Friday, 15 April 2016


When you're planning a trip to a new city you can spend a long time looking on the internet for fabulous places to eat but sometimes you just stumble across places when you're walking around and that is what happened on a recent trip we took to Edinburgh. Hunting out a place for a birthday dinner, we saw The Mussel and Steak Bar and the menu looked really tasty and special and so later that evening we walked from our hotel with empty bellies and high expectations ready for some of Scotland's finest seafood.

Situated on the corner of Edinburgh's famous Grassmarket area, we arrived at the Mussel and Steak Bar just behind a large group of tourists. We hadn't booked so I was ready to be told there were no tables left however to our delight we were taken to a table right by the front window. Ideal for a pair of people watchers like us.

The decor is unassuming but that adds quite a nice charm to the place. A smattering of fishing references can be spied around the dining area but not too much that it turns it into a cheesy themed restaurant. The arrangement of the tables makes for an intimate affair, perfect for a couple like us dining out for a special occasion. I spied more seating upstairs on the way to the loo including boothed areas which would be perfect for families and larger parties. 

The menu (believe it or no!) was full of seafood and steaks. These are on the menu all year round I assume but then we were handed a list of specials. I guess they change the menu depending on what they have sourced locally which is great to see! Veggie options are also available but this is one dish a day so tread with caution if you are with a veggie as they may not like the choice for that day.

Luckily for us the veggie starter sounded yummy. It was a roasted red pepper, ginger and chili soup served with crusty bread and butter. Great to see a restaurant steering away from boring tomato or mushroom soups! If they made this soup themselves I would kill for the recipe as it was super tasty. The warmth of the chili and ginger complimented the peppers really well without being too strong and overpowering. Underneath it's crust, the bread was super soft and perfect for mopping up every last drop. Who says a soup has to be boring when it can be of quality like this?

Being in Edinburgh, I couldn't choose anything else other than the filo wrapped haggis. This was my first time eating haggis and I wolfed it down. It's so scrumptious. If you're a fan of black pudding or offal then you will love it too. The filo was crisp and the little cubes of turnip that sat around the haggis were cooked just enough to be soft and tender. The whiskey sauce (another Scottish superstar!) that brought everything together was rich and creamy but oh so unctuous. I used some of the bread for the soup get every last bit. My first haggis was a triumph and I'm hoping it won't be 31 years before I have it again.

 After a beautiful start to the meal (and the wine going down easy!) it was a short wait until the mains arrived. I was worried when I heard it was a risotto stuffed pepper as we're not the biggest fans of this classic rice dish however the risotto was so well made that those worries were soon squashed. Served alongside it was a  smooth avocado puree and tenderstem broccoli adding a burst of green to the plate and a little side salad just to finish everything off. Its actually quite a unique offering compared to what vegetarians get lumbered with and for a restaurant clearly designed for seafood and meat lovers, it shows how good the talent in the kitchen is!

That is confirmed by my main dish. Officially the best fish dish I have ever eaten in my life! Fact! It was some beautifully plump chunks of pan fried monk fish fillet (my first monk fish as well! Why did I wait so long?!) that just melted in my mouth and literally blew my mind it was that delicious. Served on top of a pile of leek and onion mash, more of that perfect tenderstem broccoli (I adore tenderstem!), spinach and a rich and sticky red wine jus, it's a masterclass in not just cooking fish but cooking in general. It was on the special menu so you might not see it if you visit but if it's on there then forego everything else and choose it. You'll be in for a treat I promise you!

With seafood this good on offer it was hard to resist sampling one of the added extra's on offer on the menu. I went for a whole crab claw. It's not served all fancy dancy, it just comes on a plate with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over it, you're provided with a shell cracker and a pot to stick the broken bits of shell in and a little prong for you to poke around and get every last bit of that crab meat out of it. That crab meat! Wow! It just fell apart as you excavated it from the shell and the freshness of the flavor does a little jig all around your taste buds. It's insane how good they are so make no excuses and just make sure you order one to go alongside your main.

The fun didn't stop at two courses, oh no! This was a celebration so it was time to bring on the pudding. Our server did a great job of selling them to us (she was really nice during the whole meal actually! Props to the team, they really know their stuff!). I was sold on the lemon curd cheesecake which was everything you want a lemon cheesecake to be. A buttery biscuit base and a soft and decedent lemony cheese filling topped off with a fresh kick of summer berries and sauce to add a touch of tartness to the plate. I could of gone through another slice or two it was that good. Must try and recreate this at home sometime!

Our second dessert was one for those you like their puddings to be rich and naughty. A chocolate and raspberry mousse cake. The chocolate resided in the crumbly biscuit base whilst that raspberry mousse filling was soft but had a deep raspberry flavor which really complimented the bitterness of the chocolate base. To add a bit of zing there was more of those acidic berries sprinkled on top to balance the flavors of the whole pudding. It was the perfect way to round off the meal. I want all our birthday cakes to look and taste like this from now on. We had most defiantly been spoilt rotten.

Once the last drop had wine had been drunk and the last mouthful of cake had been devoured it was time to leave. The Mussel and Steak Bar looked great from the outside but having bit the bullet and gone for a meal, I can hand on heart said it was one the most special and tasty meals I've ever had. I'll never forget it! From the beautiful setting of the Grassmarket outside the window, the unassuming decor, friendly and knowledgeable staff and of course all that outstanding food, I will recommend it too anyone I hear going to Edinburgh. It shows that all you need is fresh ingredients cooked perfectly to create a top notch meal. How can I sum up The Mussel and Steak Bar in Edinburgh. One word: Wow!

Going to Edinburgh? Head over to their website here and book a table otherwise quite frankly; you are insane!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed Edinburgh! I've never ben here, but it looks great for Veggies after all!