The Ship Inn had plenty of room, review - but did it make Gaby Soutar want to move to Musselburgh?
My flat seems to have shrunk since I started working from home.
I feel I must have accidentally mistaken one of Alice in Wonderland's Eat Me cakes for a mince pie.
I’m relegated to tip-tap-typing in the living room, jostling for space beside the Christmas tree. Perhaps there would be more room if I stuck my legs out of the window, or draped an arm into the hallway. Give me more square footage.
Although I’ve lived in Edinburgh for almost my life, we’ve recently toyed with the idea of moving to Musselburgh, though I’m not that familiar with the East Lothian city. I do know that it’s not too far away, but considerably cheaper than the capital, where prices have gone totally bananas since the lockdown.
Thus, we recently viewed a house there on a freezing cold December evening. It wasn’t really for us. I’m pretty sure it was haunted.
So, we carried that slight disappointment as we walked across the bridge over the Esk, along past Brunton Theatre and beside the harbour. Exploring, in the winter darkness, like a pair of scabby urban foxes.
I’ve heard there are a few good places to eat here, with their most recommended being East Coast restaurant. However, it turns out that this place is shut on Mondays (and Tuesdays). Instead, we Google Mapped it along to The Ship Inn, which is open every day and where there was room at the inn for these weary Edinburgers. My friend had told me about this place, which recently had a refurbishment and built a new bistro on the back of the building. On our visit, we were still pre-Omicron, so it was pretty hoaching, and extremely festive, with a standard teepee-sized sparkly tree indoors and a monolithic one in their courtyard. I’m pretty sure the groups will have thinned out since then.
I didn’t do my job very well. I was feeling like a restaurant reviewing rebel, and completely skipped starters, which included haggis Scotch egg with garlic herb aioli (£6.50), diver caught scallops (£12.95) and crispy salt and chilli squid with curry mayo (£7.95). I’m sure they are absolutely lovely.
We also bypassed most of the mains, which included lobster risotto (£17.95) and a beef burger (£11.95).
There had only ever been one thing on the menu for us - drum roll - the Ship Inn Chippy Sharing Platter (£48), which is highlighted on the menu by the graphic of a roped-off box. You can’t really have much else if you’re opting for this.
It came in a wooden crate, like a supersized seaside version of chicken in a basket, which was lined with paper to insulate the russet-coloured shoal within. We’re talking hoops of bread-crumbed and slightly spicy paprika-ish Cajun squid, breaded dollops of lobster, and soft pads of monkfish scampi, as well as battered chunks of Peterhead haddock, all well-cooked, hot, bouncy and fresh tasting. And lots of decent chip-shop chips.
There were also a couple of lemon wedges, and two oyster shells full of chunky and capery tartare sauce and a little metal pot full of brown chippy sauce, which had a fruity tang, rather than the full on vinegary blast that you might get in your average East Coast chipper.
The large portion of little silverskin pickled onions were a bit sweet for me, as I usually prefer the sort of vinegar that you can clean your paintbrushes in. Anyway, the prerequisite acidity was provided by my East-side Gimlet (£7.75), which contains a pleasingly wersht blend of Tanqueray Gin, lime, mint and cucumber.
We were in no shape to have two desserts after all that, though we did manage to share a “very sticky toffee pudding” (£6.50). This was an excellent example of its genre, with a treacly rich bit of sponge, topped with an oil slick black helping of sauce, a few bits of caramelised banana and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
After that, I kind of wished we hadn’t parked so far away, as I could hardly straighten up again, let alone walk, after that Gaby Vs Food session. I think my flat might seem even smaller now that I’ve inhaled the entire contents of the sea.
Anyway, about moving to Musselburgh. I’m even more convinced now I’ve been to The Ship Inn.
The Ship Inn
184 North High Street
How much? Dinner for two, excluding drinks, £54.50
Places to try Nearby
This place consists of a takeaway and a restaurant, where you can order dishes including parma monkfish with saffron risotto or their take on surf and turf, Land and Sea, which consists of a braised shin of beef, Scottish scallop, potato puree and jus.
Buenos Aires Cafe & Grill, 76 High Street, Musselburgh (0131 653 3155, www.bueonsairescafeandgrill.co.uk)
Although they’re currently offering an East Lothian turkey crown, it’d be remiss to visit this restaurant and not have a steak, or the chateaubriand, which they’re currently serving with grilled baby leek, chestnut mushroom, pommes Anna and Bordelaise sauce.
Caprice, 198 High Street, Musselburgh (0131 665 2991, www.capricepizzeria.com)
This restaurant has taken home plenty of prizes over the years for its pizza and they offer lots of classic toppings and some more unusual ones, like the Vulcano, with sugo, cheese, pepperoni, chicken and chilli flakes.
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