In her final Festival food round-up, Catherine Fellows heads down to Stockbridge to check out the bars and restaurants.
It is hardly original to say that Stockbridge is like a village within the city, but when you enter a favourite St Stephen’s Street pub. or even venture to the spud shop across the road, you will find people chatting across the counter as if they know each other. You may have to wait longer to get served. but that's the price ofatmosphere. Stockbridge offers the whole spectrum when it comes to food — easy-going diners like Bell‘s and El Papagayo, smart restaurants like the Rendez Vous and Duncan‘s Land. and a couple ofexotics — Malaysian Kris and Siam Erewan. The latest addition is the heavily-muralled Rock Cafe at the bottom of Howe Street. Afterjust a week oftrading.
it is already busy. with Fringe-goers taking advantage of its airy. spacious interior and ﬂexible approach to eating and drinking.
I The Antiquary 72-78 St Stephen's Street, 225 2858. Mon-Sat 11.30—2am; Sun 10.3(lam-1 1.45pm. Busy pub serving bar snacks at lunchtimes, and on Sundays the works — full traditional breakfast or Sunday roast with all the trimmings. both until 4pm. The bar gets very busy and smokey late at night.
I The Bailie 2 St Stephen‘s Street. 225 4673. Mon—Sat Ham—midnight: Sun llam—l 1pm; pub lunches noon—4pm. Refurbished and enlarged, the Bailie is a very attractive bar with a covetable assortment ofold chairs and some
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pretty fine beers too. One ofthe few pubs where you also get good wine. I Bell’s Diner 7 St Stephen’s Street, 225 8116. Sun—Fri6—lt).3()pm;Sat noon—10.30pm. Good. home-made burgers, steaks, and lately. nut burgers which are surprisingly tasty. in a cosy little place nothing like MacDonalds.
I Lancer’s Brasserie 5 Hamilton Place, 332 3444. Seven days, noon—2.30pm,5.30—11.30pm. Fine Indian and Bangladeshi food — all fresh ingredients, everything prepared on the premises.
I Maison Hector Deanhaugh Street. 3'32 5328. Mon—Wed 10am—11pm; Thurs and Sun 10am—midnight: Fri and Sat 1()am—lam. Restaurant closes at 10pm on weekdays; Fri and
Spare a thought for the waitress
It you walk into a restaurant In the next few days and the waitress sees you and bursts into tears, don’ttake it personally. Just think of yourself as the final straw and leave quietly. Working in a restaurant is stressful at the best of times, but during the Festival it can all get too much.
On Saturday, Pierre Vlctotre in Victoria Street, the original of the highly successful threesome, served 170 people at lunchtime and over 200 at night. That meant seven sittings, and about three times as many meals as on a usual weekend - it was the busiest day in the history oi the restaurant. Owner Pierre Levicky tried to come in to do the tables at live but couldn't get anywhere: ‘later, at twenty to six, the lunchtime people were still sitting there, and the night-time people were queueing up outside - it was crazy!’
In the kitchen, the cheis got through
two 56th sacks oi potatoes, one of carrots, five cases of courgettes, five oi broccoli and twelve boxes oi mushrooms - and that was just the vegetables. At 9pm, Levicky arrived with a rib oi beef and two legs oi lamb because the chef on duty had rung up in a panic: there was nothing left. ‘lt is so difficult to know how much we are going to need; most of the time we get it wrongi' says Levicky lngenuously. ‘The worst thing is when the chefs start cracking up, like crying -that’s heavy. But there’s no point taking on extra staff because there just isn't room for them to operate - lack of space is one oi the most stressful things anyway.’ The two
cheis on lunch shift work from 7.30am until 4pm, and then the four dolng preparation for the evening have just one hour to get everything ready for the completely different dinner menu. The pressure really mounts when the customers arrive, because every meal is prepared to order and a lot has to be done at the last minute. As forthe waiters and waitresses, they are rushed off their feet, but they also have to deal with people who want to be in and out in half an hour, who are cheesed off at having to wall when they have booked, who are unwilling to share their table . . .
It is not all bad though. There’s a great buzz, and the staff keep themselves going by vying with the other restaurants in the group, each trying to break records. As for Levicky himself, he may not have seen a single Fringe or Festival show since he has been in business, but he is making lots of money. Good food at a very good price is more appealing than ever in a recession, and the element of chaos doesn’t seem to matter. But it’s not just the money that appeals: ‘I enjoy the Festival time. it’s really busy, the streets are full of people, and all the places are open late - Edinburgh almost looks like a normal French cltyl’ (Catherine Fellows)
Round-the-clock eating and drinking with Catherine Fellows.
I City Caie19 Blair Street. 220 0125. Mon—Sat 9am—2am: Sun 9am—midnight: food served until 10-30Pm- Right in the centre of town. it is a comfortable and airy place to have a cappuccino in the morning— and to read the papers which are generally on the bar. It also does a good, reasonably priced selection ofopen sandwiches at lunchtime. and in the evening fills up with ‘beautiful‘ people.
I Laigh Kitchen 121 Hanover Street. 225 1552. Mon—Sat 8.30am—4pm (sometimes later). Closed Sunday. Good soups, salads. quiches etc, in what looks like the interior ofa well-to-do Highland croft house. One ofthe few places in town that makes really good traditional cakes. Try the raspberry and hazelnut pavlova, it is delicious.
I Chan's 1 Forth Street. 556 7118. Wed—Mon 5.30—1 1.30pm (closed Tue); also open Fri lunch, noon—2pm. One of the best Chinese restaurants in town. certainly one of the most imaginative and unusual menus. For once. there is as much choice for vegetarians as there is for meat eaters, and prices are reasonably low.
p A}? m Black Bo’s/Bo’s Bar 57/61 Blackfriars Street, 557 6136. Bar Mon-Wed noon—1am; Thurs—Sat noon—23m; Sun 5—11pm. Restaurant seven days 7—11pm. There is food in the bar all day until 7pm, then you must move to the restaurant next door to eat. It is exclusively vegetarian, but we are not talking vegetable bake here: as one of the managers put it, at Bo’s you get ‘classy nosh‘. I Le Sept 7 Old Fishmarket Close, 225 5428. Open seven days. Atmospheric, vaulted building in one of Edinburgh‘s Royal Mile closes. The upstairs bistro specialises in crépes and light dishes such as a delicious fish soup; downstairs there is a more extensive a la carte menu and a remarkable wine list.
The List 28 August — 10 September 1992 59