“Any dietary requirements?”, our waiter asks before we even sit down in the Broughton, a "Public House and Eatery". Allergies and intolerances, real and imagined, and assorted pernickety requirements, philosophical, ethical or merely neurotic, I don’t envy chefs who have to find menus to please everyone. The other day at a hotel breakfast buffet my eye alighted on a prominent warning list of allergens, running to two columns, I’d guess about 40 items, way beyond the usual suspects: milk, soya, peanuts. On it appeared celery – one of my favourite vegetables – but who eats it for breakfast? And when did celery become a risky food that merits a hazard warning?

Fortunately our party eats everything; the chefs must love us. My expectations are low: pub food is rarely much better than basic, and usually boringly predictable, the customary “you’ve worn us down” pander to a clientele that could throw a wobbly if the menu doesn’t include fish and chips, and burgers, plated up to look as filling as possible.

And this is why the Broughton Bar is refreshing. It is a bar – warm, welcoming – but the "eatery" area is slightly separated from the crush of drinkers. It’s the best of both worlds really, we’re benefiting from the convivial buzz but our table is quieter, more intimate, nicely set, civilised, and we can hear each other speak.

Out comes our plate of Company Bakery bread – the best sourdough Edinburgh has to offer – and butter whipped with lemon zest through it. This costs £3, a steal for bread of this quality and all that butter. And then for another £5 we’re feasting on an abundant selection of cured meats from East Coast, the capital’s top charcutier. Their skill lies in the fact that while each salumi type is distinctive – fennel; smoked lonzo from the fillet; hot, but not belligerent chorizo that’s brick-red from smoked paprika – the sweet taste of the cured pork comes through. These pink, fleshy curls come with slices of pickled plum, beetroot, and what we take to be kohlrabi. So that’s £8 so far, top drawer ingredients and enough to feed three as a starter, yet they’re priced as nibbles.

As a starter proper, the chicken liver paté makes from rewarding eating: creamy, smooth, peppery, rich inside its buttery frame, with liquefied fig paste and toasted hazelnuts to provide textural and taste contrasts. It’s flanked by more of that brilliant sourdough, toasted, a demonstration of the Maillard reaction, that browning makes an already wonderful food even more wonderful. Not as much to my taste is the Isle of Mull cheddar "hash brown" – I could do with more cheese and less spud – and its pickled apple, cut with a melon baller, is a bit Cath Kidston for my liking.

Pheasant? I hesitate: it’s so hard to keep the breast succulent. But they’ve managed it, and they’ve lavished attention on the thigh meat, giving it a bit of a confit treatment. By way of embellishment it comes in a crowd with chunky smoked bacon lardons, charred Brussels sprouts, potato purée and a complementary fruity, brown sauce.

A starter of chicken tortellini makes a plausible main course, al dente pasta stuffed with a filling that concentrates the cosseting flavours you’d find in an old fashioned chicken consommé broth, bedecked with a loose foam of parmesan and porcini mushrooms, potent yet restrained, and thankfully free from any knee-jerk blunderbuss truffle oil dressing.

Puddings, well, there’s a change of gear here, a lack of interest even, and that tedious obsession with excess sugar. So, a sticky toffee pudding that’s dry from excess baking soda under its cloying sauce, made even sweeter by clotted cream ice cream and a superfluous brandy snap-type biscuit. What would be a reasonable, if unexceptional, chocolate pudding with a molten centre is once again too sugary when served alongside a milky ice cream and nearly its weight again in tooth-rotting honeycomb.

It’s as if there’s some unspoken rule that desserts should be the dietary equivalent of a baby’s dummy for the insulin-resistant sugar abuser. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I’d be happy if the Broughton was in my neighbourhood though, but I’d stick with the savouries.

The Broughton, 46-48a Broughton Street, Edinburgh 0131 556 6608

Food: 8/10

Atmosphere: 9/10

Service: 8/10

Value for money: 9/10