Sunshine on Leith
As The List launches its Live It section, native Leither Anna Millar uncovers the area's finest assets
here they were. defiantly choosing not
to choose life. Five years after The
Proclaimers put ‘Sunshine’ on it. there were Irvine Welsh’s seminal Trainspotters peeing on Leith’s disused railway tracks. a fitting metaphor for the area’s seedy. debauched history.
Almost two decades on. the picture couldn't be more different. From its striking new builds to its influx of bars. restaurants and independent shops. Leith has enjoyed a total reinvention.
Balking in the face of conformity. Leith's old-school residents merrily co-exist with the young professionals establishing roots there. Junk shops nestle in beside some of the city’s finest bars; while Polish delis and art fairs rub shoulders with some of the capital's most under-rated and interesting buildings — Andrew Lamb‘s House. built in the early 1600s and South Leith Parish Church’s late-15th century origins to name but two. What was once a seedy backdrop has somehow managed to transform itself into a rich cultural hub. while carefully managing never to change what. at heart. makes it great: its sense of community.
In the face of adversity. independents come back time and time again. Better still. some survive. Walk into the area’s finest wine shop. Cornelius. or its best bakery. Manna House next-door on Easter Road. and there you have it: proof positive that the indies that survive do so because their community loves them. Nearby. just off Montgomery Street. locals fiock to Renroc caf‘é-come-beauty therapists. hosting an array of film and book nights.
Along on Leith Walk. The Proclaimers' gargantuan claim that ‘Leith could be New York’. while over-blown. isn’t lacking in foundation. Not for nothing is it known for its multi-cultural pace and boho vibe: Indian fabric shops and Chinese supermarkets line the Walk. alongside the wondrous trio of pubs that is Joseph Pearce’s. Boda and Victoria. Fish
‘NOT FOR NOTHING IS IT KNOWN FOR ITS MULTI-CULTURAL PACE AND BOHO VIBE'
eaterie Tailend. a relative newbie. offers an invigorating step up from the humble fish supper: nearby La Favorita offers up the best pizza that the capital has to offer. A wander down the hill takes you past take-out favourite. Silver Bowl. then the mighty Port 0‘ Leith before hitting the laid—back wonder of the Carriers Quarters and the ES].
Just off the Shore. great bars such as the Cameo. Sofi's and Roselcaf stand near the
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remains of a once disused and unloved port.
Refreshingly light on pomp. the quayside hosts a clutch of Michelin-starred chefs. with Tom Kitchin and Martin Wishart in residence at the Kitchin and the Cookery School respectively. Nearby. sits the ever-popular Plumed Horse. Even the Malmaison overlooking the estuary manages to fit in with the scene. while floating bar and nightclub. Cruz. and the nearby Ship on the Shore offer ample opportunity for outdoor dining.
More recently. Leith has become a hub for the creative industries. a factor further illustrated by the Leith Festival. where lovers of the area amble around brandishing their We Heart Leith T—shirts.
And what's not to love‘.’
Boozy tea parties Roseleaf. 23-24 Sandport Place, 0131 476 5268.
The Roseleaf pub has survived the transition from old man’s boozer to bohemian hangout with style. A Clutter of ornaments and flea market goodies. the decoration merely hints at its laid-back charm, while the pubs boozy tea parties (featuring cocktails in china teapots). is just the beginning of what makes it so great.
16 THE LIST 14-28 Feb 2008
The Manna bread Manna House, 22 Easter Road, 0131 652 2349
A foodie's delight. this is more than worth making a trip to the east end of town for. From the amazing assortment of homemade loaves and delicious soups to the seemingly endless array of sweets. this gem of a bakery-cum-cafe at the top of Easter Road is a must. Weekends are busy. so get in early to avoid disappointment.
Various venues, Easter Road Enjoy an hour or two wandering down Easter Road and taking in the ever-increasing number of junk and charity shops. Stocks often spill out onto the street. showcasing everything from old battered chairs and lamps to ornate watches. broaches and pictures. After you‘ve exhausted the road. head across to Leith Walk and dabble in the second-hand shops.