The Bungo Bar & Kitchen
Despite having been open for just a few weeks, The Bungo Bar and Kitchen – the third outlet in the Left Bank and Two Figs chain run by Jacqueline Fennessy and Catherine Hardy – is already jumping. Midweek, cheerful regulars can be found enjoying a Staropramen or a Rioja in the smartly kitted-out bar, while diners chat away in the warm sandstone-lined dining room at the back. The secret of its success may be in the name. Bungo – the nickname for the surrounding neighbourhood – feels like a village within a city and has long held its own local festivals. By bagsying the Bungo moniker the place has endeared itself immediately to the locals – something reinforced by a large street map painting on the wall on which visitors have marked out their cribs with pins. The owners have also drilled deep into the Scottish psyche to create the menu, serving up the ultimate comfort food of burgers, curries and creamy puds. Some of the details are great – such as tender mussels served in a rasam style sauce and a coconut syllabub with pineapple. While the food on offer won’t change the world, the place is certainly brightening up the Bungo.
Sister venue of the Left Bank in the West End and in very much the same spirit of laid-back, high-quality drinking and dining with a strong neighbourhood feel, the Bungo claims the name given to the pocket of the Southside where it’s located and places itself at the heart of a youthful boho community. The bar area is low-lit and cosy, with big floor-to-ceiling windows, while the stripped stone-walled bistro area is tucked round the corner and quickly fills up with diners even of an early weekday evening. Small dishes work as starters or sharers – be it goat’s cheese and spinach in a crispy filo parcel served with apple and beetroot chutney or creamy wild mushrooms with roasted garlic, tarragon and Fino sherry. The homemade Aberdeen Angus burger in a sesame bun (rarified in the days of brioche) is a solid crowd-pleaser. Other mains are a tour of global influences and flavours, from Goan seafood curry, to slow-cooked stuffed porchetta and Vietnamese coconut and lemongrass chicken breast served on a bed of glass noodles. Chunks of demerara pear and salted caramel popcorn enliven an otherwise plain ice-cream sundae.
- High point: First Dawn New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with notes of gooseberries and grass
- Low point: Weirdly warped table that wobbles plate while eating
- Notable dish: Goat's cheese and spinach filo parcel with apple and beetroot chutney
Neighbourhood dining is a concept the southside is growing increasingly comfortable with and few venues have played a bigger part than Bungo. A relation of The Left Bank and Two Figs, Bungo has created a convivial personality of its own, one where dogs are as welcome as paying customers. A cosy bar area complete with booths and tables and bare brick walls shares a menu with a more refined restaurant area. A number of small plates can either be divvied up or treated as starters, and it would be remiss not to tuck in: beetroot gnocchi is stunning; sweet and full of harmonious textures from pesto, parmesan and salad. Mains include variations of pub grub along with more creative dishes. A chickpea and vegetarian haggis burger is smooth, nutty and smoky, while densely seasoned Goan seafood curry comes in a huge bowl stuffed with mussels, prawns and masala fish. A number of deals and themes throughout the week ensure Bungo is always bustling with diners and locals enjoying a decent range of beers and cocktails - particularly an awesome Bloody Mary.
- Private dining: 25 upstairs, 80 downstairs
- Provides: Halal options, Children's portions, Children's high chairs, Wheelchair access, Live music, Free wi-fi
- Music on stereo: Indie, pop
- Capacity: 70–100
- Largest group: 50–70
- Open since: 2011
- Number of wines sold by the glass: 14
- House wine: £15.50 per bottle