UK Nacho Review - Hamilton's, Edinburgh

Had the opportunity to stop by Hamilton's Bar in Edinburgh for a quick repast of their version of the Texas classic, nachos. 

There were a couple of issues which threw this particular nacho tasting off, first of all, I was going to be dining later on in the evening, so I didn't want to have too many. Secondly, the nachos had chicken on them, which is a problem, since as you might know from my other nacho reviews, I'm a vegetarian. 

However, in the interest of gastronomic adventures, I boldly pressed onwards. 

The nachos themselves represented a healthy portion, with plenty of fixings, including homemade guacamole and salsa on top. The cheese adequately covered the chips to beyond the required minimum and my dining companions reported that the chicken topping was adequate. One added bonus was that the jalepenos were extra spicy and hot. I ate a couple raw and had to quickly quench the fire on my tongue with some of the local craft ale. 

Overall, the nachos were solid and tasty, but nothing extraordinary. It's hard to put a finger exactly on what kept this plate of TexMex goodness from standing out, but even my dining companions seemed to agree. However, if you're in Stockbridge, Edinburgh and in need of a quick fix of nachos, you could do a lot worse than Hamilton's. 

 

UK Nacho Review - The Auld Hoose

Auld Hoose Nachos

Arthur's Seat is the name given to towering slab of volcanic rock that dominates the Edinburgh skyline. Similarly, the nachos at The Auld Hoose certainly dominate your table when you first see them and, unfortunately also like Arthur's Seat, they hold a hardened volcanic core from which no taste can escape. First, the good - lots of guacamole (not fresh, however), and plenty, I mean PLENTY, of nachos. the Auld Hoose is a heavy-metal, student friendly pub that's located near the University of Edinburgh. This plate of nachos is geared towards students looking to soak up their beer and not expatriate Texans looking for a taste of home.

The problem arises when you get past the first layer of toppings - there's nothing underneath, so you're basically digging through a pile of dry tortilla chips. The other major issue with the Auld Hoose nachos is the structural integrity. Sure, it looks like an impressive pile of nachos, and it is, but once you start digging into the structure it starts wriggling like the Tay Bridge in 1879.

The other problem are the beans - or peas shall we say. Although I know that black eyed peas are technically beans.....technically they shouldn't be anywhere near nachos. And I like black eyed peas.

Overall, Auld Hoose nachos are good if you're looking for a mountain of chips to fill your gullet, but not if you're looking for nacho authenticity. Go for the beer, not the nachos.

UK Nachos - Café Nom de Plume!

nom-de-plume

Shortly after returning to Edinburgh from overseas, I had the opportunity to dine at Café Nom de Plume, a hoity toity sounding restaurant in the fashionable Broughton Street district of Edinburgh. Luckily enough, they weren't so fashionable that they couldn't serve nachos. These nachos came with toppings including vegetarian chili (they spell it chilli) and haggis. Those are some haggis nachos over there to the right if you've never seen 'em. They're not in a sheep bladder any more. Most times they just look like ground beef.

Sour cream

Sour cream

The first thing that they got right was the distribution of the condiments on top of the nachos. Now, even as a vegetarian, I probably wouldn't have ordered the vegetarian chili because it tends to dampen the nachos. But the Café did it right by placing the chili smack dab in the middle of the nachos.

This gave the nachos, and the other condiments, some breathing room. If you take a look at the picture, you can see that there are even a number of chips along the periphery of the plate untouched by chili, salsa, sour(ed) cream and guacamole. Huzzah, to you, Café Nom de Plume.

A nice touch was added by using BOTH black and green olives as garnish. Did I tell you that this place was swanky or what?

Just take a look at the sour(ed) cream (left).

There's some kind of sprinkles on top!

haggis nachos
haggis nachos

The white cheese on top of the nachos was excellent (no repetition of the secret Savannah Fake Cheese Incident here) and cooked to just the right consistency.

If you're out for a night on the New or Old Town and you're looking to fill your stomach up with a tasty base of nachos before topping it off with a few drams of Jura or Laphroaig, a stop at the Cafe should be on your "aye" list.

UK Nacho Review - The Library Bar, Edinburgh!

edinburgh-nachos

It was a glorious, sunny day in Scotland, which, if you've never been there, is about as rare as a rainy summer day in Texas, and I was out enjoying the sunshine. The day began with sampling some local beers at Summerhall, site of the former Veterinary School of Edinburgh. For any male teenagers reading this blog, as well as the easily amused (including myself), the full name of the school is the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh. The school has been moved but, thankfully, as with most old timey things here in the UK, the pub remains. The pub, of course, is named simply, The Royal Dick. Which I never got tired of saying.

After downing several beers in the sun, it was time for nourishment. After deciding that everyone at the beer festival was being a Royal Dick (getting into the spirit now, aren't you), I wandered off in search of some sustenance. One of the closest places was the student union of the University of Edinburgh, which houses the Library Bar. This is another of the timeless jokes of bars near colleges naming themselves "The Library".

CAUTION: AUSTIN, TEXAS HISTORY SIDENOTE

There's another Library Bar in Austin  so the students can say to their parents, "Can't talk to you mom and dad, I'm headed to the library" but what they really mean is "I'm headed out to this ironically named bar called the library that makes you think I'm studying but I'm really going to get blotto and make out with some dude/chick from Estonia."

stevie
stevie

Sadly enough, the Library Bar in Austin exists in the same space on 6th Street as a club called Steamboat. A few of the people you might have heard of who performed at Steamboat included Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Butthole Surfers,  Sam Kinison and Bill Hicks.

BACK TO THE NACHOS

After consulting the menu, I ascertained that nachos were, in fact, present. Not only were they present but, the menu assured me, these were the BIGGEST ORDER of nachos available in all of Edinburgh. I know that ordering nachos in the UK can be a dicey proposition (with notable exceptions) so I refrained from ordering the big bowl of nachos and opted instead for the poco (that's "little" to you gringos) size.

The big bowl came first and...just take a gander at the picture in the header above to see what they looked like. I've gotta say they were big. The problem was, however, that a bunch of the chips got mangled on their way into the bowl, resulting in a big bowl of what looked like nacho cereal. The owner was even reduced to eating the monstrosity with a fork.

The Little Nachos

nachos
nachos

My nachos arrived shortly after "The Thing" and I was relieved that it wasn't the Towering Inferno of nachos that I was afraid it was going to be, as you can see there to the right.

However there was still a problem with the nacho preparation which, if you've read any of my earlier posts you can probably see right off the bat - EVERYTHING IS STACKED ON TOP!!

There are two main problems with this nacho approach:

  • I like to sample the salsa. Because, sorry, UK, but 99.5% of the time your salsa sucks and tastes like ketchup. By immediately pouring your sub-standard salsa on the chips, you infect both the chips below the ground zero of salsa and also inflict collateral damage upon the surrounding chips.
  • This makes the chips really soggy. I like to dip the chips into the dips. So by the time I'm eating the chips underneath the dips, they're really nasty. Plus, you guys always go WAY OVERBOARD with the sour cream.
ramekin
ramekin

But I'd rather light a candle than curse your darkness. UK, this problem can be easily remedied. Let me introduce you to my friend.....the ramekin.

You're welcome. You can repay me in un-soggy nachos.