Feed a cold, they say. So, I thought I’d stuff that nasty cough until it popped, with a visit to The Huxley, formerly The Rutland Bar and part of The Rutland Hotel.
1 Rutland Street, Edinburgh (0131-229 3402, www.thehuxley.co.uk)
Dinner for two, excluding drinks, £42
It’s a casual joint for all those who love booze, burgers, hotdogs (or, just “dogs” to the initiated), fries and deep-fried miscellanea.
I do, I really do, said my hungry virus, bouncing around in my sinuses with excitement.
We found a cosy spot beside a temporary hot air blower, right at the back of the space, in a nook that was surrounded by vintage advertising posters.
The menu is designed by chef David Haetzman, of Kyloe steak restaurant, which is just upstairs. Pre-visit and my instincts told me that I might need more than two people to get an overview of their offerings. I should have listened.
As a shared “starter”, we opted for three dishes from the Small Plates and Boards list, and our meal soon turned into an episode of Man v. Food.
First up, there was the huge bowlful of cauliflower fritters (£3.75), with around 15 beefy florets in a thin and blonde tempura batter, as well as a ramekin of garam-masala-y curried mayo. Like.
Then there was the plateful of six or so paper-aeroplane-sized sole goujons (£7), which were served, rather magnificently, alongside a heap of slippery and peppery moss-green kelp. Nice touch, especially if you’re on a seaweed and eat it diet, as I am.
We also ordered a batch of four uppercrust Scotch eggs (£6), each featuring a tiny heart of hard-boiled quail’s egg that was sealed into a breadcrumbed venison and black pudding shell. These were teamed with a fruity and peppy tomato relish. Great, as were all the well-considered sauces and dips that had come with our starter options. Makes a change from a sachet of HP.
Unfortunately, my fellow pro-muncher was already failing before we got on to our mains.
“Don’t worry, we can get a doggy bag,” I reassured him, as he prised in his tenth floret.
But, against the odds, we managed to put away almost every scrap.
Feeling slightly disgusted with ourselves, we moved on to The Reuben burger (£8.75) and a Kimchi dog (£7).
The latter was a porky, smoky and burly bratwurst, which was almost the size of a table leg. It was topped with a very mild kimchi (a preserved Korean cabbage), and a squiggle of garlicky-hot sriracha mayo. Good, and one of my five-a-day came in the form of a nest of salt-clad skinny fries.
Our burger was served with the same frites. However, my dining partner wasn’t that sold on the pair of slim chuck steak patties, which, as he’d requested, were medium pink inside. He had anticipated a charred outer, but they just didn’t taste of much at all. Sandwiched in a bouncy, egg-washed bun, these were topped with a fruity Swiss cheese and some rather sweet grilled sauerkraut. This made for an overall sugary effect that was a bit of an acquired taste. Very US-style, methinks.
So, dogs trump burgers.
Puddings in the place ain’t refined or virtuous. But, if you’ve managed to reach this point in proceedings, you’re way beyond the realms of worrying about your physical health and wellbeing. What is a vitamin anyhoo?
The banoffee sundae (£5) was one hot mess, with cream that was whipped to the texture of an expensive Estée Lauder lotion, as well as sliced banana, biscuit crumbs and sticky toffee sauce. Fat, dairy and sugar, forget the niceties.
We preferred the macadamia blondie (£4.50), which was chewy-centred, with a crusty outer and boulders of white chocolate and nut. On the side – a buttery scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
So, the burgers here aren’t all that and a bag of chips, but the sides and the dogs rule. Not that they were a cure for my catarrh. Of course not.
In fact, my cold liked The Huxley so much that it’s been following me around ever since, begging for scraps.