legs weren’t available so we swapped in some curried mussels from the lunch list.
Things arrived at well judged intervals in tapas style.
The first round of dishes brought excellent octopus, scotch bonnet cured salmon and monkfish satay, with dressed crab following hot on their heels.
In the final reckoning I think we agreed that the monkfish was the outstanding dish of the day with skewers of meaty whitefish topped with sauce bursting with peanut goodness.
But that’s not to detract from the other dishes as the salmon was first-rate and the crab absolutely spot-on. The dressing of the crab was an emulsion of the brown crab meat with only a small amount of additional mayo, making it deeply flavourful.
In the next wave we had steak fillet tail, mussels, seared scallops and a crab scotch egg. The beef was extremely succulent for such a lean cut and the mussels were splendid. The scotch egg deserves ballquest recognition as it was beautifully crafted. The scallops were a particular hit with Kathryn.
Tomato salad with pickled samphire, tempura squid, fries and sesame tuna marked the final round of dishes. The tuna was outstanding and I think my own personal favourite.
When Stephanie returned to assess the devastation, she recommended trying some of their charcoal sourdough from Twelve Triangles to mop up the remaining mussel sauce. This was an excellent suggestion.
As we finally finished dunking, we rounded things out with good coffees and then paused to reflect on an exceptional meal.
So overall, I was glad to be able to share this outstanding meal at the White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar with such convivial company. It’s a lunch that will live long in the memory and marks the first of many visits I’ll be making to the place. I’d urge you to visit at your earliest convenience as this is one of the best restaurants that has opened in the city for some time. It’s the vibrant, imaginative seafood eatery that Edinburgh has been craving for many years.
Blythe scores White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar
5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
4.5/5 for service
giving an overall 17.5/20
Today’s questers were: Catherine, Kathryn, Joni, Rene, Blythe
We ate: oysters, monkfish satay, fillet tail, chargrilled octopus, curried mussels, tempura squid, dressed crab, tomato salad with samphire, fries, charcoal bread, crab scotch egg, sesame tuna, scallops, scotch bonnet cured salmon
We drank: white wine, water, coffees
We wore: Hogmanay robes
Total bill: £176
Address: 266 Canongate, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH8 8AA