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The Stockbridge Tap
New Review
The Stockbridge Tap
2-6 Raeburn Place,
0131 343 3000 ‎

I've turned into my gran. Long, long ago she would press a coin into my palm and I would try to walk the line between gratitude and abject disappointment. Just how many Fruit Salad chews did she think I could get for tuppence! My gran regarded sweeties in the same way as I see pubs these days. Surely £20 quid should secure Mr B and me a scran and a pint?

Not so. The gentrification of Edinburgh boozers means that if you don't choose carefully you may encounter restaurant prices.  Now any gourmet (and I consider myself one) or cod economist will tell you, price and value are different beasts. Spending £75 for the Tasting Menu in Tom Kitchin's Michelin-starred restaurant to me represents good value; spending £25/30 a head in his new 'pub with dining' is a different proposition. Label the Scran and Scallie 'dining with pub' and I would be more open-minded.

At the other end of Raeburn Place though, you find The Stockbridge Tap which is unequivocally a pub with dining.  The pavement A board boasts 7 cask conditioned ales and home-made food.  Those 7 ales are chalked on a blackboard behind the bar clearly explaining brewery, abv and provenance, furthermore, bar staff prove immensely knowledgeable.

Our friendly barmaid offers her recommendations. A third of a pint of Light Ness (£1.15) for me from the Loch Ness Brewery and a pint of Cairnpapple (£3.35) from the  Alchemy Brewery in Livingston for Mr B. Both are pleasantly light and hoppy but the Alchemy wins the day. Strawberry blonde in colour it has more body than my IPA, the head is luscious and creamy and Mr B says it is 'full of pizzazz".

For eats Mr B chooses the Steak Pie, beef in Black Isle Porter gravy topped with stilton and baked in puff pasty with mash and roast vegetables at a very fair £7.95 and I go for the Farmhouse Platter(£8.50). 

We are pleased to see the Tap's food suppliers listed on the menu and we note the organic lamb and mutton from Lockerbie in particular. Mr B is very happy with his steak pie and a stolen mouthful reveals tender meat with the full flavour that comes from ageing. The stilton picks up on this and works well. By now Mr B is onto 45 RPM (£3.50 a pint) from the Kelham Island Brewery, another light and hoppy beer that cuts through his rich steak pie. The barmaid enquires as to whether we like dark beer and we nod enthusiastically, of course, we like all beer.

She recommends the Mocha Milk Stout (£1.25 for 1/3rd pint) from the Tyne Bank brewery in Newcastle for me. It has a crema the colour of Jordan (sorry Katie Price!), a body of shiny ebony. The nose is, as you would expect, roasted coffee beans and chocolate but when you taste it, milk gums are to the fore (those childhood sweeties again); the finish contains a hint of spice. One of the beauties of a real ale pub is the opportunity to try something new and occasionally unique.

Back to the food, my Farmhouse Platter contains a strong, nutty creamy Comte Cheddar, which I pair with a dollop of sweet tomato chutney and wash down with the bitter IPA. The platter is excellent for enjoying food and beer combos. Chunks of pulled ham hough, some onion, a swig of stout. Rich smoked salmon on hearty germagrain bread, IPA again. The hough by the way is rich and gamey the sort of ham the Famous Five would've eaten with hard boiled eggs and lashings of ginger beer. The only disappointment is the butter, which has the horrid texture of marg; I leave it.

We finish by sharing a Black Isle Porter (£1.20 for 1/3rd pint) *& which is way too cold. I suspect it is a casualty of our icy Scottish spring because The Stockbridge Tap is otherwise a fairly faultless pub - with dining. Beer takes centres stage but the food is tasty, thoughtful, well-sourced and very competitively priced. My gran would approve.

* Note - The Stockbridge Tap informed Bite that the Black Isle Porter was cold as it was keg not cask and their replacement for Guinness. 

** This review was originally written for Pints of View 

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