TriBeCa, who aim to provide ‘a little slice of the big apple in the heart of your neighbourhood’ opened their Edinburgh branch in August 2015. According to their website, which boasts TriBeCa’s supposed fame in Glasgow, the establishment is ‘instantly recognizable by the queue of hungry customers spilling out onto the pavement, and the distinctive NYPD Cruiser and Yellow NYC Cab parked outside…over the years, TriBeCa’s reputation grew and grew, until eventually this little cafe was queued out all weekend’. Quite noticeably, this success has not spread to Edinburgh.
On recently visiting the Bruntsfield restaurant, which like all other branches claims to be ‘The Original New York Kitchen,’ I rapidly questioned not only what makes them original, but equally, why on Earth is TriBeCa so busy? Ah, 50% off on all food and drinks on a Tuesday…now it begins to make sense. I’m sure, some might argue, that it’s hard to find fault when your whole meal – The Harlem Burger; steak patty topped with chorizo, manchego cheese, serrano ham, roasted peppers on a bed of rocket and chimichurri, accompanied by Sweet Potato Fries and an indulgent White Chocolate and Nutella ‘Snow Blizzard’ Milkshake – comes to under a tenner. However, the poor service and inedible burger bun certainly gave me something to complain about.
Perhaps one should lower their expectations; the place is packed with ravenous students so understandably the service is bound to be slower than usual. But you’re still a paying customer and trying to enjoy your evening whilst mounds of dirty glasses, cups and plates are piling up on the bar top nearby, is highly off putting. When the food did arrive, the burgers sourced from Aberfoyle butchers were dry and lacking in seasoning – certainly not served ‘medium to ensure maximum juiciness’ as the menu states. As for the gluten-free buns… remember that scene in ‘About A Boy’ where Marcus throws a loaf of bread at a duck and kills it? Need I say more? Dry meat carelessly thrown with a lump of unmelted manchego cheese and one slice of chorizo and serrano ham between a dense, stodgy bun; the whole thing was simply unpleasant.
Of course this is just my personal experience. One of my friends who has visited the establishment three times praised his Chelsea Burger (pork patty with apple and sage topped with BBQ pulled pork and smoked cheese dressed in a crispy lettuce) and suggested that I had simply ordered wrong. But upon instagramming my admittedly to-die-for milkshake, one fellow diner commented ‘I’ve been here 6 times now but every single time the service has been appalling, for my 18th birthday meal I waited over an hour for my main course and they messed up all our orders numerous times… I just keep going back because the French toast and pancakes are sooooo good’. Clearly I’m not the only customer to clock that TriBeCa are understaffed.
TriBeCa have yet to acquire an alcohol license so they implement a no-corkage BYOB policy. This makes their large selection of spirits on-display highly misleading when you cannot legally drink them – but hey, we’re students and we can drink more for less money, so who’s complaining. The half price deal is only available on a Tusday, so if you’re hesitant I suggest you only check out TriBeCa when you don’t have to pay full price. If you’re a fan of typical American food, prepared to gamble on quality and not under any time constraints then this place is definitely worth a visit. I however, will not be returning.
Image: Ailidh Forlan