One afternoon as we walked up Cowgate in Edinburgh in search for lunch, we saw groups of parents leading their toddler kids in the opposite direction. Curiously, all the kids were dressed up as Batman – all incarnations of the Dark Knight from 1960s camp Adam West to 2010s brooding Christian Bale. We never did find out why all the kids were dressed up as Batman – perhaps there was a superheroes-themed birthday party or a toddler fan convention?
I’m no true superhero myself, but I do pride myself on my one super-ability – to sniff out a good restaurant no matter where we may be in the world. Some of it is common sense, for example, how many people are already eating in the restaurant? A crowd is a pretty good indicator!
In the case of OX184 where we ended up for lunch that day, it wasn’t a crowd that drew me in. On the contrary, we were dining quite early and they had hardly any people in the restaurant in the afternoon as they tend to specialise in the evening trade with their DJs, bands, and extensive beer and whisky menus.
Rather it was the smell of OX184 that was particularly appealing – always follow your nose for a good meal! They specialise in wood fired grilled meats, and the smell of the grill being started for the day’s trade was more than enough to draw us into their vast industrial chic space for lunch that day.
We started with a fruity and effervescent drink each from the Belvoir Soft Drink range, though they also offered Fevertree and Roots Soda Co non-alcoholic drinks. Most other patrons seemed to be tempted by the vast range of locally brewed beers they had on tap though – we were the only ones abstaining! The fact that there was a Six Nations rugby game on the screen might have influenced drink choices for others though…
I’d been wanting to try Vegetarian Haggis ever since K ordered the ‘real deal’ at The White Hart Inn. OX184 had a few different dishes on the menu featuring vegetarian haggis (including a vegetarian Scottish breakfast and a vegetarian haggis burger) but didn’t have it available as a stand-alone item on the menu. Fortunately, our waitress was kind enough to pull a few strings in the kitchen once I asked about it, and got the chefs to prep some especially for me!
Unlike the original versions, vegetarian haggis is actually a dish worth trying, and a dish worth making yourself at home. Pleasantly spiced with liberal amounts of pepper and bulked out with a range of oats and other pulses, vegetarian haggis has the spiced benefits of haggis, without the awful offal taste. A winner, and one I’ll be making at home!
The Spiced Red Cabbage wasn’t quite as agreeable – a little limp and bland on top with the cabbage at the bottom receiving all the benefits of the mild peppery spice. Ah well, it’s all about the meat and mock-meat here at OX184 anyway!
I chose a 1/2 Rack of the Baby Back Ribs for my main, presented on a fuss-free large aluminium platter with a healthy serving of crispy fries. While the ribs were served with a drizzle of hot sauce on top, they hardly needed any extra seasoning – the dry rub had already turned the tender fall-apart ribs into a virtual flavour explosion with every bite. The added bonus of the ribs being cooked on a wood fired grill with the corresponding earthy flavours…well, there’s no beating it. I only wished I ordered the full rack!
K went for the Hickory Smoked Chicken with Grilled Corn, which again came with a generous serve of fries on the side but also a slightly healthier rocket salad. While the chicken was a little dry inside, the garlicky buttery marinade and smoky grill flavour was absolutely irresistible.
If you visit OX184 in Edinburgh, it should be for one thing only – their wood-fired meats. Whether it’s steaks, ribs, chicken or chops, it’s hard to go wrong with good grilled meat. Order some charred corn and veggie haggis on the side to go with your meal, and try one of their many beers on tap as well. It’s the perfect place for a hearty feed that will really satisfy all appetites!
OX184 is located at 184-186 Cowgate, Edinburgh Scotland.