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The Basement
New Review
Basement Bar
10a-12a Broughton St,
0131 557 0097
7 days, noon - 1 am

A full refurbishment by Signature Pubs with a brand new menu has revitalised this popular spot, celebrating a milestone for this cellar venue at the top of Broughton St. Pleased to see the builder's debris gone at last, I hauled along a friend who lives locally.  Previously a regular, she felt the place had 'gone off the boil' months ago.

This time she was complimentary both on the new fully-Mexican menu, with plenty of choice of staples and unusual dishes, & on the change of décor in the main eating area.  We loved the rustic wood siding walls and the colourful painted wood chairs, but the theme has not been overdone - no strident mariachi music and a cosy but more contemporary feel - a tiny touch of 'new luxe' in the form of a glass 'tequila library' wall sees to that, highlighting their range of speciality tequilas and tequila cocktails.

Play'design your own guacamole' (£4.50) - the server arrives armed with all the ingredients to mix your ideal dip.  Instead of a pre-mix spooned out from the fridge, here she will scoop out fresh avocados from scratch, incorporating your preferences as to ingredients and consistency - a nice touch.  Appetite preferences are catered for too, with small sharing plates making it easy to taste a little of a lot.  We had a ceviche of sea bream, marinated in chilli & pink grapefruit (£5.50) hot & sour nicely balanced with sweet juicy pomegranate seeds & crisp fennel.  Starter quesadillas here are filled with the unusual mix of sweet potato puree, feta cheese and Mexican chorizo; I was concerned I might be stuck with chewy chunks of chorizo, but the small shreds in my toasted triangles were just right, delicious with the mix of hot sweet potato and salty feta.

I had to try the chilli beef main, which was meltingly tender and rich (£10.50).  Dawn hadn't quite the appetite to tackle an intriguing speciality of Cochinita Pilbil, a 'pork 4 ways' type extravaganza, but enjoyed her Chicken Tinga Enchilada (£8.75),  made with leg & thigh meat, with full flavour & juicy texture.  My caramelised pineapple (£5) didn't look up to expectation, so my friend's lovely chocolate pot (£4.50) with candied chillis was attacked instead.  Sorry, Dawn...

We toasted the new place and its attentive smiley service with tequila cocktails throughout, reason in themselves to visit.  Salud!

(The Go-Between)

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