As purveyors of small plate dining, and a saucy cocktail bar, ’tis apt Hemingway’s has inspired the Social Bitches to drink at breakfast. Though in fairness, not the first time, and it really didn’t take much encouragement. They said: try our brunch box, plus cocktails. We responded: Allons-y darling! And BTW, good morning.
But let’s start at the beginning, and talk about this lively establishment. Named after American novelist Ernest Hemingway, a quick google tells us he was a man of big personality, who loved adventure, hard drinking, and was married four times.
Assuming these are the themes the owners are aiming at, it definitely sounds like our kind of place. A quick peek through the window tells us we’re fans of its ritzy decor, well-turned-out staff, and the occasional splash of velvet.
We’re also delighted by the many tables alfresco, overlooking the Water of Leith. Even smarter, these tables boast adjustable heating. THANK YOU!!
Though while we wait desperately to follow the science, there’s always their fabulous brunch and cocktail boxes, available for collection or delivery. Which of course is how we came to be drinking at breakfast.
As is often the way, our dining experience begins innocently enough. A little Nina Simone, a glass of fresh orange juice, and a wonderfully sharp mix of Greek yoghurt with granola, berry compote & mixed berries.
We’re loving the unabashed, rather tart taste of the dish, though we do find ourselves thinking: more granola, and a splash less yoghurt might make this breakfast entree even better.
It’s about now the decadence really kicks in, as Isaac pours us each a Pornstar Martini. Even without the champagne [ or prosecco, if you must ] it transpires this fresh and fruity cocktail is a wonderful addition to one’s mid-morning.
As the last lovely, tropical sip disappears, we hear the welcome ting of the oven. Time for the main event, an indulgent dish of Waffles & Southern Fried chicken tenders with maple syrup & butter.
Now this is NOT a delicacy for those faint of appetite. It’s gigantic, with each portion easily enough for two people, and we absolutely 100% approve.
One bite, and boom! The waffles are a perfect ratio of crisp versus spongy, the chicken’s oh so tender, and the batter offers crunch yet is still wonderfully moist.
It also boasts a rather pleasing burst of spice, which is a delicious contrast to the sweetness of the maple syrup [ a generous pour btw, respect! ] and of course, the sinfulness of melted butter.
While we devour every last morsel, obvs, we can’t help wondering if we’ve been given a brunch-for-four by mistake? Or perhaps our stomachs have shrunk on Keto, who can say?? Either way, this epic main course delivers both quality and quantity.
Deciding to celebrate our discovery, it’s on to the next cocktail: an intriguing mix known simply as: Cobolt Bleu. For a start, it is indeed blue. There’s also specks of luminous gold, and an aroma of aniseed. Ouzo, maybe? Perhaps we’ll never know.
In truth, this isn’t an aperitif the Social Bitches would naturally gravitate towards, but we really do love the playfulness. Hemingway’s clearly like to dazzle the senses, offering cocktails with bold appearance, heavenly aroma and refreshing taste.
Unashamedly fun and high-spirited [ yes, pun intended ] once again we approve. Speaking of which, there’s still one more cheeky concoction in the fridge. Though obviously not for long.
And so, we compete our first meal of the day with a cheeky Midori Sour. This is the exciting story of melon meets alcohol. A liqueur that divides opinion, we grant you, but we have to say it works perfectly at brunch.
Utterly invigorating, not to mention a sophisticated use of fruit, we might even declare this one our favourite.
Before we forget: brunch also comes with the thoughtful addition of Brownie bites & raspberry coulis. So should you still feel peckish post-waffle, then this is for you. Though there’s every chance they really won’t be required.
Our verdict: The brunch box, plus cocktails, delivers on all levels, and offers a lot of bang for your buck. Much like the author himself, Hemingway’s prides itself on being big, bold, and full of adventure. We suspect Ernest would approve.
Reviewed March 2021
Hemingway’s Bar & Restaurant
1 Commercial Street
Leith, EH6 6JA
Brunch Boxes £25 / feeds 2
Cocktails to go £5 / 2 serves / Box of 8 cocktails £30