Sometimes life’s little pleasures come in the form of bar bites and sides. Forget about your pre-summer diets and settle in with any (or all) of my favourites from across the city.
Ting Thai Caravan
8-9 Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2RA, 0131 225 9801. Open Mon-Sun noon-11pm.
The sweet potato crispies from Ting Thai Caravan are a wonderful thing to behold; in fact, when I choose to ignore my calorie compass, I can happily wolf down a couple of bowls of these in one sitting. Also known as mun tod, this Thai street food fritter is made using sweet potato in a coconut and tapioca flour batter and served with sweet chilli sauce. The service here is fast, you can’t book and it’s cash only, which works perfectly, as at £1.80 per portion they’re great value and take mere moments to eat.
The Bon Vivant
55 Thistle Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1DY, bonvivantedinburgh.co.uk, 0131 225 3275. Open Mon-Sun noon- 1am.
Before moving to Edinburgh properly, my visits from London were always marked with a welcome back glass of vino and haggis bonbons from Bon V. There was something almost ritualistic about getting off the train and walking down cobbled Thistle Street before entering a bustling, candle-lit wine bar for an albeit slightly idealistic taste of Scotland. The bonbons themselves are made using a mixture of half haggis, half black pudding (black haggis), from Campbells, a traditional Scottish butchers, and served with tart apple sauce. If you’re wary of haggis and/or black pudding, then these are great wee steps in the right direction at £2 each - which is never enough, by the way!
64 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1EN, elcartelmexicana.co.uk, 0131 226 7171. Open Mon-Sun noon-10pm.
Hop over the road from The Bon Vivant and you will find El Cartel, or more importantly, their ‘Bombers’ – cornmeal-coated jalapeno and cream cheese with chipotle sauce. Once a rather gaudy Tex Mex, El Cartel has somehow made Mexican food pretty classy, with unbelievably moreish bites, edgy ‘day of the dead’ style interiors and a few strategically placed cactuses. Banging bombers cost £4 for three and, as I recently discovered, go really rather well with one (or more) of their fruity frozen margaritas.
26b Dublin Street, Edinburgh EH3 6NN, spitfirebars.com, 0131 556 5967. Open Mon-Thurs noon-1am, Fri noon-2am, Sat 10.30am- 2am, Sun 10.30am-1am.
Bar bites should, by nature, be a little bit naughty, and I can think of none naughtier than the deep fried pickles at Spit/Fire. Located in what was a rather infamous drinking den, Fire – the dark, downstairs bar to Spit’s light and bright dining room – is cosy and cavernous, with plenty of bolt-holes to quaff craft beers and chow down on £3 pickles coated in batter made using pale ale, with lashings of mustard and ketchup. Simple, no nonsense, and often devoured at the end of the night – luckily, if you make a mess it’s likely to be too dark to see!
Maki & Ramen
10 West Richmond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DX. Open Mon-Sun noon-10pm.
Stumbling across Maki & Ramen on a wet and windy Monday night was an absolute godsend; as if hot noodle soup on a pretty bleak Edinburgh evening wasn’t perfect enough, I also found their lip-smackingly good pork gyoza. I’m no gyoza expert, but I have sampled a fair few in my time, and am usually left rather disappointed by a meager amount of filling, made worse by thick (almost rubbery) dough. Not this time – with a generous, moist filling encased in paper-thin dough, my faith in this humble Asian bite has been restored. They come with a sweet soy dressing and cost £2.80 for three.
Alright Treacle is a supper club that operates from an Edinburgh city centre location. Their next events include a Signature Supper on Friday May 29 and Elderflower Power on Saturday June 13 - visit alright-treacle.com for more info and booking, or get in touch @alrighttreacles.