Friday, 21 August 2009

Eating at The Fringe Festival

For the last 20 days, Edinburgh has been busy with the various festivals that are held here during August. There's books, opera, dance, theatre, and a nightly RAF flyover at 9pm on the dot. The biggest of all the festivals is the Fringe, which tends to be mostly comedy with the odd hint of amateur theatricals.

Much of the Fringe takes place in the University Unions. It's very strange to see the bar where you'd go for a cheap drink after lectures packed full of "real" people. Weirder still is that Pleasance Sports Hall is a major venue. Normally, queuing outside Pleasance equals an exam. Queuing with a beer in hand to see stand up messes with my mind.

Most Fringe tickets are unreserved, so you have to stake your place in the queue 30 minutes or so before the show starts if you want a choice of seats - otherwise you can find yourself split up if you are in a big group, or sitting in centre front row for a comedian who likes to pick on the audience. This isn't really a major problem, but for those seeing several shows on the same day, it can mean that once you have traveled between venues, you have little or no time to eat. (Ok, I realise that this is probably only a problem for me, but it is a serious one! You try sitting through an hour of hip-hop theatre when you desperately need some food!)

Assembly Rooms on George Street has a pretty standard cafe on the premises, and the Pleasance complex has a small barbecue van that does ok burgers and sausages, and a small cafe. Pleasance Dome also has the guys from the Mosque Kitchen serving decent curries for bargain prices.

However, the most interesting eating at the Fringe is to be had in Bristo Square, in the courtyard of the Guilded Balloon (otherwise known as Teviot to the locals). With all the American blogs and food sites going mental over gourmet food trucks, it's good to see a few food vans that aren't just burger and chips here in the UK. They're great to grab a snack at in-between shows, and everything is portable should you need to queue and nosh simultaneously.

La Creperie - Not that exciting, but sometimes you *need* a pancake with Nutella.

Wee Hut - Serves several types of wurst, I am going to try the smoked wurst next.

La Favorita Pizza Oven - Features a real wood fired pizza oven (you can see the black chimney at the the top of the photo). Generally very tasty and stays open late. (Although they had a sign today proclaiming themselves "Athur (sic) Smith's Favourite Pizza")

Well Hung and Tender - Comedy name, but seriously good burgers. T was put off by the open air relish station, but I enjoyed using coffee stirrers to sample all the condiments before deciding that the mustard mayo should grace my burger.

Fish Mussels - Not quite in Bristo Square, but around the corner at Hullaballoo. Doesn't serve fish, but does serve mussels in a classic white wine and garlic type sauce.

It also serves these bad boys...

I wasn't sure whether I liked oysters or not. I can't remember ever eating a raw one, and when I can remember eating one, they've always been deep-fried. The oysters are freshly shucked as you order them, and garnished with a squeeze of lemon and a drop or two of Tabasco. However, since plucking up the courage to try one the other day, I've been back for more. Very delicious and a really unusual streetfood option!


I Love said...

I could eat for Scotland at the Dome / Udderbelly, some yummy places. Try the Cabaret Bar at Zoo Southside for THE cheapest food of the festival, cup of tea 60p and lovely service by pensioners !!

Chele said...

I was out with girls on Thursday night, saw Tao at the Assembly Hall on the mound - if you get the chance defo go see them, muscles on muscles!! Anyway, we found it so hard to get a sit down meal anywhere afterwards, even the off the beaten track type places that only locals know about were overbooked! We ended up at our old favourite 'Sygn' which is behind Pizza Express at Charlotte Square but it was only by chance there was a table free. We should of gone to Bristo Square and sampled the goodies there!

Jenny said...

Haven't been to Zoo Southside yet, but I do love a traditional cafe run by nanas. I think cheap and cheerful scones and tea can be a bit underrated by the food blogging community!

I ended up having dinner at the Pizza Express in Holyrood the other week, it was the only place that wasn't rammed on a Saturday night (mainly as it's in the middle of nowhere). Although I love the festival, it is annoying when you can't get in to even your local hideaway places! I keep wanting to shout at flyer-ers that I actually live here and am not interested in free physical theatre...

Jenny said...

PS - Finally managed to score a Bavarian Smokie from the Wee Hut last night. The sauerkraut was a little heavy on the carraway, but the smokie itself was a delight of processed meat. Very tender with a definite smoked flavour.