East Coast: Where land meets sea and wine

Peter Ranscombe visits East Coast in Musselburgh to put the restaurant’s wine list through its paces.

EVERYONE has their favourite chippies.

One of mine used to be The Coral Reef in Musselburgh.

My guilty pleasure was its southern fried chicken goujons.

Carlo Crolla took over the chip shop in 2002 from his parents, who had run the site since 1974.

He married Katia in 2006 and the pair transformed the business in 2018 into East Coast, an up-market chippie, adding a restaurant next door.

It was just the shot in the arm that the Honest Toun needed, adding to the standard set by Crolla’s Italian Kitchen at nearby Eskmills.

Although I’ve frequented the East Coast chip shop – perhaps a little too often – last night was my first visit to the restaurant.

I was really impressed with the wine list, which went beyond standard fare like sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.

Instead, it featured some of my favourite white grapes to pair with fish, including Picpoul de Pinet from the South of France and Grillo from Sicily.

Both the macabeo and monastrell house wines by the glass were organic too.

Red wine with seafood?

I began with a bottle of the Hurly Burly Brewery Last Sheep Sheared Black India Pale Ale (IPA) (£5, 330ml), made by a new local micro-brewery.

It had good malty depth to balance the bitterness from its hops.

While East Coast is primarily a seafood restaurant – with classics such as langoustine, mussels, and oysters – I was keen to try its classic antipasto (£11).

The portion was huge, and could easily have fed two people as a starter.

Highlights included the melt-in-the-mouth ham and the softer of the two cheeses, while the fluffy focaccia was excellent, fragrant with herbs.

As a pairing, I opted for the freshness of the Sea Change Chardonnay 2019 (£4.70 for 125ml), which brought back memories of helping to clean the beach at South Queensferry during the wine’s launch.

For a white from Pulgia in Italy, I continue to be impressed by its crisp acidity, which is balanced by concentrated lemon flavours.

Onto the main course, and I chose “Land & Sea” (£23.95), East Coast’s take on surf n’ turf, which brought together tender shin of beef braised in cabernet sauvignon with scallops, saffron mashed potato, and fried leeks.

Matching fish and meat with wine can be a challenge but I spotted the Kaiken Mendoza Clássico Malbec (£25.50 for a bottle) on the wine list and knew that its ripe blackberry and raspberry fruit would work well with the beef, while the sweetness of wine’s vanilla would swim alongside the light caramelisation of the buttery scallops.

Aurelio Montes Jr continues to make impressive wines at Kaiken, and demonstrates why lower-tannin reds like pinot noir and malbec can find a welcome home alongside seafood as well as meat.

Read more of Peter’s wine, beer, and spirits reviews on his blog, The Grape & The Grain