Scotland’s famous East coast port is thriving again. Ann Donald checks out the best Leith has to offer.

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Open 7 days serving bistro food twice daily in our wine encrusted quayside conservatory

lc Dock Place Leith. Edinburgh Tel: 031 554 7427

Leith’s motto, ‘persevere’, seems most appropriate for an area which has ridden the roller-coaster of fortune and disaster over its 900-year history. At one time Leith had its own council and provost and this independent spirit still exists today, with Leithers talking about, ‘going into Edinburgh’ for the day.

Leith began as a collection of huts on the west side of the Water of Leith. grew to a thriving village in the 12th century, was burnt down twice in the 16th century, and then began to prosper as Scotland’s premier port town. As a booming commercial centre, its population had swollen from five to twenty thousand by the end of the 17005. The growth continued in the 19th century with new industries such as brewing, iron foundries and, of course, shipbuilding, for which Leith was world-renowned.

However, a decline began after World War II when a colder economic wind blew in, and by the 19705, the vagaries of international trade and post-War changes in the economy together with slum clearances and misguided redevelopment plans assured Leith a very negative image as a downmarket docklands area with all the unsavoury connotations that implied.

The Leith Project was the catalyst that halted the spiral of decline by convincing investors and small businesses to pump millions into the area. The last ten years have seen a dramatic turn-around with buzz-words like ‘resurgence’ and ‘revitalisation’ being a major part of the PR miracle. As Jim Pettyman, Executive Director of Leith Enterprise Trust, emphasises: ‘Not only have these changes brought financial benefits to Leith, they have restored the sense of community,’ a cosmopolitan community which can now count the artistic and design sectors among those who frequent the fashionable bistros, dockside cafes, delis and cobbled waterfronts. Vive la difference!

I The Shore Bar and Restaurant 3/4 The Shore, 553 5080. Overlooking the Water of Leith and bathed in evening sunshine is the light and airy Shore. Offering simply the best seafood and meat dishes from all

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over Scotland, the freshly-picked flowers on the table add to the friendly and informal atmosphere. Live jazz and folk music at weekends in the bar.

I Vintners Rooms 87 Giles Street, 554 6767. Located in a 16th century wine warehouse known as The Vaults is one of the most atmospheric restaurants and wine bars in town. Ornate Italian plasterwork, chandeliers and a candlelit dining room enhance your enjoyment while you tuck into the best of local produce.

I Wines trorn Paris 4 Giles Street, 554 2652. You certainly don’t need the discerning nose of J ancis

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Robinson or any other wine connoiseur to enter this Aladdin’s cave ofwines. Based in a medieval vault building, this wholesaler-retailer offers a comprehensive range of wines from around the globe. The knowledgable and friendly staff will help you chose anything from a cool Chardonnay to a firm, fruity claret.

I Leith Oyster Bar 10 Burgess Street, 554 6294. The unmistakable front of the Leith Oyster Bar overlooking the Shore is a den of good eating and drinking. A fine selection of quality Real Ales and exotic Belgian biers await, alongside an impressive menu offering everything from nachos to

smoked Queenies. Watch out for that wild Buzzard’s Breath Chilli.

I Scottish Malt Whisky Society The Vaults, 87 Giles Street, 554 3451. If it’s a wee dram you’re after to warm the cockles of your heart, then look no further. The SMWS provides exclusive tastings to enable malt whisky enthusiasts to reach their heaven on earth.

I Hair by Linda 12 North Junction Street, 553 4123. Whether it’s wee Jimmy’s first haircut or granny’s tinted perm, the skilled and experienced hairdressing talent of Linda is sure to do wonders with any customer‘s golden locks. This one-woman business assures 100 per

“The List 31 July- l3 August I992