Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- Hamilton's Bar and Kitchen, Stockbridge, Edinburgh


The Location
Just a fifteen minute walk from the centre of Edinburgh, Stockbridge, on the banks of the Water of Leith, is a great place to browse around by day with its eclectic mix of shops selling everything from fine cheese and French patisserie, to jewellery and clothes boutiques. By night it's a lively neighbourhood community with a diverse range of bars, bistros and restaurants.

The Restaurant
Hamilton's Bar and Kitchen
Using the title, Bar and Kitchen, rather than restaurant, this indicates the casual approach to eating and drinking. It is certainly a bar where you can also have a snack or hearty meal. Hamilton's is neatly designed with a comfortable spacious bar section with leather sofas, stools and low tables, slightly separated from the mezzanine dining level at the side. Walls are painted blue and red, with stripped wooden floors, rust red upholstered chairs and polished pine tables. This is a popular local "pub" so expect a buzzing, lively atmosphere with a good music soundtrack almost drowned out by the chatter and conversation.

The Food
Hamilton's Bar and Kitchen It's difficult to put a finger on the button and say the menu is a particular style of cuisine at Hamilton's Bar and Kitchen. Contemporary, Asian, fusion, international using good Scottish produce. The dinner menu is fairly short but comprehensive with the welcome option of having certain dishes as a starter or main. Start perhaps with a healthy platter of hummus, grilled halloumi cheese, and black olives served with pitta bread. This is an excellent and very tasty appetiser and could certainly be shared between two or one hungry person. Alternatively, ingenious haggis spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce and queen scallops baked in their shell with chilli, coriander and garlic crumbs. The roquette salad came in a huge bowl and was the perfect combination of peppery leaves, grilled peppers and ripe avocado.

Fresh tagliatelle with steamed mussels in a creamy saffron and basil sauce was my choice. This comes in small or large portions - as a main course it was a generous size and I couldn't finish it but that was probably because of the too rich sauce smothering the delicate pasta and mussels. For traditional cooking, there's Scottish ribeye steak served with home fries while if you fancy something culinary inventive, try the chicken breast on asparagus and tomato couscous with lemon butter sauce. A vegetarian dish, Roast spiced vegetables on couscous was rather too hot for my dining companion and he loves spicy food, so be warned; the chef loves his chillies (and couscous).

Hamilton's Bar and Kitchen Dishes come well complemented with vegetables but you can also choose a side salad, fries or mash. To finish select from a daily selection of the usual suspects for dessert or a cheese plate but with such hearty portions you might not manage pudding.

At lunchtime there's a good choice of menus depending on appetite. The set price two or three course menu with fish, meat and vegetarian dishes is good value. Or what about a bowl of soup and an open sandwich - the Hamilton's BLT, Steak, Oriental Crispy duck or roast Mediterranean vegetables. For the hungrier diner go for the gourmet pub grub, such as beer battered fish and big chips or sausages on potato mash.

On Saturday and Sunday, the lunch menu becomes the Brunch menu with the addition of a full Scottish fry up or Vegetarian breakfast. Perfect after a late Saturday night in the pub.

The Bill
Dinner - starters £3.50 - £6.00; Mains - £9.00 - £14.00; Desserts - average £3.50
House wine - from £11.50
Set lunch - 2 courses £7.50; 3 courses - £9.95.
Sandwiches - £6.50.
Saturday and Sunday Breakfast - £6.50

No wonder this place is busy most nights of the week with locals meeting friends for a drink or snack and city visitors finding it (perhaps by chance) wandering around Stockbridge. Expect a lively atmosphere, contemporary fusion food and large portions. This is gourmet pub grub with good value menus for hungry diners.

See also Hamilton's Bar and Kitchen, Stockbridge Web site.

Vivien Devlin

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