I’m a big fan of seafood, so when I heard that the people behind Chop House and Monteiths were opening a seafood and oyster bar, I was very excited. The White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar is located on the Royal Mile, on the site of one of Edinburgh’s oldest inns, which dates back to 1742.
Their opening coincided nicely with my birthday a couple of weeks ago, so I booked myself in for a birthday treat during their opening weekend, then headed back just a few days later for a press dinner. It’s a hard life!
What We Ate at The White Horse
Despite having only visited twice (so far!) I’ve managed to eat my way through a lot of the menu. The White Horse’s food menu is very much focused on fish, shellfish and – of course – oysters. If you’re an oyster fan, they have lots of varieties to choose from (including Lindisfarne, Carlingford, Loch Fyne and Caledonian), served in a few different ways. I think my favourite were the tempura oysters which came with delicious ponzu sauce and wasabi mayo.
The majority of the menu is made up of small plates, which are ideal for sharing. I’d particularly recommend the monkfish satay, the caramelised hand dived scallops, and the king crab legs with lemon mayo. The crab legs were amazing, they had such a lovely flavour and were SO meaty! Even the non-seafood options have a seaside touch, like heritage tomato salad with pickled samphire.
I’d recommend a cocktail to go along with the small plates (which work well either as starters, or as a tapas-style main). Try the Seaside Gin Martini which is made with Edinburgh Gin Seaside Gin, pickled samphire, sea salt and seaweed mist.
In addition to the small plates, there are also seafood platters and mains on offer. On my first visit, I opted for the grilled lobster, served with skinny fries and seaweed butter – and it didn’t disappoint. The lobster was fresh and delicious, and you can’t go wrong serving it with classic fries and butter.
On my second visit, we were treated to some of The White Horse’s sharing platters, which were laden with lobster, pickled mussels, clams, crab legs, oysters, scotch bonnet salmon, tuna tartare and dressed crab. Add in a couple of sides (I’d recommend the seaweed salad, hasselback potatoes and bread and seaweed butter) and you’ve got yourself a feast.
If you’ve still got room after all the amazing seafood, the dessert menu is small but perfectly formed. Both the lemon creme brûlée and chocolate delice are wonderful, and the apple tart looked delicious too! Finish things off with an after-dinner cocktail, like the White Horse Colada with cachaca, banana liqueur, pineapple, almonds and cream.
The Atmosphere at The White Horse
As it’s located in the oldest inn on the Royal Mile, the White Horse has a pretty historic feel to it. It’s dark and cosy, with exposed brick walls and plenty of private little corners. But it’s got a touch of modern design to it too – with sea green marble, dark leather and velvet seating, and brushed gold accents.
It’s quite a small restaurant, but it’s well laid out so you don’t feel crammed in. There are stools and high tables at the bar if you’re just popping in for some oysters and a glass of champagne, and there are snug booths or individual tables through the back for groups of all sizes. Also look out for the custom built lobster tank in the centre of the restaurant!
Although the menu is pretty classy, the restaurant itself isn’t intimidating at all. It has a laid back atmosphere that feels welcoming and relaxed. You can get dressed up for a fancy night out if you want, but people who are in for a more casual evening are equally welcome. If you’ve been to Chop House before, The White Horse feels very similar – cool, understated and easygoing with excellent food and just a wee touch of luxury.
Worth a Visit?
After spotting them “coming soon” on social media, it felt like I had been waiting for moooonths for The White Horse to finally open. Luckily, the wait was worth it and I wasn’t disappointed. The seafood is fantastic quality and there are a mixture of classic dishes, as well as more unusual small plates, so there’s something for whatever mood you’re in.
You can tell a lot of thought has gone into the menu. It’s not a huge menu, but it has everything you could need – and the focus is firmly on the seafood. Provenance and sustainability is important to The White Horse, and the ingredients are carefully sourced to show off the best of British seafood. Some of their suppliers include Welch Fishmongers, Mara Seaweed and the Ethical Shellfish Company.
The drinks menu is equally considered, with a selection of champagnes, boutique wines, craft beers and cocktails made by the in-house mixology team. Keep an eye out for monthly tasting which pair seafood with wine or cocktails, as well as a range of weekly offers (including Surf & Turf Sundays with a ribeye steak, half lobster and fries for £30, and Buck a Shuck £1 oyster happy hour between 4-6pm every Monday to Thursday).
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my visits to The White Horse so far, and I’m sure it won’t be long before my next visit! Have you been yet?