SAUCY SALT Donald Reid finds an impressive café on Morningside Road bringing out the hidden hipster in Edinburgh’s most sedate suburb

D espite the salty-seadog clinker boat, and the prominence of North Berwick lobster and other seafood on the menu, a key inspiration for this new venue is the acronym of Seasonal And Local Thinking. What owners John Hannay and Chris Miles along with ex-Bonham chef Neil Mulgrew have created is a confident, approachable venue of robust industrial chic serving proper food with a bit of punch. Eggs benedict with truffle hollandaise is a bellweather dish of sound basics and creative thinking. Head-clearing oysters and ‘anti-fogmatic’ cocktails are available at all times not common in Morningside cafés while evening dishes feature crispy mackerel boldly allowed to sink into a wasabi gazpacho, or homemade paneer alongside tenderly crisped cauliflower. Not many places segue from daytime café with substance to comfortable evening venue for drinks, snacks or fuller meals. Save for a slightly raucous soundtrack, Salt achieves it with scarcely a beat missed, the reclaimed gymnasium planks and picture windows mellowing under dimmed filament bulbs as darkness gathers.


54–56 Morningside Road, Edinburgh, 0131 281 1885,

Average price two-course meal: £11 (lunch) / £19 (dinner)

The best of the new restaurant, café and bar openings in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Prices shown are for an average two-course meal for one.


1027 Cathcart Road, Southside, 0141 649 3994,, £5.80 (haddock supper) Baked haddock with parsley and Spanish rice might not sound like a fish supper to most Glaswegians, but Southsiders now have that option with this new Cathcart Road venture that continues the recent trend for upmarket and alternative takes on the traditional chippy. The blackboard menu may only offer good old haddock, but it’s cooked to order fried in tempura batter or panko breadcrumbs, or in the oven if preferred. Substitute chips with tomato-infused rice for a health-conscious variation, while flavoured chipotle mayo and garlic-parmesan seasonings for the chips are nice touches too. Prices are very fair and it’s a clean, smart place to wait for your dinner.

MESS CANTINA TEX-MEX 61 Otago Street, West End, 0141 334 8277,, £15 (lunch / dinner)

The merry-go-round of this venue on residential Otago Street has reached frantic proportions with almost a yearly chop and change. The newest incumbent, Mess Cantina, along with its older sister venue in East Kilbride, is dishing up decent Tex-

Mex food and drinks in a lively atmosphere. From Texan burgers, including a mighty OMG, and ribs and wings

to Mexican nachos and fajitas, it’s all decent enough to suggest this well-branded wee chain will keep growing. Student deals are a prerequisite in this area and 20% off (Sun–Thu) with a student card on already reasonable prices should prove a pretty good deal.

TARANTINO RISTORANTE ITALIAN 914–916 Sauchiehall Street, West End, 0141 237 3902,, £10.95 (set lunch) / £18 (dinner) Looking a little threadbare on patrons compared with the more hip and happening places nearby in Finnieston, Tarantino’s lack of clamour is soon forgotten once inside the smart interior and in the hands of staff who clearly understand that a tuned-in traditional Italian restaurant is a comforting thing. White walls are interrupted with murals of olive trees, while the menu is a delve into Italian favourites minus the pizzas with home-cooked attention. From the complimentary battered vegetables on arrival, to a good bruschetta, deep-filled lasagne or fresh-tasting pasta pomodoro, it’s all enjoyable and soothing for your Italian soul.

Edinburgh CASA AMIGA PORTUGUESE CAFE 294 Leith Walk, Leith, 0131 467 5664,, £3 (savoury and a cake) The ever-eclectic range of international eating and drinking options along Leith Walk has recently been augmented by this traditional but stylish Portuguese bakery. With a few chairs inside and out plus a larger space downstairs, you can sit in, but it’s just as likely to be the scene of takeaway pitstops on the way home from work, so extensive is the family- run establishment’s range of pastries and cakes, all cooked on site. These include the signature pastel de nata (a well-baked custard tart) and the bolo de coco (a coconut tart), while a range of distinctive grilled

sandwiches are also available.

SAIKO KITCHEN FAR EAST 15 Roseneath Street, Southside,, £9.50 (lunch)

Founded by owner Natalie Florance using inspiration gathered during a trip to Vietnam in her student days, Saiko Kitchen is a neighbourhood café rather than a destination establishment, as evidenced by its opening

hours (no evenings). The small but spacious dining area is pristinely white-tiled, and similarly there’s a sense that the lightly sauced king prawn pad thai and a mild, fresh beef pho are perhaps aimed more at the clean- living diner than the indulgent. Florance’s cooking takes in influences from around the Far East, so dim sum, salads, Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches and intriguing breakfasts of Asian omelette and savoury fried rice with fried egg also feature.

CAFFEINE DRIP SOUTH AFRICAN CAFÉ 10 Melville Place, West End,, £7.50 (set lunch) Clad with reclaimed wood and repurposed coffee bean sacks, the interior of this unusual space (featuring basement, mezzanine and upstairs seating) has a distinct South African accent, thanks to the influence of co-owner Christopher Wedge, formerly of Morningside stalwart the Zulu Lounge. Expat favourites such as biltong (dried beef) and koeksisters (sticky, braided doughnuts) sit alongside boerie rolls Saffer-style hotdogs. There’s a raft of breakfast options, salads and soups, plus some hefty doorsteps of in-house-baked germagrain brimming with pulled beef or pork.

Independent write-ups on all the restaurants worth knowing about in Glasgow and Edinburgh are available on our online Eating & Drinking Guide at 34 THE LIST 16 Oct–13 Nov 2014