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The arrival of Metropolitain marks a revival for the G1 Group’s Picardy Place venue, with new tenants running the ground floor restaurant, bar and handful of hotel rooms, though not the popular downstairs GHQ nightclub. The name and decor hint at a fin de siècle Parisian vibe, a style perhaps better complemented by the classy cocktail list than a relatively unadventurous menu featuring club sandwiches, bowls of pasta, burgers and fries.
CHEZ JULES 109 Hanover Street, New Town, 0131 226 6990, £13 (lunch/dinner) Originally a cheaper and more cheerful version (if such a thing was possible) of Pierre Victoire that disappeared when the chain crumbled in the late 1990s, Chez Jules’ comeback has been engineered by old muckers Pierre Levicky of Chez Pierre and Mark Lawrence of Iris. The back-to-basics menu is one page long with a simple line-up of classics such as French onion soup, tartiflette, poulet fermier and steaks garnis, all at decade old prices.
PICKLEDGREEN 158 Rose Street, New Town, Edinburgh, 0131 220 0477, pickledgreen.co.uk, £7.50 (lunch) / £15 Arriving into the unlikely setting of Rose Street, and fired with the optimism and energy of youth, pickledgreen exudes ethical attitude, its green principles going well beyond good sourcing into recycled wood and careful waste management. A bright, light café with a long, blond wooden communal table dominating the ground floor space, the sit-in menu has snacky items including a crab and lemon tart and ‘toasts’ with toppings such as ham hock and lentils. More substantial options include caramelised parsnip tarte tatin with chestnuts or sticky oxtail with mash.
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ATHENA GREEK TAVERNA 1116 Argyle Street, West End, 0141 339 3895, www.athenataverna.co.uk, £7.50 (set lunch) / £14 (dinner) Another dash of enthusiasm and exoticism for the busy Finnieston stretch of Argyle Street, Athena steps into to the space vacated by the short-lived Andre’s French Bistrot. Simple but smart in its decor, the credentials of the taverna lie in a menu which – at least for now – pushes out beyond the standard Greek roll-call of calamari, dips and dolmades with dishes such as avgolemono (egg and lemon soup) and afelia (marinated pork with coriander seeds).
COOKIE 72 Nithsdale Road, Pollockshields, 0141 423 1411, cookiescotland.com, £8 (lunch) / £17 (dinner) Set in a former garage, the busy artwork, funky furniture and well-displayed food of Cookie indicate that this is a café-bistro with a quirky, friendly and enlightened approach. Chef Iain Walker runs the show in the deliberately open and busy prep area, his food displaying a simplicity born of confidence in good ingredients, some of them from small farms in Umbria, others from local organic sources.
4 Picardy Place, New Town, 0131 556 6629, www.metropolitainedinburgh.co.uk, £16 (lunch/dinner) Pickledgreen
Metropolitain 14 THE LIST 21 Jan–4 Feb 2010
SIDE DISHES Microwaveable haggis hits the shops, Scotland extends its culinary borders and Glasgow’s independent delis issue a warning
■ The whisky industry estimates that we sink around two million extra drams on the night of 25 January, toasting Rabbie’s birthday (his 251st this year). Various bars around Edinburgh, including the World’s End, Henricks and the Waterline in Leith, are hosting events sponsored by Talisker, with music, Burns menus and offers on Skye’s finest distillation. Less traditional alternatives include a Burns night at Thali restaurant in Glasgow featuring haggis pakora and our other national dish, chicken tikka masala. Even MacSween, who describe themselves as guardians of Scotland’s national dish and whose output is beefed up by 300 tonnes to meet late January demand, have gone all new-fangled with a ‘One Minute Haggis’ – essentially two slices of their traditional meat haggis that are microwaveable in 60 seconds and can be served in a bun with melted mozzarella, on a crostini topped with olives, or tucked into a pitta with tzatsiki. Fair fa! ■ The latest draft of new or imminent restaurants around Edinburgh and Glasgow promise flavours rarely encountered in these parts. Glasgow has Nur Egyptian restaurant and Botego du Brazil (from the owners of Classic Grand), along with two new African venues, the East African-themed Queen of Sheba and the Central/West African Camflava. Edinburgh’s contribution is a little less colourful but no less intriguing, with the little Russian Passion café at Canonmills joining Scotland’s first Hungarian restaurant, Budapest, which opened a few months back in Leith. All shortly to be reviewed on these pages.
■ There have been warnings from two of Glasgow’s finest food shops, Heart Buchanan on Byres Road and Delizique (pictured) on Hyndland Street, who’ve mounted a ‘use us or lose us’ challenge to local shoppers. The arrival of Waitrose in the West End may have set Kelvinside hearts a-flutter, but it has sucked trade away from local independents. It’s the same challenge that echoes around Edinburgh’s Stockbridge – home of Scotland’s first Waitrose but now without independent food shops The Store and the larger of Herbie’s two delis.