Our Beer Man’s VerdictThe Vintage in Leith opened a couple of years ago, quickly establishing a reputation for good food and good beer and picking up a slew of accolades.
Then, almost as quickly, it shut its doors and joined a handful of establishments in Leith which have closed recently.
That was a pity, because the Vintage was a smart yet relaxed establishment which offered meals, snacks or even just a quick beer on the way home.
Reversing the trend of closures, it’s back. Well, sort of.
It’s in the same location with some of the key players – including head chef Ruairidh Skinner – involved.
But it’s been completely reinvented – the focus is communal craft beer and curry – with an innovative menu put together by broadcaster, comedian and chef Hardeep Singh Kohli.
Lunchquest was given a preview of VDeep as part of the press launch event ahead of the public opening, tomorrow.
The interior has been transformed. It feels like an Asian canteen: brightly coloured walls daubed with lively designs and old doors reclaimed and used as tables. Where the old Vintage felt like a restaurant where you could have a beer, Kohli emphasises this is a pub which serves food.
The portions are small for sharing or grazing. We started with mini poppadums accompanied by a trio of dips: smoked tomato, apple and, pick of the bunch, coconut. Next up was the confit coconut pork pakora served with a zingy tamarind sauce – it was fine, perhaps a little dry.
After that false start, things picked up significantly. The tandoori chicken was delicious – if a little timid with seasoning: charred and moist, topped with tomato and yoghurt. The venison was great too, beautifully tender cumin-infused meat perched on a miniature nan bread. Then it was the curry – subtly flavoured with cardamom yet deep, rich and unctuous.
The rest of the menu looks innovative and exciting – even the most familiar Indian staples have a twist – and keenly priced. Given Kohli’s involvement, it’s no surprise there’s a dash of humour in dishes like Bubble & Sikh and Bangras & Mash.
The beer is good. There continues to be a strong focus on Williams and Drygate – unsurprising as VDeep is part of the stable – with some guests. It’s great to see the wonderful Jaipur from Thornbridge as a permanent offering – light and drinkable yet bitter and assertive, it’s one of Britain’s finest IPAs and excellent with spiced food. Specially-created small batch beers have been promised too to match with the curry, with the cardamom-infused Vindabrew set to be the first.
It’s going to be intriguing to see how VDeep gets on, following the recent closure of a couple of Indian restaurants in Leith and the opening of a new one just across the road.
On the basis of what we sampled, it feels distinctive enough to carve out its own niche. Lively and buzzy, it’s quite a change from the moribund final days of the Vintage.
60 Henderson Street
Edinburgh EH6 6DE