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John Paul at the Marine, Macdonald Marine Hotel & Spa

Posted on: November 17, 2011     |     0 comments

Being seen as someone that knows about restaurants in Scotland is generally a great thing, until you get asked for recommendations, and an even greater responsibility when asked to book dinner for a party of six for the mother-in–law’s birthday. Weighing up the delicate issues of everyone’s enjoyment against my own selfish choices is the key to a great night out and brownie points from the family.

I opted for John Paul at the Marine. This is John Paul McLachlan’s eponymous restaurant in the beautiful Macdonald Marine Hotel in North Berwick.

The family arrived for dinner and were seated in eloquent surroundings, deep syrah walls, portraits of local historical figures and soft classical music which made a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere.

Now the important bit, the food. The birthday lady went for a modern take on the 70’s classic prawn cocktail, made with local juicy prawns and crème fraiche, while the other ladies had smoked salmon with a haddock scotch quails egg and mushroom ravioli. The gents had Stornaway black pudding shallow fried in tempura batter with soft poached egg and hollandaise sauce, and finally leek and potato soup. All dishes were extremely well received.  My dish (black pudding) was truly magnificent. The crockery for all dishes were also spectacular, with the soup being served from a little copper pot into a two tier bowl, adding great drama to the fine food.

Main dishes at John Paul at the Marine followed the same train of excellence. There were two rib eye steaks ordered, cooked to perfection and served with home cut chips presented in a mini frying basket. Little touches like this were evident all through the meal and made for great talking points. Also devoured were haggis, neeps and tatties, pumpkin ravioli, and for me, the star of the show ox cheeks. Reaction from round the table, as we all scraped our plates clean, was one a great satisfaction and pleasure. The ox cheeks slowly cooked for fifteen hours were to die for, and from now on is my “desert island” dish.  All of this was accompanied by one or two, maybe more, bottles of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, maybe not the greatest match to my dish, however was exactly what it said on the tin, crisp, dry with hints of tropical fruits.

Only the fellas managed puddings, with the ladies politely refusing the hip swelling temptations. Two stunningly sweet treacle tarts with clotted cream were well received as was the stunning looking tarte tatin which I don’t mind admitting left me with food envy!

All in all John Paul at the Marine was a great setting, meal and experience which, for me are the vital ingredients for a special dinner.

So did I get the balance right for the extra brownie points from the in-laws? Well the fact we were still discussing our meal at John Paul at the Marine into the next evening left me little doubt that this was an incredible meal. The only problem is now I will have to try and follow that up when the next friend/family member asks me “where’s good to eat?”

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