Villager Bar and Juniper, Edinburgh

Continued from Edinburgh Craft Beer Crawl

So if you’re a regular here you will know that I last left you in the The Potting Shed in Edinburgh full of craft beer…

…from there OH and I headed down past the Scottish Museum with the intention of heading towards George Street. However, we saw that the Villager Bar had comfy couches and cocktails and so decided to pop in.  There was a Cocktail of the Week so not one for reading menus, OH pointed at the sign and in his best Andy (from Little Britain) accent he said, “I want that one.” Miss Hoitytoity-Snootypants barmaid looked at him as if he was a bit soft, raised an eyebrow and enunciated perfectly, “Pardon?” He pointed again. “One of those.”

With a sniff that raised her nose even higher, she looked at me and asked if it was two. I said I was still deciding and continued to absorb the list of concoctions in front of me . She toddled off to start mixing.

After scouring the menu and eventually deciding I needed a gin based cocktail with something a bit different to it, I raised my head to find a different barmaid standing in front of me.  She asked if I had decided and I smiled and said I had but pointed to the other barmaid to say that she was serving us. This caused the two barmaids to have a pow-wow, which resulted in Miss Hoitytoity-Snootypants coming straight over. She looked a bit put-out but that just may be her normal look. She said something along the lines of ‘I’m not making one for you’. I apologised and said that I’d thought she was mixing OH’s one. She confirmed that indeed she was but not one for me. I told her I knew that because I wanted a Summer Number Ten ( tantalising, tarty and sunny mix of portobello road gin, st germain elderflower liqueur, rhubarb bitters, physalis and lemon, served straight up – £7.50) I’m thinking they use her look to sour drinks and don’t bother using lemon at all. She walked off as if she were wearing wooden knickers.

I decided to leave the bar at this point as I knew I was allowing myself to be irritated by the young madam and I didn’t want my day spoilt.  I therefore went through to where the comfy couches were and sat down. Soon OH joined me with both of our cocktails. It wasn’t long before Miss Hoitytoity-Snootypants came through and explained that as we weren’t eating we may have to move as they might need the table for diners. I told her that wasn’t a problem. She was very polite. 2015-05-16 17.05.51

It was minutes later when she came back smiling sweetly and asked us to move as she needed to set the table up. We lifted our glasses and smiling just as sweetly, went back through to the bar. I say smiling, it may have been a grimace.

Letting OH look after our drinks, I disappeared downstairs to the toilets. There were signs on the doors already apologising for the temporary state of them. I went in to find capped pipes sticking up through the flooring, mirrors balanced against walls and red painted hardboard surrounding one toilet. I could see where walls had been as I made my way towards the makeshift cubicle. It had only been a short while since I had been in a bar made to look like a potting shed. Now I was going to a loo actually in a shed.

Back upstairs, OH and I drained our drinks and left. £15 for 2 drinks and a very unhappy experience. I’m sure on another day, with a different barmaid, we would have had a lovely time but Miss Hoitytoity-Snootypants, whether deliberately or not, made me decide I won’t be back.

As we walked down the hill. the clouds were getting darker and we decided, if we didn’t want caught in the rain, that we should maybe find somewhere sooner than George Street. We headed down the News Steps and soon found ourselves in Juniper, a cocktail bar upstairs on Princes Street next to the restaurant Twenty. The trendy (and expensive) bar was full of dressed up women enjoying cocktails and having a laugh. It took a while to get a table but eventually OH and I were able to sit, looking over the fantastic scenery of Edinburgh, and sip a cocktail without a look of disdain in sight.  2015-05-16 17.59.49With hindsight, I should have taken all my empty cocktail glasses from Juniper’s back to the Village Bar, held them up and said, “Big mistake. Big. Huge!”

