Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Weekend Brunch: The Roseleaf

The Roseleaf is a bit of a locals' secret. It's hidden just out the way down from the Shore in Leith and is the type of place you want to take people to show off about cool places you know about. There are some eccentric touches at the Roseleaf that make it just the right side of quirky - the menus are all hidden away in 1950's National Geographic magazines, the drinks menus in old Decanters; the cocktails are served in vintage teapots and teacups; vintage radios and old novelty teapots are used to decorate the place; and the menu is full of local chat, for instance you could order a Barry Burger along with their a Port-a-Belly Donkey, their take on a Moscow Mule. The decor is faded glamour vintage boozer and the staff are also unfailingly genuine and friendly - it's a perfect laid back place to come for brunch on a weekend. It's served daily between 10am-5pm and there's a roast on Sunday's too. I would recommend phoning ahead if you intend to go after 12 on weekends as it does get busy.
The menu at the Roseleaf has changed a few times in the past few years - last year, a new chef started and breathed some new life in and while it's not quite a gastropub it's certainly a very classy take on pub grub. Certain things on the menu have been a bit hit and miss for me but these teething problems seem to be sorted out now and the extensive brunch menu has some real treats on it. Top brunch picks have been the french toast with bacon, banana and maple syrup; the eggs benedict with a variety of additions available - spinach, bacon, black pudding, smoked salmon or haggis; the Big Yin full Scottish breakfast; and the mighty Ploughman's lunch, which features a homemade pork pie, pickled cabbage and beetroot and a wee loaf of bread (though last time I ordered this they forgot to add the cheese to my plate! I received a few lumps of cheddar pretty quickly after mentioning this). Another standout is the homemade sausage roll - a behemoth of spicy flavoursome sausage with golden flaky pastry which is a world away from Greggs.

There's a dinner and afternoon tea menu available too. Retro hats adorn the walls of the pub for customers to wear whilst taking high tea with specially made cakes.

Whilst the food is lovely, the real star of the Roseleaf is the drinks. There's a whole page of original cocktails, made with their own homemade ginger beer and lemonade. They're all a fiver each and if you get two of the same, they come served in "pot tail" teapots and cups. Shots come served in egg cups. These little touches would be sweet on their own, but the cocktails are unique and imaginative as well as being damn tasty. Favourites include the Rosebud, homemade rose lemonade with gin and cucumber; Fruit Tingle, bubbly with passion fruit and berries; and the Peely Wally Scotsman, their own version of a white Russian.

If that doesn't appeal to you, there are over 20 different types of beer, 15 types of whisky, and a decent sized spirits, wine and bubbly list. On the sober side they have freshly squeezed juices, coffee and blended teas available - I'm yet to try an afternoon tea there but with over 10 loose leaf teas to try they give other tea places a run for their money.
It's clear that a lot of thought gone into every aspect of the Roseleaf to make it into the charmer it is without being twee and it's a rare find indeed. It's the kind of place you love coming back to and well worth a visit.

Roseleaf Bar
23/24 Sandport Place
Tel: 0131 476 5268


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