The arrival of one of Glasgow’s leading exponents of the American-style diner has caused quite a little stir in Bruntsfield. On an otherwise sleepy Wednesday out of the full thrust of the late August frenzy we gave it an early inspection.
I was joined this evening by regular reader but first time quester Keith along with his lovely wife Angela. It was as well that they’d made a reservation as a steady stream of walk-in customers were turned away or asked to return a later.
We took a good few minutes to contemplate the menu which was extensive and with the complicating yet alluring prospect of a “build your own burger” option.
Service was the undoubted strength throughout. The main waitress who looked after us was absolutely first rate, keeping us on track through the quite lengthy ordering process then regularly making sure all was well throughout with good humour and no little care and attention.
This was somewhat in contrast to what was a fairly sloppy performance from the kitchen.
I started with mac n cheese which was very ordinary and missing the crumb topping that might have brought some much needed seasoning and texture. Angela and Keith opted for the chicken and beef nachos respectively and had much greater success. Both dishes were solidly pleasing.
For mains we all chose to build burgers. And here we go listing all the elements: for Angela, gluten free bun, steak burger, bacon, tomato, guacamole, Monterrey Jack cheese and mushrooms; for Keith, sesame bun, bacon (initially missed although soon rectified) lettuce, onions, Swiss cheese, steak burger and BBQ sauce; and for me, steak burger, brioche, bacon, American cheese, tomato, mushrooms and house burger sauce. Phew!
Sadly all of these elements didn’t add up to universally happy times. Firstly, the burgers were unevenly cooked with Angela’s much too pink for her tastes (for which they gracefully knocked off 10% of the bill in another win for the front of house) while Keith’s and mine were rather more cooked through. My bun was over-toasted so prone to disintegration.
On the upside, the burger did have some decent meaty flavour and the fries were simple and good. It was hearty stuff and quite reasonably priced.
Angela and Keith were hooked in by dessert while I had a long-poured, rather routine espresso.
So overall, we’ll skip the scoring on TriBeCa for now, as it was such a mixed bag as to make averaged out ratings fairly meaningless. Service is where their strength currently lies and on balance for a place at this early point in its journey I’d rather have very good service and weakish food than the other way round. The improvements needed to the food are way more easy to achieve than if they were having to turn round a poor approach or attitude. There’s plenty improvement needed, though, but I look forward to visiting later in the year to see how they’re getting on.
Angela and Keith’s Verdict
We were very much looking forward to trying out whatever the shiny new place in Bruntsfield was, having observed construction on my daily commute from Morningside into town. Having then found out it was an American diner-style restaurant we were even more elated, having been a long-term fans of all things American, especially the portion sizes.
TriBeCa is very, very bright and brings some much needed buzz to the Bruntsfield dining scene. Pefect for losing our “quest” virginity!
Food wise we started with the beef and chicken nachos which were fine without being outstanding but there is a pretty limited scope for going wrong with nachos. We managed to sneak a spoonful of Blythe’s “Mac n’ Cheese” starter and it was a decent enough portion but rather bland for our tastes.
We both selected one of the “Build a Burger” options (which is annoyingly similar to “Build a Bear” on Princes Street!) We selected the beef burger with the choice of bun, two toppings and cheese with fries. The burger itself was rather rare and Angela’s was verging on steak tartare levels. It is obviously an issue they are having as they even came to ask if they were too rare. Apparently the Glasgow chefs are not cooking them enough for the Edinburgh palates and waiting staff are pleading for them to give the poor slabs of beer another few minutes. They apologised and discounted the overall bill without us actually complaining. The service was very good throughout.
The dessert was the highlight; very naughty nougat wafer and ice cream. Positively indulgent!
The food was adequate verging on good without being amazing and there are far better burgers in town. We would be keen to return and try the breakfast, which is apparently their flagship offering.
Today’s questers were: Angela, Keith, Blythe
We ate: mac n cheese, chicken nachos, beef nachos, build your own burgers, ice cream (2)
We drank: BYO red wine, water, espresso
We wore: white, black, blue
Total bill: £46.53