I was reminded of how much I enjoy oysters when I tasted some lovely plump ones from AnCuig Seafoods at the Scottish Food show last week. So when it was suggested that we go to Mussel Inn for dinner Friday night I knew immediately what my starter would be. The Mussel Inn isn’t one of the places that AnCuig supplies, and I’m not going to discuss the relative values of oysters, but I will wax lyrical over a meal of molluscs. Ah, a beautiful thing, the mollusc, when fresh, sea-scented and accompanied by a clean white wine.
The Mussel Inn is a mid-sized and from the outside a somewhat unassuming restaurant tucked away on Rose Street, not all that far from Seadogs. It suggests sea food from the get-go: there are huge mosaic fish on the walls and there’s a fairly fishy ambiance. The menu is straightforward and fish-focussed. Mussels is an unsurprising speciality and comes in half kilo or kilo pots in several different sauces.
Since my mind was set on starting my meal with a half-dozen oysters, I thought it only logical to make my main a half-kilo of mussels in a shallot sauce. Service is snappy so there was not long between order and starter.
The oysters made me very happy. They had that perfect sea flavour that needs no fiddling, although I find it difficult not to squeeze a little bit of lemon on, just because I like lemons so much. These would have been perfect on their own, dressed in nothing but their delectable liquor.
I enjoy the way Mussel Inn serves mussels. They come in a large pot, with the sauce written on the lid. The lid is where the shells go as you empty the pot. The shallot mussels come in a white wine, shallot and cream sauce. I was tempted by the natural mussels who come in nothing but their own juices, but the shallot won me over. It had a light flavour that complemented the mussels well. Not overpowering, and light despite the cream. I ate it all greedily.
My companion had the vegetarian pasta. It came with mushrooms and a few leaves of spinach. Really, not something worth talking about. Not like the mussels. So let’s get back to them.
Mussels are finger food: I eat mine using a small shell to pick the meat out of larger shells. I use larger shells to spoon up the sauce even when spoons are supplied. I stack the empty shells inside each other to save time (and because it looks pleasing). I enjoy hands-on food and I enjoy being hands-on with it. The lemon wipe at the end of the meal is very welcome.
To finish, I had affogato. Exquisitely simple and a delightful mixture of adult and childish pleasures, affogato is vanilla ice cream onto which you pour espresso and liqueur. I chose amaretto to make the perfect indulgent and silly desert to round off a perfect meal.
The bill came to £60 which really impressed me considering that we had two 3-course meals and a £20 bottle of viognier. Service was friendly and prompt. Mussel Inn gets busy on a Friday and is quite buzzy too. Tables at The Mussel Inn are close together so you can listen in to your neighbour’s conversation if you have none yourself.
It is a really good place for mussels. Straight up.
The website offers deals for the Edinburgh and the Glasgow restaurant: do check for deals before you go.