Edinburgh’s West End has grown up a bit over the past ten years. I used to work down at Drumsheugh Gardens back in the day, and it’s changed so much since then. I’ve noticed new independent boutiques and shops selling artisan wares popping up on a regular basis. The area now has a distinctly village feel which fits nicely within the wider city. New bars and restaurants have popped up which compliment this, The Voyage of Buck being one such example.
The Voyage of Buck is a concept bar based on fictitious world traveler William “Buck” Clarence and his travels during the early 1900s. This theme carries through to the Edwardian style decor, with the booths having a vintage train feel to them. Buck’s travels to Paris, Taipei, Cairo and Havana inspire both the cocktail and food menu.
Despite it only being lunch time (it’s five ‘o’ clock somewhere?), I dived straight into the cocktail menu and ordered a Rhubarb and Rose Spritz from the Cairo inspired section of the menu. The embellishment of a peacock feather really captured the exotic nature of travel during that period.
Naturally, bearing in mind the theme, the menu had a fusion feel to it. Fusion is a word that has the ability to strike terror into a foodie. Fusion offers so much potential, but so often is the result of an over enthusiastic chef throwing ingredients at a plate like darts at a dartboard. I was really praying this was not the case at The Voyage of Buck, because the bar and restaurant have been so well imagined that it would have been a shame for the food not to live up to that.
We ordered the Pulled Ham Hock, Pickled Pear, Juniper Oil, and Lemon Thyme to start. This was presented in a terrine style and was really delicious. The pickled pear was inspired, offering some sharpness to cut through the rich and velvety ham.
Our second starter was Grilled Tiger Prawns, Curried Cauliflower, Coriander and Mango Salsa. Peeling prawns can be a real faff, I’m glad I had the husband on hand to take care of it. They do however look so much grander on the plate. The flavours here were exciting, and the colours vibrant. Once again I was transported from a drizzly grey Edinburgh to warmer climes through the medium of food.
Alex is still on a diet at the moment, so helpfully choosing the healthier options from a menu, which I manage to body swerve every time. It means not everything featured here is highly calorific! This Rare Beef Salad with Pak Choi, Green Beans, Red Chilli, Blossom Honey and Lime is a perfect example of a healthier option which still has plenty of flavour, it’s one that will keep the Slimming Worlders happy, along with those aspiring to that ever elusive bikini body.
I had Chicken Breast San Bei with Wild Rice, Sesame Chicken Crackling, Basil and Mango. Umami flavours were abound on this dish which came via a sweet and savoury soy glaze. The chicken crackling was indulgent, but overall it wasn’t a heavy dish that left me feeling like I need a lie down. There was plenty of space for dessert!
I can’t resist Turkish Delight so I insisted on the Orange Blossom Turkish Delight with Dehydrated Rhubarb, Pink Peppercorn Mascarpone, and Rhubarb Dust. The flavour was good but the Turkish Delight had more of the texture of jelly, than the fudgey one I was expecting. The pink peppercorn mascarpone was everything I fear about fusion, it didn’t work for me, although the husband didn’t find it as offensive as I did, so could be a personal thing. The dehydrated rhubarb crisps and the dust which tasted like sherbet were fun garnishes that I really enjoyed. For me, it was a couple of tweaks away from meeting the high standard of the other dishes.
Blow Torched Marshmallows, Chocolate Espresso and Toasted Walnut Biscotti is the type of dessert I like – lots of tasty things you want to eat on one plate. I guess it was a bit of a twist on fondue really. The chocolate was very good quality and I appreciated the fact the marshmallows were handmade. A good dessert.
I’d happily recommend The Voyage of Buck – the food is interesting and the whole experience has been well thought through and executed.
The Voyage of Buck
Location: 29-31 William St
Price: Small plates £4.95 – £7.95
Good for: Informal lunch/dinner and drinks with friends