At the helm of Ondine is a brilliant chef and a brilliant man, Roy Brett, and it is his integrity and his values that run through Ondine: the best product, ethically sourced treated with respect. I cannot say it better than Roy himself who notes on the Ondine website:
Our emphasis is on the fishermen who provide us with the freshest and most sustainable produce, which we celebrate with knowledgeable yet satisfying cooking.
And that they do. I am rather annoyed at myself in terms of this blog post because on the first night of my stay in Edinburgh (and first of three visits to Ondine) I didn't take my camera and accordingly I have far fewer pictures of the amazing food than I would like, and even when I returned and did take my camera, at dessert, greedy me demolished it before realising that I had forgotten to take any pictures. It's like that Ondine, the food is so compelling that you just dive straight in, because this is food that makes you happy.
The langoustine at Ondine really are the very best langoustine you could hope to get in the UK, absolutely massive, and when on the first night a plate of six of them arrived at our table, it caused every other table around us to stop and stare for the dish is indeed a showstopper. Not ordered on this occasion, but the same is true of the Roasted Shellfish Platter which is simply seafood paradise. Another dish taken on the first night which I wish I had a picture of is the grilled scallops with spicy sausage and garlic butter. The scallops are hand dived off the Isle of Mull by Guy Grieves of The Ethical Shellfish Company and again, you simply wont get better. And Roy's philosophy is that when you have ingredients this good, keep the cooking simple and let the quality shine.
And being like throughout, I could go down the menu and say the same things about so much: the oysters, the salmon and even the beef which is on the menu for those who are not so much seafood fans.
But above and beyond the food, what I like so much about Ondine is twofold: the atmosphere and the hospitality. Ondine is a restaurant to enjoy food, not a restaurant of hushed tones and stiff ambiance. It buzzes with the sound of enjoyment, it's as simple as that. This means it's a place that you want to go to and spend time in, just hang out. And on the hospitality, it is the friendliest of places, staffed by a fabulous team. What was so nice was seeing so many familiar faces on the staff, despite me not having been up there for a while, people like Julia, James, Craig, Anna and Danny. That continuity ensures the highest level of consistent service, but more than that, it builds the customer relationship that means I always feel at Ondine like I am returning to see old friends, and that in my book is the pinnacle of hospitality.
Ondine then offers the diner a full house of achievement: the best product, ethically sourced, cooked brilliantly, great atmosphere and ultimate hospitality. It's little wonder that I should love it so much, leaving me to end where I started: no trip to Scotland is complete without stopping by Ondine. See you there.