Having lived in Glasgow for ten years, when we moved to Falkirk I saw this as the perfect opportunity to get to know not only Falkirk but also Edinburgh. In spite of living so close to the Scottish capital I’d only visited on a handful of occasions and while Glasgow is clearly the superior city* I was tempted to give Edinburgh more of a chance.
The plan was to alternate date nights, so sometimes we’d meet up in Glasgow, sometimes in Edinburgh and sometimes in Falkirk. It didn’t quite work like that. Because I know Glasgow better I hear about more events in Glasgow and so we go to them. Plus, of the two of us, I am clearly The Organised One, so I plan the event, look up restaurants, book tables and so on. Since I work in Glasgow and P works in Edinburgh this means we get to Edinburgh just that little bit less.
Case in point: This is our second attempt at eating at The Basement Bar. The first attempt saw me meeting P in Edinburgh on a Friday night and us wandering over there after a couple of drinks at a couple of bars, arriving at about 8 pm. He was astonished that it was busy, it had never occurred to him that he might need to book. We had no chance of getting a table and so abandoned the idea and instead got burgers at the Empress of Broughton Street across the road, resolving to try again (with a booking) asap.
Not long afterwards we returned. Once again via a couple of bars (if you’re in Edinburgh and like cocktails look up Nightcap). Once again, a restaurant in a capital city at 8 pm on a Friday turned out to be busy but we had booked a table this time so we stayed (me? bitter? not at all).
Anyway, what an absolute treat that turned out to be. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Tex-Mex, as is P, and this is what had drawn him to the restaurant in the first place, that and, “it looked cool.” To be fair, it certainly does. It’s a half-floor down and has a very funky feel to it, it’s warm, vibrant and fun.
They seem to be aiming for flexibility. While their menu is clearly laid out in the standard way, with nibbles, starters, mains and desserts, it also highlights that the dishes are sharable. They’re not starters, they’re “small plates.” The “large plates” are also, “perfect for sharing.” If you wanted to, you could just order a selection of food for the table and then mix and match.
We opted to share our starters and to order individual mains (although I’ve never yet eaten in a restaurant with P and not asked if he wants to taste what I’ve ordered and vice-versa). We went with the chicken croquetas and the duck taquitos. Then I got the fish tacos and P chose the pork burrito.
The duck taquitos were great but I loved the croquetas even more. They were golden, crisps and fluffy with gooey chickeny cheesy stuff that flowed out from the middle when you cut them open. Both dishes were served with a dip, both had a fair pinch of spice and a smattering of side salad and both made me wonder if we really might have been better off getting a selection of tapas style dishes from the small plates menu.
Until my main arrived. Battered white fish, crisp, fresh thinly sliced salad and chilis, hot sauce, some kind of spiced sour cream, soft silky tacos. So. Much. Delicious. Food. The spice crept up on me. I wasn’t fully aware of it until my lips were stinging and by then it was too late. Everything was exactly what I want Tex-Mex to be.
Conversely, P’s burrito looked a bit bland. He said it was good, but it didn’t come with guacamole or sour cream (which made him happy because he’s weird) or salsa (which made him unhappy because even he isn’t that weird). The result just looked a bit plain and quite dry, but he said the fillings that were there were good, just that he’d request salsa next time.
I so, so nearly left it there. Technically, I was full. But they had churros and I think the last time I ate churros was in 2013. It’s ok, I know where to get churros if I really want them, it’s just that I’ve either been distracted, full or avoiding the extra calories every other time for the last four years. I crumbled. I have literally not one single regret about this. They were softcrunchysweetcinnamondelicious and the chocolate and chilli dipping sauce was amazing. I would literally go back to The Basement just to eat churros. I had forgotten how good they could be.
So, after a false start, it turned out to be worth the wait. Lessons were learned, spicy food was enjoyed, the bill came out at around £60 including drinks, which ain’t half bad, and I feel like I know Edinburgh just that little bit better. I don’t know where we’ll end up next but if it turns out to be The Basement again I can’t say I’ll complain.
*Psyche. It is the superior city.