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The Cumberland Bar
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The Cumberland
1-3 Cumberland Street,
New Town,
0131 558 3134
7 Days
noon – midnight Mon-Wed, noon – 1am Thu-Sat, 11-midnight Sun

In an essay for The Evening Standard in 1946 George Orwell described his perfect pub, mentioning convenient location, traditional Victorian décor, fire, food, games, barmaids and draught stout before confessing "I do not know of any pub with just that combination of qualities.”

I think Orwell’s criteria for a decent boozer still holds fast and The Cumberland Bar definitely has the qualities he mentions plus a well-loved slightly sunken beer garden which – believe it or not – can sometimes be a suntrap. 

Inside the New Town pub there is a warren of cosy rooms and snugs and as the Monday night Pub Quiz assembles in the back room, Mr Bite and me order some food. 
I am delighted that sausage rolls and Scotch eggs have made a comeback not least because they are perfect beer food. Mr Bite is always happy when brown sauce is available; make it spiced and pair it with beef, haggis and whisky sausage roll and its brownie points all round. The sausage roll is homemade and the pastry is golden and flaky.  I tuck into my Scotch egg which has an orange yolk indicating it is both free-range and organic. A jalapeno tartare adds piquancy, a half pint of  hoppy Jarl is the perfect foil come thrapple-douser. 

A pub is not traditionally the environment for a three course meal and starters and mains reflect this by being substantial themselves. Main course for me is natural smoked haddock with Stornoway black pudding, roast beef tomato, parsley mash and lemon butter. Salty, smoky, spicy flavours combined in a colourful plate of Scottish produce which was as tempting to the eye as to the belly.  Mr Bite had a plate of nachos with fresh vegetables plenty of guacamole and sour cream.

A shared gluten free chocolate brownie with berry compote and pouring cream was as good as any we have tasted. Gooey and melting whilst the compote was deep and delicious with little tartness here and there from some redcurrants amongst cherries, brambles, etc. 

Food is homemade, delicious and well executed by an obviously talented kitchen team. The barmaid tells me that the chef buys from multiple suppliers depending on who has the best of a particular produce. And I haven’t even mentioned the beer! (S. Wilson)

Classic local gem ...

 Known in a previous era as The Tilted Wig, with a nod to some of its professional customers, this place was renovated and changed its name to its street location in the 1990s, receiving CAMRA’s best pub refurb award.  Since then its name has again been in print, this time as one of the New Town establishments featuring in McCall-Smith’s 44 Scotland St novels.

But it doesn’t take itself too seriously (apart from a website claim to have gourmet food).  It’s a relaxed bar, with a rare good-sized beer garden and helpful dog-friendly policy, which we saw a good few customers enjoying.   Food choices are homely, with straightforward favourites and drink-friendly nibbles, served by delightful, friendly, professional barstaff.

Sausage & mash comes via top local butchers Crombies, with eg beer-battered haddock, steak & ale pie and haggis, neeps & tatties coming in around £10.  If it can be put in a wrap or a bun, it’s yours for even less and staff can facilitate those with a limited lunchtime by having phoned-in orders ready to eat on arrival – a nice touch.

Regular quiz nights in the back room are packed out and best booked in advance, as are the traditional roasts (as well as the bar menu), Sundays from 1-7pm.

It has taken to the Tweet life with a useful ‘tap-feed’ of what’s on fresh now and casks due up next for real ale lovers.  Wine quaffers are well-catered for too, with a small range of wines by the glass & a varied selection of bottles, such as our Languedoc Pinot Noir.

We enjoyed our relaxed meal here, in a traditional setting with an immaculately kept bar.  Mr Fussy spoke up for his rich leek & potato soup.  Sharing a hot board allowed us to sample calamari, haddock goujons, chicken wings, haggis pakora, halloumi fries & dips, along with good Crombies sausage & mash – with fabulous gravy.  Stars of the board were the haggis pakora, surprisingly – spicy & moist in a wonderfully light, barely-there crust.  We didn’t need the sauces on the side, especially with the great vegetarian halloumi fries.

A good range of burgers is also available for your tenner – alternatively you can have soup or chips with a wrap and still have usable change. (The Go-Between)



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