The Cumberland Bar, in Edinburgh’s New Town, is best referred to as a traditional pub. It’s a popular haunt for local office workers seeking pub lunches and after work drinks. Although it’s less popular than it once was. There’s one distinguishing feature of The Cumberland Bar which is crucial for my continued trade: twisty fries. The Cumberland Bar’s twisty fries are outstanding, whether served with a wrap or on a plate of their own. I have to eat curly fries whenever I eat at The Cumberland Bar. If they ever took twisty fries off their menu, they would lose my custom.
Anyhow, this Friday myself and a couple of friends headed to The Cumberland Bar for a spot of lunch. A few years ago The Cumberland would have been extremely busy and only customers with reservations would likely find a table. There were still a few people in for lunch on Friday, but the bar wasn’t over busy. This coincides with greater competition in the immediate area, with The Zen Kitchen and Anima offering good takeaway lunch options, while The Orchard and Hamiltons provide nearby pub lunches.
I’ve always found the staff at The Cumberland hugely welcoming and very friendly. Their bar stocks a good range of real ales including Deuchars IPA, Caley 80 and a number of guest beers. For the lager lovers there’s Kronenberg and Stella Artois on draught and if whisky is your tipple, The Cumberland Bar have a good selection. It’s good to sit through the back of The Cumberland, especially in Winter, where the fire gives the room great warmth. On the rare occasion when Edinburgh isn’t too cold or windy to bear sitting outside, The Cumberland Bar has a great beer garden. So if you’re in Edinburgh’s New Town on an idyllic day, head to their beer garden for a few drinks.
When eating at The Cumberland Bar it’s table service. The menu is fairly extensive and has good variety. Light bites include a large plate of the brilliant twisty fries (¬£1.60), soup of the day (¬£2.75) and Caesar salad (¬£6.25). All ciabattas with salad cost ¬£4.50 and toasted sandwiches are ¬£2.75, for most fillings. Wraps, which are enticingly served with twisty fries, cost ¬£5.95. Finally The Cumberland Favourites section of the menu includes spicy wedges with chili and cheese (¬£4.45), haggis neeps and tatties (¬£6.25), deep fried haddock (¬£7.25), scampi and chips (¬£7.50) and burgers (¬£8.45).
I’ve always enjoyed lunch at The Cumberland and never had a bad meal. Usually I stick to the wraps and ciabattas; on Friday my BBQ Chicken Wrap with roast peppers was very good. There was a generous serving of twisty fries, a good side salad and the two piece wrap was wholesome and packed with chicken. An excellent meal. One of my friends ordered a tuna mayonnaise toastie, which was fairly average and obviously containing cheap tuna. I guess this is expected when paying ¬£2.75. My other friends chicken, bacon and mozzarella ciabatta was decent, although it’s consumer complained of it being a little dry. Personally, I really like the coleslaw this dish is served with.
On previous visits I’ve tried the scampi and chips, which was my weakest meal so far. That was served with The Cumberland Bar’s inferior normal chunky chips. I wasn’t impressed; but there is an option to get the brilliant twisty fries instead. Use it. The fairly mild curry (¬£6.75) is always decent and provides a huge portion. It’s served with additional pineapple, coconut and mango chutney. Haggis neeps and tatties are also decent, but not great. The same can be said of the sausage and mash. As said previously: ciabattas and wraps are The Cumberland Bar’s strongest offering.
Value wise I guess The Cumberland Bar is average for the area.
Anyhow, so long as twisty fries stay on the menu I’ll continue to have regular lunches at The Cumberland Bar. It offers hearty pub food, which is usually well prepared and always reliable. It’s also a decent New Town pub that makes a solid venue for a few round of drinks.
And just to emphasise the point: make sure you order twisty fries!
The Cumberland bar is located at 1-3 Cumberland Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6RT. Contact the bar on 0131 558 3134.