From Tweed Valley steak to meringue cake, it’s truly one of a kind…
It impressed our food and drink editor Deanna on opening late 2017 - she said it could give the ‘big steakhouses a run for their money’. And Alston Bar & Beef has been wowing people ever since with its prime Tweed Valley beef and outstanding array of gins; served up in a moody yet welcoming space of monochrome, marble and arty murals.
However, while they’re undoubtedly its specialities, there’s more to Alston than steak and gin. Giving simple dishes a quirky modern slant, its menus cater for everyone from carnivores to veggies - best showcased in the popular set menu. At just two courses for £15, or three for £18, this does include steak too - amazing value, considering the quality of Alston’s beef - and is welcoming in the summer months with some brand new dishes.
Popping down to try them out recently (it’s a hard life), we started off with lamb arancini; unctuous bread-crumbed balls of tender lamb served with pickled carrot, watercress and pomegranate salad, and a tangy chilli yoghurt. Shaved root vegetable salad was another lesson in contrasts, accented with creamy dabs of ricotta and citrusy dressing, with pumpkin seeds for extra bite. It tasted as good as it looked, quite something considering it looks like a piece of contemporary art.
As there were just two of us, we didn’t get to try the third starter - torched mackerel with cucumber salad and tomato ceviche - but we highly doubt you could go wrong with that either.
Onto the mains, and that famed steak we mentioned earlier: East Lothian Tweed Valley beef, dry aged for a minimum of 35 days and hand selected by Alston’s master butcher. Choose from 227g flat iron or D-rump (the latter £3 supplement), served with peppercorn sauce and skinny fries. Needless to say, both promise one of the tastiest, most succulent steaks you’ve ever encountered: this is Alston Bar & Beef after all.
Not to be outdone, crispy skin chicken was…well, deliciously crispy; served with roasted baby gem, sweet potato puree, edamame beans and a drizzling of jus for extra flavour. Other options include steamed haddock fillet and, for vegetarians, broad bean and pea risotto with Parmesan chips.
Finally, onto desserts and the quirky surprise of spaghetti ice cream. Don’t worry, it’s not ice cream-flavoured spaghetti (rather ice cream in spaghetti form) but it’s pretty novel all the same: our waiter told us she’d seen it in Berlin, but the invention was new to us. Anyway, there’s something very satisfying about slurping up dairy spaghetti - particularly when it’s a rich vanilla flavour, drizzled in strawberry compote.
Meringue cake was another satisfying hybrid, crunchy meringue giving way to a moist fruitcake laced with crushed raspberries. Tellingly, even the coffee dusting is carefully sourced at Alston’s - this was from Gordon Street, a small batch producer based in Edinburgh - and the whole was served with fresh raspberries and Chantilly cream.
Again, we were somewhat disappointed to miss out on the third option - rhubarb summer pudding - but at least it’s another excuse to go back. With value like this, why wouldn’t you?
Alston's set menu is available Monday - Thursday 12pm-6pm, Friday & Saturday 12-4pm. Menu changes frequently.