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Going back to restaurants feels exciting but strange after a year of eating indoors

It’s nearly time to start reviewing.

Published: April 23, 2021
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How do restaurants work again?

It’s been so long that eating out feels like an alien concept.

Still, it’s almost time for me to return to my weekly restaurant review in situ, after nearly an entire year of writing about takeaways.

As much as I’ve enjoyed them, it’ll be lovely to be in a proper dining space rather than my living room, a bench or the car.

I’ve already made my booking (top secret) for an early bird dining spot of 6.30pm on April 26, and I’ve perused the menu (though not the wine list) about 53 times.

All those exotic options - amuse bouche, side dishes and fancy desserts - read like poetry to me.

I know what I’m going to order, I’ve planned my route and decided what I’m going to wear on my legs and feet.

(Since lockdown began, I’ve only worried about my clothes from the waist up, in case of impromptu Google Hangouts).

Although I could have ventured further, I thought I’d stick to Edinburgh. It took a bit of investigating to decide on my first review, as not all the capital’s restaurants will be opening next week.

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Some venues are pausing until May 17, when we can hopefully move into Tier 2, alcohol can be served and hours extended.

I’d love a negroni tout suite, but I’m okay with mocktails until we’re allowed.

It’s just exciting to leave the house, and enjoy the social engagement.

We’ve all missed friends and family over lockdown. However, I’ve pined equally for interactions with those I don’t know - the smiley waiter, the chatty sommelier and spying to see what’s on other diners’ plates.

Oh for the simple joy of choosing something, having it presented to you, and someone else doing the washing up. I really want to be hosted, and be made to feel welcome.

Also, after so many TV dinners, it’ll be strange to face my other half and chat. The last time we had a grown-up conversation was sometime last May.

As my social skills are rusty, I better think about what we’re going to talk about.

Or perhaps we'll just eat quietly and savour every single bite.

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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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