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Boston & Hawthorne, Edinburgh, restaurant review

Connect with the spirits at Edinburgh bar Boston & Hawthorne, says Gaby Soutar

Published: June 1, 2018

‘I was hoping for a new way for me and the family to connect with interesting and outgoing spirits, instead we seem to have summoned a vengeful demon.

Now the dog’s dead, my son has burnt down his school, my wife is possessed and the toilet chain won’t work. All in all, a decent product for the price.”

This is a four star Amazon review of the Ouija Board Game from Hasbro, from £49.69. Along with creepy dolls, various stuffed animals and other props, there’s one of these in a glass cabinet at this year-old Stockbridge tavern, formerly the Raeburn Bar, but now billed as an emporium of curiosities and oddities.

What say thee, ouija board, shall we connect with spirits? The planchette slid to yes.

Anyway, while perusing the cocktail list, the friendly barman/owner asked what flavour I prefer.

“Sour”. So he made something bespoke and perfect in the form of a wersht melon-groni (£6). Thank you sir, this was definitely not demonic.

We also had an off-the-peg garden martini (£6), with the standing-behind-a-lawn-mower verdant blast, a mixture of tequila blanco, green tea liqueur, lemongrass and lemon.

They do 700bc Etruscan style banquets if you’re in a group, but the three of us thought we’d go with the regular menu, available in the evenings and weekend lunchtimes.

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It features Italian street food items for £4.20 each, or you can get three (£9.80), five (£18.60), or seven (£26.80), all including sourdough.

We went for five of the wacky sounding dishes, or attempted to.

I’m not sure if I was disappointed or relieved that they didn’t have any of the smoked salmon in coffee and tarragon cream with lemon-peppered crumb.

Also, it seems that the baby corn dogs dressed with barbecued and caramelised chutney hadn’t been delivered yet, and there was no smoked duck for the salad, also billed as with rocket, raspberry negroni and vinaigrette.

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“But we can do you a version with chicken,” they said, so we went with that. Sadly it was probably the worst of these micro dishes, with rocket, calcified bullets of non-smoked chook and some raw red onion rings.

Things improved though.

Their mini wild boar sausages had Wee Man Syndrome in that they were very small but burly, hot and rich, with a sort of fennel and honey stew on top. Our trio of oregano-y polpetta turkey meatballs were a little tepid, but OK, plopped on to a bank of sweet tomato sugo, with feta crumbled on top.

Also average were the pair of soggy and cakey coaster-sized chickpea crepes, each topped with a dollop of hummus, slices of avocado, prosciutto and balsamic.

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There was a good feral fungi tinge when it came to the pair of bun-sized mushroom arancini, though the blue cheese and celeriac puree underneath was cold with a claggy bread sauce-like texture. Also, the accompanying slabs of sourdough were a bit heavy and doughy.

Pizzas here are better.

We liked the huge oval number that was topped with buffalo mozzarella, a salted pistachio dust, basil, white wine and sage butter (£8.50), though the latter two weren’t detectable. Still, it had a billowy and powdery crust, and lots of the other stuff.

Our prosciutto ham, rocket, balsamic, lemon and Parmesan (£9.50) version was decent too. Though, again, the final ingredients – this time three of the blighters – seem to have done a lemming off a cliff.

They were out of the chocolate praline mousse (£6.95) for pudding so we had their option of cannoli with hazelnut mascarpone (£6.95) to feed two. It featured a couple of crisp pastry pipes filled with about a pint of plain mascarpone, and there was chocolate grated on top.

Unfortunately, I’m not one of those dairy fiends who can do a Bridget Jones and chug a whole tub of ice-cream in front of the telly, while crying, and I couldn’t eat that mascarpone in a one-r either.

Anyway, even if the food isn’t all that, they do a pub quiz on Monday nights, 7.30pm. I will probably go.

What about you, ouija board?

“F-O-R-D-R-I-N-K-S-A-N-D-P-I-Z-Z-A-Y-E-S. Goodbye”. Excellent call, direct from the spirit world.

Boston & Hawthorne

50 Dean Street, Edinburgh (0131-261 5126,



Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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