Food 8: Drink
Eat out, drink up
FOOT ANl) moi lllr‘ LOCAL IMPACT
s the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease
entered its third week, local restaurateurs
were beginning to feel its impact. Although the full extent of the virus’ spread in the countryside was still clouded, rising wholesale prices were clear. Angus Boyd chef and patron of
Mitchell’s restaurants in Glasgow (North Street -__-
and Ashton Lane) says only a long working relationship with the same butcher has kept his costs from rising precipitously. He, however, adds that a leading city centre chef has seen prices on top-grade sirloin rise by £5 per kilo.
Across town at Albion Street’s Sizzler’s Steakhouse and the Supper Club - which shifts some 500 steaks every week - manager Raymond Walters say the ‘crisis’ has not cut down his custom. This presumably shows no fall in confidence in beef’s safety (and, indeed, foot- and-mouth poses no known threat to humans).
But he says his prices have gone up 10% across the board and chicken has risen by a startling 40%. While limited beef and lamb stocks would logically increase demand on poultry, he smells something foul. ‘They’re taking the piss,’ he says bluntly. Existing stocks would not be depleted so quickly and prices have risen prematurely.
For Linlithgow’s Champany lnn, tipped by Michelin and AA guides for its quality steaks, judgement day - as it were — arrives about four weeks after the halt on shipments from abattoirs and their last delivery of Aberdeen Angus. Champany hangs and ages its beef
If the full spread of the virus is still clouded, the rise in restaurants’ wholesale prices is perfectly clear.
for a full month. While supportive of travel restrictions across rural regions, a spokesperson says that those limitations alone may have caused a drop in the restaurant’s business, which depends on diners driving from regions such as the Borders. In Edinburgh, management for the Tower and Witchery by Castle restaurants says they’re ‘sitting tight’. But unless the situation changes, anyone who depends on Scottish
Foot and mouth has affected all meat prices
sourced beef ‘is going to have major problems very soonh
In the meantime, no one appears to have raised prices on their menus, but that may change soon. ‘If we have many more increases,’ says Walters, ‘we will have to pass them along.’ And Boyd says he has heard that other restaurants are reducing portions to maintain margins.
But in capitalism, one sector’s crisis is another one’s opportunity. If anybody is winning, it is the vegetarian vendors. Angus Stephens, head chef at Hunter Square’s Bann UK restaurant, says business has been erratic but generally better. Because he specialises in non-meat dishes, the press have been promoting his recipes in their pages. While sympathising with the plight of farmers, foot-and-mouth has been ‘good for us,’ Stephens admits. ‘We have never missed meat . . . Usually this is the quietest time of the year and things have picked up earlier than usual.’ (Barry Shelby)
NEW VENUES SEAFOOD SUPREME
Is the tide turning for seafood ?
What‘s wrong with us? Scotland. by most reckoning. exports the vast majority of its fresh fish and seafood stocks. Some say as much as 75% leaves in containers of crushed ice for setithern climes where it is apparently more appreciated. But perhaps the tide (pardon the pun) is turning. Surely. evidence of an expanding fish and
1 10 THE LIST lfSJJ‘fi Mar 2001
seafood restaurant market has been confirmed. The latest to join the league is Skerries Seafood Restaurant in Edinburgh's Dunstane House Hotel in the Haymarket area. Proprietor Shirley Mowal sees the venture as the capping achievement of the rims transformation in three years of ownership.
Skerries has landed 1999 yOung chef of the year. Paul Temple. to head the new kitchen. The 24-year—old Temple. who most recently worked at the Tower, has devised a menu that emphasises fresh shellfish (especially scallops and oysters) from Orkney (which is also the setirce of the restaurant's Aberdeen Angus and cheeses). Dishes range from a timbale of white crabmeat wrapped in organic salmon wrth sauce yierge to roast fillet of monkfish wrth potato r'osti. spinach and braised radicchio. In addition to the smoke—free dining room with its white linen (6—9pm), Skerries includes the Stane bar where lunch is served (noon—2.30pm) and lighter dishes Such as marinated cockles are available throughout the day. It may be off the beaten track. but certainly seems WOrth the effort.
Other good news for capital seafood
lovers is the expansion of Fishers to a New Town venue on Thistle Street. After a decade in Leith, where space limitations often meant turning away diners in the summer particularly. partner James ‘Jake' fvlillar says they were after 'a challenge'. Set to open in the third week of April. the second branch will be a significantly larger operation With room for about 90 covers. The former storerooms at number 54 will be diVided between a casual bistro and more formal dining space to the rear.
The search for the right location has been geing on for some time. Millar says. While they might have preferred George Street. property prices were prohibitive and Thistle Street's slightly bohemian feel and expanding dining- Out options offered a good match. Lest anyone see the new shop foreshadowmg an eventual abandonment of the Shore. Millar assures us: 'We're very much staying in Leith'. (Barry Shelby)
I The Skerries Seafood Restaurant. Dunstane House Hote/, 4 West Coates, Haymarket. Edinburgh, 0737 337 5.920; Fishers. The Shore. Lerth. 0737 55-1 5666 and (from 22 April) 54 Thist/e Lane. Edinburgh.
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ANOTHER WORKING-MAN bar in Glasgow‘s Argyle Street has been transformed. Exit Latimer’s and enter the Gran (1036 Argyle Street, Glasgow, 0141 248 6881), named after the nearby Finnieston landmark. The design is modern dockside, with a welder’s mask and torch artfully suspended from one corner of the ceiling. Fully licensed from 8am, it serves a full breakfast until noon when a basic lunch menu of soups, lasagne, breaded haddock and more (£2.50 or less) is served until 3pm. DJs play Thursday—Saturday and football matches are regularly screened; the schedule is posted on an outdoor blackboard.
HNALIY, THINK ()lilMl. IN Glasgow and irriages of Castlemilk Or l asterhoiise might come to mind. Guess again. The West End's Ashton l anr: has been hit by a wave of lawlessness. But local polls are fighting back with ar‘. 'lellerfllllfi initiative”. l/lanagement at Brel (recently robbed of S‘fi()9i. Ciii de Sac. The Ubrgtutous Chip. and others vrill carry pagers to alert one another when ‘potential troublemakers are spotted. Brel's Robin Morton. spokesman for the Lane. said: 'A few minor insidents have caused us to continue our efforts to discourage or’;portirnist thieves and bag