Restaurant review: The Other Place, Edinburgh

The Other Place. Picture: Colin Hattersley

The Other Place. Picture: Colin Hattersley

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This new pub and bistro opened last month, and it brought the roof down. No, I mean literally. Just a couple of weeks into opening, and the Victorian plasterwork ceiling crumbled, sagged and flopped to the floor, like the icing on a wet wedding cake.

Some may call that coincidence. I say get Most Haunted on the phone, as this sounds suspiciously like a supernatural intervention. Perhaps a 19th century bartender who worked in this place’s former incarnation – The Stag’s Head tavern, which dated back to the 1890s – ain’t too happy about the recent changes.

Not that they’ve got THAT much to get their stays in a twist about. The new landlords have done a decent refurb job, by exposing the original brickwork, tidying up the decorative cornices and creating an open plan space that flows across two levels and, with the doors open, out onto the street (they’ve also now repaired the ceiling).

Owned by the same people behind Edinburgh’s Doric Tavern, The Other Place’s menu is influenced by US comfort food.

There are burgers, fat hoagies, Caesar salad, dogs and ribs.

We had a half rack of the latter for a starter (£5.95). They looked pretty gruesome, with the meat blanketed by a thick layer of brown and swiftly congealing gloop. Not bad eating though, with soft meat and a sweet sauce that had notes of five-spice.

Other starter choices had been prosaic – soup of the day, mussels or a mini mac ‘n’ cheese – so excuse me if the shrimp and chorizo option (£6.95) sounds like a dull pick. There were three fat and slightly stringy tiger prawns, nibs of decent chorizo and a garlic and chilli-infused oil. Fine.

Everyone else was eating burgers or guacamole-smothered nachos. That’s what we wanted. However, we decided to deviate and immerse ourselves in the experience, like a pair of wide-eyed tourists wandering into Wester Hailes.

My “proper fried chicken” (£8.50) was hard not to like. There were three bits – a wing, leg and thigh – each of which boasted pale flesh that been marinated, Cleopatra-style, in buttermilk before being thickly crusted in a hedgehog-coloured and salty coating of what looked like crunched up crisps, then deep fried. Dirty, but nice.

A shame that it came with cold and lumpy canteen-style mash, as well as an odd cheesy and mushroomy “creamy gravy”. Those two accompaniments also came alongside the meatloaf (£8.50) – a dish that always reminds me of the Nineties telly series, Roseanne. It wasn’t bad, with two square and sagey doorstoppers of minced beef and pork, with edges trimmed by streaky bacon, but I’m not sure if Darlene or DJ would ask for seconds.

Our dessert of sticky toffee pudding (£5) was definitely heated thoroughly, as it went through the microwave twice (the perils of an open kitchen). When it landed on our table, it looked as black as a Brillo pad that had been used to clean a particularly mucky oven. We ate a little, and there were echoes of its former treacly niceness amongst the carbon overload.

There’s not a lot to say about the Belgian waffle (£5) apart from that waffles are alright, aren’t they? There were four triangles, as good as shop bought, which were drizzled with chocolate sauce and topped by a blob of vanilla ice-cream.

“Shall we get some nachos?” said my dining partner. Nah, it’s too late. I’m giving this gastro-pub a 5.5 for its food, but I bet it’d score a 7 if you went for a hotdog, or the Juicy Lucy burger (£10.50). My ghost will haunt this place, eating burnt sticky toffee pudding forevermore and trying to collapse the ceiling in retribution. The afterlife is cruel.

THE VERDICT

How much?

Dinner for two, excluding drinks, £39.90

FOOD 5.5/10

AMBIENCE 8/10

TOTAL 13.5/20

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