Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- Monster Mash, Edinburgh and Glasgow
The late, great Scottish variety star and actor, Jimmy Logan, had an extraordinary catch phrase, "Sausages is the Boys". From research it's not clear where this came from - some sources say a TV advert, others that it was part of a summer show sketch. But it's certainly a line that's entered the Scottish vernacular dating back to the 1950s or thereabouts. It's particularly pertinent then to quote this phrase to introduce a unique and fun place to eat in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Created by Terry and Joanne Soe, Monster Mash is a fantastic concept: a 1950s retro café serving classic home-cooked food just as your Mum or Gran used to make. And yes, you've guessed it; Sausages are high up on the menu. You'll sit at Formica covered tables, (complete with ubiquitous red plastic ketchup 'tomatoes' and brown sauce bottles) on old style kitchen chairs. There are also intimate booths for two or four people. With a suitable cool jazz soundtrack and you are set for an entertaining night out.
Currently at 41 Forrest Road, Edinburgh EH1 (Tel. 0131 225 7069) and 41 Byres Road, Glasgow G11 (Tel. 0141 339 3666). Web site is at www.monstermashcafe.co.uk.
Monster Mash is open for breakfast, lunch and evening meals - with an extensive menu, which goes far beyond bangers and mash. There's so much to choose from with a list of various mashes, gravy and side dishes, our server had to explain the menu so that we didn't miss out. Each day a few specials are listed on a blackboard. You can expect traditional British dishes such as steak pie or chicken and ham pie covered in puff pastry and served in a traditional enamel dish. Choose chips or mash to accompany this. Alternatively haggis, neeps and tatties (Veggie version too), which I selected and also opted for a side order of mushy peas. Just like the pies I saw being carried to other tables, portions are absolutely ENORMOUS so do arrive with a hearty appetite.
My dining partner chose two contrasting sausages from an appetising list including the speciality bangers of the day - pork, cheese and chive or beef with peppers. Sausages are made from free- range pork and grass fed Scottish beef from Crombies, first class local butchers. Vegetarian sausages too such as mushroom and herbs or spicy vegetable. Once you have chosen your sausages, what kind of mash do you want? Monster mash (plain with cream and butter), Mustard mash or Champ mash with spring onions. Finally select your gravy - brown, tomato or onion and you're set for a Desperate Dan feast. But that's not all. Other great British classics include Shepherds Pie, burgers, and macaroni cheese. Other side orders include baked beans, fries, coleslaw and old-fashioned white bread and butter. Children are well catered for with their own menu of sausages, beans, fish fingers, cheeseburger and chips.
My spicy haggis was a tad too peppery, but certainly got the taste buds jumping. I worked my way through this enormous mountain of creamy mash (delicious), a rather thin layer of neeps (could have had more of this to balance the dish) all covered in a high peak of haggis. I nearly finished but defeated by the last forkful. I was absolutely stuffed. My companion finished his veggie sausages and mash as he was hungry, but rated 4/10 for the slightly overcooked, tasteless bangers. Suggestion: Monster Mash should try Wicken Fen vegetarian gourmet sausages made in Duns, Berwickshire. A wide range includes the fabulous spinach, leek cheese. 10/10.
If you can manage pudding (and most diners apparently seem to find room), you can enjoy all your old school and childhood favourites - apple crumble and Birds custard, bread and butter pudding, knickerbocker glory and chocolate ice-cream. Monster Mash is also licensed with a small but fine selection of wine, beer and cider. And of course in true 50s style there are milkshakes, ginger beer, coke and lemonade.
As you would expect, Monster Mash serve the classic British breakfast fry up, with egg, bacon, Monster house sausage, beans, mushrooms, potato scone, black pudding and toast. Also on the morning menu are bacon and chip butties, sausage and egg rolls.
A new Operations Director, David Ramsden (previously of Rogue and Fitzhenry restaurants), has joined Monster Mash to work on an expansion programme. A second Monster Mash will open soon in Rose Street, Edinburgh with future plans for a Monster Mex, giving Mexican cuisine the same treatment.
See www.monstermashcafe.co.uk for current menu and prices.
The nostalgic 1950s retro design for a restaurant is a brilliant and original idea and creates a fabulous atmosphere the minute you walk in the door. As witnessed the night I was there, Monster Mash is perfect for a small party of friends or family - of all ages. Given the very reasonable prices for a slap up meal, it's very popular with students - young kids and teenagers will love it too. Certainly a quirky place for a romantic supper. Everyone comes here - office workers, couples, kids, students, family parties and business dinners. No wonder - it's extremely good value for quality, freshly prepared home-cooked good food served by lively, enthusiastic staff. This is your ultimate Comfort food with a sparkling touch of old style glamour.
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