Life & Style - Eating & Drinking Guide sneak preview
A taste of things to come
The 14th edition of our annual Eating & Drinking Guide will be given away free with the next issue of The List. Here we offer a small sample of what to expect from more than 800 completely revised entries, excerpting reviews of some of the most interesti
The 14th edition of our annual Eating & Drinking Guide will be given away free with the next issue of The List. Here we offer a small sample of what to expect from more than 800 completely revised entries, excerpting reviews of some of the most interesting places to open in the past year
The Storytelling Café
Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43 High Street, Old Town, 0131 556 9579, www.scottishstorytellingcentre.co.uk Food served: Mon-Sun 10am-6pm
£8 (average price of a two-course meal)
Situated in the revamped Scottish Storytelling Centre, this well-appointed café holds more than a few surprises. The relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere belies the culinary mastery at work. Sandwich combinations such as smoked bacon, blue cheese, pear and walnut, and beetroot, caper and mozzarella tell you that chef Richie Alexander takes his work very seriously. The home-made cakes - especially the light and tangy lemon cheesecake - taste good at any hour.
High point: Creative menu
Low point: Bold flavours won’t suit everyone
45 Morningside Road, Southside, 0131 466 7665, www.palmerstons.co.uk, Food served: Tue-Sat noon-2.30pm, 6-9.30pm.
£22.80 (average price of a two-course meal)
Palmerston’s opened in August 2006 on the site previously occupied by Orbis. New owner Simon Lloyd has retained chef Danny Owen, but given him more creative scope and sanctioned the sourcing of some of Scotland’s finest produce, resulting in a menu that is concise, but well focused. A delicate starter of crab and avocado salad is bursting with summery freshness. Local pheasant breast wrapped in crisp strips of pancetta shines with the help of a subtle kohlrabi purée, while an incredibly tender fillet of beef is sourced from the best Scottish herds reared on a completely natural diet.
High point: Perfectly formed wine list
Low point: Limited number of tables so it’s better to book
49-51 Causewayside, Southside, 0131 667 1110, Food served: Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm, 5.30-11pm; Sun 5.30-11pm.
£18 (average price of a two-course meal)
Opened in 2006, this new kid on the slightly out-of-the-way Southside block displays a finesse that belies its youth. Judiciously chosen artworks whisper understated elegance, and exemplify the harmonious marriage of contemporary and traditional which extends to the menu. All the Thai favourites are here, from tom yum soup to pad Thai, but it’s in former Erawan chef Lek Nopporn Kongton’s subtle re-interpretations of the classics that flavours really fly. A main course of Bangkok beef stew transcends its humble form with melting meat and mellow spices. For dessert, try crispy banana fritters with coconut ice-cream that is as nutty as it is sweet. Celadon is a rising star in Edinburgh’s culinary firmament.
High point: The two-course set lunch is a bona fide bargain
Low point: Deserves a better location
78 Commercial Quay, Leith, 0131 555 1755, www.thekitchin.com, Food served: Tue-Thu 12.30-2pm, 7-10pm; Fri/Sat 12.30-2pm, 6.45-10.30pm.
£32 (average price of a two-course meal)
Halfway along the uniform row of restaurants and bars in Leith’s modern Commercial Quay is Edinburgh’s newest Michelin star restaurant: the Kitchin won the accolade just six months after opening in the summer of 2006. The understated but comfortably contemporary décor is illuminated by an opening into the kitchen, which gives you tantalising glimpses of chefs at work. The restaurant takes its name from chef/owner Tom Kitchin, who is still not 30. The menu reflects his passion for locally-sourced Scottish produce with French interpretations. Ravioli of langoustine is complemented by an intense earthy fish broth of cognac, vermouth, cream and tarragon. Seasonality is a strong vein to the menus, as is a ‘whole-animal’ approach: look out for rolled pig’s head served with crispy ear salad, or fillet of Angus beef superbly enhanced by a rich, glossy, dark brown bone marrow sauce. Fixed-priced lunches remain a steal.
