Scotsman Review
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  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
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September 3, 2019

The Brunch Club, Edinburgh, restaurant review

For the trendiest meal of the day, join The Brunch Club, says Gaby Soutar

In the last series of Killing Eve, Villanelle complains about breakfast being constant eggs.

“Why? Who decided?”

She’s a psychopath assassin with a fair point.

Breakfast and its younger sister, brunch, consists of a random old assemblage of foods. I suppose eggs have become traditional since they would be gathered in the morning, and the protein sets you up for your day in the mill.

When it comes to other classic breakfast items, beans are shameful, fried bread is too Seventies, and having a pastry seems like an early-in-the-day MyFitnessPal fail.

Anyway, brunch is the trendier meal. (There’s even a perfume called Brunch. It smells like mimosas, as opposed to sausages and mushrooms).

That’s probably why this place, whose original branch is in Glasgow, was so hoaching on our Sunday visit. It’s in a basement premises that was formerly a South African themed restaurant (always completely dead) and, before that, a tiki bar that never seemed to have more than three people in it.

After years of being empty, you wave the smell of cooking bacon under people’s noses and they’re down those stairs faster than a pig on a buttered slide.

We had to wait for a proper table, while slouching at a low slung sofa fringed one. Here, we felt obliged to sample a take on a Bloody Mary, since there’s a shouty section with pictures on the menu, promoting four versions.

The Bloody Maria (£7) was napalm, with Patron Silver tequila, mustard liqueur, spices and tomato juice. The rim of the glass was coated with chilli seeds, and we had to dare each other to take a sip. As a hangover cure, it’s like using a howitzer to kill a hummingbird.

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Once we’d claimed our booth, we skimmed over the healthy bits and went for a selection of lardy items, all of which were served on grey and prettily pea-shoot dressed plates.

Sadly, since one of their chefs hadn’t turned up, our orders took at least 45 minutes to arrive, by which time one of us had gone full Exorcist, with the head cranking all the way round.

(Not me, as I believe in breakfast a couple of hours before brunch).

Still, there was much relief when the US style chicken and waffle (£9) arrived. It featured five craggy and knobbly cardboard box coloured bits of battered meat, on top of a stodgy half moon of Belgian waffle.

There was also a little pot of electrifyingly sweet Hennessy and maple syrup (or you can go for honey and soy), which would be the perfect reviver to help power bees back to their hives.

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The steak and eggs (£10.50) was fine too, with a sliced 6oz piece of flat iron steak, cooked medium rare on a pile of salty and rosemary infused potato rosti. It came with two eggs, done the way you like. In this case, fried, and frilly edged like a Tudor era cuff.

Our croque madame (£8.50) was decent, though not topped with melted cheese, as billed. It featured two nut-coloured ovals of sourdough and a filling of thick ham, Gruyere cheese and loads of Dijon, with the prerequisite fried egg on top. Not the finest I’ve had – a little dry. In terms of madames, it was a Tussaud or a Cholet rather than a de Pompadour.

The fish taco (£10.50) seemed like an unusual brunch option. It was egg-less, with nuggets of white fish in a very dustily light crumb, as well as corn tacos that were soft and pliable like chamois cloths, some sweet and picklish slaw (featuring red cabbage, rather than the billed beetroot) and tiny cubes of pear, plus a big dollop of chipotle mayo.

For a pudding of sorts, we shared the banana bread (£5), which consisted of two bricks of dense cakeyness, a flurry of coffee-infused mascarpone and a handful of candied walnuts. Great.However, I think a brunch place should prioritise their perks, and the coffee here is awful.

Anyway, any small failings are forgiven, since the hefty delay prompted them to give us 50 per cent off our bill.

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It seems that, even if you’re a murderer who doesn’t fancy eggs, you might find something to like here.

The Brunch Club Edinburgh

13a Melville Place, Edinburgh (

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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