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  • Writer's pictureSharon Wilson

Pier Brasserie, Newhaven

Short Horn Beef Cheeks

It’s a lazy Sunday and I am sipping a martini at Pier Brasserie watching the sunset over Newhaven Harbour while Phil Collin's A Groovy Kind of Love plays gently in the background. I am out for dinner with Mr Bite and can’t help but feel grateful.

The eighties tunes complement the positive, friendly vibe of this waterfront eatery set between Welch’s fishmonger and Loch Fyne Restaurant and Bar. The pier is part of a working port and lobster creels dot the landscape.

My Gin Martini ticks all the boxes: vintage-style glass, check; good balance of gin and vermouth creating a pleasant kick, check; twist of lemon peel imparting a waft of lifting essential oil, check.

The venue comprises all the features that make up a smart brasserie. It’s spacious despite 80 plus covers, glasses and wine racks gleam, wooden surfaces are polished. An open kitchen sees dishes cross the pass to aproned staff who ferry them to tables. There is a nautical nod courtesy of some ceiling to floor coils of rope.

The menu is a mix of crowd-pleasing classics such as grilled steaks and shellfish, fish and chips, and steak pie alongside contemporary choices. We decide on Duck Salad and Tuna Loin for starters. The loin is virtually sashimi, albeit with peppery, charred edges. Radishes and pea shoots scream summer freshness and yoghurt dressing completes this sophisticated dish served on a slate for aesthetic impact. All I can say of the Duck Salad is that it is promptly demolished across the table.

Duck Confit

We both choose hearty, meaty dishes for our main course tempted by the promise of good produce cooked well. Much of the meat comes from the excellent butcher, Donald Russell. Mr Bite’s Short Horn Beef Cheeks collapse easily into creamy mash and thick gravy. My Duck Confit is stuffed into crispy cigar-shaped filo pastries. Fennel is braised glossy and mash is green from lashings of herby olive oil that has been whipped through. A tangerine jus is on hand to mop up any stray morsels that escape the fork.

Sticky Toffee Pudding is recommended for dessert, but I feel we should try something more adventurous and opt for the Lemon and Lavender Sponge. Alas, presentation is lacking and the ‘pud’ is more school dinner slab of sponge than the refined dessert I am expecting. It is moister than it looks, and a lavender spray applied as it is served is a nice piece of theatre. However, the promised Calvados syrup is MIA. Lemon, lavender, and Calvados is a respectable trio for a good pud but this one needs an overhaul.

Despite our ‘dessert disappointment’, we enjoyed our meal a lot and I would happily recommend Pier Brasserie for any number of occasions from the intimate to the large social. Pier Brasserie - 25b Pier Place, Newhaven Harbour, Edinburgh, EH6 4LP. - 0131 552 5278

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