A couple of years ago I reviewed The Basement after it’s refit. Christopher and I were impressed with the guacamole and had a great night. A couple of weeks ago I returned with the Edinburgh Foody team to see if it still has what it takes. (Spoiler alert: it does.)
Mine’s a mezcal
The Basement is a fun and lively placeto be. The front bar is full of groups and duos of people drinking beer or cocktails in the early evening and is a popular space for lunch during the day. The restaurant space in the back, is a great place to eat some fun food and have a cocktail with friends.
I was early – although not as early as Kerry – so settled down on a soft banquet with a smokey mescal-based Negroni-style cocktail. I love mescal – tequila’s smokey sibling – and enjoy it on its own and in cocktails. The menu has a good range of fruity drinks to for those who like their booze softened a little.
While we thought about what we wanted to eat, we shared guacamole (still love watching it made at the table. It’s a fun, personal and ultimately tasty spectacle). We also had the trio of salsas: verde – tangy tomatillos, pico de gallo – red, fresh, tomato, and crunchy yellow corn. Dips and cocktails is a wonderful way to start an evening. This was the end of the week that Edinburgh was under snow and we were all, for various reasons, in a bit of a party mood.
Small plates and tacos
We had a mixture of mains: I was starving so started with ceviche and followed it with fish tacos. Amy and Nicki shared ceviche, chicken wings and mole rolls. Kerry wasn’t that hungry so settled for croquets. The menu offers traditional Mexican dishes like fajitas and burritos as well as juicy pulled pork and fresh fish. Whether you’re ravenous or snacky, you’ll find something to tempt you.
I enjoyed all of my food. The ceviche was fresh and nottoo acidic. It came served on a lettuce leaf which was a good for conveying it to the mouth. If I’d been sharing, like Amy and Nikki, I would have found the size a little on the small side. (Saying that, they had leftovers which Amy, bless her!, placed on my side of the table and I dutifully ate. Mmm! Gifts of food are the best).
The fish tacos were great. Crispy battered fish with soft tortillas, red cabbage slaw. The crunch! The flavour! I was very happy. We all agreed mine was the prettiest dish on the table and I protected it jealously. (Mine! Some days, I’m really good at sharing. This was not one of those.)
Amy and Nicki said good things about the wings and enjoyed the mole dip that the crunchy rolls came with. The winner of their dishes was the salmon toastadas. They looked epic and got an enthusiastic thumbs up from Amy.
Churros and cremé
We decided to have churros for everyne until I remembered that I don’t particularly like churros, called back the server and asked for a creme caramel all to my self. So while the other three shared churros with grace and elegance, dipping crunchy, cinnamon-scented fried dough sticks in chocolate sauce, I enjoyed my soft set cream with it’s Kalua topping very much indeed.
We drank an aromatic voigner with dinner which nicely covered all our flavour needs. For afters, the table divided into liqueurs (amaretto) and mezcal. A fan of an after-dinner tipple with a hit, I chose a QuiQuiRiQui Matatlan. It was as much fun to say as it was to drink.
The Basement has a great list of tequilas and mezcals. These are drinks that deserve sipping and attention. If you’re not sure what you’ll like, ask for advice.
When we were ready to leave, people were dancing in the main bar. The DJ was making the room bounce and sway and everyone was smiling. We walked carefully up the stairs and made our way home in a somewhat snowy but no longer dangerous Edinburgh. We were warm inside out after a lovely, chatty night with fun food and flowing drink.
10a-12a Broughton Street
Edinburgh EH1 3RH
Reserve a table online: quandoo.co.uk
Telephone: 0131 557 0097
The Edinburgh Foody team ate at the invitation of The Basement. Thank you very much, guys!