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Bars and pubs Old Town
4 out of 5 stars

Named for its address and the fact that long ago, this building was at the heart of Edinburgh’s cattle market industry (it is on the Cowgate, after all), OX184 can genuinely boast that it offers something new and fresh on the city’s drinking ‘n’ dining scene. The food is good quality but not so much of a revelation – taking advantage of the current vogue for all things rootsily American on the bar scene, meals are mostly cooked on the wood-fired grill for a smokily rustic flavour. Brunches include grilled cornbread with sliced sausage and egg, served with hot sauce, for example, or pulled pork hash with eggs and barbecue sauce.

The owners FullerThomson are known at their other venues (Holyrood 9A, the Southern and Red Squirrel) for having been in at the start of the gourmet burger craze, but here their dining influences stray off into new areas entirely. Oak-smoked chicken wings, bacon corn muffins and ‘jalapeno smoking piglets’ all sit proudly on the starter menu, while mains include quality smoked steaks and burgers, sauced racks of ribs, and lobster brioche of tail and claw meat with lemon mayo and celery.

Amidst a long list of craft beers, including some brewed specially for the bar by Tempest, lies a rare secret weapon, and one which makes OX184 a must-visit destination at least once for the adventurous drinker: the pickleback, apparently a staple of teenage drinking escapades in certain parts of America, which is a shot of whiskey washed down with a shot of brine. Sounds disgusting, but the flavours negate and enhance each other in much the same way as salt and caramel. We recommend it, believe it or not.

With its large floor space over two levels and DJs at the weekend, OX184 is a great hangout from morning until early morning, where you can still get the full menu until 2.30am. Or if it’s Edinburgh Festival time, an incredibly handy 4.30am.


Venue name: OX184
Address: 184-186 Cowgate
Old Town
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 11am-3am; food served 11am-2.30am.
Static map showing venue location