The Shore, Leith
It’s a Saturday night and friends have invited us to dine with them at The Ship on the Shore, a bustling, friendly venue in Leith which describes itself as a ‘seafood restaurant and champagne bar.’ I don’t have anything in particular to celebrate, so I eschew the champagne and settle for a couple of pints of Peroni, but seafood? Hell, yes – lead me to it!
As you might expect, the place is packed but the team here are friendly and efficient so ordering and receiving our food is no bother. We make our selections and settle down for a convivial chat, which – let’s face it – is an important element in most meals.
For starters, I opt for the salmon and smoked haddock fishcakes. There’s something so innately comforting about fishcakes, isn’t there? And these are splendid examples of their kind, large, perfectly cooked and full of flavour, served with a mixture of mushy peas and tartare sauce. Susan opts for steamed Shetland mussels, another generous portion, nestled in a golden broth of cider, garlic and herbs. As ever, we sample a mouthful of each other’s food. We’re also impressed by the hot and cold Scottish smoked salmon, ordered by one of our companions – so much so that we decide to use a photo of it, because it’s much more photogenic than my main course!
It might not look much, but my seafood pie ‘Royale’ is perfectly delicious. Some so-called ‘pies’ can comprise a few scraps of fish hiding in mounds of mashed potato, but, happily, this is not the case here. Beneath that crisp, buttery surface there are chunks of smoked haddock and salmon, there are king scallops and big, juicy prawns. Susan’s seafood chowder is also a bit of a wonder: thick, creamy and featuring all the usual suspects plus some less obvious ones. Added to the salmon, smoked haddock and queen scallops and prawns, there are also mussels and squid. It’s like an aquarium in there!
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that after such a feast, we wouldn’t be able to face up to pudding? But here’s the thing. I’ve deliberately eaten barely anything all day in preparation for this. Plus, there’s a sticky toffee pudding on the menu and I don’t know what it is about me, some kind of inbuilt reflex, but whenever those words appear on a menu, I nearly always have to try it (though, in this case, I do manage to negotiate replacing the vanilla ice cream accompaniment with a scoop of salted caramel, because… why not?) Suffice to say, that I take the dish on and utterly vanquish it, which is, I think, a testament to my determination. Susan’s berry cheesecake is also pretty sumptuous – and so rich she can’t quite finish it, but we’ll let her away with that one.
Anybody who relishes good seafood will be glad they visited this cheery, welcoming restaurant – and those who ‘don’t do seafood’ should bear in mind that The Ship on the Shore also offers a rib eye steak, and, for the vegetarians, there’s a butternut squash risotto with blue cheese and toasted pine nuts. Seafood fans, though, will have an absolute field day.