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Le Filochard, Toulouse

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Start of the night – looking totally unassuming

Wandering the streets of Toulouse one warm evening OH and I couldn’t help but notice a bar that was spilling out on to the streets. Boho chic and young at heart seemed to be the dress code. Dreds, bare feet, colourful stripey low slung trousers (or should I say pantaloons?) and bare brown shoulders were in. Me with my boring attire and sensible walking shoes were out. Or so I thought until we happened to be going past it again the following evening. It was a lot quieter then and we were able to get a seat at the bar. I watched on as the bar man made up a couple of mojitos for 2 guys sitting in the corner. They looked so good that when it was my time to order I couldn’t help myself. “Deux mojitos, s’il vous plait”. The barman said something about 4 and I nodded blankly. He explained in English that it was happy hour and 2 for 1. Woohoo!IMAG3224

A sudden clang beside me made me turn and watch as 6 empty kegs were rolled out from under a nearby bench. Then a large hinged piece of wood appeared. Before my eyes a stage was being built and just as suddenly a band started to set up and the bar started to fill. IMAG3237

The heady mix of the bar, the cocktails, the friendly staff and chic clientele added in with our unique Scottishness made OH and feel very special and welcome. Before long we were chatting to lots of different and interesting people – they were buying us drink, we were buying them drink, the band played, strangers asked me to dance, I whirled, I drank and I spun from partner to partner. It was a great night.

You know those evenings when you think you’re just having a quiet night but end up having the best night ever – well that’s what happened the night OH and I visited Le Filochard.

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End of the night – no longer quiet at all!

I entered the bar feeling like an outsider but left it feeling younger, a bit boho and a lot sozzled.

Ladies that Lunch

My cuz is over from the States just now. I say cuz but she feels more like a sister. Actually, I say sister but we’re nothing like one another – we’re polar opposites. She’s tall and blonde, I’m short and brunette. I’d describe myself as low maintenance (i.e. easy pleased) and I’m sure she wouldn’t disagree when I describe her as high maintenance. In fact, when (drunkenly on the way back from Edinburgh) we put our preference for Heroes’ in order they were exactly the reverse. I mean who the hell puts chocolate éclairs first and fudge last???
Anyway, we decided to have a day out in Edinburgh to have a day Shrinking, which, for the uninitiated, is a day out drinking loosely disguised as shopping. On previous shrinking trips we have managed at least 2 shops before hitting the bars and getting the last bus home.

So, knowing that we were off to the capital to be ‘ladies that lunch’, I asked Lusa (L-USA) what she fancied. Her criteria came back in quick fired messages as follows:
Lusa Cell: You can pick
Lusa Cell: Something nice
Lusa Cell: Nice rather than cheap (smiley)
Lusa Cell: No chinese
Lusa Cell: No seafood only
Lusa Cell: French sounds good
Lusa Cell: If you like it there
Lusa Cell: Or something new

So no pressure there then ;p.

I gave her 2 options La Garrigue, a French restaurant OH and I had visited before and enjoyed, or Twenty, a grill and smokehouse on Princes Street I hadn’t been to before but was on my list. She checked the menus and went for Twenty. I booked the table before she could change her mind.
On arrival at Twenty we were delighted with the beautifully elegant and spacious dining room, which had impressive views up The Bridges and over Princes Mall. It wasn’t overly busy but then it was 1pm on a Wednesday. The tables that were taken were all ‘ladies that lunch’ so, although we may not have liked it, we fitted in perfectly with the usual clientele.
We were seated and given the choice of 2 menus, an a la carte one and a Twenty Twenty one. The latter being one that offered 2 mains and 2 drinks for £20. To be honest, there were loads of dishes I could have chosen from the 20/20 menu so I was happy to stick to it and after asking the waitress a number of questions around the steak, Lusa was also able to chose from it.
I went for the 2014-07-09 13.25.43Togarashi marinated salmon fillet with enoki & shimeji mushrooms, seaweed, udon noodles & chilli broth and Lusa went for the 2014-07-09 13.25.58Josper grilled fillet steak sandwich with chimichurri mayonnaise and triple cooked chips.

Lusa is born and bred Scots but when asked how she wanted her steak done she replied Mead.Ee.Um and not how I would ask for it Meejum so now I know how Will.I.Am got his name ;).

We both decided to wash our dishes down with a bottle of Peroni (the house beer – yes really!)  Therefore, for £20 there were definitely no complaints and the service was impeccable. In comparison, and slightly disappointingly to the magnificent decor within the dining room and adjacent Juniper bar, the toilets were a bit plain and nothing special but they were clean, which is really what matters.

