The Makar's Mash Bar entices on a cold Edinburgh evening with twinkling lights and the promise of plenty of comforting mashed potato. I was not familiar with the term Makar but Wikipedia tells me it is someone who creates. I love the idea of a creative maker of mashed potatoes. Indeed it was a place of interesting food and an interest in literature.
We walked in rather than booking. The waiter took our name and mobile phone number so he could text us when they were ready in 10 to 15 minutes. So we went for a walk in the chilly evening while we waited. The Makars Mash Bar is on Bank Street just off the Royal Mile. At night this area is lit up and twinkles with the wisdom of an old town that has seen many centuries come and go!
Once a table was ready we returned into the bright warmth of the entrance and were shown down the stairs to our table.
I was very pleased that my seat overlooked the wall of writers. I have enjoyed many of Ian Rankin's books and was happy for him to keep me company. There were also pictures nearby of Muriel Spark, Conan Doyle and Irvine Welsh. And lots of literary quotes to ponder.
We started with a drink. Sylvia had apple juice and I had the Bon Accord Rhubarb Soda. Mine was excellent and creamy, not too sweet and with pleasing rhubarb flavour.
Sylvia ordered that Leek and Potato soup with Potato scones and some Mature Scottish Cheddar Cheese mash. She wanted something light because she had a cold on top of her jetlag. The meal was just what she needed, though she wanted a few more of the tattie scones that came with her soup and found the cheese in her mash quite chewy. No complaints about all the potato she had in her meal! And the waitress brought her over more tattie scones when Sylvia asked. However if the vegetarian Scotch Egg had been available, she would have tried it.
I chose to have Vegetarian Haggis with Whisky Peppercorn Cream Sauce. This came with neeps and tatties as is the tradition. I admired the way it was served as a stack in a pool of sauce (which looked huge but was just right). It has always struck me how difficult it is to make haggis, neeps and tatties look attractive but I think restaurants are improving on this. I was able to choose my mashed potato to have with the haggis and chose the Mild Smoked Applewood Cheese. I was a little jealous of Sylvia's chunks of cheese in hers as I did not really detect the smoky cheese in mine. I am still not sure if I got the right mash or not.
On the menu, the haggis described as "a mix of healthy fresh vegetables, pulses, oatmeal, mustard, seeds and spices". I loved my haggis so much I asked the waitress how they made it and she came back with advice from the kitchen that it was made with barley, oats and pumpkin seeds.
It happened to be Burns Night on the day we chose. I was delighted when our waitress brought everyone a little thistle charm and a print out of a poem by Rabbie Burns, whose writing is traditionally celebrated in Scotland on 25 January each year with haggis, whisky, poetry, song and dance. I asked her why the writers that had large "portraits" on the walls were not represented in the literary quotes surrounding them. She said no one had ever asked her that before and she would be asking about it. She was so friendly and fun to chat with and had time for everyone.
Then it was time to leave and catch the bus back to our hotel. I really loved the Makars Mash Bar. It catered to vegan and gluten diets with ease and made us feel very welcome. It was also lovely to have an opportunity to stroll down the High Street section of The Royal Mile and see the familiar sights of Edinburgh.
(NOTE: This was written on the plane and published when we got home to Melbourne.)
Makar's Mash Bar
9-12 Bank Street (The Mound)
Edinburgh EH1 2LN