OX184: Wood-fired grill, craft beer, world whisky

Two centuries ago cattle were herded along the Cowgate on market days. Under the shadow of South Bridge in 2015 there’s a solitary beast of a brand-new breed.

OX184 is Edinburgh’s newest bar restaurant and late night venue; soon to be renowned for its wood-fired grill, craft beer and whisky.

It’s the latest project from FullerThomson, who have a portfolio of individual Scottish businesses – Edinburgh’s Red Squirrel, The Southern and The Holyrood 9a, as well as Jute at DCA, Drouthy’s and Duke’s Corner, all in Dundee.

Open until 3am every day, OX184’s house beer on tap is sourced from Tempest Brew Co in Tweedbank, and there’s an eclectic list of craft beer by the can. There’s also an octet of beers on rotation, with dedicated origin lines for Belgian and US beers, as well as style-dedicated taps for stout, IPA, cider and pale ale.

FullerThomson has worked with Royal Mile Whiskies to create a whisky (and whiskey) library that boasts international versions of the amber nectar, from single malts to bourbons, via Scotland, the US, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands – even India (Amrut Single Malt). These are categorised by flavour, allowing the customer to experiment according to their preferences. Samplings, tasting evenings and whisky-pairing events will also help to develop the palate.

New experiences abound on a visit to OX184. Perhaps they can introduce you to a pickleback (a shot of pickling brine taken after a whisky) or a boilermaker (beer teamed with a whisky). The innovative drinks menu also features a range of bespoke cocktails, five of which are named after New York boroughs. Let one of the bartenders muddle you a Brooklyn, with a blend of Tincup American Whiskey, Dolin dry vermouth, Briottet maraschino liqueur and Amer Picon biere.

The OX184 dining experience is equally well conceived. To befit the location, the focus is on a seasonally changing menu of locally sourced prime organic meat, including rare breed beef and pork, with suppliers including well-respected Lauder butcher Shaws Fine Meats. The open kitchen allows diners to watch their team of chefs sear options including the 8oz shorthorn ribeye steaks on a wood-fired grill, which was custom made by Rosewell based blacksmiths G Fitzsimmons & Son.

It’s a serious piece of kit that uses sizzling hot embers to cook the meat slowly, delivering a melting texture and caramelisation, thus deepening and enhancing the flavour. The open kitchen also allows for olfactory entertainment: you’ll smell the rich fragrance before your juicy piece of beef even hits the table. The smells of smoking wood and cooking meat will make it hard for anyone who has popped in ‘just’ to drink.

Overall the selection of food at OX184 will be hard to resist.

“There’s an American slant,” says James Stuart-Gammie, operations manager at FullerThomson. “But we’ve put our own spin on it”.

Combine a US vibe (and Stateside portion sizes) and a wood-fired grill with a focus on local provenance and you get serious dishes like Galloway brisket and the OX184 signature burger, oozing with cheese. For pudding, try the special banoffee, which has been finished on their wood smoke in-house smoker.

The menu also offers a range of tempting lighter bites, including shrimp and lobster sliders and bacon corn muffins. Diners can choose to eat in the more casual downstairs bar area or up a level on the mezzanine.

And no matter when hunger strikes OX184 is there. Food is served from 11am until 2.30am. Start the day with a brunch dish; with burly choices including grilled hot links, vanilla eggy bread or a full breakfast that features the works.

The surroundings here are equally tasty. Inspiration for the warehouse-like open-plan interior was taken from hipster hangouts including Fette Sau in Williamsburg, as well as Brooklyn’s Berg’n and Spritzenhaus 33.

Edinburgh based architects KBA+D took this modern building, formerly Siglo and, latterly, Capital nightclub, back to bare bones, removing layers of this property’s previous incarnations.

“We stripped it back until the steel was exposed,” says Cara Murphy, KBA+D’s interior designer. “It’s lost its cheesy style and now looks more contemporary, but with a dark spin”.

Now there are floor-to-ceiling windows, industrial light fittings, raw and rustic heavy timber tables featuring blackened wood and collegiate-style seating – a look that’s contemporary yet immune to changing trends.

Textural detail is provided by black leather banquettes, rough herringbone fabrics, voile at the windows and draped velvet curtains to frame the entrance.

It’s a design that’s great for groups and encourages guests to linger and socialize. Pitch up at one of the large communal tables and grab an eight-pint demijohn of craft beer to share with your friends (or strangers, if you want to make a few more pals). On Friday and Saturday nights guest DJs will be on hand to help fill the space, choosing tunes to entertain and accentuate the relaxed ambience. The only issue will be persuading everyone to leave at the end of the night.

OX184 is a valuable addition to a part of the capital that mixes world-famous historical landmarks with rediscovered cool credentials, complementing recent openings including the SoCo development and the newly re-launched La Belle Angele.

“The Cowgate is a heritage site that’s being rejuvenated with bars and hotels opening,” says Stuart-Gammie. “We’re excited to be part of it”.

OX184, 184-186 Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1JJ

Facebook.com/ox184

Twitter.com/ox184

www.ox184.co.uk

Further media information:

Jennie Patterson at Patter PR Tel: 07773 849586 email: jennie@patterpr.com