12.6.17

Clerk's, Edinburgh: Your New Favorite Neighborhood Bar


Everyone needs a go-to neighborhood bar.

It's the kind of place where you meet up with friends on a moments notice. When your friend texts you "Pub?" you'll know exactly where you're going. 

It's the kind of place where you're just as happy ordering a pint as you are a no-nonsense cocktail; where you can order some chips to share, or something bigger if you didn't have time to make dinner. 

The neighborhood bar is really a jack of all trades. It hosts pub quizzes, karaoke nights, and shows every sports game imaginable (even the really niche ones). It's the kind of place that has something for everyone.    

I happened upon a new favorite neighborhood bar of my own a few months ago. After a friend of a friend invited suggested that a group of us meet at Clerk's Bar for a catch up, and I had just one bite of their pulled pork sandwich, I was sold. So you can trust me when I say that Clerk's bar is just the ticket. 

When I was invited along to Clerk's just a few weeks later, I knew I couldn't pass up the chance to try their food again. But I wondered- what had changed? And, despite initially feeling like the restaurant itself had been updated pretty well, a bit of research told me that the menu had been tweaked since the last time I visited. For one thing, they've pared down the burger selection to their best and brightest, and kept things a bit simpler on the smoked meats front. I've always been of the opinion that a smaller menu is always better- it means the restaurant can really focus on what it does best. 

Located on bustling South Clerk Street, Clerk's Bar is the ideal spot for Newington residents, Pollock Halls freshers, and tourists trekking back from Arthur's Seat. With a wood paneled exterior and minimalistic style, Clerk's oozes contemporary-cool vibes from the outset. Find a space at one of the high-top booths, or settle into a more traditional chair and table setup.


The long wrap-around bar boasts a seemingly endless supply of craft beer- on tap or by the bottle, you pick your poison. After a long day out in the sun (Ben and I had a little field trip to the Edinburgh Zoo), we were eager for something to cool us off. Ben ordered up a local craft beer called Volcano IPA, which is brewed just behind the building at Summerhall. You really can't get more local than that, can you? 


Clerk's cocktail menu is pretty stripped back, to say the least. But with the rise in popularity of long, complicated cocktail menus, it was kind of refreshing to see a menu that really stuck to the classics. I went for a grown-up version of my classic freshers-week drink order (vodka cranberries used to be my thing, in case you were wondering), and settled on a Cosmopolitan. It has a bit more of a sophisticated feel to it, don't you think? 

First up on the menu were, of course, bar bites. Somewhere between a starter and a snack, these nibbles are meant for sharing (and stealing the last one when your date isn't looking). No fuss, and totally hands on, they're the most fun way to start off a meal. I just had to order the jalapeño poppers, given their spicy-cheesy nature. These fried jalapeños stuffed with a cream cheese filling were simply addictive. I'll definitely have to recreate them for my next Super Bowl party.


Our second shareable starter was the chili cheese fries. These delectable fries were topped with a heaping pile of beef chili. Served with applewood cheddar, these fries were surprisingly more smokey than spicy. With practically more chili than fries, this dish is a recipe for messy fingers. But don't worry- if you've known your date for as long as I have, that kind of thing won't matter.


With the new, more concise menu in mind, I was looking to have a main that really stood out (and was different from what I had before). Although the Philly Cheese Steak tempted me (I am an American, after all), I thought that the Notorious P.I.G seemed a bit more unique. Given its promising name, this dish was bound to be something special- pulled pork, mac and cheese, and sweet potato fries are a match made in heaven, right? What I was presented with was a skillet full of creamy mac with a hefty portion of tender pulled pork nestled underneath. Paired alongside it was a tin of crispy sweet potato fries- one of my greatest vices. Each bite was as rich as the one before, and I struggled to finish- notorious, indeed.


Shying away from the sandwich options, Ben also ordered a "true" main- the full rack of ribs. These deliciously marinated, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs are usually served with grilled corn. But, sadly, they were out so the waitress kindly offered a replacement. Onion rings it was- a fan favorite of ours. For something a bit lighter on the side, we also ordered some of the cuban slaw. Vibrant, punchy, and with no mayo in sight, this slaw was the perfect antidote to our uber-rich main dishes.


Dessert wasn't too much to write home about, but the limited offerings were a welcome addition after a very savory meal (also, I just never say no to dessert). Ben ordered the belgian waffle with strawberry ice cream- the perfect marriage of a warm, doughy confection with a cold, fruity topping.


I kept things simple with a bowl of chocolate ice cream, and pretended that the extra calories don't count.


The food at Clerk's Bar couldn't be faulted. From the satisfyingly spicy jalapeño poppers to the gooey, smoky Notorious P.I.G., this is really bar food at its best. The only thing I could fault, however, was the service- while the waiting staff were friendly, it was at times difficult to get their attention while they were busy serving others at the bar. But I guess that's the risk you take when eating at a bar/restaurant.

With standout food and a hopping atmosphere, Clerk's has the makings of a true neighborhood bar. And while it's not exactly in my "neighborhood," there's definitely a chance that I'll be back for a drink (and some jalapeño poppers, no doubt).

Thank you to Clerk's Bar and Crimson Edge PR for inviting me for a review. If you'd like to read more about Clerk's Bar or have a look at their menu, you can find all the info on their website here  

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