1st April 2015 6.00pm
Ondine is situated on George IV Bridge but could easily be missed as it is a first floor restaurant and only has a small doorway at ground level. If you do manage to venture in, you will find the restaurant to be a mosaic of monochrome and elegant with it. The dining room has a circular appearance with the oyster bar at its centre. You can opt to have a table at the bar or on the main floor of the restaurant. We had decided to have a standard table when we booked and were placed at the window with a nice view over Victoria Street.
Ondine offers both an a la carte and a set menu. We opted for the a la carte menu. They do offer some great platters on this menu but we went for the traditional starter/main/dessert combo. I went for the steak tartare, followed by the grilled lemon sole and finished with the apple and toffee crumble tart. My dining companion went for the fish and shellfish soup, followed by deep fried haddock and chips and then the lemon posset. When ordering, I was given the choice of having my fish on or off the bone (I went for off). My friend was given the choice of having her haddock battered or in breadcrumb (she went for batter). We were given a selection of bread whilst we waited. There was brown and white but also a delightful little cheesy bread ball each. They were definitely the best of the breads, slightly warmed and exploding in your mouth with a beautiful cheese flavour.
Onto the starters. Those of you who have read some of my other reviews will know that I like to try steak tartare wherever I can, even if that means ordering it in a seafood speciality restaurant. This stacked up pretty well. The portion was a decent size. I think I would have liked my egg a little larger but that is personal preference. There was plenty of zing inside the tartare and it was seasoned perfectly. It came with toasted sourdough, which looked greasy on first inspection but was actually surprisingly crisp. On the other side of the table I think she had gone to heaven. She was not only saying this was the best fish soup she had ever had but the best soup she had tasted full stop. This was high praise indeed. It was not luke-warm and was a generous portion (perhaps a little large for a starter but that didn’t stop her!). There were decent sized croutons served separately with cheese and rouille. She felt it was good to have to option of having this in the soup or not.
My main was grilled lemon sole and looked pretty on the plate. It came with cockles, which I had never tried before. I enjoyed them and though they had a good taste of the sea without losing its own flavour. The fish itself was big and meaty. Perhaps a bit more meaty that I was expecting. It has a good crust from grilling and was packed with flavour. The dish was also scattered with chorizo which, whilst packed with flavour, also seemed overly salty for my palate, so much so that the dish became too salty for me to cope with and I couldn’t finish it, which was a shame. My dining partner enjoyed the fish and chips. You can tell the quality of the restaurant by whether they give you muslin over the lemon so you don’t get seeds in your dinner. The battered haddock was a large size but was spoilt a bit by being placed directly onto the pea puree, as it made the batter soggy underneath. The chips were thin and crispy. I pinched a few and can confirm they were pretty amazing.
We weren’t sure we could face dessert as we were so full but gave it a good go anyway. The tart was nice and the apple had not turned into mush and was still identifiable. It was tainted a little by the nuts in the topping, which I felt were a bit too bitter for the dish and knocked away the delicate spicing of the fruit. It came with a small jug of custard which I thought was a bit too thin for such a robust pudding but was nice nevertheless. The posset was tasty and tangy with little meringues dotted on top. The lemon curd was sharp and tangy.
Overall this was a solid dining experience. The staff were efficient and kept their distance. The venue itself had a nice atmosphere and decent music in the background. The food was ok in general, which a couple of highlights that stood out.
Food – 7/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Value – 7/10
Overall – 31/40
Cost – £89 for two three course meals and 1 glass of wine.