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The Mercat
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The Mercat
28 West Maitland Street,
Edinburgh,
EH12 5DX
[View Map]
0131 225 3861
Everday

Review written June 2010

The best steak in town?

BY SHEER COINCIDENCE AS I COMMENCE THIS REVIEW I AM SITTING ON A TRAIN TO LONDON NEXT TO A COUPLE BEMOANING THE LACK OF GASTRO PUBS IN SCOTLAND. APPARENTLY A GOOGLE SEARCH PRIOR TO THEIR TRIP NETTED VERY LITTLE. CURIOUS, I TYPE IN THE PHRASE AND LO AND BEHOLD, UP POPS, WWW.THEBESTOF.CO.UK ; THE VERY WEBSITE THAT RECENTLY AWARDED THE MERCAT THE BEST-LOVED GASTRO PUB IN THE UK.

According to Wikipedia, the term 'gastro pub' was coined by David Eyre and Mike Belben in 1991 when they acquired The Eagle in Clerkenwell and denotes a combination of traditional pub with British gastronomy. The Mercat fits the description perfectly. Proprietor Graham Blaikie is every bit the convivial pub landlord whilst the new menu and wine list are well thought- out.


I started with the fishcakes (£4.95). Crab, potato, heavy on the fish and served with a superb home-made saffron mayo. My companion had the pate maison (£4.95) and was equally pleased. Smooth, silky chicken liver pate served with caramelized onions and toasted brioche.  The wine list matches varietals with dishes and Justine is the helpful sommelier who studied at the University of Reims.


Next, I ordered 10oz rib-eye, rare, with all the trimmings (£17.95) and my companion chose North Sea haddock in beer batter with chips, lemon, garnish and tartare (£9.50). A 'Moby Dick' -sized portion of fish was draped across a plate of golden chips. He commented:-“lots of places try to do fish and chips, especially for students, but none as good as this!"

There is a bit of an urban legend associated with the Mercat steak. Apparently the best steak in town used to be found at Cobey's restaurant in Edinburgh's west end. It was the 'best' because proprietor 'porky George' had a 'secret recipe' which has since passed to The Mercat. All I can say is that my steak was, without doubt, the most tender, most melt-in-the mouth steak I have ever experienced.

The pudding menu contained all my favourites. I easily polished-off an Eton-mess cheesecake whilst my companion had dark chocolate mint delice - like a giant choc-ice and very retro.

We do have some excellent gastro pubs in Scotland and The Mercat is a fine example.  It executes the simple things exceedingly well.

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