Trying a brand new place you’ve heard mixed reviews about can sometimes be daunting. You’re never sure what to expect, whether the decor of the place, the service you receive or the food you consume will at least me mediocre. The Peacock Inn in Newhaven was one of those places I thought I’d give a try, because to be honest, coming from Hong Kong means fresh seafood is a really big deal to me! I wasn’t sure what to expect though, a friend of the OH’s mum had visited and said she wasn’t impressed with the food. The wonders of Groupon means instead of paying full price for a 3-course meal for 4, you can pay almost half price and still feel like you’re getting a taster session of whether the restaurant is worth a second visit.
Reading the reviews on TripAdvisor didn’t really help with the decision, but I thought any place was worth a try and I must say the simple yet homey decor of the Inn which comprises of a restaurant/bar was not the sticky wooden tabled, dark and dank bar room with loud music and conversation I expected. I haven’t been to The Peacock Inn before, but from what I’ve been told it was more of a pub environment before new management took over. If the new, simple yet modern decor is anything to go by, I for one and pleasantly surprised by the change.
Once you enter the front door, the decor instantly makes you feel welcome. You are guided towards the restaurant by the interesting photos of local residents of Leith from times gone by. If you look closely enough, you’ll find that where possible, the residents names have been included underneath each photo. There are also the occasional photos of what streets looked like in historic Edinburgh which is always a charming addition to the decor, reminding you of how much has changed since the earlier (or olden) days and how much history the city holds.
Even with other bigger tables occupied when we arrived, it was still quiet enough for us to have a conversation of our own at a normal decibel level. The tartan tweed fabric used on the seating and pattern on the lampshades as well as the occasional displays of the shield of St Andrews are instantly recognisable as Scottish trademarks, as well as the iconic peacock sitting above the mantelpiece of course which you cannot miss when you walk through the doorway to the restaurant. It really has a comfortable feel to it that makes you feel immediately feel welcome.
This is complimented by the courteous and attentive staff (even though there were only two when we visited), they never left you sitting for long and promptly served each course without too long a wait. With our Groupon voucher in hand, we were given the Fisherman’s Feast menu (£20 for a 3-course meal at time of posting) and it doesn’t disappoint. This doesn’t restrict you from ordering from the main menu if you chose to do so, you would need to add on a small supplement for this.
Salmon and smoked haddock fishcakes with sweet chilli sauce and salad greens
The fish cakes were definitely not of miniscule proportions! These were generously sized and were about the size of my palm and quite thick (I’d say at least an inch and a half). From the first bite, the breadcrumb coating gives way to crumbling fish and chopped pieces of green as grass spring onion. The minute you take a bite of the fishcakes, you know right away that it’s fresh fish and not the usual fish finger-type frozen fish you can get from a supermarket. I wasn’t too sure about the sweet chilli sauce (it’s Thai sauce by the way, not Chinese!) initially but it definitely went well with my salad greens and the fishcakes.
Battered fish (haddock) and chips with salad, coleslaw, tartare sauce and a generous helping of mayonnaise
You can choose between battered or breaded fish, but my favourite is battered. The places that do the best fish make golden, light and crisp batter than just crumbles in your mouth and The Peacock Inn definitely know how to cook their battered fish! The haddock was also nice and melted in the mouth. The OH’s mum was a bit wary of the coleslaw, she said that sometimes the coleslaw she was served had too much vinegar in it, but the side ‘slaw I had with my meal was fantastic and just the way I like it: creamy with crunchy vegetables and a hint of a bite from fresh onions. The chips were also freshly cooked and I couldn’t find a single fault to point out. I honestly wasn’t expecting a huge tub of mayo to go with my meal, but I did and I was taken aback when it was brought to the table. One thing you can say about the restaurant is they don’t skimp on the condiments and give you a small helping!
Chocolate mousse and lemon sorbet
I had a real hard time deciding what to have for my pudding. I was really tempted by the sound of the chocolate mousse and the sherry trifle, but decided to go with the lemon sorbet instead because I was too full to have mousse and I’m not partial to the strong taste of liqueur in my pudding. I was a bit worried that the sortbet would have a strong, tart taste of lemon, but again, the chefs at The Peacock Inn know their stuff! The first taste brings a strong flavour of lemon, but after that the tartness diminishes and you don’t feel quite so pinch-mouthed from the acidic fruit. I had a taste of the chocolate mousse and the only word that comes to mind is decadent. The mouse had a lovely taste of bitter chocolate, but wasn’t so bitter that it tasted like it was made only from dark chocolate, possibly a combination of milk and dark. The OH’s dad had the trifle and couldn’t stop eating it long enough to tell us how good it was.
There you go, my first visit to The Peacock Inn was most assuredly a pleasant experience and one I would recommend to anyone else looking for a good restaurant to visit for fresh Scottish seafood. If you fancy making your own seafood dish at home, be sure to visit the local fish market in the area!
The Peacock Inn can be found at 100 Lindsay Road in Newhaven (EH6 4TZ). You can either make a reservation by calling 0131 552 5522 or online.
HAve you been to The Peacock Inn recently? We would love to hear about your dining experience! What was your favourite dish? What did you think of the atmosphere?