Support Your Local Gunfighters
If you’re looking to change career and have no particular regard for pay and conditions, let me recommend the hospitality industry right now.
Edinburgh is dying on its arse for chefs, baristas, mixolosophers and other hospitabologists. Edinburgh is not alone in experiencing this. We want to be more welcoming than we currently seem able to be.
Symptomatic of this is first rate ideas failing to find an audience. I was in Piatto Verde the other night. It offers splendid Italian food not mitigated by generations of Crolla and Valvonas.
I ate meatballs, stuffed pasta and tiramisu. I drank a 500ml carafe of wine. And espresso. It cost £26.50. The chef and the waitress had an argument. I got involved. It was the best evening I’ve had in a restaurant for a long time. I dined alone in an empty place.
The Fat Pony, a second venture from perennial Bib Gourmandist David Ramsden, ran up the distress flag last week. I think the collective social media support will mean that they are now better connected with an audience. But it’s a good example of how profound success doesn’t guard against profound subsequent disappointment, both in terms of staff or customers.
Anyhoo, I’m crowbarring an opinion piece into a review in a way I haven’t done for, ooh…weeks, since I ranted about sandwiches.
Basically, Salt Horse had been hoping that their excellent kebabs from Mangal would capture the imagination of people beyond me and the staff at the bar. For whatever reason they don’t seem to have. It became tough to staff the kitchen.
So now they find themselves back with one of their original plans: a squad of street food peeps to do kitchen take-overs.
Their initial foray into this field was with the excellent Jones & Sons. It lasted seven months rather the proposed four weeks. But the principle holds.
Their latest re-engagement with the field was the invitation to Newcastle smashed burger purveyor The Grind to take over the kitchen last weekend. Since then, The Grind have announced a rebrand to Meat:Stack. This was presented along the lines of a ‘trial shift’. If things worked out, future appearances would likely follow.
It was good to renew acquaintances with bartender Henry, who’d steered me well on my previous visit. It was joyful that my arrival was broadly synchronous with the appearance of Jamie, partner of regular guest quester Freya.
Salt Horse inevitably had some excellent beer on offer, too. I enjoyed an El Capitan by Track, in particular.
The burgers were offered with sides of fries and wings for the very reasonable total of £12. I stuck with their classic cheeseburger and beef dripping chips. These arrived in prompt order looking pretty neat.
The smashed burger is something we haven’t yet embraced in Edinburgh but it offers a looser structure and potentially more flavour coupled with quicker cooking time. I encountered it at The Urban Grill Shack, most recently.
This was a product of really enjoyable quality. The wings were small but flavour-packed. The chips hit the spot.
So overall, this has been a bit of a rambling piece. At its heart I really liked Meat:Stack’s burgers and you should check them out when they reappear – I hear that’ll be from Friday 21 October – at Salt Horse. But more than that there is a real sense that we need to more actively embrace our local restaurant culture right now. The ‘cuisine quarter‘ is utter folly and the road to perdition. We can do so much better that celebrating watered-down versions of a London paradigm.