High point: Food is king and the service, wine and décor all revolve round the menu
Low point: Spicy haggis with foie gras is a cultural marriage too far
78 Queen Street, City Centre, 0141 248 9666, www.okoexpress.com, Food served: Mon noon- 10pm; Tue-Sat noon-5am; Sun noon-9pm.
£10 (average price of a two-course meal)
OKO Express aims to be a quick refuelling stop - hence the addition of ‘Express’ as part of the relocation from the erstwhile Merchant City location. This is a smaller, cosier space than before, with a warm, red decor. The menu offers no starter/main course division - diners simply pick a selection of dishes that are brought to the table as soon as they are ready. A light-fingered sushi chef tends to his dainty art at an open bar, but there are plenty of other options such as teriyaki and fried rice, which comes with a choice of meat, fish or vegetables.
High point: High quality at relatively low prices
Low point: Menu a little confusing to the uninitiated
The Left Bank
33-35 Gibson Street, West End, 0141 339 5969, www.theleftbank.co.uk, Food served: Mon-Fri 9am-10pm; Sat/Sun 10am-10pm [bar open: Mon-Fri 9am- midnight; Sat/Sun 10am- midnight].
£12.50 (average price of a two-course meal)
The Left Bank offers a casually stylish hangout out that’s as much a bar as a bistro. It’s been hugely busy since its arrival in 2006 on the Gibson Street scene, and the atmosphere can at times be frenetic (so this is not always the best place to wind down over a meal on weekend nights). The lengthy menu underpins the restaurant’s flexible philosophy, serving up innovative food that is cooked freshly and displays global influences. Among more substantial main courses are sticky pork belly in a glossy sauce spiked with chilli and star anise or traditional beer-battered fish or freshly-prepared burgers, served with chunky home-made chips.
High point: Fresh tasty food
Low point: ‘Full-on’ weekend evenings
1397 Argyle Street, West End, 0141 357 4328, www.blasresturant.com, Food served: Mon-Sun 10am-10pm [bar open: Mon-Sun 10am-11pm].
£15 (average price of a two-course meal)
Blas is the Gaelic word for ‘taste’, and those who dine here can expect to experience the varied flavours of Scotland. Among deceptively simple café-bar décor are a number of design touches - such as wallpaper from Timorous Beasties. A passionate sourcing policy has tracked down smoked salmon from an Ullapool smokehouse and venison sausages from the reputed best butcher in Glasgow. Vegetarians are equally well catered for, with options ranging from mushroom stew (a thick Scots broth packed with barley, herbs and mushrooms) to fabulous veggie haggis with a strong clove tang.
High point: The best ingredients Scotland has to offer
Low point: Food this good is worthy of a tablecloth
Bistro at One Devonshire Gardens
1 Devonshire Gardens, West End, 0141 339 2001, www.onedevonshiregardens.com, Food served: Mon-Thu noon- 2.30pm, 7-10pm; Fri noon- 2.30pm, 6-10.30pm; Sat 6- 10.30pm; Sun 12.30-3pm, 7- 10pm [bar open: Mon-Sun 10am- midnight].
£27 (average price of a two-course meal)
The Bistro at One Devonshire Gardens dares to ditch Glasgow’s famed gallus vigour for Gallic elegance - symbolically, pitch-black blinds block out busy Great Western Road. Yet the potentially starchy hauteur of French fine dining is subverted by concessions to easygoing Glasgow: for example, Billie Holiday or chillout electronica plays in the background. The menu heralds ‘simple grill classics’ alongside more ostentatious fare: a dainty velouté of crêpes with truffle oil is a typical appetiser. A main course of pork belly with sweetbread in pig’s tail unashamedly plays up meaty vigour, while roasted chicken tops potato fondants covered in a subtle white wine foam. Among desserts, a dense, dark chocolate tower - hiding an inner cylinder of salted caramel - topples onto malted barley ice cream.
High point: Chef Paul Tamburrini is relishing new surroundings
Low point: Difficult to contact by phone