After seemingly brief sojourn in Leicester the big pink bus moved onto Edinburgh.
I say seemingly brief because nothing of any exceptional merit occurred. Eateries were eclectic and our random corner by the De Montfort hall was fairly typical. A local chain (McIndian) specialising in chicken based meals drew our attention as much for its bare faced imitation of a certain other brand as much for its value menu. £1.49 would buy you 4 chicken wings and fries. Half a chicken and biryani rice £5. Whilst you might question the provenance few can argue the value. This was just around the corner from a Muslim run steak house (no alcohol or pork) that was similar value. An authentic Turkish charcoal grill completes the mix and gives you an idea of the delightful melting pot that is Leicester.
Everards brew a few fine ales. My personal favourite is Tiger and this was to be found in the Marquis of Wellington pub across the road from the restaurants. Fine ale and exceptional food. One of the corporate practices inherited from the Wetherspoon group is that of themed nights. The Marquis of Wellington had cleverly adapted this to create what was in my mind a better product. Pie night consisted of a choice of three different pies and three different ales and won’t bust your crust at £8.90. The food and beer were excellent.
I’ve managed to squeeze a work related trip to Scotland every year pretty much since I started working. Trips to Rose street with the festival of British youth orchestras claimed my curry virginity and nights out in Aberdeen have scarred me for life! In the mid nineties I’d managed to get a flat in town whilst doing techie stuff on the Edinburgh tattoo working for ‘Her Majesty’. This was a glorious time and I remember having a ball. Late night jam sessions, king pleasure and the biscuit boys and oysters for breakfast.
Up until this recent trip I’d only done one nighters as part of the jazz festival or with Juan Martin so it was with some excitement that I took to the historic streets again. I can only imagine that Glastonbury is quite a placid place out side if the festival and I did wonder if Edinburgh would be similar but even in February the town was a bustle with tourists before a veritable tsunami of French men (and women) arrived prior to the rugby game on the weekend. It was refreshing to be in a pub with the French stood on tables singing their hearts out, much to the bemusement of seemingly silent and almost shy Scots. During the day the town was punctuated with large groups, sighting seeing, in the ‘see you jimmy’ tam o’ shanta worn, of course, with great Gallic aplomb.
The business of show was in full swing with capacity crowds carousing and cavorting to the, now comforting, disco beats. I had comfortable digs just a mile or so from the town and the handy number 10 bus dropped me at the door to the show. I have to draw comparisons between Windsor and Edinburgh. Both have an all year round tourist traffic, a castle, beautiful buildings and a great vibe. There is, seemingly, something for everyone in both towns but I think that Edinburgh has the edge. Once a year they get invaded, not slightly but hugely, for the festival by over 400,000 visitors. This is an astonishing figure if you realise that it all happens in one month. Combined with a large university campus the town is very well serviced. There is food, transport and accommodation at all social levels. Now I’m not about to make a comparison list of which town is better but I think that Windsor can learn from it’s northern cousin. The buses, for example, run till 4am.
And so to food… There were a few expected ‘ticks in boxes’ to be had as a matter of course.
- The Scotch Pie, a meat and gravy delicacy was first on the list. A crisp, light pastry served in many pubs as a snack (and a staple of many butchers shops) for the (scottish) princely sum of £1.45 was, a delight
- The macaroni pie, not to everyones taste but growing ever popular. Same pastry but filled with macaroni cheese (The jury is still out!)
- The Deep fried Haggis, skinless Scottish speciality fried to perfection in beef dripping. Heart stompingly good!
- Arbroath Smokie, a type of smoked haddock. I ate the one I had just on its own. Fresh from Arbroath the day before, delicious
- Lorne Sausage, mixed pork and beef sausage made into squares and, of course, fried. Makes for an excellent breakfast.
There are others of course but not to my palate I’m afraid. The eponymous ‘deep fried mars bar’, ‘deep fried pizza’ and heart stopping ‘deep fried burger’ (complete with molten cheese centre) were not on my list!
There were a couple of surprises on the restaurant front too. The first was Wings. This was tricky to find but worth the journey. They sell, as the name suggests, wings, chicken to be exact and by the half dozen. £3.65 per bowl and with about forty different sauces to choose from you just munch away, chat, drink, order more wings. Simple and fun. The other delight was Yes Sushi. Excellent menu featuring hotpot (Asian not Lancashire) and a sushi buffet. I ate a la cart and very much enjoyed Unagi (Eel) nigiri and soft shell crab rolls, excellent!
There are too many pubs to list here but two of note were…
- The Windsor Buffet, a lovely homely pub with great hoppy ales. Not too busy during the gallic invasion either. Great if inappropriate name. It was neither in Windsor nor had a buffet…
- The Brass Monkey, very special pub indeed! Excellent beers and bohemian, large sofa seated cinema room. House speciality is the ‘mini mary’. House mixed shots of bloody Mary… only £1… Hic!
Post script. I’m not one to advertise corporations per say but Virgin’s ‘Little Red’ airline was excellent! Return from LHR to Edinburgh for £99.
The power of keeping Karma!
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