Meet the latest addition to Edinburgh’s thriving eating and drinking scene.
Of all the most quintessential Edinburgh locations, a good Old Town close has got to come top of the list. The secret alleyways and narrow passages running off the Royal Mile form an intricate network inexorably linked to the city’s rich history. Although the Mile has inevitably become something of a tourist trail – or a ‘Disneyfied’ version of Scotland as my tutor called it – there are a few wee gems around in the form of great independent businesses, if you look hard enough. One thing I thought was lacking was a proper bar and a foodie haven – until now. Introducing The Devil’s Advocate…
Hidden away down Advocate’s Close, just opposite St Giles’ Cathedral on the Royal Mile, is the latest addition to Edinburgh’s bustling food and drink scene: The Devil’s Advocate. When I heard the team behind the brilliant Bon Vivant had a new project in the pipeline, I did a wee dance (if you haven’t checked out the Bon Vivant’s delicious fare and delectable cocktails in either their Thistle St. or Stockbridge locations then you must remedy this immediately). I was even more excited when I learned where it was going to be; as well as the fab food and drink, the thing I love about the Bon Vivant is the ambience – and I couldn’t think of a more atmospheric location than one of Edinburgh’s historic closes in the heart of the city’s Old Town.
The Devil’s Advocate has atmosphere in abundance too. I was lucky enough to attend the launch night last Wednesday and I don’t say this lightly – I think I have a new Edinburgh favourite. The location is amazing enough but when you step inside, the building is just as beautiful. It has it’s own rich a history, as it used to be an old pump house that transported water up the hill. This place must have been an architect’s dream, and luckily many of the original features have been kept intact. The space is split into two levels – great for people watching – and it manages to be spacious but snug at the same time. In London you get so many faux historic, rough-round-the-edges locations, but The Devil’s Advocate is the real deal and has style as well as substance.
The team was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable (something I love about the Bon Vivant too), and we were soon settled into a cosy wee booth downstairs with our first round on the way. I expected the cocktails would be a highlight, but wow – they were really something else. First I went for a gin-based number with cucumber that was incredibly fruity and refreshing, and Al had a very manly, whisky-based concoction that was also a hit.
As I’ve said before, Edinburgh has a fab wee cocktail scene – proper, artisan cocktails I mean – and The Devil’s Advocate is a great addition to this thriving market. We had to sample one or two (for the purposes of review, of course) and my second drink was a firm favourite. This one was gin-based too (can’t say I’m not predictable), mixed with lime juice, caraway and a delicious caraway, cumin and fennel liqueur called Kümmel. It was the perfect balance of warming spice and fresh flavours. Apparently the team is planning to serve this hot during winter – what a delicious alternative to mulled wine come the festive season.
I haven’t even got to the food yet! And what food. The Devil’s Advocate had kindly put on a selection of nibbles, offering a taste of delights to come on their menu with a great focus on seasonality. They were extremely accommodating of my vegetarian diet, and had thought up some really innovative and exciting veggie flavour combinations.
There’s nothing more uninspiring than the token veggie option so many places serve up (limp salads or dry bean burgers) and The Devil’s Advocate has got it spot on with their thoughtful, modern take on veggie fare. I can safely say, the macaroni and truffle tart (pictured above) was one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. The team have thought up some great alternative bar snacks too – their crispy deep-fried kale was a revelation. Seriously, you have to taste it.
It was a meat lover’s heaven too: haggis and black pudding bonbons with lime and coriander dressing, baked new potatoes with salmon tartare, smoked mackerel mousse on a cracker, and candied bacon with sesame seeds. I seriously cannot wait to work our way through the menu – they’re starting to serve food from Sunday I believe, so keep your eye on their twitter page for updates.
Sometimes you go to an event or meet a designer or taste something wonderful and you just have to share it. The Devil’s Advocate is one of those places that left me itching to write. At the same time it’s one of those places that’s so good you almost don’t want to share it – but I just had to. I have no doubt this hidden gem will not stay hidden for long.
The place already has a great buzz and I can’t wait to go back soon and sample their full offerings. With creativity abundant, a good ear for customer feedback and a few surprises up their sleeve (I heard rumours of a secret garden to be unveiled in the near future…) I look forward to seeing how the space will evolve.