To start I think it is important for me to state just how much of a couple of fussy eaters we are. I mean I am is fussy to the point that I won’t even eat most vegetables; and Ysabelle only just recently started eating chicken again after 5 years being a vegetarian. So when we were invited out to review Rock & Oyster, we were to say the least, extremely nervous when we found out it was a seafood specialty restaurant.
However, when we arrived it could not have been more welcoming. It had nice music playing in the background (it sounded like classical jazz to me but I am no expert so I could be wrong) and the waitress who showed us to our table and served us was extremely friendly and made us feel very comfortable. I know that this may seem a trivial point, but I always enjoy when staff in a restaurant make you feel like you are actually wanted in the establishment and not just there for a quick in and out meal (and in honesty I truly believe that this is because Rock & Oyster is a nice and small privately owned business, and not a big corporate money making franchise). The restaurants decoration was very plain, but elegant. I only managed to take a picture of the bar inside, which I will post below, as I did not want to intrude on other customers when they were eating their meals.
There are a few small details about Rock & Oyster that I really don’t want to miss before I start to discuss the food, as they truly help to create the perfect atmosphere that is experienced within this establishment. Firstly the small lounge area next to the entrance as you enter. This emphasizes the laid back and comfortable feeling that the restaurant gives off and makes you feel right at home when coming to eat your food. However, the main point I really wanted to make here was about the tap water provided. Normally when you ask for tap water in a restaurant it is supplied in a jug straight from the tap with some ice chucked in it. This was not the case at Rock & Oyster – as you will see in the photo below. At Rock & Oyster the tap water was has already been pre-poured into elegant glass bottles (of two different sizes depending on the table size) and stored in the fridge so that it is ice cold and fresh. It is the little things like this and the small dainty glasses that are used that give Rock & Oyster its very own unique and welcoming feel.
Now on to the food. For my starter I ordered the ‘Arbroath smokie fishcake’. It came with chive crème fraiche and rocket salad. The presentation of this dish was amazing. I have had and seen fish cakes in the past and they have always been somewhat flat and almost soggy looking, however here they came out in nice and crispy round balls, and looked so appetizing. I thoroughly enjoyed this meal, as the sauce completely complemented the fish cakes and the portion size was more than generous (to be honest for the price they are set as on the menu and the overall feeling of quality and expense in the restaurant) I would have been more than happy receiving just one fishcake with how big they are, never mind three!! I did go a lot more safe on my choice of starter than Ysabelle though, who went for the Calamari. However, despite being fairly nervous, I did force myself to try Ysabelle’s starter as it was a whole new experience to me, and I wanted to make the most of it. I did not regret this decision. It was crisp and tasted delicious, especially when complimented with the sauce provided – I actually ended up stealing a fair few pieces from Ysabelle’s plate. I loved every mouthful!
For my main meal I did not go for a fish dish, I chose the ‘In house oakwood smoked pork belly’, and I will tell you this dish was without a doubt the best meal I have ever eaten. It is smoked for 10 hours; in house, and served with a beer and shallot sauce on top of roast garlic mash. The meat was so tender that although I was provided with a steak knife to cut it, it felt like I was slicing through butter. The sauce was rich and sweet and complemented the pork perfectly, with the mash being there as the perfect change if you fancied something a bit savoury. There is not much more I can really say about this dish, the portion was fantastically big and I am proud to say I tackled most of it.
The menu at Rock & Oyster is arguably the best and most unusual menu’s I’ve ever had the pleasure to select from. It’s so simple but with the perfect amount of description, in fact I struggled to choose which dish to have purely because my mouth was watering from the descriptions. To my dismay, I did not have enough space in my tummy to eat a desert, but I definitely will make room next time when I return for my birthday meal out! (There’s nothing I love more than a cheese board!). Also, I’d like to say that it’s been around five years since I last ate fish, and this was the kind of return to it I needed.
I chose the Calamari to start. The thing I loved about this dish was how simple it was. I’ve had calamari a few times before, but nothing like this. The batter was perfectly crispy and not greasy at all and the sauce that accompanied it complemented the tastes of the calamari perfectly. It was a tomato sauce, I couldn’t tell you what else was in it as I’m not exactly a food connoisseur but it was fantastic. In addition to this, the portion size was more than generous, and calamari is surprisingly filling so I had to stop myself from eating too much!
For my main, I chose the seafood linguine; which was also enormous! It had scallops, mussels, prawns and squid and was made with a lovely tomato, garlic and chili sauce. I was more than shocked when my plate arrived at our table and there was enough food to feed both Steve and I. (As you can see in the photo!) The food was so perfectly cooked; there was absolutely nothing to fault with my dish. The mussels, prawns and scallops were cooked to perfection, and the prawns were enormous. I forgot how lovely pasta tasted with seafood because I’m so used to playing it safe with chicken or vegetables! Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish my main because of the size of it!
I couldn’t point out how much I loved everything about this restaurant, from the little bottle of ‘Victorian’ cloudy lemonade I received with my food, to the flower arrangements on the tables that were getting changed during our visit. Everything about the restaurant is so clearly thought out and it is all of the little details that make it what it is. I’m definitely one for appreciating the little things.
Overall, I feel that it is easy to say from both of us that we loved our experience and Rock & Oyster and will be returning very soon. It is everything about this establishment that makes it what it is, from the ‘family’ feel caused by the fact that it is a nice privately owned business, to the outstanding service provided and all of this is topped of by the most important factor of all, the food is just total perfection.