The Fishmarket, Newhaven, Edinburgh

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During the week I saw on my Twitter feed someone raving about the new restaurant that had opened in Newhaven Harbour, The Fishmarket. (next to the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar in Edinburgh) I looked up the website  and had a look at their menu, which looked great. There was crab, lobster, langoustine as well as haddock, cod and lemon sole.   The main hook for me on the website was ‘From the Boat Straight to your Table’. What’s not to like?

I, therefore, suggested to OH that we could lunch there on Sunday. I felt it was prudent to phone ahead and book and I was glad I did as when I asked for a table at 1.30pm I was told I could either have 1.15 or 1.45.

We arrived promptly and were given a table in the window with a good view of the harbour. The restaurant was busy with family groups and other couples. There was also people sat at the bar who I am guessing maybe hadn’t phoned ahead.

The decor was clean with white tiles and contrasting dark green ones. The staff uniforms were nautical, white and blue striped tops so be pre-warned and don’t be like the woman who didn’t know and was sitting dining with friends and family but equally could have been clearing tables.

The menus were already on the table. However, a waitress walked past me holding heaped plates of mussels, which looked amazing but there was no mention of mussels on the menu. I looked around for a specials board but to no avail. When the waitress appeared to take our drinks order I asked about the mussels and was told the other table had phoned and requested them in advance. Oh. My first disappointment. A different waitress then appeared to tell us that the only draught lager, which had been recommended, had run out. Oh.

My next one was when a couple that came in after us but got their food order taken before us and received their food before us too. I realise all food is cooked to order but that was bad service and it was a full 40 minutes from entering the restaurant to getting our food.

As we waited, I noticed the two women sitting next to us orders arrived. One had fish and chips and the other 4 hand dived scallops, which all arrived on separate shells and took over the table. I checked the menu. The 4 scallops, each no bigger than a marshmallow, would cost her £24.

Anyway, I had decided on the lemon sole as I had realised on further scrutiny of the menu and checking other people’s plates that everything was deep-fried and I wanted something that wasn’t. OH knew before we got there that he was having dressed crab. So when the waitress eventually appeared we gave our food orders. Her first question to me was “do you want it battered or breaded?” Oh. Battered I replied disappointed. Her second question to OH was “do you want chips with that? It’s not that big.” OH agreed to have chips. My question is – If a waitress is suggesting you get chips with something why doesn’t it already come with chips?

The next disappointment was when OH’s dressed brown crab arrived with no shell in sight. It came on a plate in a circle with some sauce and chivIMAG9674es on top. As my mum pointed out when I told her, “it could have been tinned if there was no shell.” Saying that, OH did enjoy it but also said he was glad of the bread that came with it. OH also suggested that some side salad with some spring onions or strong herbs would have added to the dish. If OH is making serving suggestion then I know the dish is lacking.

IMAG9673My lemon sole was good. The texture, unlike haddock and cod that easily flakes, was mushy but it didn’t taste muddy as some bottom feeders can do. The chips were chip shop chips (there’s a take away chip shop attached to the restaurant, which is where the deep-fried dishes are cooked).

If getting shit-faced on Prosecco or Pinot Grigio is the acceptable face of afternoon drinking then The Fishmarket is the place for middle class people to go and eat unhealthy, deep-fried food without the same guilt.

Normally, I would have another glass of wine and OH would have a dessert but we decided we would just ask for the bill. When we got it, there was no drinks on it and the waitress had to ask what we had to drink.

Overall, the food was good. Fresh, tasty and very fishy (there was nothing on the menu that wasn’t fish) However, I had been expecting a classy seafood restaurant but instead I got a posh fish and chip shop so I won’t be needing to go back.

A pint, a small glass of wine, 2 mains = £38.80

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Norms La Cienega, California, USA

I’m currently over in the States visiting Lusa and having a fabulous time. As we were being arty today and going to the Museum of Modern Art to see Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A., we were in West Hollywood at lunch time. Lusa pleaded with me to go to Le Pain Quotidien, a chic French restaurant that boasts a largely organic menu and dishes such as Roasted Pear and Spinach Salad and Quinoa Taboulé but I insisted she took me to a diner so I could eat like an American. So Norms it was – a diner that has been around since 1949 and was only a short walk away.

Opening the door we walked into the opening scenes of Pulp Fiction (not really as it was filmed in Panns but we’re going there for breakfast one morning soon). The diner was exactly as you would expect with people sitting at the counter and others in booths. The menu was large, laminated and had lots of photographs. There were also daily specials and Thursday’s was ‘Pick a Pair’, which I ended up going for. Soup, salad, potatoes (mash/fries/baked) and 2 items from the list – steak, fish, shrimps or chicken. The soup was Gumbo (okra, celery, peppers, onions, chicken, sausage and rice) and I had 6 fried shrimps and hand battered fried haddock strips along with it as well as the salad and fries. Yes I was eating like an American, an extremely overweight one with eyes bigger than their belly. IMAG7710Lusa decided on a Tuna melt sandwich with fries that looked tiny in comparison to my edible extravaganza.

My soup was nice and spicy and tasted like one I would make from Sunday leftovers (I mean that in a good way). IMAG7709The salad was just like you get at home (a bit boring) and the deep fried fishes were very tasty if a bit greasy. Try as I did, I couldn’t finish them all – even with Lusa helping me. Lusa left some of her sandwich too and told me later she had food regret as she threw back a Tumms. IMAG7713

Our (very beige) American dining experience came to $22.70 (£16.71) plus tip. The portion size also meant I did not need to eat for another 24 hours, which made it even more of a bargain.