Hello dear reader,
You may remember a last month I told you about the delightful stay Mr Vohn and I had at Duck’s Hotel in Aberlady, just to the East of Edinburgh. I also promised you a review of the evening meal we had at Duck’s Bistro.
The Duck’s bistro is named Donald, after the owner’s father, the original Donald Duck!
Donald Duck’s bistro, or Donald’s as it is known, is housed in the old school room which has lots of windows giving a light airy feel. The cocktail bar is separated from the dining area by a glass screen, and I am struck by how suitable the space would be for a party or wedding.
We take our drinks in from the bar and are seated far away from the windows. Our table is bathed in soft candle light, which is lovely but not exactly conducive to food photography – I think my new camera did an admirable job!
It is lovely to have proper linen napkins in a bar bistro and this simple touch elevates our expectations of the food! The menu is seasonal and new chef Davie prides himself on sourcing ingredients as locally as possible.
Mr Vohn selected the confit pork belly to start, which is served with pea puree and black pudding bonbons. The pork belly is sweet and soft – Mr Vohn would have liked it crisper but I loved it. The pea puree is absolutely delicious, like pure essence of pea. The slices of sour apple cut through the sweetness perfectly. Mr Vohn had forgotten the mention of black pudding bonbons and is reluctant to try the “little hard berries” but when I taste and assure him of what they are he dives in! They are incredible – mini balls of black pudding crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I will definitely be trying to recreate these at home.
I chose the wild pigeon breast starter, which comes with seasonal berries, granola and spinach. The pigeon is cooked very rare which is perfect for such a delicate meat. The first piece I try is disappointingly chewy and tough but the other slice on the plate is amazingly tender and melts in the mouth. I’ve seen granola served before with pigeon and it adds a wonderful texture but is often a little too sweet and detracts from the pigeon. The berries and beetroot are a perfect accompaniment as they are sour enough to cut through this sweetness.
I dithered over my main course selection because it was as if the menu was written with me in mind and I wanted to try everything. This is very unusual for me as I am actually quite a fussy eater, which is one of the reasons I cook so much at home. I eventually chose the shellfish linguini and I am so pleased I did. The first mouthful I had was intentionally just pasta to see if was cooked well – it was perfectly soft and al-denté. However, before I even got thinking about texture, I was hit – whack – with an amazing taste of the sea. The depth of flavour was incredible and that was before I’d even eaten any shellfish! I’m thinking that the chef cooked the pasta in fish stock and resolve to try this at home myself. There was a generous amount of shellfish, the scallops succulent and slightly crisp on the outside, the king prawns soft and sweet. The juicy tomatoes add extra bursts of flavour and the iron-rich spinach cuts through the sweetness perfectly. The chilli notes are soft and well judged, negating any need for my usual addition of copious amounts of black pepper. This was truly an amazing dish and I give it an extremely rare 10 out of 10.
Shellfish linguini, seared scallops & king prawns in chilli and garlic oil, spinach, tomatoes £17.95
Mr Vohn went for the burger for his mains. He opted to have it without the pulled duck – a crying shame if you ask me! The burger is deliciously moist and succulent inside with a crisp chargrilled outside. The poached egg is cooked to perfection and, yes, Mr Vohn did get runny egg yolk in his beard! The guacamole is absolutely delicious with a perfectly balanced kick of chilli heat. I am a huge fan of guacamole and have a couple of favoured recipes but will definitely be trying to get hold of this recipe too as it is so good. Mr Vohn has eaten burgers around the world but declares that this is one of the best he’s ever tried. The chips are the best either of us have tasted in a long time. This main course gets a rare 10 out of 10 from Mr Vohn! I genuinely can’t remember Mr Vohn and I ever both giving our main courses top marks at the same restaurant!
For dessert I have to try the lemon curd, as it is one of my favourite things. It looked so very pretty with its layers of granola, sharp raspberries and warm Italian meringue, topped with lovely freeze-dried raspberry pieces. Unfortunately I found the granola a little too floury which made the whole dessert a bit heavy, especially at the end of a meal. The rest of the dish is delicious though, with rich sweet and sour contrasting flavours, so it would only require a minor tweak to achieve perfection here too.
For dessert Mr Vohn opts for the Cranachan Cheescake, mainly for the promise of raspberry sorbet. The cheesecake has a sweet buttery base and the filling is light and delicious. The sorbet is the star of the dish, pungent with raspberries and almost creamy. It is the perfect end to a meal.
If head chef Davie’s bistro food is anything to go by, I can only imagine how good the menu for the newly opened Duck’s restaurant will be! Donald’s has also just launched an exciting new cocktail menu. This little gem of a place is truly going from strength-to-strength!
After our delightful meal we retired to the lovely quiet courtyard. Mr Vohn sampled some of Duck’s hand-selected and extensive collection of malt whiskies, whilst I just sat back and enjoyed the evening bird song. So peaceful and relaxing.
Vohn & Mr Vohn stayed as guests of Duck’s at Kilspindie House for dinner, bed and breakfast.
All opinions are our own and honest and Vohn was not asked to write a positive review.
Duck’s at Kilspindie House
Aberlady, East Lothian