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.
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 Despite an out of date blackboard still showing the availability of fish and chips, they had, like the meatballs, been removed from the compact menu.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.