For Hibs fans, Easter Road was ever thus. Now, there’s a new definition of utopia on offer
As Edinburgh’s Easter Road welcomes its first style star, Anna Millar considers that a decent watering hole can bring a whole new lease of life to an area.
ot for nothing was the great parable of the divided self. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. written by an Edinburgh man. Robert Louis Stevenson may have set the story in London but his invention was inspired by the bizarre life of Edinburgh tradesrnan William Brodie. More than a century on. a less sinister element of yin and yang is still at play in the capital.
lidinburgli has long been defined by certain factors: your profession. your postcode and. now in the Noughties leistrre era. where you eat and drink. It was all pretty clean cut. Then the property market went boom and the average age for first time buyers escalated to 33. Suddenly Edinburgh‘s young professionals had to buy in areas considered by some to be. well. less than savoury. liunny thing is. while the new generation flocked to their abodes. no decent food and drink outlets went with them. Leith might have partially lost its bad boy rep in favour of a more refined waterfront cafe buzz but the aesthetic underdogs. like (iorgie. Dalry and co. are still being challenged by lidinburgh city centre‘s status as the only place to go for decent grub and a quiet drink.
The battle cry is similarly resolute across town in lill7. Housed off liaster Road beside the football stadium. I‘ve yet to be woken with chants of ‘Wc are Hibernian l“(‘. We hate jam tarts and we hate [)undee.‘ The game and the fans. much like the road. have a reputation that precedes them. a historical metamorphosis establishing lill7 as the less-than-classy ‘football area‘.
Then last month: utopian intervention. Things were on the up when popular watering hole the Regent opened its doors on Abbeyhill last year. and now ex-casino man Ally
TO BRING INTEREST BACK INTO THE AREA: THIS ROAD COULD FACILITATE SO MUCH MORE'
'l’illbrook. owner of liaster Road‘s new style bar Utopia. prepares to tip the ante. ‘I just want to bring the area back to reality.‘ says Tillbrook. ‘I really want to see other bars open tip and some nice restaurants: there‘s nothing accommodating the new folks that live around here. I want it to start being more than a road: it has this potential to be a great area that people come to for food and drink like Broughton Street or Stockbridge.‘
And from first impressions. what Utopia has to offer is impressive. Decked out with wooden polished floors. leather sofas and high cushioned stools. the beige. coffee. cream effect is relaxing and inviting without any air of pretension. The glass front affords good natural light. A pebbled feature wall instead of the more traditional fireplace adds an understated flair to proceedings.
Those looking for more than a glass of wine can opt for something from the fairly substantial rnentr. A step tip from typical pub grub. the obligatory fish and chips are on offer but the menu pleasantly varies in both nationality and portion size. offering everything from home-baked pizza and carbonara to risotto and Thai green curry. Light snacks include pakor‘a. king prawn in lilo pastry (delicious) and nachos. all reasonably priced.
‘l‘m a great believer you’ve only got one life. one shot at things.‘ says 'l‘illbrook. ‘What I want to do is bring interest back into the area: this road could facilitate so much more. it's an untapped market that‘s only going to get bigger. [just hope that I’ve started the ball rolling.‘
Utopia, 154-158 Easter Road, Edinburgh, 0131 661 2627.
Eat out, drink up .
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I Given that Gordon Ramsay had to close down Amaryllis restaurant at One Devonshire Gardens with unseemly haste earlier in the year, plenty of people have been watching the space to see who dares follow. Step forward Room Glasgow, a sister to Room Leeds, which opened in 2002. Described by the Good Food Guide as ‘studiedly cool and decidedly sexy’, Room Leeds specialises in retro cuisine with a contemporary twist, which seems to mean modern interpretations of prawn cocktail, chicken pot noodle, and jelly and ice- cream. Co-owner John Pallagi promises the same hip approach when Room Glasgow opens later in the summer: ‘It will offer a comfortable environment; simple yet funky decor, lively background music, creative cocktails, a good value wine list and great tasting food - a brand which we believe reflects the Glasgow style.’
I If you enjoy a glass of wine, then the 'Wine Lover's Pack' from Masterpeace might be up your street. it's an award-winning collection from Andrew Peace Wines. a family-owned and operated winery in North West Victoria. Australia. There are reds. whites and roses in the range, with most varieties coming in under a liver. For your chance to win a Masterpeace ‘Wine Lover's Pack’ including the acclaimed wine guide by Malcolm Gluck. 2004 Superp/onk. a cork screw and a case of Masterpeace wine, send an email marked ‘MASTERPEACE' to email@example.com by no later than 22 July 2004. Masterpeace wine is available from Co-op. Unwins. Thresher and Nisa. Visit wwwbottlegreencom to check out the full range.
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