The new Edinburgh cocktail and tapas bar where you shape the menu

Chameleon focuses equally on good food and expertly made cocktails. Picture: Chameleon/Facebook
Chameleon focuses equally on good food and expertly made cocktails. Picture: Chameleon/Facebook
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One of the newest bars to open in Edinburgh, Chameleon is a cocktail and tapas bar with a twist.

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New Edinburgh bar Chameleon offers a menu of tapas and cocktails. Picture: Gillian McDonald

New Edinburgh bar Chameleon offers a menu of tapas and cocktails. Picture: Gillian McDonald

Focusing equally on the food and drinks, the menus change regularly to adapt to the seasonal produce available – and the requests of customers.

Set up by Matt Urry, the man behind Broughton Street’s Seasons restaurant, Chameleon hopes to prove that seasonal produce works well for casual dining.

Sister restaurant Seasons offers a more formal tasting menu, but at Chameleon the focus is on small plates and sharing dishes.

“Lots of restaurants internationally are going towards the idea of small plates, as a lot of people are bored of the whole a la carte thing,” said Robbie Johnston, Chameleon’s bar manager. “This concept is more casual, so people can come in and try new things.”

Rather than being Spanish-focused, as tapas traditionally is, the menu features influences from all over the world. Expect dishes like mackerel with fennel, citrus and rocket, or halloumi fries with yogurt, hoisin and coriander.

A constantly changing menu

The name Chameleon is a nod to the restaurant’s ability to adapt to its surroundings. Based at the edge of Stockbridge, the team aim to appeal to the neighbourhood vibe of the area and encourage locals to have their say.

“We adapt to whatever is called for – both in terms of the produce available, and what customers want to see. If people say ‘I’d love to see this on the menu’, then next week it will be. We always take on customers’ ideas, as long as they’re good ones,” Johnston said.

The drinks menu is carefully thought out too, with local and seasonal ingredients taking centre stage. The main cocktail list will change quarterly, with options like the Chameleon No 1 (No 9 vodka, sloe gin, apricot, lime and soda) currently on the menu, and one-off specials will also be available.

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The basement bar has a relaxed atmosphere and stripped back, Scandinavian-inspired decor, in keeping with the casual vibe of the menu, and was designed by owner Urry, who had a background in interior architecture before becoming a chef.

“We wanted to avoid being too pretentious or too loud or too dark,” Johnston explained. “While there’s nothing wrong with that, many people just want to enjoy a cocktail somewhere chilled out with plenty of seats.”

Local suppliers and seasonal produce

Another part of Chameleon’s ethos is to be a zero-waste venture as much as possible. Produce is shared with Seasons, ensuring offcuts and leftovers get turned into something delicious with very little waste.

Chameleon also make use of a lot of local suppliers, including Summerhall-based Sour Punch Candy and the Edinburgh Ice Company for drinks, and Mark Murphy and Campbells in the kitchen. The bar will also soon be stocking I.J. Mellis cheese and charcuterie as part of the ever-changing menu.

Chameleon Cocktail & Tapas Bar is open now at 48 Howe Street, EH3 6TH. Find out more on their Facebook page.

This article first appeared on our sister site, inews.