UK Nacho Review - Bailie Bar, Stockbridge, Edinburgh

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The other night I had the pleasure of dining at The Bailie Bar in Stockbridge, Edinburgh! It was after a tough football/soccer match, so I was pretty ravished. I'm happy to report that the vegetarian nachos at the Bailie Bar fit the bill nicely. 

The nachos were dispersed on the plate in an even fashion,with most of the chips being in whole pieces, although there were a few crumbles here and there. Normally I dismiss most beans served with UK nachos, but the vegetarian chili on the nachos at Baile's was actually quite tasty. 

The cheese was equally distributed amongst the chips and the sour cream and guacamole weren't overpowering.  In addition, the cheese was a tasty white type, rather than the bland orange mush usually served with UK Nachos. A few jalepenos and a slight sprig of cilantro (coriander) completed the scene.

The only thumbs down was the lack of additional salsa for covering the few naked chips.  

Stockbridge nachos at Bailie's gets a thumbs up from this ex-pat Texan. 

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.

Glasgow Nachos!

Weegee nachos. Mmmm. Aye! 

Weegee nachos. Mmmm. Aye! 

A little over a month ago I made the short rail journey to Glasgow to....well....uh...partake of Glaswegian culture.

And to ride their world famous tiny subway.

And, of course, to sample the famous Glaswegian nachos.

But first, I had to partake in some of the sights. Like the fine example of WeeGee (as the Glaswegians are called here) Early Modernist Brutalist Architecture like the example that you see there to the right.

Watch out for Neds. 

Watch out for Neds. 

I think that was a police station or something like that at one point. This kind of early-to-mid 60s style was a HUGE hit over in the UK. You can see these types of buildings all over the place.

The first thought being when you see one of these monstrosities is, naturally, "What the hell were these people thinking?" I think this is, believe it or not, a police station.

I think I'm lost. 

I think I'm lost. 

Glasgow's subway is equally as charming. Dubbed "The Clockwork Orange" because it only goes around in a circle, the line features really tiny subway cars and some creepy stations.

In all fairness, the subway is in the midst of a major overhaul and rebranding right now, so perhaps I just stopped at the wrong stations.

The other strange thing about the subway is that they're using what looks like the same font as Facebook for all their signage. Many of the entrances for the subway are on streets with normal shops, so when you enter the station it kind of feels like you're entering some kind of Facebook Outlet Shop.

But there were plenty of cool parts of Glasgow, too. 

The Kelvingrove museum (there to the right, can you tell I got Hipstamatic?) is one of those cool old timey UK museums that they used to have during the days of empire, with plenty of exhibits about "the colonies."

Kelvingrove all fancied up. 

Kelvingrove all fancied up. 

Didn't linger too long on the artsy-fartsy part but did manage to see Dali's Christ of Saint John of the Cross. That was pretty cool and fairly painless as artsy things go.

But you're not here to read about art, are you? No, it's a UK nacho review that you're here for and a UK nacho review that you will get.

This day in Glasgow I managed to have fairly decent Tex-Mex food not once, but TWICE! My first meal was at Taco Mazama in the West End and I later dined at Pinto Mexican Kitchen in the City Center. The nachos that you see pictured above were purchased at Taco Mazama.

As to the nachos, overall a fairly decent basket. To their favor, Taco Mazama didn't try to dress the nachos up for you, they simply gave you a basket of chips with melted cheese. The RIGHT melted cheese, mind you, white and not some type of off color cheddar (although Gloucester cheese on Tex-Mex over here seems to work pretty well). The salsa had plenty of chunks of red onion in it, which was a welcome suprise. Taco Mazama is a chain and, luckily enough, there's one directly across the street from my office in Edinburgh so I can visit whenever I like.

I had the veggie burrito at Pinto's which was fairly tasty. One cool menu item that I noticed while dining there was that Austin, Texas favorite, breakfast tacos!

That'll probably need it's own post.

Nacho Review - Las Vegas Nachos!

I recently traveled back to the United States for work and had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas for the first time in....oh about 20 years. Man, is that place crazy.

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I think what made it even crazier for me was that I was coming to Las Vegas with a bunch of people from Scotland, some of whom had never been to the States before. Imagine never going to the USA and then the first place that you set down - literally a non-stop flight from Heathrow to Las Vegas - is the Strip.

Bizarre to say the least, I'd think. Hell, I'm from this country and I thought it was weird as hell.

Had to do a bunch of work related stuff for the first few days I was there, so nothing felt especially Vegas-y. However, the last night I was able to get away and sample some of the local specialties.

First stop? Naturally, NACHOS!!!

Our choice of dining was the Michael Mina Pub 1842 in the MGM Grand Entertainment Complex. The atmosphere was stylish and trendy "old world" pub which suited the nachos. However, what DIDN'T suit the nachos was the price tag.

Do you want to know how much they cost? First take a look at that picture at the top of the article. Then say to yourself, "Hmm, I wonder how much a plate of nachos at the MGM Grand Resort would cost...?"

Done thinking? Because I'll give you the answer...

EIGHTEEN F**KING DOLLARS 

And now to address the elephant in the room - were these nachos, in fact, worth $18?

No.

However, they were actually pretty damn good.

First off - unlike the UK - notice the strategic placement of the sour cream via a squirty dispenser? This makes sure that there aren't any uncomfortably large pools of sour cream on top of your nachos waiting to congeal. The red bell peppers were a nice touch, as was the corn relish on top. Also, pub 1842 was just stingy enough with the cheese so that it had the opportunity to melt thoroughly and crisp over. And, thankfully, there was only one layer of cheese, unlike the Savannah nachos incident of earlier this year. 

But, as with most of my nacho adventures, the nachos weren't the height of the evening.

Oh no....

kiss-golf
kiss-golf

Based upon the recommendation of a friend, I made my way out, past the neon glow of the strip out to the seedy underbelly of Vegas, located approximately 1 mile to the east. My destination? The Double Down Saloon, home, as the website will inform you of the fabled cocktail, "The Ass Juice."

I'll leave my adventures at the Double Down for another column but I must touch on  an entertainment venue that I passed on the way there.

Everyone feels that going to a show is one of the best ways of getting close to your favorite band. But what if there was a way you could get closer? No, I'm not talking about becoming a groupie. I'm talking about MINI GOLF!!

Which is what I passed on my way to the Double Down lounge - KISS MONSTER GOLF.

Yep. A whole mini golf course with a KISS theme.

Whether you like the boys or hate 'em, you gotta give 'em props for their marketing skills. They had all sorts of packages there setup so you could meet the band. If you spent $5,000 on a bass, for example, Gene Simmons would sign it himself!

I didn't tarry long enough to play mini (or - as the KISS people call it "Monster") golf, but I think I came away from my encounter knowing a little more about what made the boys behind the masks tick.

Maybe the lure of $18 nachos was enough for some to lose themselves in the heady world of Las Vegas and  KISS Monster Golf but, for me, I craved something more.

I left KISS Monster Golf and made my way to the Double Down Saloon, hoping that a taste of Ass Juice would help wash away the memories of expensive nachos and the sight of The Starchild angling up for a putt.