Boys Eat Scotland Duck’s Inn Review – Aberlady, East Lothian
We have passed Duck’s Inn in Aberlady many times on our travels through East Lothian but have never been organised enough to make it a destination for dinner. An invitation to sample head-chef Michal Mozdzen’s à la carte menu gave us an opportunity to experience their food first hand.
The owner, Malcolm Duck has spent quite a few years in the industry building a reputation for high quality food and service and he is a thoroughly knowledgeable and engaging host. His partnership with Michal Mozdzen seems to have given him a bit of an epiphany regarding the direction of Duck’s Inn with the focus being firmly on the food offering. This has also resulted in a newly refurbished dining area decorated in neutral tones allowing the food to take centre stage.
The à la carte menu has three choices of starter, main and dessert – all of them sounding fresh and exciting. If wine is your thing then this is the place for you – they have a comprehensive wine-list with almost 200 different bottles to choose from. Malcolm can advise you personally or you can pick one of his recommendations from the wine list – marked with an MD (enjoyed by Malcolm) or MDMD (enjoyed extensively by Malcolm). We chose the Alamos Malbec 2013 (£30) to go with our meaty mains. Duck’s has also partnered with the Scottish Malt Whisky Society so has an equally impressive whisky stock.
As a starter, I went for the sea bream, asparagus, crab pannacotta, daikon radish with dill and cucumber vinaigrette (£12) and Donnie decided on the roast hand dived scallop, pork belly, mussel chowder, cumin and Granny Smith apple (£15) . My sea bream looked like spring on a plate and it’s one of the prettiest dishes I’ve ever eaten. The flavours were subtle and fresh with loads of different textures making it a delightful experience.
Donnie’s starter had a lot going on but it all worked surprisingly well together. The melt in your mouth pork belly was buried like hidden treasure under the creamy mussel chowder that had tiny squid ink spätzle shells through it. The dish was crowned with a plump and juicy scallop and some crispy crackling. The Granny Smith apple brought some welcome sharpness along with the earthy warmth of the cumin. It was a perfectly judged plate of food and incredibly entertaining to eat with each mouthful providing a different combination of flavour and textures.
After these stunning starters, we were wondering where chef was going to take us for our mains. I chose the best end of lamb, couscous, spiced lamb shoulder tortellini, broad beans and jus gras (£28) while Donnie went for the fillet of Scotch beef, wild garlic polenta, broccoli, shallot puree and Madeira jus (£30). The lamb dish was delicious, cooked rare and very tender with the handmade tortellini stuffed full of lightly spiced shredded lamb. My mouth is watering just thinking about it again.
Donnie’s fillet of beef was a bit less medium than expected but it cut like butter and he wasn’t complaining. The wild garlic polenta had a lovely structure and added a subtle flavour to the dish along with the shallot puree. It was another well balanced dish that tasted great right through to the very last delicious mouthful.
I had already made up my mind about dessert earlier on in the evening – who could resist the Valrhona chocolate chiboust, lime Turkish delight with coconut sorbet (£8)? Donnie went for the Katy Rodger’s crème-fraîche panna cotta, caramel and Granny Smith apple sorbet (£7.50). Mine sat on a scattering of crunchy chocolate soil and the dreamily light chiboust was coated in a crisp, dark, shiny chocolate shell. The coconut sorbet was a refreshing contrast and the tiny pearls of sour lime Turkish delight had my cheeks sucking in. It really was a taste sensation.
Donnie’s dessert was like a deconstructed caramel apple granny – sweet but so delicious. The panna cotta was cool and creamy and there was a square of salted caramel soaked sponge topped with crunchy matchsticks of apple. The sorbet gave a welcome sourness to the dish and the scattering of crumble an added crunch.
We both agreed that these were some of the most exciting plates of food we’d eaten. Chef Michal Mozdzen has created some imaginative food combinations that are perfectly balanced, surprising and fun. The Duck Inn offers something unique and refreshing – fine dining with a sense of humour, served in a relaxed atmosphere with no pretension. You can get to Aberlady from Edinburgh easily by train or it’s only 30 minutes in the car. You can also stay over in one of their comfortable rooms and enjoy breakfast the next day. We can thoroughly recommend the bacon rolls at breakfast time – they are pretty perfect too! Keep an eye on the Ducks Inn website as they often offer special rates for staying over if you are dining in the restaurant. Duck’s also have an interesting bar menu that we are looking forward to trying out the next time we’re heading out to East Lothian.
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Tel: 01875 870 682
Thanks to Malcolm Duck for inviting us to Duck’s Inn. All alcoholic beverages were paid for separately. Although we were guests at Duck’s all thoughts and comments on the meal are our own.