2019 in review
Since Lunchquest wound-up as a daily-posting review site in March 2019, I’ve continued to be in and around many hospitality businesses – new and old – across Edinburgh.
Our coverage is nowhere near as comprehensive as once it was, partly because I spend more time in the places I really enjoy rather than constantly looking for new places to try.
But recognising that limitation, I still thought it might be fun to put together a little summary of the places that I’ve enjoyed or not, over the last wee while.
With a new route between home and work, reflecting both new homes and new work, my coffee faves to start the day have rather shifted. My routine now takes me most often to Gooseneck on Grindlay Street and Cheapshot, a police box just next to Lian Pu. Both are excellent and have been a complete delight in serving me restorative liquids when most they were needed.
My breakfast options on those rare days I don’t quite feel in shape to make something at home include the outstanding Greek Artisan Pastries, which opened a branch on Bread Street to go with the one at the heart of Portobello. I eat a lot more feta than once I did as a result.
Near to my newish abode, I have been blessed with arrival of both Nice Times Bakery and a fresh branch of Twelve Triangles. I eat much better bread as a result.
Work lunches are taken care of by Soul Sushi with the occasional stroll over to Wanderer’s Kneaded for a cheeky pizza. I tried the Waffle Place that took over the Machina Espresso branch on Nicolson Street once, but it was one of the poorest lunches of the year. If I fancy a longer lunchtime amble, I sometimes head up to the joyful Three.14 bakery which does outstanding grilled cheese sandwiches and very good coffee. The El Cartel on Teviot Place is more handy so I’ve eaten there a fair bit.
Off my more trodden path, I’ve enjoyed many visits to Little Fitzroy which continues to excel, and I’ve really like Oqo when I’ve been there.
At weekend’s I’ve eaten some very good breakfast from the likes of the Rose Theatre Café and Castello Bruntsfield, although I feel I’m out of the habit of weekend morning outings of that type. This is mainly because I seem to spend every Saturday morning collecting parcels from my local Royal Mail depot.
Other enduring favourites that I’ve visited include the White Horse Seafood & Oyster Bar (buck-a-shuck is such a joy), Tani Modi, The Apiary, LeftField, Khartoum Café, the Edinburgh Food Studio, Aurora and Le Roi Fou. I was glad to be reunited with sandwich excellence at Café Gallo in Stockbridge.
The places where I’ve spent most time are 83 Hanover Street, Noto and the Bon Vivant as their small plates and great drinks combo are so often what I want to eat and drink on any given weekday evening. Whiskers and Lady Libertine also fit that profile. We also had an excellent lunch at Fhior in a not dissimilar style.
Which brings us neatly on to drinks, which has been much more of focus for me this year, since I’ve been doing a little writing for Class Bar Magazine.
In most cases, I’m still to be found in my favourite spots around the town: Lucky Liquor, Kin, Bramble, the Last Word, Hoot and so on. But there have been several new additions that have caught my eye: Hey Palu has become a second home, recently; I’ve enjoyed several visits to Camera and Nauticus; the Nor Loft has been a good find; I enjoyed Little Rascal when I was in that part of town; and newly arrived Spry is just splendid.
We’ve had an outcropping of new pizza places with Razzo and Napizza the best I’ve tried. I enjoyed La Riva but it looks like its tricky location is continuing to prove problematic. The High Dive, from the team behind Civerino’s, is a lot of fun, too. By contrast, the pizza at Froth & Flame was awful when I visited.
The Syrian delights of Taza in Town has been a real hit with me on a couple of visits. If you’ve not been yet, make sure to change that early in 2020. The same goes for the excellent Brazilian delights of Tupi Kitchen at The Dog House.
Jones & Son burgers have transitioned from their residency at Century General Store to daily trading at the Portobello Tap. This feels a really good fit for all concerned.
I’ve been dotting around some unlikely places for Indian food with Pumpherston’s finest, the Bay Leaf, proving absolutely outstanding. I enjoyed Gautam’s and the Radhuni, as well, but Rustom in Haymarket was a little disappointing.
Dumplings of China brought some much-needed Chinese goodness to Tollcross.
Of the places that have failed to impress, I struggle to see the continuing appeal of Loudon’s, Merienda was ordinary, The Perch a bit of a mess, Terra Marique flat, and Mono full of silly mistakes. I didn’t much care for the Gregg’s vegan sausage roll, either, which I suspect is my most controversial opinion of the year.
I’ve felt less tempted by the market and street food scene, this year, but was pleased to see it given strong support in this recent publication.
The only notable event-type thing I attended was the excellent pop-up from Rokkaku Ramen. It’s well worth keeping an eye on their social media for future dates.