Food & Drink

Eat out, drink up


ommissary (kam’ e ser’ e) noun: . Cstore, as in a lumber or army camp, where food and supplies can be obtained 2. a restaurant in a motion picture or television studio.

Forgive the creeping Americanism, chef and caterer James Robb’s moniker for his new operation in Leith is oddly appropriate. It is not a restaurant, per se, open to the public. It is rather his Leith-based kitchen, office, and a dedicated space for private dinners, parties, launches, or events of any kind, really. Practically nothing is honestly ruled out: belly dancers, live bands, art exhibits. You name it. While parties of at least 25 are probably best, given the dimensions at 14 Bonnington Road, Robb adds, ‘You could just have a very expensive meal for


Robb has been catering creatively in Edinburgh for nearly a decade. His innovations have included converting the Fruitmarket Gallery at night into the restaurant known as BigFish, as well as hosting the infamous private ‘Dinners at the Flat' in St James Square’s few remaining Georgian era accommodations.

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James Robb shows off his blank canvas

and Edinburgh Festival gigs, he has built an admirable

reputation. . . (US) 1. a

The glass-brick ‘windows’ of the Commissary allow in natural light but also offer a feeling of seclusion from the street. Robb calls it his ‘blank canvas'. While some timid

souls might be wary of the Bonnington Street location,

The Commissary can trade on Leith’s edgy cache (and is positioned to prefigure the general refurbishment and eventual gentrification of the district, too).

As for food, Robb and head chef Lee Hadden will devise bespoke menus to please clients. He is fully licensed and can order the wines and spirits desired and at prices that compete with retail. A recent feed for about 50 included a goats cheese souffle with Parmesan crust and rocket leaves, roast turbot on wilted spinach and garlic mash, as well as a trio of mini puddings. But

he also fancies the notion of seasonal feasts, focusing


With major corporate clients, frequent National Museum 6655.


Featuring some of the best-known and

most-respected chefs in the country. Scotland on a Plate is the latest cook book to come from the team that produced the popular Glasgow on a

Plate and Edinburgh on a Plate. Edited

by Glasgow restaurateur Ferrier Richardson with Alan Donaldson's photography at more than 250 glossy pages it is Significantly more filling that their previous books.

The featured chefs and restaurants range from Neil Forbes of Edinburgh's Atrium to PatriCia and Tim Martin of Scarista House on Harris; founder Tony Heath of Perth's Let's Eat to Ayr's Fouters Bistro under direction of former CID officer Laurie Black. David Wilson. who started the Peat Inn in 1972, is probably the doyen of the restaurateurs represented here. And similar to others. a career change brought him into catering. But a majority of the chefs included in Scotland on a Plate are notably yOung and predominantly male.

The words Scotland and cookbook naturally, if unfairly, evoke twee recipes for haggis. neeps and tatties or cock-a- Ieekie soup. Without offering a sow word about traditional dishes in the Culinary canon north of the border. Scotland on a Plate highlights the

on one extremely fresh delicacy, such as a lobster

Whatever the customer wants. When pressed on the topic, there is only one thing he says he would not do: a Conservative Party function. (Barry Shelby)

I The Commissary, l4 Bonnington Road, Leith, 0737 555

diversity and creativity of Scottish chefs.

Ayrshire favourites and Michelin-star Winning restaurateurs Nicola and Keith Braidwood of Braidwoods offer a contemporary spin on the traditional

East Coast staple: the Arbroath smokie.

Their recipe uses it in a saffron stew With ‘a medley' of other seafood such as scallops. salmon and Iangoustines. ‘When I worked in London.‘ writes Shirley Spear of Skye's Three Chimneys. ‘I used to get very cross when people made negative comments about Scottish cooking.‘ To bolster the point that it is not the old stereotypical boiled mutton with caper sauce. she offers a crab tian uSing arborio rice. coriander and grated Parmesan cheese.

Scotland on a Plate reinforces the “nature's Iarder' line that has become mantra in Scotland. It shows that we also have the cooks who should be able to teach us a thing or two about preparing it. (Barry Shelby)

I Scotland on a Plate, Black and White. 5: 79.99.

1 16 THE LIST 24 May—7 Jun 2001

Side Dishes

Extra helplngs of news

CORRECTION: TWO FINAL. we hope. factual fixes to Our Eating and Drinking Guide. The telephOne number of Glenskirlie House in Banknock is 01324 840201. The restaurant recently launched a new a la carte menu which includes COurses Such as Japanese hors d'oeuyre (tempura of king prawn. sushi and seared tuna) and organic chicken breast served With sweet braised chicory. The correct Monday opening hours for Blonde (St Leonard Street. Edinburgh) are 6— I Opin.

THE WEEKEND OF 25 MAY marks the opening of Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles - the first solo venture for Fairlie, 37, after some half-dozen years of Michelin-starred distinction at Glasgow’s One Devonshire Gardens. Signature dishes include smoked lobster and a roast Anjou squab with black truffle gnocci . . . On Friday 1 June, Chardon d’Or, the Roux brothers-backed restaurant on West Regent Street in Glasgow opens. Ayrshire-born chef Brian Maule is in charge.

FOR THOSE WHO THINK SO called political correctness has removed the so-called fun from life. check out the bikini-babe posters at the new Belushi's bar on Market Street. Edinburgh. The American- theme pub is owned by St Christopher's Inns. which runs the youth hostel above Belushi's.

RESTAURANT MARTIN Wishart recently joined the notable Nobu and Le Manoir au Quatre Saisons as target of the humorous hoax that ends The Observer’s new monthly Food supplement. The wheeze has their responses to bogus last-minute 8.30pm bookings by Prince Andrew, Rick Wakeman and Carol Smillie. To the royal request, the Leith restaurant replied: ‘We’re fully booked . . . Martin Wishart himself will give you a call back.’ Former Yes rocker Wakeman predictably fared worse (‘We’re fully booked’) and Smillie was offered the cancellation list and advised to book a month in advance.