After lunch we wandered down to the Grassmarket and making the most of the Scottish sunshine we enjoyed a couple of drinks sitting in the sun at Biddy Mulligans and The Beehive. From there we ventured along the Cowgate to the The Three Sisters. Still wanting to bask in the unusual Edinburgh warmth we tried to find a bar on the Royal Mile to continue our sunny sesh but there were no free seats outside any of the bars on the Mile. Then we spotted that Gordon’s Trattoria had a couple of empty tables and with new found confidence (found in the bottom of a bottle) we ventured forth and asked one of the waiters if we could just have drinks. The cute silver haired waiter was very welcoming and beckoned us in. Although we only stayed for one drink it was a good laugh and I’m pretty sure we managed to turn the edges of the silver fox a little red before we left.2014-07-09 17.48.44-1

Just as a point of interest there is a plaque dedicated to Stephen Fry’s ancestors on the wall ;p

After the Italian’s we headed to George Street knowing that we were going to be getting a bus home soon. Again there were no free seats outside so we found ourselves inside All Bar One. Cocktails for £5? Oh ok, a Cosmopolitan and a Long Island Ice tea it is then….
….it wasn’t long until we were on a bus putting our preferences for Heroes’ in order.

Teuchter’s Landing and Roseleaf Bar Cafe

One of my favourite places to visit is Leith in Edinburgh, especially when there’s sunshine on it. Our nephew and niece were visiting a couple of weeks ago so we decided to take a trip to Leith to show them some of the sights. In particular Teuchters’s Landing and Roseleaf Bar Cafe.

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Guinness

It was late Saturday afternoon and OH and our nephew were going climbing in Alien Rock (an indoor wall climbing centre built inside a former church) I’m not into any form of exercise so I talked my niece into coming along for the journey but to check out how good the Guinness was in Teuchter’s Landing rather than getting sweaty and sore.

It was a lovely evening and there was a relaxed atmosphere in the bar. A mixture of couples and small groups were enjoying the views out on to the water in the back conservatory. There was also a family playing cards in the corner as their daughter, safely and well within sight, amused herself outside. We ordered a couple of pints and plonked ourselves on comfy brown leather chairs and chatted. The Guinness was good – maybe not as good as I enjoyed in Dublin but still good.

The time sped by so it wasn’t too long before we were joined by the two climbers and due to a small need to eat we ordered from the bar’s mug menu. The mug menu is a great idea as you can have chips, haggis stovies, mac ‘n’ cheese, cullen skink, chicken wings, stew, soup, curry or risotto all served in either a small or a large mug depending on your appetite.

I ordered the stovies which were tasty but they had put carrots in it!!!! It’s not that I don’t like carrots, I just don’t think they have a place in stovies – it’s just not right (yes I know other’s will argue otherwise).

OH had the Cullen skink, nephew the chicken wings and niece the cheese n mac. We also had a couple of mugs of chips. All the mugs came with oatcakes too and nothing went to waste.

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Mugs of food

Within easy walking distance (basically walk out the front of Teuchter’s and keep walking – across the road and up past the bins) you will find the Roseleaf Bar Cafe – a bar that manages to mess with your senses. Once through the door you can see women pouring from fancy teapots into china cups surrounded by plates of cakes and scones but the aroma isn’t of tea or coffee, what your nostrils pick up is definitely a pub smell, not a cafe. With a drinks menu thrust into your hand you quickly realise that it is actually cocktails that are in the china teapots or more precisely Pot-tails. Although you can get a great cup of coffee or tea in the Roseleaf Bar Cafe their pot-tails are something you need to try. With a huge juicer behind the bar every cocktail is made with fresh fruit pulped in front of your eyes and served in a teapot with an accompanying teacup and saucer (btw individual cocktails are also available and their Bloody Mary’s are great on a Sunday morning). We didn’t dine this time but they do great food and you can also book to have a Mad Hatter’s Tea-party using some of the many hats that decorate the walls.

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Pot-tails

Another quirky aspect is the chalk and blackboards in the toilets so make sure you leave a message for your mate…

 

 

…oh and the chips in Roseleaf are the most amazing chips ever!