Even though I personally have never been a big fan of beer, I have a strange appreciation for restaurants/bars that have in house craft breweries. If you look at my previous review of Edinburgh’s The Hanging Bat, this kind of place usually rates high for me. So, when I learnt about Drygate Brewing Co., located just east of the city centre, I was keen to give it a go.
It took us a while to find it and even though it only takes about ten to fifteen minutes to walk to George Square from it, the place feels out of the way. The outside appearance isn’t eye catching from the street, probably because it sits under the shadow of the massive Tennents Brewery. Once you pass through the gates the appearance is quite interesting; there are wooden stairs leading up to the balcony and beer hall with interesting and bold artwork around them.
When we first arrived we actually walked into The Vintage, the restaurant on the lower level of the brewery. We had a quick look at the menu and thought it seemed a little expensive so headed upstairs for the beer hall. The menu is varied and reasonably priced, with mains costing between five and ten pounds.
The decor in the beer hall is interesting; at the time I visited there was a clear referendum theme, with posters on the walls of Scottish images with the word “VOTE” written across them. The tables are as a beer hall should be; multiple long tables which around eight people can sit around. It felt very open and factory like and I preferred the look of the downstairs area – it felt more natural and appealing.
I decided to go for one of their tasting boards, choosing BBQ Pork Ribs, Popcorn Chicken, Sweet Potato Fritters and Smoked Chicken Pakora. Sam also ordered a tasting board, while our friends went for the Rarebit Beef Burger and the Pho.
After waiting for around twenty minutes or more, a waitress came up to inform me that there were no BBQ Pork Ribs left and would I like to choose something else. In a snap decision I said “beer sticks.” What I found so shocking is that twenty minutes after we had ordered, it was still late enough for me to change – were they only just getting our food on now? We were all slightly concerned, and hungry!
It was another twenty minutes later before our food arrived and we only got three dishes instead of four. When the waitress noticed this, she remarked that she thought we had cancelled the Pho. We had not. She corrected this and the dish arrived about five or ten minutes later. Finally, we all tucked in, but unfortunately another red flag popped up. On the menu, the Rarebit Burger is listed as a beef patty, but when it arrived, it was called a lamb burger. Apparently the meat had been substituted because they were out of beef, but my friend was not informed of this change when she ordered.
At this point the service had really let them down, with three blunders already under their belt. The staff certainly seemed flustered and although it had been busy when we first arrived, by the time we ordered it had quietened down somewhat. I dug into my board, hoping for good food but unfortunately what I received was distinctly average. My ‘popcorn chicken’ was tasty, with pieces of chopped spring onion and chilli through it, but it wasn’t crispy, it was chewy and a little cold. My sweet potato fritters had some good spicing in them, and when dipped in the garlic mayo, were pretty tasty. The pakora had lost most of its heat too and although it claimed to be ‘smoked’ there was no real smokey flavour to it. The chicken was tender but there was a definite lack of flavour and I was a little disappointed.
My final taster was my last minute decision of ‘Beer Sticks.’ As it turned out, they were kind of like slices of Pepperami but they had ale or beer through them (that was the rough description given by the staff.) I absolutely hated them. I’m not sure what it was about the flavour of them but I had one bite and immediately went ‘bleugh.’ On the other hand Sam absolutely loved them! It’s a shame because I know I’m not a beer drinker and I think there was a distinct flavour there which I would naturally find unappealing. I wish I had been able to try the BBQ Ribs instead!
Another negative point, although a minor issue for me, is that the boards were supposed to be accompanied by garlic mayo (which they were) and Mushroom & Stout Ketchup (which they weren’t.) The ketchup sounded really interesting, I’ve never heard of such a thing and it would have been nice to be able to sample it.
I don’t enjoy writing the more negative reviews, but I try to be honest in my opinions. I think perhaps I made the wrong choice with the menu, or it was just a bad day for staff. This was, in actual fact, a menu just newly launched so perhaps everyone was struggling to get used to it and perfect it. Either way, unfortunately for Drygate, today was an off day. I wish, in hindsight, we had stayed downstairs and eaten in The Vintage. The prices are a step up but the menu was not in a trial period and had some great sounding food on it. If I were to go back, I would give the beer hall a miss and try the Vintage out instead.