A cosy, comfortable, easy going place to be
I have some lovely memories of both drinking and eating in the high ceilinged Bennet’s Bar at Tollcross with its stained glass windows, long carved wooden bar, gleaming gantry, shallow alcoves with wee round tables holding maps beneath the glass and welcoming fire.
I have always found it a cosy, comfortable, easy going place to be with its Green Room dining area though the back, tipping its hat to its next door neighbour, the King’s Theatre. I recall it always being busy and I associated it with good home cooking that included a roast of the day that was carved discreetly in the bar. They provided good plain food that was well cooked and appetising and attracted a wide clientele that enjoyed the comfort eating at affordable prices that they provided.
Steak pie, tatties and veg; home-made fruit crumble WITH CUSTARD! Mmmmm! I have even enjoyed a Turkey Christmas dinner there which took a deal of beating.
It was these memories that made me include Bennet’s in Edinburgh Guide’s £10 Challenge and invite a friend as my lunching companion whose birthday was imminent.
The first surprise was that the place was almost empty at 1pm. I took my seat, glad to be inside on that wild and windy day, and in no time the barman was at the table offering a menu and drinks. Great start!
We were offered the laminated pre-printed menu which I optimistically scanned for the famous roast but soon realised that what was on offer now was pub grub. There are sandwiches and soup on offer as well as list of medium priced mains that included burgers, fish and chips, steak and ale pie, macaroni and three puddings. Staying within the budget, we ordered a main each with what turned out to be a nicely chilled glass of Pinot Grigot each. (Well, it was near a birthday!)
L. ordered chicken margherita which turned out to be essentially chicken with a pizza topping. The chicken itself was moist and tender and the meal was served piping hot but there was just too much other stuff on the plate. There could have been less of the heavy mash and in fact her meal could not be finished.
My baked salmon, which was also nicely cooked, came with what turned out to be a barely discernible spring onion element to the mash and also hardly noticeable lemon and herb butter, came with the same selection of brightly coloured roasted veg (peppers, courgettes and carrot) that would have been better if they’d been chosen from some that are in season and that would have been equally good additions. I ate more than L., but a good deal of the mash was left on my plate.
The birthday girl may not have finished her main course but she still wanted a pudding and who was I to argue? Raspberry roulade and ice cream sounded good, but it arrived frozen and served with a scoop of that yellowish ice cream that passes itself for vanilla. Needless to say, that particular pud was sent back and a coffee was opted for instead and no charge was made for the dessert disaster.
It is possible to eat an ample main course for under a tenner, but going by the lack of clientele on the day we visited, maybe the old formula of plain home cooking was more of a winner. Turns out Bennet’s now do just a Sunday Roast.
More on the £10 Challenge