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Aizle and Noto owners open tipo in Edinburgh next year: we find out more

Stuart Ralston tells us what to expect

Published: December 20, 2022

We’re already feeling optimistic about 2023, now that we know that tipo is in the pipeline.

This new restaurant, from chef Stuart Ralston and business partner Jade Johnston, who both run established Edinburgh venues, three-year-old Noto and eight-year-old Aizle, is due to open in March. The team will also include Ralston’s brother, Scott, who was previously head chef with Compass Group Edinburgh.

They’re currently overhauling an upstairs property at 110 Hanover Street, in the former premises of what was once The Dogs and latterly, The Perch, where they’ll serve a casual menu of small plates, including pasta and charcuterie, classic cocktails and artisanal wines. They’ve named their new venture after the finest grade of flour used to make pasta. 

We spoke to Ralston, who also appeared on the BBC’s Great British Menu this year, about what we can expect.

Why did you decide to open restaurant number three?

I hadn’t planned on it at all, but Jade twisted my arm. We saw this site and thought, let’s go have a look and we both thought we could definitely make it work.

We'd been talking about doing a different restaurant for ages. We both just assumed that we’d be waiting until the time was right.

What’s Jade’s input?

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Jade is having more say in this one than she did in the last two. I’m pushing a lot of things through to her, and stepping back a little bit so I can basically teach her how to open a restaurant from the start to the end. She definitely wanted to do a pasta thing, a European style restaurant with a lot of natural wines and have a bit more say. Because she’s been with us for a long time, it’s good for people to see that she’s a major part of the business now. She always has been, but it’s more official now. She’s tied in for the future, which is a reward for being loyal and she gets a big part of the benefits now.

What will it be like having your brother as the head chef at tipo?

It’ll be interesting. He’s my older brother and he’s got really good experience. We’ve never really talked about working with each other. To be honest, the last few jobs I’ve seen him in I’ve not seen him all that happy. This industry can sometimes beat good people up and he’s not had the opportunities that I think he deserves. He’s a solid guy and a solid cook who really commits to everything he does. I still spend most of my time at Aizle, and you can only expand when you’ve got people around you that you can trust and you can’t get more trustworthy than your brother.

How will tipo compare to Aizle and Noto?

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It’ll have a similar vibe to Noto. The other two restaurants are more creative, with food that doesn’t exist already, while this one might be more classic and user friendly.

We're going to make all the pasta in house. There will be charcuterie, a lot of vegetable plates, lighter dishes, a few main courses and then the pasta section, though it’s not a pasta restaurant per se. We’re also going to have classic cocktails.

What are you doing with the interior?

We’re having SPLINTR do the work. They’re the ones to choose right now. They’ve got the manpower to do it quickly, they’ve got on site fabrication and the designers so you don’t have to go through architects, so it makes sense. We’re looking for something really light and very airy, because there are a lot of tall ceilings in there. Right now, it's very dark, with dark wallpaper and paint, and budgies on the walls from being The Perch. That’s not really us. This time round we’re having designers do it, whereas, Jade and I cobbled it all together ourselves in the past. It should look a bit more finished than the other restaurants we’ve designed in the past.

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I want it to look different to anything SPLINTR has done before. It’s key to have our own personality. 

They also have a backroom at the property, and I’ve asked the designers to come up with something more creative for that. Nobody likes to sit in the backroom of any restaurant, so I want to see what I can do to make it more appealing, whether it’s a special charcuterie space, wine, or a communal table. In the main room, the bar will be refurbished but in the same position, except you’ll be able to dine at it.

Any nerves?

At times I think I could be preparing my exit plan, rather than burying myself more into it. There’s a certain degree of anxiety. Unlike most restaurants in the centre of town, I don’t have any investors or partners, it’s just me, making these decisions. However, I also believe that, whenever we do something, we work hard at it and are adding something that’s not there already. Keeping independents going is our responsibility.

Are Edinburgh customers very loyal?

They are. We were always well supported, then during Covid, people kept buying into us with takeaway and all our opening and closing. People generally came back to us tenfold. Then Aizle moved from the Pleasance to the Kimpton Charlotte Square and we managed to double the turnover and fill it.  I feel that we’ve got a lot of good spirit there. 

For updates on tipo, follow them on Instagram @tipoedinburgh 

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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