Edinburgh's Port of Siam restaurant makes most of Newhaven harbourside location
A new Thai restaurant embraces the charms of its harbourside setting with the fruits of the sea. Courtney Peyton navigated her way there
For nautical nourishment in Edinburgh you traditionally embark for Leith: it is the city port, after all. But even those bars and restaurants with any proximity to water really only have the Water of Leith on view, with its serene swans and the odd traffic cone floating by. For a proper dose of lonely sea and sky, the next closest option is Newhaven, where the scant collection of dining options has recently been joined by the Thai-themed Port of Siam. The main road may divide it from the working boats and lobster creels of Newhaven Harbour, but the slap of waves, the glimpse of boats on the firth and the open views to Fife all provide a suitably salty setting.
The premises aren’t big, but with the snell winter storms on their way the intimacy only raises the sense of sanctuary. The simple, modern interior is thoughtfully designed with a single room broken into discrete areas, most of which manage to capture the view to sea. Add to that the warmth and welcome common to many Thai restaurants and the charm of the place multiplies.
Whereas every Thai restaurant in town features a range of seafood, Port of Siam’s menu is driven by it. The proximity to its suppliers, immediately over the road in the fishmarket, helps. The owners wavered over establishing a specialist seafood restaurant, but they’ve been bold in introducing a seasonally changing menu with many unusual and intriguing offerings.
As is now common across all genres of restaurant, it encourages the ‘tapas’ approach to dining. Razor clams – gleaming, tender and fresh – work well in an unusual coconut and sweet basil soup (which you’ll treat like sauce). Fresh crab cakes, squid tempura and even a Thai take on oysters appear.
Among main courses there’s a blend of traditional and contemporary options, with seafood dominating the latter and tradition confidently upheld by the larb moo – exquisitely spiced minced pork in crunchy lettuce leaves – and steaming, brimming bowls of red and green curries. With so much happening in so little space, the spirit of adventure is infectious – which is how it should be on the edge of the sea.
Pros: Wonderful seafood matched by the great sea view
Cons: It’s small and a bit out of the way so you really have to book
Port of Siam
3 Pier Place, Newhaven, Edinburgh, 0131 467 8628
Food served Tue/Wed 6–10pm; Thu/Fri noon–2pm, 6pm–10pm;
Sat/Sun noon–10pm. Closed Mon.
Average price two-course meal for one £9.95 (set lunch) / £21 (dinner)