A fine addition to Thistle St, The Bon Vivant

The World pub on Thistle St was best known for its karaoke. Those days are gone and The Bon Vivant, a reference to a person who enjoys the good things in life especially food and drink, has taken its place. With perhaps Edinburgh’s finest selection of champagne by the glass including Pol Roger, Veuve Clicquot and Louis Roederer (all ¬£6 each) the drink angle is well and truly covered. This is emphasised by the availability of a flute full of Krug champagne for ¬£16 and an even larger choice of champagne by the bottle, including three varieties of the pink stuff.

Fish cakes, mushroom tart and lamb goujon at The Bon Vivant, Thistle St, Edinburgh Pumpkin risotto at The Bon Vivant, Edinburgh

The availability of such bubbling riches would count for little if The Bon Vivant failed to provide the necessary atmosphere and ambiance. Thankfully this is not the case. While the interior hasn’t drastically changed from days past The Bon Vivant’s perfect lighting, candles on each table and dark walls make this bar a cosy, atmospheric and very welcome place to relax. Though the split level bar area is entirely appropriate, The Bon Vivant’s gent’s bathroom would benefit from more design effort than an Imperial Leather dispenser at each sink.

After a previous Saturday night visit I’d imagined choosing meatballs for starter and fish and chips for main. Despite an out of date blackboard still showing the availability of fish and chips, they had, like the meatballs, been removed from the compact menu. The Bon Vivant offers a good range of ¬£1 bites, which are a wise addition to their culinary offering. We certainly weren’t disappointed with a slice of mushroom tart, lamb goujon and two fish cakes; although the grease could have been better removed from our deep fried choices. For those of you enjoying drinks and lacking the appetite for a main course, the bites menu coupled with the availability of olives (¬£2.50), chips (¬£3), bread (¬£1) and pistachios/cashews (¬£1.50) should provide ample satisfaction.

Most of The Bon Vivant’s main courses will set you back the same as a glass of champagne. Our pumpkin risotto was solidly done, although the knobs of cheese won’t suit everyone’s tastes. The portion size was ample and I ended the dish happy with our selection and delighted at the value. Gladly The Bon Vivant follows other recent additions to Edinburgh’s bar scene by providing a menu which changes regularly and offers invention/variety, while providing good output at a very fair price.

Sunday afternoons at The Bon Vivant offer a DJ and a three course roast meal for ¬£12. Their champagne menu also invites patrons to enquire about joining their wine tasting panel. I doubt these will be the only regular events The Bon Vivant are planning and it’s good to see that an evolution into upmarket territory isn’t necessarily at the expense of local identity and community building.

The Bon Vivant does style, but does it sensibly and with a sense of normality. With its Thistle St location I hope it does well, while avoiding the mass popularity of the Saturday night haunts on George St. In summary, The Bon Vivant is a very welcome addition to the bar selection in Edinburgh’s city centre and a thoroughly satisfying choice for nourishment. Ensure you give it a try, regardless of whether champagne is your tipple or not!

The Bon Vivant is located at 55 Thistle St, Edinburgh, EH2 1DY.
Telephone: 0131 225 3275
Food is served daily 12pm - 10pm.

9 Responses to “A fine addition to Thistle St, The Bon Vivant”

  1. Bring back the World..was a lot better atmosphere

  2. iswavydavymental? on December 2nd, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Is Wavy Davy right in the head? The world was a hole!!!!

  3. Popped in for lunch last Friday, place was dead. We only went in because the TSB was heaving.

    It was cold and drafty, partly because it was empty. We ordered chicken stew and a fish and chips. FANTASTIC! Really lovely food. Service was excellent. I hope more people start to frequent it.

  4. Wavy Davie has lost his will to live, Bon Vivant is much, much better!!!!!

  5. Enjoyed Sunday lunch there with friends last week, although when we walked in at 1.30pm we were the only customers and I was in a mild panic that there would be zero atmosphere. But more bods arrived, and there was a nice buzz, and we had a lovely lunch - although the “the Sunday Soul Sessions” did provide great music it was TOO LOUD! to enjoy a catch up with friends!

  6. I was recommended to go to Bon Vivant as I like to try different places to eat - excellent choice! Ive been back lots and recommended it to all my friends. The food is lovely - I had pumpkin soup and venison goulash with rice last time I was there - it was lovely. Cant believe how cheap the food is - great wine list too. I’d defo recommend everyone to try it out. Cant wait to go back!

  7. Surprised to learn that so many people say the Bon Vivant is quiet, it is always buzzing with people eating drinking and coming and going when i’m there! always a great atmosphere and super value food as well. going this weekend actually!!! see y’all there :)

  8. Alex Sutherland on December 11th, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Since discovering this place, me and the family have returned on every visit to Scotland. We stay in Edinburgh now, when we’re up to watch Celtic games in Glasgow, because this place keeps calling us back ! The guy who runs it, Stuart, he’s a smashing fella and has made my kids feel welcome in the early evening too. Great service, great food, great atmosphere, reasonable prices and all-round ace place ! Nice one Stuart.

  9. […] is a big bonus. There’s no surprise to see Edinburgh Blog favourites such as The Bon Vivant, Mother India Cafe and the fantastic Tapa Barra y Restaurante […]

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