Restaurant review: Spit/Fire
The Hanging Bat’s new sister venue aims to heat up Edinburgh's meat and beer scene
This two-storey venture in the former New Town Bar, just downhill from Edinburgh's Portrait Gallery, comes from the talented crew who brought deliciously dirty hot dogs and tasty schooners of local brew to Lothian Road’s The Hanging Bat. If that venue proved a landmark in craft beer’s arrival in Edinburgh, the new opening seeks to rev up the scene for dude food, something that’s all over Glasgow and long enough established in London that it’s already eliciting yawns.
The main restaurant, which specialises in rotisserie fare (the ‘Spit’), works a stripped-back, Brooklyn warehouse vibe: concrete floors, wooden panelling, fancy light fittings. A heavy emphasis on pale-blue tiling – an entire section, including booths, is covered in it – is a little redolent of a public swimming pool, though some deerskin seat covers add some necessary warmth and charm. The downstairs bar (‘Fire’) focuses on brews and pub food. A rotating selection of local and more far-flung ales on tap is, not surprisingly, a strength; wines, however, are slightly disconcertingly listed by grape varietal and country of origin alone – meaning you’re taking it on faith that if you drop £45 on a New Zealand sauvignon it’ll be a good one.
The restaurant menu brings together informal, BBQ-inspired choices with more upmarket bistro dishes. A pricey starter of scallops might be beautifully seared, but paired with an aggressively sweet apple purée, chewy dried apple and bitter toasted hazelnuts, it’s not nearly so convincing as the Spit/Fire chicken noodle soup, an inexpensive bowl of delightfully Thai-inflected broth, crammed with noodles and generous chunks of chicken. It warms the cockles and is robust enough in flavour to be paired with a hearty ale.
Pan-fried hake is deftly cooked and accompanied by a buttermilk spaghetti which manages the neat trick of being simultaneously creamy yet light, with a lingering, fresh lemony taste. Spit/Fire’s namesake’s rotisserie chicken is, ironically, a touch dry, but the gravy is rich and delicious, and the rotisserie veg on the side is a pleasingly oily, salty, charred success.
+ Hanging Bat quality beer brought to the New Town
- Quite a lengthy wait after ordering for food
Average price for a two-course meal; £11 (set lunch) / £21.