Pop-up bars are ten a penny during the Edinburgh festivals, as both parts of my round-up will attest. However, pop-up restaurants are a slightly rarer creature, obviously due to the set-up and equipment required. This hasn’t deterred London-based Dram & Smoke though, who have set themselves up in The Biscuit Factory, just off Bonnington Road, for the entire month of August.
On arrival, after following the Grouse Trail upstairs, we were greeted with a deliciously moreish Naked Flower of Scotland cocktail, featuring The Naked Grouse, elderflower and ginger ale. Despite the awful weather outside, it was the perfect slice of summer, with a slight wisp of whisky smoke in the background. It was then upstairs for the main event.
In the dining space, don’t expect an intimate table to two. We were sat at a table for ten and quickly got to know our follow diners who were…an interesting lot. Thankfully, the conservation flowed as fast as the wine, eliminating any awkward silence. Without spoiling any surprises, the whole dining experience involves a bit of interaction, so try not to be too shy!
We kicked off the four course menu with a meaty smoked ham hock and haggis terrine, which was complemented with tattie scones, pickles and crispy capers. The second course was probably my favourite – a pearl barley risotto with spoots, Scottish Chorizo and mushrooms. Every mouthful offered something different and the meaty components gave a rustic twist on the classic risotto.
Usually meat and veg is one of my least favourite meals but the braised beef brisket main simply fell apart in my mouth. The hasselback tatties were beautifully crispy, with the celeriac ‘slaw offered a few flavours you wouldn’t usually find on your traditional Sunday roast plate.
Dessert was the only slight bum not for me. While the custard was beautifully creamy, and I couldn’t stop eating the heather honeycomb, the rhubarb in the bottom of my glass was far too tart to be enjoyed.
The first three courses were washed down with a well-priced bottle of red Pinot. We grabbed a couple of cocktails for dessert, the highlight of which was the Darjeeling Express. A long, cooling drink, it contained The Naked Grouse AND gin, sweetened Earl Great tea, lemon and cucumber (don’t worry – you can pick the latter out).
Dram & Smoke felt like a very unique experience, with the food, location, company and camaraderie combining to create atruly memorable evening. Nights are booking up quickly, so be sure to make sure you secure a spot soon.
Disclaimer – my partner and I were guests of Dram & Smoke on the evening, with our welcome cocktail and meal covered. Extra drinks were paid for by us.