Eat out, drink up
David Bann: imaginative
Edinburgh has spent the last month hosting a festival of restaurant openings. We tackle some here. Words: Donald Reid
or many in the retail trades, the Edinburgh festival is a
honey pot. Because of the boost in business. Edinburgh
becomes a more viable place to run a restaurant. which for locals means a better range of good quality places run by ambitious chefs and owners. Towards the bottom of St Mary's Street, in the premises most recently occupied by Lemongrass, David Bann Vegetarian Restaurant and Bar has opened. Bann left the partnership that runs Bann UK on Hunter Square earlier this year, and the new restaurant is an entirely separate operation. There are similarities. with the same designer, Kerr Blyth, producing another uncluttered blend of clean. dark wood. clever lighting and uncomplicated decor. The food too is very much in the modern vegetarian mode. dominated by Asian and Mediterranean influences with hardly a lentil in sight.
Given that so many restaurants struggle to come up with
one original vegetarian dish. credit is due to any meat-free menu that can come up with a comprehensive selection of imaginative and often labour-intensive meals. Bann‘s goats' cheese tartlet accompanied by a ticklishly fruity beetroot and ginger chutney is impressive. So is an excellent dosa which artfully avoids too much stodge in its combination of savoury pancake and potato curry, and a
Credit is due to any meat-free menu with a selection of
a number of interesting tie-ups. He features Iain Mellis cheeses (the only deli in Edinburgh outwith Mellis' own shops to stock them), fairly traded fresh coffee from the little-known Union Coffee Roasters. and — most excitingly — the prospect of fresh take-out dishes prepared by Michelin-star chef Martin Wishart later in the year. It's a bold venture. and the commitment and quality are convincing.
Back uptown. the winds of change are blowing through the New Town with the arrival of Hurricane Bar and Grill. located just off George Street on North Castle Street. The pedigree behind this home-grown venture is impressive. with a management team of Liz McAreavey. Scottish businesswoman of the year when she was running Le Bistro catering. and Sean Spillane, formerly of EICC caterers Leith's and still general manager of Tempus in Glasgow‘s CCA.
Hurricane is set over two floors. with the restaurant on the main floor and the cocktail bar in the basement level. The look and feel is ultra slick and metropolitan. dark wood tables and black chairs blending with sunny paintings of slightly sinister looking Mediterranean characters. It's hard to get away from the impression that Hurricane will largely live or die by its success among the George Street suits.
clever shepherdless pie. . . . If they take time to appreciate the food,
As the intention is to run the place as they'll be impressed with a menu which a morning-to-inidnight cafe/bar/ 8 offers a range of familiar but high-quality restaurant. you'll also find a respectable modern food. Appetisers include four drinks list. plus coffee and snacks. The full salads. while char-grill flavours dominate menu. however. is served all day. and the restaurant intends to the main courses, headlined by a series of fine steaks and serve until late seven days a week. backed up by some superb fresh fish.
In Leith, the Shore-side eating and drinking scene has been evolving in its own quiet way. A newcomer is the delicatessen Relish in Commercial Street. Owned and run by former chef and marketing consultant Callum Morrison, Relish combines the stack 'em high philosophy of the finest food emporiums
with a bright, light and genuinely contemporary design. In addition to an impressive range of speciality goods from around the world, Relish has a select range of boutique wines.
fresh bread, fruit and vegetables. Morrison has also established
112 THE LIST :'> I‘) Set) Q’I’)?
Lots of decent wine can be had for under $220 a bottle. Downstairs amid all the clever cocktails, a bar menu offers soups, salads and a couple of sandwiches.
David Bann Vegetarian Restaurant and Bar, 56-58 St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh, 0131 556 5888; Relish, 6 Commercial Street, Leith, 0131 476 1920; Hurricane Bar and Grill, 45 North Castle Street, Edinburgh, 0131 226 0770.
An extra helping of news . . .
I EVERY YEAR THE EDINBURGH festival brings a slew of new restaurants and bars to Edinburgh. It’s hard to keep up. In addition to those highlighted on the left. others are noted below in brief.
I THE OUTSIDER IS
the sexy new all-day venture from owners of the Apartment. Like its Bruntsfield sister, this operation on George IV Bridge offers an individuality lacking in so many places. Art has been specially commissioned as has the furniture. Gorgeous views - and equally attractive staff - may distract from the food, which initially has many similarities to the Apartment: ‘Chunky Healthy Lines’ (skewers of duck, swordﬁsh and the like) served with fresh salad; grilled rib-eye or seared salmon; and parmesan-crusted chicken escalope.
I M'S WHISKY BAR AND Seafood Restaurant has replaced the Three Quarters spons pub in the ever gentrifying Grassmarket. The main-floor bar offers hundreds of single malts, with food upstairs. and initial reports are positive.
I IN LEITH, IN
addition to the gradual growth of restaurants at Ocean Terminal, Hugo’s has taken over where the Rock on Commercial Quay once traded. There’s still fish on the menu, at keener prices, and a bar area for snacks, coffees and drinks.
I HARVEY NICK'S PUBLICITY machine has been relentless. with more glossy press features on the new shop than you can shake a ZOO-quid skin at. On the top level, the Forth Floor restaurant and brasserie has had them queuing back to the doors of the express elevator. Chef Stuart Muir and team plan to change the menu frequently. The adjacent food court is the only one aside from the Knightsbridge outlet to offer fresh fruit and veg. It has the expected array of dry goods as well as locally produced meats butchered in the kitchen, which also cooks some takeaway dishes sold at the deli.