The Duck’s Inn in Aberlady was not somewhere that we had been before. In fact, we must have driven past a dozen times, and taken no notice of it at all.
Despite the interiors of the deceptively large hotel being a bit dated, the restaurant itself was comfortable and welcoming and the food brought out of the kitchen surpassed all expectations.
The food truly is the antithesis of the decor. We started with roast breast and confit leg of partridge, topped with cashew nuts and served alongside Israel couscous and orange – served in a minimal and modern way. The partridge breast was perfectly cooked, tender and succulent, while the crunch of the cashews added textured and the subtle flavourings of cumin and orange balanced the dish perfectly. The stand out element of the dish was most definitely the confit leg. As so often is the case, the leg simply melted in the mouth and was the perfect autumnal beginning to a delicious meal.
My fellow diner began her meal with a Port Seton langoustine, confit pork belly, lemon and tarragon gnocchi served with pickled mushrooms and langoustine tea. Now, I must say, even the title of this dish sounds overly complex. This modern take on Surf ‘n’ Turf was certainly delicious, however, the pickled mushrooms brought nothing to the dish and despite the gnocchi being light and delicate, it was simply unnecessary. The confit pork belly was, once again, beautifully tender and the luxurious cut certainly balance beautifully with delicate, yet intense, flavours of the langoustine.
We continued our meal along a similar theme; game on one side of the table, and seafood on the other. While I thoroughly enjoyed roast breast and leg of Mallard duck, served with fondant potato, turnips, hazelnuts and jus gras, the dish was once again slightly overly complex. The potato was succulent, rich and flavoursome, and not greasy in the slightest – just as a good fondant should be. The duck breast was cooked beautifully pink while the leg was not only exquisitely presented, but simply delicious.
However, not even two wonderful courses were to prepare us for the joy that was to follow. While my meal was rounded off by a Valrhona chocolate marquise with sorbet, across the table, a burned honey cream with hazelnuts, figs and beurre noisette was welcomed with open arms.
The chocolate was rich, luxuriously smooth and decadent. The mango sorbet was fresh and zesty, perfect for cutting through its intense chocolate counterpart. My eyes, and fork, soon drifted across the table to the burned honey cream. On first glance, the dessert looked oversized and heavy, but I was pleasantly surprised by the lightest, fluffiest dessert I have tried in a long time. The sweet, mousse-like pudding was balanced perfectly by the crunch of the hazelnuts and the hazelnut butter and sweet figs.
All in all, the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ comes to mind. First impressions of The Duck’s interior are not of the standard that you would expect, but, with such a high quality, locally sourced menu, we are certainly willing to look the other way on this count. The menu is certainly not cheap by any means, particularly given the East Lothian village location, but the atmosphere is relaxed, the food is delicious and the wine list, almost endless. I certainly hope that the restaurant manages to find its place and attract the loyal customers it deserves. There are certainly some changes that should be made, namely the decor and most probably, the price, but with an enthusiastic team (including Head Chef, Michal Mozdzen) and a solid menu, we hope that locals and visitors alike manage to see past the menagerie of wooden ducks and put their hands in their pockets
Find out more:
View the Duck’s Inn menu here
Festive Dining at Duck’s Inn
Address: Main Street, Aberlady, EH32 0RE