I’ve heard good things about this place, particularly in terms of its haggis. They have a dish called “Princess Diana style haggis” (I’ll resist the impulse towards tasteless humour) which probably reflects that the place is a bit tourist-trap-tastic. At the same time, though, it has the feel of a smart local pub hideaway. With quirky top-hat lampshades and a brace of spaniels that greeted my arrival like that of a long lost meal, it’s a curiously attractive mix of a place.
They keep it simple at lunchtime, with just a small selection of wraps, to which you can add a cup of their soup of the day. Their full menu is served from mid-afternoon until 10pm.
I opted for their house special wrap, which was goat’s cheese, sun-dried tomato, rocket and red onion. The soup of the day was red pepper and tomato. Items arrived together, arranged quite nicely on a big plate, with the wrap accompanied by chips and salad.
The soup was good. It wasn’t gang-busters fantastic, but it was certainly better than your average tomato and red pepper, with a nice texture and restrained sweetness. The wrap was notably better than the similar one I sampled at Embo, a few weeks back. The goat’s cheese was remarkably good, and there was a good balance of flavours and textures to each mouthful.
But for me, the reason to come back here is the quirky surroundings. I don’t think the spaniels come as standard (they belonged to a customer, rather than the barmaid or the pub), but I do wish they did, as they provided excellently welcoming heralds. As an aside, I’m not a dog person, at all, so the fact that I found them highly acceptable speaks highly of the innate doggy goodness.
The eclectic mix of furniture, the top-hat lampshades, the little “tipping is sexy” grinder tip jar, the bare stone walls all come together to create a fantastic atmosphere. On my visit, the place was sparsely populated, so perhaps with a full bar the effect won’t be quite so pronounced, but I did really enjoy being able to relax and drink in the surroundings.
So, I’d definitely say that the Arcade is worth a visit. The upstairs is a very popular little vodka bar, known as Secret Arcade, which I’ve yet to catch, but is apparently very entertaining. I think I’ll be back to try the haggis, one evening, as I was entirely charmed on this brief visit.
Blythe scores Arcade:
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 14.5/20
Today’s questers was: Blythe
I ate: goat’s cheese, sun-dried tomato, red onion and rocket wrap; tomato and red pepper soup
I drank: sparkly water
I wore: navy and red www.tieclub.co.uk tie
Total bill: £8.80