Ondine’s Crustacean bar – perfect festival food

The Crustacean Bar at Ondine.

The Crustacean Bar at Ondine.

July 2011

Visiting the Edinburgh Festival this August? You’re in for a treat on 5 August, when Ondine welcomes The J Sheekey pop-up at Ondine on August 5th. J Sheekey is Roy Brett’s favourite restaurant. It has the same approach to fish and shellfish and as  Head Chef Richard Kirkwood comes from Edinburgh it is a natural match.

J Sheekey run regular speakeasy events where performer entertain diners during their meal. To mark the first day of the Festival, they will be bringing the speakeasy to Edinburgh for a special lunchtime performance.

Ondine has been busier than ever recently with Kim Cattrall, John Cleese, Alex Salmond and the owners of Manchester United all eating in the restaurant in recent weeks. You never know who you’ll meet there.

Our top tip to get a table would be, book as early as you can and be flexible about timings – early or late tables are often easier or why not eat at the bar.

Roy Brett with Jason Atherton at Taste of Edinburgh

Roy Brett with Jason Atherton at Taste of Edinburgh


April 2011

Recently, Ondine restaurant has added a trick with their new bar menu. The bar menu is specially devised by chef Roy Brett to be lighter, snackier, less formal, than the restaurant menu. The bar caters for people out and about town who want a drink and something light but good to eat away from the throng.

I was lucky enough to get an invitation to the bar menu launch. Unfortunately, a girl can only eat so much and although I made a valiant effort, I couldn’t taste everything. (Which means that I have to go back because there are dishes on both the main and bar menus with my name on them.)

Chef Roy Brett.

Chef Roy Brett.

Ondine’s Crustacean Bar offers attentive service, good eating and drinks in a pleasant atmosphere. The Crustacean Bar is a nice place to hang out and the new menu aims to entice people in for a snack and a drink, a relaxed and light alternative to a full meal in the restaurant. There’s a lot of activity in the bar so the atmosphere there is automatically dynamic and buzzy. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and gave us tasty little Gruyere choux puffs.

Good atmosphere and good food

The menu tasting was on a  Wednesday and the restaurant was quite busy, which is always reassuring. There were tables of couples, groups of business men, even a local politician. A healthy mix. The bar, of course, was full of food bloggers and writers, eating heartily and sipping the Pol Roger champagne with cheerful gusto. We were having a good time.

I would have had a good time even if I hadn’t been eating and drinking for free in good foody company. The food at the bar is excellent and ranges from the snacky – ducks eggs with mushrooms, oysters, brown crab mayo – to the more serious – grilled seafood salad, roast pigeon, salt and pepper squid. They also do a cured smoked salmon, velvety smooth and brick red. It is wild so it is sustainable too. The grilled seafood salad looked glorious and I will be back to try it soon. The menu changes regularly and reflects what’s in season. The dessert menu looks good too but I was too full for treacle tart. It was a sadness.

Oyster rarebit

The bar is a public yet private space to eat.

The bar is a public yet private space to eat.

The wackiest thing on the menu is a side of oyster rarebit. I was sceptical. In my mind, oysters are too lovely to be mixed with mustard and cheese and grilled. The oyster rarebit has bite but it treats the oysters with respect and doesn’t allow them to be crowded. There was mustard, there was cheese but there was also a good mouthful of that lovely sea flavour that oysters provide.

When you fancy a glass of wine and a quick bite, it is good to know that there are some decent options out there. Tucked away above the Pizza Express in Hotel Missoni there’s a really good restaurant with an interesting and welcoming bar. I’ll see you there.

Ondine Restaurant & Crustacean Bar
2 George IV Bridge,
Tel: 0131 226 1888
Email: enquiries@ondinerestaurant.co.uk

All images kindly provided by Ondine with the exception of Jason Atherton & Roy Brett .

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.


  1. Pingback: NV Pol Roger Extra Cuvee De Reserve Brut | Wine, Wine Storage And Wine Accessories

  2. Oyster rarebit… just boil some cream until it thickens (or get quadruple cream) add some parmezan cheese and drizzel over the oyster – one minute under the grill… delicious. (careful don’t burn your mouth on the shell)

  3. Pingback: Festival roundup - where to eat & drink | Edinburgh Foody

  4. Pingback: Béarnaise sauce - a love story | Edinburgh Foody

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