TriBeCa, Edinburgh Bruntsfield, 88 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh EH10 4HG
RATING: Food 3; Atmosphere 3; Drinks 4 (no alcohol, bring your own wine); Toilets 3; Website 3.5
IT’S a wet, cold, dreich Tuesday night in January at around 6.30pm. Few people had ventured out but it appeared that all those who had were at Tribeca in Bruntsfield.
There was a queue and standing there, looking at the packed tables, it was hard to take in that 43 per cent of Trip Advisor reviewers had rated this restaurant poor.
If that was the case then why were so many people there? Yes, Tuesday is student night (discounts), but many students were not back from their Festive break.
We went on the recommendation of a man who is an Edinburgh socialite. He gets around. We were also intrigued as we’re just back from New York and Tribeca is new to the city.
Factually, it is one of a number of areas in New York City whose name is an acronym. The area is bounded by Canal Street, West Street, Broadway plus either Chambers or Vesey Streets.
Burgers and steaks obviously rule and it was no surprise that the clientele was generally on the lower side of middle-aged, predominantly in the 20s. The excited chatter when we arrived indicated that they were enjoying the experience.
We were had a choice. Stay upstairs and wait for our booked table to become free (a few minutes) or go downstairs. It was a no-brainer, particularly as the windows were steamed-up and it was packed upstairs.
Downstairs, however, lacks warmth in the décor (a few pictures of Broadway/Empire State/Brooklyn Bridge would not go amiss). The white-tiled walls look, if you were to be uncharitable, like the inside of an old-fashioned public loo or the subway, but our cheery waitress ushered us to a table and handed us the extensive menu.
Service was slick and our TriBiCa chicken wings and chicken nachos were soon at the table. The wings were spicy and the nachos tasty without being exceptional. Both dishes were, disappointingly, a tad cold.
We thought about steaks but plumped for burgers named after places or buildings in New York. They arrived after a slight delay, understandable because of the volume of custom and the fact that most came in large groups, one opposite us was 12-strong and another eight.
The All American was topped with lettuce, tomato, smoked bacon, pickle and a special burger sauce. Chris loved it and rejoiced as there was a sweet potato fries option. He enjoyed them, I didn’t.
My Harlem – chorizo, manchego cheese, serrano ham, roasted peppers in a bun on a bed of rocket – was tasty (and on the cool side). The roasted peppers tended to kill the taste of the serrano and the cheese was not strong enough to be noticed. It came with a dill sauce which, for me, added nothing to the overall taste.
The Chrysler – topped with American cheese, smoked bacon, caramelised onions and pickle with a burger sauce – was packed with flavour and The Chelsea - meat with apple and sage, topped by tomatoes with BBQ pulled pork and smoked cheese and dressed with crispy lettuce – was well received, the flavours mixing well. Crispy fries were tasty but, once again, mine were on the cool side.
Some had room for more. The Brooklyn Ferry sundae didn’t last long – a good sign – and the Oreo cheesecake – yes it had a biscuit – disappeared along with the tasty chocolate muffin.
The background music and general atmosphere was appreciated, yes a tad noisy but that was due to big groups, but we wondered about the 43 per cent of Trip Advisor visitors. They may have been on a bad night.
Yes, management could, in my view, up their game in certain areas (I didn’t like the coloured cover idea for the wooden servers), but our two waitresses were attentive and the senior one exceptional.
We ordered something which was out of stock. Understandable, being over the New Year period and we were given a straight explanation. The girls were at our table several times checking that we had everything and the boss was right on top of her job. Having been in the trade (briefly) I know how hard it is to please big numbers in a busy restaurant.
So, we enjoyed the experience and would recommend it. Parking, after 6.30pm is great, and members of our party have also tried the Glasgow outlet for brunch and enjoyed it.