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Until recently, The White Horse was the oldest pub on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, dating back to 1742. Now instead of sipping on a pint of sixty shilling, you can shuck an oyster (or six) and enjoy a glass of fizz.
A refurbishment has hit the traditional boozer like a tidal wave, changing everything but the name. The White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar opened in Edinburgh in November 2017 and has built up a great reputation in a short space of time.
We recently paid the seafood restaurant a visit and sampled far too many of the small plates on offer, the experience was one to remember and one which we’ll no doubt be repeating soon.
The restaurant is as stylish as you would expect from the team behind the Chop House. A nautical theme runs throughout the eatery, I sat underneath a couple of boat propellers whilst my dining companion had her back to the lobster tank – shielding them from the horror that was about to take place at our table.
Our knowledgeable waitress talked us through the menu, promising that we won’t over order (we did) and that the oysters from different regions would have distinctly different flavour profiles (they do).
We like to get a feel for what the waiting staff like to eat, the Chargrilled Octopus was a “three a week habit” for our waitress – so that was clearly going to feature at our table. We were happy with the recommendation, this otherworldly dish was beautiful, the unusual texture played well with the crispy kale, and the citrusy ponzu dressing provided a nice contrast to the charred tentacles.
With four different oysters on offer, it was difficult to decide which ones to try. We don’t cope well with decisions and have a fear of missing out. The only sensible course of action was to try them all and get a better understanding of the subtle differences in flavours.
They say there’s a whisky for everyone. With so many different flavour profiles, if you don’t like whisky, it probably means you haven’t tried enough yet. I’m starting to think the same applies to oysters after trying all four on offer at The White Horse.
The Loch Fyne oysters were fresh and light, the Lindisfarne were your classic oyster, like swallowing the sea. The Carlingford oysters were slightly nutty and almost creamy, whilst the Caledonian had a tangy and peppery flavour. One thing all four oysters had in common was that they were absolutely delicious.
If you’re not yet sold on the idea, it would be worth popping into The White Horse for Happy Hour, where oysters can be enjoyed for a buck a shuck.
I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with eggs recently, the Crab Scotch Egg didn’t stand a chance.
The Chop House creates an incredibly meaty short rib Scotch egg, which is probably where my obsession with eggs began. The crab version is much lighter in comparison, the egg oozes in all the right places but the flavours of the crab don’t get to sing quite as much as Sebastian did under the sea.
The spice from the Scotch Bonnet Cured Salmon arrived fashionably late, elevating the party in our mouths to a whole new level. Whilst the Hand Dived Scallops calmed things down with their light and delicate textures – these were beautifully cooked, accompanied by apple, tarragon and sherry caramel (an instant reorder for our next visit).
An incredibly meaty Monkfish Satay brought a little extra heat to the table and the beautiful pink Sesame Tuna was pretty delightful, with a nutty coating of sesame seeds and sweetly bitter grapefruit.
At this point, we’d probably have eaten enough, but we hadn’t eaten anything in batter yet. The Salt and Pepper Prawns in a light tempura batter rectified this and filled a big prawn shape hole in our hearts. Something we should probably get checked out.
These enormous prawns were a real treat, my dining partner wasn’t a huge fan of the batter, which started up my usual everything is better in batter banter.
This was already far too much food, so we settled on sharing dessert. Sensible.
A drool-worthy Apple Tart with salted caramel ice cream – this was insanely good. You learn the true meaning of love when you successfully share a dessert of this quality.
We finished off with a couple of cocktails, I’m usually a Negroni kind of guy, but have been getting into Espresso Martinis of late (they help me stay up late). My dining partner was transported back to Italy with a Spritz – two tasty cocktails from opposite ends of the spectrum.
Our visit to The White Horse lasted around 2 hours, which looking back at how much we ate makes sense now. When we return, which we almost certainly will, we’ll probably cut back on the number of dishes, or maybe try one of the seafood platters instead.
When we review restaurants in Edinburgh we like to ask ourselves two key questions:
If we answer yes on both, we rate the restaurant EdinBraw, giving it our seal of approval. The White Horse was a resounding yes on both counts. The quality of the seafood on offer is exactly what you would expect from the team who brought you The Chop House.
Seafood is a healthier option when eating out, but it’s certainly not a cheap one. A meal for two at The White Horse will easily cost over £100, it’s perfect for that special occasion (or just keep your eyes out for some special midweek offers).
More more restaurant reviews, check out our Edinburgh Food Blog
266 Canongate, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH8 8AA