These are The Scotsman food writers' favourite restaurants of 2020 so far (despite covid)
2020 has been an annus horribilis for hospitality and eating out.There was, however, a couple of months at the start of the year, when we were blissfully ignorant and covid was an unthreatening speck on the horizon. We ate and drank well, hugged our pals and openly cleared our throats, free from dirty looks.Then after lockdown, we were blown away by how ingenious restaurants were, in adapting and offering takeaway.Now, they’ve reopened, some have closed again, others have gone back to takeaway and we anticipate more hokey-cokey-ing. Meanwhile, The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday’s food writers reminisce about what tasty things we did manage to squeeze in this year.
On 1 March, when the covid buzz was just starting to get a little louder, I visited Gloriosa. It had opened in the former premises of Firebird by Rosie Healey, previously of nearby Alchemilla. The meal made me very happy, with dishes including duck ragu tagliatelle and smoked haddock carpaccio, fennel, sage and lemon. However, the real stand out was the panna cotta. As a chocoholic, it’s never in my top desserts, but this version came with burnt caramel sauce and a crumbly brazil nut biscuit. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say I’ve dreamt about it every night since.
Gloriosa, 1321 Argyle Street, Glasgow (0141 334 0594, www.resdiary.com/restaurant/gloriosa/)
I don’t think I’d ever been to Kiloconquhar, unless passing through, when I reviewed East Neuk gastropub The Kinneuchar Inn back in January. We walked on the beach at Elie, and were starving by the time lunch came round. It’s hard to choose stand-out dishes from the consistently great meal, though I was most impressed by the hispi cabbage with potted shrimp butter and the ultra creamy rice pudding. Thanks to outdoor tables, they’ve thankfully pulled through lockdown.
The Kinneuchar Inn, 9-11 Main Street, Kilconquhar, Leven (01333 340 377, www.thekinneucharinn.com)
When lockdown restrictions eased, I thoroughly enjoyed Bar Brett's picnic a few times both alfresco (finally able to soak up the sun) and as a dinner. They've recently played host to chef Zack Brotherton who creates a delicious set menu of seasonal treats, including crab and oyster dishes. Takeaway looks to be back on the menu for now, and I am looking forward to a picnic in my living room again.
Bar Brett, 321 Great Western Road, Glasgow (www.barbrett.co.uk)
My first review of the year was Partick Duck Club, and what a cracker it was. True to the original convivial bon viveurs who formed a drinking and social club, “the duck club of Partick”, this stylish west coast eatery won my heart.
27 Hyndland Street, Glasgow (0141 334 9909, www.partickduckclub.co.uk)
Owned by a local entrepreneur Karina Bowlby, who simply couldn’t sit back and see her local closed, The Fat Pheasant at Newton reopened just before I visited in March. Although the chef has changed since then, it still offers value and a great Sunday lunch.
13-15 Main Street, Newton, Broxburn (0131 629 8671, www.thefatpheasant.co.uk)
It is sacrilegious to say - and I apologise in advance to all those marvellous restaurant and kitchen staff who are all suffering terribly at the moment - but I've loved having amazing food delivered to my house for me to eat at my leisure and (frequently) in my jammies. Standouts for me have been Dine (and not just for their cocktails, which were a Godsend in the dark days of lockdown), delivering three generous courses and wine for £42. The Little Chartroom (£67 for four courses for two people - with wine and a playlist). Cafe St Honore (five courses, coffee and wine for two - £67) and pop-up The Table Goes Rogue (four courses of utter perfection for only £35 per person).
I splurged The Scotsman’s expenses budget with a visit to Aizle, at £70pp for six courses (and lots of extras, including bread and petit four), after it relocated from the Pleasance to the garden room of hotel Kimpton Charlotte Square in August. Although accounts may not agree, this magical meals was worth every penny, and I scored it a rare 9/10.
38 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh (0131 527 4747, (www.aizle.co.uk)
A home delivery of breakfast from Wanderlust Cafe & Bistro - potato waffles with fried eggs, crispy bacon and chives, which travelled surprisingly well, plus just-sweet enough granola with rich, mascarpone-like yoghurt, and a double helping of coffee. All in all a low-level delight that was high in quality and enjoyability and well and truly brightened up my Saturday morning.
274 Canongate, Edinburgh (0131 557 0480, www.wanderlustedinburgh.co.uk)
As far as cheering myself up goes, in the thick of lockdown I very much enjoyed my deliveries of Lovecrumbs’ Selection Box, £18. It includes a “dealer’s choice” of six treats from the bakery. Just order online, and treats like their chocolate peanut butter cookies, loaf cakes, cinnabuns and cookies, slid into their pink stripy paper bags, will arrive at your door.
155 West Port, Edinburgh (www.lovecrumbs.co.uk)
Lovely LeftField, at Bruntsfield Links, adapted quickly over lockdown, serving ice-creams and coffee out of their hatch and also doing an excellent At Home offering. We reviewed this takeaway and went for the shellfish platter, which felt very sybaritic after a lean period of no eating out or holidays. Also, nothing needed reheating, so it felt like a proper lazy person’s treat.
12 Barclay Terrace, Edinburgh, www.leftfieldedinburgh.co.uk