Ondine (“Little Wave”) is a great seafood restaurant located in the heart of the Old Town in Edinburgh, just off the historic and charming Royal Mile. When Ondine opened in 2009, it reinvigorated the slightly lackluster city centre seafood dining scene, standing as a worthy rival to the venerable restaurants of Leith. Before long, Ondine had garnered a host of awards and a legion of admirers, amongst both locals and visitors.
Inside Ondine — Photo courtesy of Ondine Restaurant
Restaurant Ondine is reached by a narrow staircase, the entrance to which nestles between the ultra-stylish Hotel Missoni and the slightly less remarkable Pizza Express. Its frontage is formed by massive sheer glass windows. These offer stunning views of the cobbled streets and sandstone buildings of the Old Town.
Inside, the décor has an Art Deco feel, as sensuously curved chairs contrast with simple black tables and eye-catching pillars that are smothered with monochrome mosaic tiles. Circular mirrors reminiscent of portholes adorn the walls.
In the center of the room is a stylish, silver-topped horseshoe bar with a window into the kitchen so that patrons can watch the artists at work. There is also a private dining room tucked away from the main dining area, which also benefits from a porthole into the lively kitchen.
Chef and proprietor Roy Brett is a native of Edinburgh, but he trained with Rick Stein, Mark Hix and Terry Laybourne. His passion for seafood is readily apparent. Jay Rayor remarked in The Observer that his cuisine is “simple, classy and in service of some excellent ingredients." His commitment to sustainability is also worthy of note.
Ondine is listed in the top dozen restaurants in the UK on sustainability website Fish2Fork. The restaurant has also been recognized as the "Fundraising Restaurant of the Year" by the Fishermen's Mission on more than one occasion.
At the oyster bar, you can enjoy four varieties of oyster prepared three different ways, while you enjoy a beverage from their extensive wine list. The list includes some excellent vintage champagne.
The variety of seafood dishes on offer in the main restaurant is very inviting. However, seafood lovers will probably find it hard to resist one of the two platters, each of which is a delectable selection of lobster, crab, langoustines, clams, cockles, mussels and oysters.
They do have meat on the menu (most notably their excellent Orkney fillet of beef), but it seems somehow blasphemous to enter this temple to the fruits of the sea and not dip your toe in the water. Once you have had your fill of seafood, they have a good selection of whisky and cocktails to round off your meal. They also boast a rather good pudding menu. The treacle tart is particularly gooey and delicious.
It is not for nothing that Ondine won AA Hospitality Awards' "Restaurant of the Year" for 2013-2014 and the Good Food Guide "Scottish Restaurant of the Year" title in 2011.
Come on in: the water is fine.