The Bon Vivant was recently recognised as the best restaurant bar in the UK for the second year running at the Class Bar Awards. This is a major industry award in a competitive sector in which Edinburgh excels.
Bon Vivant owner Stu McCluskey’s burgeoning empire now extends to four bar restaurant sites across the city as well as two branches of popular Mexican diner El Cartel.
The latest addition is Lady Libertine, a two level, dual-identity cafe bar restaurant as part of the Edinburgh Grand development which is also home to their Register Club.
I popped in for late morning restorative goodness and was rewarded by the warmest of welcomes from a team of familiar faces.
My main focus was on their cafe wine bar which is at ground level, accessible both directly from West Register Street and through the main Edinburgh Grand entrance.
This is open from 8am each day and serves right through until 1am (more likely midnight during the week). It serves a menu of fresh breakfast delights until 11.30am before moving on to a mezze menu through the day and evening.
I took up station at their long and elegant bar. It has a lovely feel to it and I saw it to good advantage on a bright day that bathed it in natural light.
After catching up with the team on how things had been going in the first month since their official launch in January, I turned my attention to the menu.
My eye was soon caught by a dish bringing together aubergine, pickled mango, hummus and boiled egg atop a fresh flatbread. This sounded like just the ticket.
As I sipped on an excellent long black, with beans from Machina, my dish soon arrived looking very bonnie.
It was completely outstanding work. It was one of those soft, warm and comforting plates of food that satisfies a basic need for a gentle culinary hug to start the day. There was sweetness from the roasted aubergine, piquant notes from the mango and a savoury backbone from the top notch hummus. I couldn’t have been happier with it.
But my state of contentment was barely prepared for the wonders of their downstairs bar. This focusses on a different menu of hot food – at this stage informal sharing dishes along the lines of wings etc – plus a full cocktail bar plus dedicated whisky bar and “posh drinks” room.
Aside from the super-stylish finishing and the diversity of seating options, the sheer scale is hugely impressive.
Much in the same way as the upstairs cafe, this feels like something we’ve not had before in the city. It’s a large format, high-volume cocktail bar focussed on the highest quality in surroundings likely to suit a very broad range of tastes.
With my nose-poking completed, I popped back upstairs and bid everyone farewell before striding out into the late morning sunshine with quite the invigorated spring in my step.
I’ve rarely been more impressed by a new place than I was at Lady Libertine. I can see the cafe bar becoming a regular hangout and stop off, and I very much look forward to seeing how the downstairs space settles in and develops. For now, make sure to visit particularly if you find yourself peckish in the morning as their breakfast offering is absolutely spot-on.
I ate: soft boiled egg, aubergine, hummus, pickled mango, flatbread
I drank: coffee, water
I wore: new beige trousers
Total bill: £10.50