Don’t get me wrong, Brahms and Liszt had it's good points. A dark, subterranean boozer, it was the ideal place to hide when bunking off lectures. Cocooned in the dinge, nobody would ever find you, even if they did bother to look. But, of course, what most people remember about Brahms and Liszt is the monkey nuts that they used to give away. Now, it’s a nice touch but when monkey nuts are your unique selling point then something is not quite right.

So, frankly, it’s a welcome change that in the place of B&L there now stands the infinitely funkier balsa. Comprising three rooms, the most striking aspect is the entry area. The walls and ceiling are made from rough, sand blasted wooden planks. It's like walking into a newly built log cabin with the notable differences that

first floor, cul de sac southside

"...way and above a better bar"

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balsa: wooden't it be nice

there’s a DJ sitting in one of the walls and there's suede banquette seating.

The other two areas are a little more conventional, but special mention must be made of the munchkin-sized chairs by designers One Foot Taller. They look just about big enough for use in a toddlers' play pen but are in fact comfier than your oldest, most favourite ever trainers.

’We've tried to use low cost materials in a groovy, cheesey way,’ explains Kirsty Lang of Graven Images, the super industrious design company behind balsa’s look. ’lt’s a mix of the 505, 605 and 705. It’s not about being really designery, it's about how the space is used. It's a wee underworld.’

The lunch menu is suitably modish and comes from around the world. There’s an ever changing sausage selection with red onion gravy and mash, Thai fish cakes,

Tuscan bolognaise, blackened chicken supreme and a Japanese style broth served with either roast veggies, poached salmon or chicken. Closer to home, haggis, neeps and tatties will stick to your ribs. Most of the dishes are just under a fiver.

A pre-club crowd looks like being one of the mainstays of balsa’s clientele and local 015 will be on hand with their boxes of aural mood enhancers. A more dramatic mood shifter comes in the form of Avalanche. It’s a blue liqueur made by the same people who do Aftershock and it‘s supposed to be interesting when the two drinks are combined. Beats monkey nuts anyway. (Jonathan Trew)

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