Unless your metabolism is faster than the production line at the Tunnock’s factory, there are repercussions to regular three course meals.
Thus, as I sag deeper into middle-age, my exercise routine gets more frantic to compensate for ten years’ worth of eating out an awful lot. Sometimes, my worlds of scoffer-y and aerobics collide, and I find myself in an eatery, clad more like Mr Motivator than an Instagram yogini, with hair that’s still powdery with dry shampoo, blood like boiling oil and a face the colour of crab apples.
But that’s OK, they don’t mind at this new gastropub, on a corner in Newington.
It’s relaxed – a Sunday brunch kind of joint – wear what you want, roll along in your onesie, whatevs.
“Sorry about the delay, but the chef isn’t happy with the Scotch egg, so he’s doing you another one”
They’ve decorated the place in a kind of cheesy hipster way, with, for example, padlocks on a bit of fencing, in a tribute to the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris before they killed romance dead with a pair of wire cutters, and beer mats that allow you to vote Beatles or Stones.
I just wish they’d invested in blinds. We were seated at a table in the huge corner window, which meant we were slowly sizzled like dachshunds in a hot car, as was the table beside us, with one young man doing a semi-monty by slowly shedding his hoodie and trainers.
(Eventually, we asked to be moved, when a shadier table in this busy place became available).
I kicked off my cool down with an order of crab cakes (£6.50), and my other half went for the Scotch egg (£5.75). Cue very long pause.
“Sorry about the delay, but the chef isn’t happy with the Scotch egg, so he’s doing you another one,” said the waitress.
Eventually, our oeuf redux arrived, and it was pretty good – a bright orange yolked egg clad in a rough (and slightly gristly in parts) nduja sausage, with a breadcrumbed pelt and a creamy celeriac remoulade on the side.
At least ONE of us was happy, as it seemed that the crab cakes had been patiently waiting on the pass while the chef perfected his Scotch egg game. This pair of anaemic coasters were cold, and tasted of nothing more than potato and a bit of parsley. The accompanying condiments – a mild chilli tomato jam, and crab mayo (a diluted version of their remoulade, I think) – provided the only flavour on the plate. Bah.
Our main course of crispy pork belly (£12.50) was decent, with a hugely generous plimsoll-sized slab of bubbly crackling topped meat, clods of black pudding suspended in a ball of slightly loose mashed potato, and a glug of gravy.
I’d asked for my flat iron steak (£13.50) to be served medium rare, and they’d even double checked that request. It came somewhere between medium and well done. You had one job people. Also on the plate was a zingy moss green chimichurri sauce and a stack of nuclear hot marker-pen-sized chips, sprinkled with smoked sea salt.
There was also a springy side salad of watercress, which could’ve done with a bit of a rinse, since an unexpected nugget of winged protein was found plastered to a leaf.
Thankfully, there were no such surprises with my pudding of chocolate tart (£5), which featured a shortcrust pastry, a layer of gooey caramel, and bits of hazelnut suspended in a rich ganache topping. Good, though the accompanying tablet ice-cream, decorated with an edible viola, seemed like too violently sugary a partner.
Our other dessert – the sandstone coloured block of brioche bread and butter pudding (£5) – was an absolute behemoth of a helping. It surely contained more brioche than a Waitrose bakery counter, with a good blob of Katy Rodgers’ creme fraiche in a ramekin on the side.
After all those calories, I could’ve done with another exercise class. But would it be worth the extra burpees? Probably not.
I’ve had worse meals, but this place does not get a star jump or very many (enjoyable) crunches from me.
Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £48.25