Chef behind Aizle in Edinburgh set to open second restaurant

Stuart Ralston, chef patron of popular Edinburgh restaurant, Aizle, has announced his plans to open a new city centre venture this August.

Published 11th Jul 2019
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Titled Noto, the new venue will be located in the New Town in Edinburgh, on the site that was once home to Iris on Thistle Street, and will offers a casual dining experience influenced by his time in New York.

Noto is named after Stuart’s late friend and well-known New York eccentric and man about town Bob Noto.

Bob took Stuart under his wing when he first arrived in the Big Apple to work for Gordon Ramsay, introducing him to the vibrant restaurant scene, and Noto will pay homage to the cuisines that Stuart experienced (mostly after hours) in the city.

Speaking of the new venture, Stuart said: "The restaurant is very much inspired by my time in New York - I lived there for just over five years when I worked with Gordon Ramsay - and the places we used to go on our days off, which were cool bars and casual restaurants.

"These places had some of the best food, which wasn’t necessarily the most expensive. I want that feel for Noto - good food in a casual setting where people feel they can just pop into. It’ll be very different from our current restaurant, Aizle.

"The restaurant is influenced by my time living there (New York) but I also love Japanese and Asian flavours, which is what we do a Aizle so diners can expect something similar in the dishes, while still using fresh and seasonal Scottish produce."

After running Aizle for five years, Stuart was keen to expand the business and started looking for a new site about two years ago but it took a while to find the perfect spot.

"I decided to open up now as Aizle has been open for five years and lots of people have been working for me for almost five years and I feel like the company needs to grow and I need to grow as a business owner.

"We’ve been looking for a site for the best part of two years and then this site came up on Thistle Street and I really like it, it’s one of my favourite streets in Edinburgh as I think it really represents Edinburgh with its cobbles plus it’s littered with independent businesses, which I love. I think we will fit in nicely in that street with that vibe.

"There are  some really good restaurants in Edinburgh that are in that casual, mid-market price point but I don’t think there’s enough.

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They’re the types of places that I like to go but there’s not enough variety I don’t think plus everyone knows how much corporate investment has come into Edinburgh for big name restaurants and chains and I think we need more independent outlets.

"It’s hard to do business in Edinburgh like that, but I feel it’s worth a try," Stuart explains.

Set to open early to mid-August Noto will offer all-day a la carte dining from late morning Wednesday – Sunday.

Like the New York dining scene, the menu will feature an international repertoire of small and large dishes, as well as daily specials and brunch options.

The interior will focus on creating a light and bright fresh space utilising the natural stone walls and plenty of plants. The dining area will seat up to 40 and a separate bar area will have 10 seats to enjoy pre and post dining drinks.

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Stuart hit the headlines in 2018 for being one of the first restaurateurs to implement a four-day working week, and staff at Noto will be offered the same benefit.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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