The Voyage of Buck
I had mixed feelings when The Voyage of Buck took over where Bert’s had traded for a number of years. Bert’s had once been home to a great beer and pie selection but things had rather drifted in recent years. In addition, the owners of Buck also run Hamilton’s, Blackbird and Treacle which aren’t places I’ve particularly enjoyed in the past.
But the place is pretty close to my abode so I’ve been visiting a little bit of late, not least because a couple of pals are working behind the bar. I’ve enjoyed some good drinks there but hadn’t previously tried their food. I rectified that on a quiet Tuesday evening.
The place has been given a smart refit with a marble bar, dark wood seating and some smart detailing. Apparently their emblem that’s a feature throughout is a hop, but it looks a lot like an artichoke to me (correction: it is an artichoke, the folks at the bar have subsequently confirmed – I wonder who told me it was a hop?).
Anyhoo, their menu is pitched a couple of notches above pub grub, sort of in bistro/gastropub territory. I sometimes think of these places as “pork belly and risotto merchants” and indeed both of those dishes did feature.
The staff members were a strength throughout. I took recommendations on both courses starting with the whole mozzarella served with textures of beetroot, then following with the pork belly which was served with langoustine tails and an intriguing sounding tarragon brioche.
Although there were a few tables for a more traditional seated dining experience, the bar was quiet so I sat there and supped on a schooner of Pilot blonde while my food was prepared.
The starter quickly arrived looking rather smart. It proved absolutely outstanding with a range of different beets surrounding an excellent cheese which was then dressed with toasted pumpkin seeds. It was one of the best single dishes I’ve been served so far this year.
The main course didn’t live up to that standard. The langoustine tails had been replaced by a couple of scallops, which was all to the good, but the rest of the dish didn’t really come together. The pork belly was tough as hell and very difficult to cut, the pak choi was fine but seemed a bit out of place, and the brioche which was in lieu of potato or similar starch was just a bit odd. It’s not a bad idea it just didn’t seem at home on this plate.
So overall, I enjoyed The Voyage of Buck, but there’s some room for improvement. It’s the strongest of the pubs in the ownership of the Big Red Teapot for me, so I look forward to visiting again and sampling more from their food and drink menus. Give it a try next time you’re looking for a smart pub experience, but you might wish to steer around the pork belly.
Blythe scores The Voyage of Buck
4/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for setting
4/5 for service
giving an overall 14.5/20
I ate: buffalo mozzarella with beetroot; pork belly, scallops, choy sum, tarragon brioche
I drank: Pilot blondes; Hot Pepper Daisy
I wore: maroon shirt
Total bill: £32.80
Address: 29-31 William Street, Edinburgh EH3 7NF