Every year myself and Nicola try to make a trip through to Edinburgh to take in a show at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This year was no different and last weekend we took the train through to the capital, looking forward to having dinner at Angels With Bagpipes before seeing the comedian Mark Watson at The Pleasance Theatre.
We got off the train at Haymarket before making our way to to visit the Boxsmall craft market, a new seasonal market operating inside innovative architecturally designed cubic shaped stalls within Festival Square just off Lothian Road. However when we reached the square we found that most of the stalls were not open for business. A quick chat from the guys at the Nairn's Oatcake stall informed us that due to the lower footfall around the square on the weekends, the majority of the exhibitors had taken the decision to take the weekend off.
Dissappointed that Boxsmall was a bit of a let down, we decided that it was time for our first drinks break of the day and made our way through the doors of the nearby All Bar One in Edinburgh's Exchange Plaza. We had only planned on having a quick drink before getting back in festival mode but as it was approaching lunchtime, we decided to grab a bite to eat before hitting the streets again.
The menu at All Bar One offers a great balance of sandwiches and light bites through to larger plated meals, plus they also serve up a wide selection of smaller sharing tapas plates. The tapas menu has a wide range of world inspired dishes to choose from with prices ranging from £4.50 - £6.00 per plate, although their are some great offers when buying bundles of 3, 5 or 7 dishes. Our dinner later in the day was booked for 6pm so we were only looking for a quick snack for lunch so decided to ordered just three tapas dishes to share.
I was quite happy to let Nicola order for us, we both like the same things and I knew tthat I could trust her to pick three tasty dishes. First up was a platter of Spianata Romana cured meat with Roquito chilli pepper pearls and crystal bread. Spianata Romana is a spiced salami made from finely ground pork, and this was a wonderful example of spicy and peppery cured meat. The Roquito chili peppers were cute little teardrop shaped peppers bursting with sweet red pepper flavour packed with chilli heat.
The second dish that Nicola ordered was garlic, chill and lemon king prawns. Fifteen plump and juicy prawns were cooked with lemon zest, chili and garlic, served with more toasted bread. As I tried my first prawn my mind was immediately transported to thought of my up and coming holiday in Lanzarote, the fresh flavours conjuring up great memories of our favourite bodega where we enjoy gambas pil-pil on a far too regular basis. This was a great value dish and at only 308 calories, it would make the perfect healthy lunchtime snack.
The final dish of our trio of taps was chicken satay skewers served on a bed of cucumber and sweet chili salsa before being smothered in a spicy peanut satay sauce. The three chunky strips of skewered chicken breast were fantastic. Perfectly cooked, moist chicken was balanced with a rich lightly spiced satay sauce, with the cucumber salsa offering the perfect foil to the dish. Surprisingly, this dish only contained 351 calories!
We couldn't fault any of the dishes. Everything tasted fresh and full of flavour whilst we both loved the presentation of each tapas being served on their own slate plate. The portions sizes were generous too and we were thankful that we had only ordered three dishes instead of the original five that we were thinking about or we could have ruined our appetite for later.
All Bar One are a well known chain of bar/restaurants owned by pub group Mitchells & Butlers, however the service that we received in the Exchange Plaza branch was personal and made us feel very welcome as guests, whilst the quality of food that we were served was definitely far higher than what we would ordinarily have expected from a pub chain.
So would we go back for food in the future? Definitely - there are plenty more dishes on the tapas menu that we want to get our teeth into and if they are as tasty as the plates that we tasted in Edinburgh, I'm sure that we won't be disappointed.
To make returning for tapas an easier choice in the future, All Bar One run a special Tapas Tuesday event with each branch offering great deals on tapas bundles with a bottle of wine thrown in at tremendous value. For instance, my local Glasgow branch have four tapas dishes with a bottle of wine for just £20! You can check the website to see what Tapas Tuesday offers are running at your local All Bar One.
Written by Gerry Haughian