Review: Clerk's Bar, Edinburgh.

LAST WEEK I was invited to the launch of Clerk's Bar on South Clerk Street.  This new bar is the latest addition to the Maclay Inns group, who have overseen a £400,000 refurbishment of this former Chinese restaurant.  With their new 'fresh food, cooked slow' philosophy and range of craft beers, I went along to see how it measured up.

I had made the decision to review more pubs and step away (slightly) from my normal fine dining background.  This was also a great chance to mingle with some of the other great bloggers we have in Edinburgh.  Anyway... we were ushered down to the basement bar where we were warmly greeted with a goodie bag and a drink (mine a Caesar Augustus and Sarah's a prosecco), as well as a promise that 'food would be here soon'.

The bar itself kind of reminded me more of a Glasgow city centre bar; open and bright upstairs, with a dark and cosy basement you'd expect to find somebody playing an acoustic guitar in.  Not that that's a bad thing. Sarah and I have been on a bit of a nacho binge recently, so Clerk's offering would be under more scrutiny than usual.  First bite was promising, as you could tell these were actually home made, not just poured out of a packet.  The nachos were light and accompanied by a zingy salsa and soothing soured cream.  However, why on earth would you tell me you don't use real cheese?

Next we were presented with some chicken wings in barbecue sauce.  The chicken was tender and the sauce did its job.  At least these were decent sized wings and not those tiny little morsels from a chicken that you probably don't want to know where it came from.

The staff were keen to chat and talk about their vision behind the bar and get feedback from us bloggers. They were very welcoming and took on any comments professionally.

Next came a behemoth of a sharing platter, which included 1/2 rack of ribs, 1/2 a chicken, pulled pork and was served with meaty beans and chips.  The team were keen to focus on the slow cooking and home smoking techniques, so this would be a real acid test.  The ribs were tasty and tender, which a subtle but not overpowering smokiness to it, which was mirrored with the pulled pork and the chicken.  But, everything seriously lacked seasoning for me and there was no salt and pepper shakers on the tables to correct that.  The platter came with a range of sauces in squeezy bottles which was a bit different and i really liked the smoked ketchup.

I must mention those meaty beans (beans with pulled pork through them in a barbeque sauce) because you could have taken the rest of the food away and just left me with a plate of those.  Clerk's Bar is set up to watch various live sports, and i could see me sitting in there with one of those platters, having a few beers with mates.  Certainly great value at £15 because it could have easily fed four, and with a lot of students in this area, i reckon they could be on to a winner.

After a short beer tasting aimed to promote their range of craft beers, even more food was rolled out in the shape of sliders and hot dogs, sadly Sarah and I were too stuffed to taste.  Another time perhaps.