|Lucious Sunday roast at Edinburgh's "The Ox".|
I don't dislike winter - quite the reverse. A crisp, clear winter's day - especially in Scotland, where the light in such conditions can be truly amazing - is a pleasure to experience. However, come early March I begin to tire of winter days being, well, more night than day. Combine this with frequent harsh winds and driving rain (or worse still, sleet) and I long for the bright green shoots of spring to appear. Not only do things seem warmer and brighter, but this change in the seasons heralds the arrival of the first crops of the year.
|Whitebait with smoked paprika mayo.|
Refreshment - in every sense of the term - isn't a characteristic that is only to be welcomed as part of the transition from winter to spring. Every now and again even once great eateries can become tired, jaded and in need of a freshen-up, or even a total reinvention. A case in point is the hostelry located on the corner of Edinburgh's Broughton Street and London Street. It's a quirky venue that has encountered several incarnations over the years. I first knew it during my student days as the "spit and sawdust" boozer that was The Bellevue. It then was transformed into the wannabe trendy Mezz - which catered a decent brunch - and then returned to being The Bellevue, another wannabe hipster-esque joint - that did OK burgers.
|Haddock tempura, curried parsnip, pickled carrot & pea shoots.|
Just before Christmas last year, I leant that friends of friends were part of the team that had taken over The Bellevue, transforming it into The Ox. Apparently, the brainchild of three renegades from Leith Shore, this reinvented establishment constitutes one of my favourite, if slightly clichéd, type of eateries - a gastro-pub. From the first time (in the 1990s) I dined in Farringdon's The Eagle, with its open kitchen and stupendous cuisine, I have been a big fan of a pint and a posh pie. Or posh fish and chips. Or mezze. Or tapas. I think you get the idea.
Walking through the entrance to The Ox it was apparent that changes to the venue had been subtle. Its position on the corner of the road at the bottom of a hill mean it has an interesting layout; a wedge-shaped, but still spacious, bar area leading to stairs that link to a mezzanine dining area. Scanning the surroundings, they appear well thought out encompassing a mix of traditional and modern decor, and some nice, bovine-themed artwork. It is called The Ox, after all...