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The third wall has come down, and I won't take restaurants for granted

Watch me transform from a hermit to a Noughties It girl

Published: July 10, 2021
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The invites have suddenly come flooding in.

This weekend, and over the next few days in Edinburgh, I’m heading to the launch of the Bonnie & Wild food hall at the St James Quarter, Rico’s Ristorante, Superico Bar & Lounge, and a couple of new cocktail terraces.

There’s a tsunami of hors d'oeuvres heading my way, and I’ll be having more nights out than I’ve had for months.

I’m worried that my television might get separation anxiety.

Still, this is the new normal. I won’t take any of it for granted. I know too much.

Over the past 16 months, it seems that the third wall between us and hospitality has come down. We used to get the nice theatrical front-of-house bit, without having to worry too much about behind the scenes.

Thanks in part to social media, where chefs, staff and restaurateurs have been openly sharing their horror and frustrations, we’re more aware of pandemic struggles, toxic workplaces, or problems with staffing, Brexit food shortages and no-shows.

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I don’t want to be that person who doesn’t cancel my booking, or goes to a restaurant that’s run by someone who regards themselves as Tutankhamun, while underlings build the pyramid.

Before, I would stuff my face, leave, and think about where to go next.

However, there’s been so much time - endless hours - to think about where, what and how we’re going to spend our money.

(And, in this newly contact-less cash-free world, I’m trying to remember to take along an actual paper money tip).

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Pre-covid, it didn’t always feel like you’d been properly out, unless you strayed further than a couple of miles from home. Now, I’m happy to stay in the hood.

Also, though I’m still interested in those new places, the loss of familiar haunts has prompted my current “use it or lose it” mentality.

I felt guilty about how long it’d been since I’d visited Edinburgh stalwart, Hendersons, when it shut last year. Now that it’s reopening (albeit in Bruntsfield), I’ll make the most of that second chance.

Anyway, as for all those invites, watch me hit the town like a millennium-era Paris Hilton.

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I’ll start with a couple of hours, to get my television used to being home alone

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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