Fine dining at Ondine Restaurant
Having had an excellent meal at the Dakota, South Queensferry when chef Roy Brett was there, my partner and I were interested to learn that he had opened his own place, Ondine, in the same new building as the Missoni Hotel. At the earliest opportunity we made a reservation for dinner with two friends, on a Thursday evening when we thought it would be quieter. My camera stayed in it’s case so we could enjoy the full experience.
The restaurant is on the first floor (lift available), and the decor, as you would expect, is fresh and modern. An external part of the kitchen allows customers to see some of the more elaborate seafood dishes being assembled. There is also a private dining room, seating 8.
The staff were attentive and helpful, so much so that they took our coats in sequence so they could hand them back to the right owners. Our meals came quickly after we had chosen but there was no feeling of being rushed in order to make the table available again. Ondine only has one sitting as a matter of policy.
The restaurant specialises in seafood from sustainable sources, but there are also meat and vegetarian options. However if you go to Ondine, the emphasis is on seafood and so gave the rib eye steak, and gnocchi and wild mushrooms a miss!
Starters are in the £7.50 area and two of us chose the treacle cured salmon and pickled cucumber, while the others chose the tempura salt and pepper squid. While waiting for our orders to arrive, we were served an appetiser of little gruyere filled choux buns. Freshly made bread was also available, together with iced tap water.
There was a wide-ranging wine list, and we chose what turned out to be a very pleasant Sauvignon blanc from the Colchagua Valley in Chile at the reasonable price of £15.50.
Our starters were thoroughly enjoyable, with the flavour of the treacle combining well with the salmon, and an intriguing sauce to complement the tempura squid.
Crustaceans and Mains are the next two sections of the meu, and the variety of crustaceans is where Ondine really excels. All kinds of oysters, scallops, langoustines, crab, lobster, tempt you, but the mixture of all or most of these in the fruits of the sea dish is wonderful to behold. The menu says that this dish is for one person, but as we looked at a dish being being assembled for another customer, we felt it could be enough for two people. The price is £28, as are the other top-of-the range dishes, i.e.lobster (grilled/ steamed /thermidor), and hot roasted shellfish with aoli.
We “passed” on these and had more modest dishes—fish and shellfish pie, fish curry and basmati rice, grilled sea bass with cabbage and bacon, in the £13.50 to £18.50 price range. All of these were perfectly cooked and imaginatively presented.
Desserts and a Cheese Plate were also available but we felt adequately fed and chose not go for what no doubt were as good as the dishes we had eaten.
Cost? 4 starters, 4 mains, a portion of chips in dripping (I couldn’t resist), 2 bottles of wine, 2 coffees, an Innis and Gunn beer, came to £134, plus tip. Not cheap but we felt we had experienced an enjoyable dining occasion based on first class ingredients, cooking and service. There is also a lunch menu (2 courses £14.95, 3 courses £17.95) which some might like to try first.
Would we go back? Yes, to try one of the signature crustacean dishes.
Any complaints? The toilets are at the end of the long curved part of the restaurant, but there is no indication on any of the several doors in this area as to which one leads to the spotless bathrooms (I walked into a cupboard at first and not because of too much wine). An appropriate sign would be helpful.
Suitable for disabled ? Yes, there is a lift and accessible toilets.