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Cloisters
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Cloisters
26 Brougham Street,
Edinburgh,
Midlothian,
EH3 9JH
0131 221 9997
Mon-Fri noon to midnight; Sat noon to 1am; Sun 12.30pm to midnight

So I heard on the 'foodvine' that the ex-owners of Sweet Melindas, who moved a couple of years ago, had recently taken over the kitchen side of this traditional Tollcross ale haven. Visualising a freshly-pulled half of quality real ale alongside fond memories of the old Sweet Melinda squid salad, my other half practically bit my hand off when I suggested we should re-visit Cloisters Bar for food as well as drink.

And there it was - squid with coriander, lime and sea salt, arriving with the dewy freshness hoped for, with soft marinated baby squid rings and just a touch of fine batter meaning that the salad stayed light and easy to eat (£6.50).  The same light freshness allied to punchy flavour characterised the smoked mackerel & dill pâté, with gherkins and soda bread (£5.50), both working well with beer as well as wine.

The 'Burger and Seafood' menu comprises a varied list with several other specials like sea bass or duck breast with black pudding & caramelised pear.  Casual and colourful, this generous bowlful (£8.50) featured perfectly tender pink duck, finely sliced Thai-style in a warm salad, with sautéed potato cubes, cucumber and sweet pear.  Unfortunately while I was savouring a stolen slice of duck the last piece of pear was devoured, probably proving how tasty it was.

My own burger (I had a cheeseburger (£8.95), but could have had MacSween's haggis or several interesting versions with sides to suit), was uber-juicy, tender & a pleasure to eat, banishing a recent touch of patty-phobia I have been developing due to less carefully-prepared dry burgers.  Here, chuck steak is marinated in porter or stout and scented with thyme.  All come with toasted-seed red cabbage coleslaw and triple-cooked crispy chips to die for - you must have the Piri-Piri dusted ones, and so must I again since my scoffing partner plundered an unfair proportion of my pot of them.

A commitment to top quality, very local suppliers is very much in evidence on tasting - meat from local Tollcross butcher Saunderson's - fish from Eddies, etc.  An express Tue-Fri £6.50 lunch deal offered steak burger, turkey burger with trimmings or chickpea & cannellini bean burger.  Cheerful, well-informed barstaff enhanced our relaxed meal. (The Go-Between)

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