The Basement Bar, Broughton Street, Edinburgh – Review

Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an award-winning author, editor and publisher from Leeds, now based in Manchester. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and is Director and Writing Coordinator for Young Enigma, a writer development programme for LGBT young people.
Adam Lowe

The Basement Bar is a Mexican-inspired subterranean restaurant and bar in the heart of Edinburgh. This trendy eatery has a lively atmosphere, trendy decor and some seriously handsome staff.

The outside of the bar is adorned with Mexican-style graffiti. This adds a bit of street culture colour to the exterior, and sets the tone for what follows.

The venue is relaxed and has an authentic Mexican feel, with wooden furniture and fresh herbs hanging from the walls. The clientele is young and diverse, too, with couples, friends and parties all enjoying the laidback atmosphere and great food.

Starting off with the homemade guacamole (£4.95) is always a good idea. In The Basement Bar, they recognise that everyone prefers theirs a little bit different to the next person, so you get  the luxury of one of the servers whipping up your preferred combination of ingredients at your table.

We asked for it as it came, and had a creamy, slightly spicy guacamole packed with flavour placed on our table. It was the right balance of avocado, lime and chilli, and was perfectly seasoned.

This was served with corn tortilla chips, with which we scooped up giant globs of the stuff before it was all gone in a matter of minutes. We’d definitely recommend this if you want an appetiser while sipping on your authentic Mexican beers.

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Next up we ordered a mixed ceviche (£5.50) to share as a starter. Served in a corn tortilla basket, the ceviche is a mix of sliced sea bass, scallops and prawns in a refreshing citrus marinade, with cucumber, spring onion and chillies. This was light and cool, offering something perfect for a summer’s day or a light snack.

I’m a huge lover of seafood, so I knew I’d like this, but because the ingredients were so incredibly fresh, I recommend this even to those who wouldn’t normally opt for a fish course. The delicate balance of flavours makes this a real treat.

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For mains we ordered the chilli negra (£10.50). Beef chunks slow-cooked in Modelo Negra beer with tomatoes, ancho chillies and dark chocolate, the chilli negra is a delicious dish, served with green rice and jalapenos. Just the right side of spicy, this dish won’t offend those with a more sensitive palate, but it still has plenty of flavour with just a hint of a kick.

The dark chocolate adds a slightly bitter, decadent note, and the beer adds malty goodness. All in all, this is a well thought out, nuanced dish that tastes damn good.

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We also ordered the blackened hake (£9.75), which came in a seafood bisque, hot sauce, chilli and lime crema on green rice. The hot sauce made this a decidedly hotter dish than the chilli, but it was also fruity and juicy enough to make it appealing. The lime crema added a cool note to offset the heat of the hot sauce, with a bit of citrus tang to complement the fish.

This was a tasty, lighter dish with plenty of flavour, and with the rice there it was filling too. We took this with a side of delicious, cheese-topped refried beans – which was thoroughly indulgent, but definitely worth it.

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For dessert we opted to share a frozen margarita cheesecake (£5.00). This was creamy, a little boozy and also crunchy. This was the perfect end to our meal, and served as a great palate cleanser too, with the margarita flavours washing away all that spice.

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To round off your meal, we recommend trying one of the authentic Mexican ales, such as the Pacifico, Modelo or Red Pig.

This simple but elegant restaurant-bar concept makes for a great day out that won’t break the bank. We highly recommend it.

The Basement Bar is open 12pm until 1am every day of the week.

The Basement Bar, 10a-12a Broughton Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3RH / 0131 557 0097 / basement-bar-edinburgh.co.uk.

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