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Owners of Edinburgh's The Apartment to transform old Pancho Villas site into new restaurant

The owners of The Apartment restaurant in Edinburgh have taken over the former site of the Pancho Villas on Canongate.

Published: February 28, 2020
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With the popular Mexican restaurant having closed its doors for the last time last summer after its owners decided to retire, Karen and Ruori Stewart decided to over the lease and have launched a new restaurant named after the historic mansion that sits behind it.

Chessel's restaurant and bar will seat 40 and will offer dishes that combine “Scotland’s inspiring natural larder” with seasonal Mediterranean cuisine.

Owners Karen and Ruori say they hope to bring the same consistency to Chessel’s, in standards of food and service, that has made The Apartment such a success.

Following a makeover to the venue which is split across two levels, the new restaurant will cater to people with all dietary requirements with small, affordable plates of tapas-style food that change with the seasons and main-course dishes in taster-size portions.

Ruori explained why the chose this particular site, stating that he hopes Chessel’s will give diners yet another reason to take a trip down the Royal Mile, he said: “The Canongate is succeeding in the restaurant trade, proving that dining out in the Royal Mile is not just about the big names closest to the Castle.”

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Both Ruori and Karen believe that there is no reason why casual dining can’t be done to the same exacting standards as fine dining, Karen said: “In this part of town, it’s all about busy days of sightseeing when you can drop in to enjoy great food, or pop in for lunch between visiting Holyrood Palace, the Park, or the Parliament. It must be quick, tasty, and certainly not over-priced!” said Ruori. There’s also a children’s menu, and the sheltered portico offers dog-friendly dining."

With both locals and tourists in mind and well-used to hosting events such as this at The Apartment, the Chessel’s team are planning a series of monthly events, which could be based around lunch or dinner, and will kicks off with a Six Nations Gin tasting Dinner on Thursday 19th March in association with Great Grog, one of Chessel’s suppliers.

“It’s six amazing gins matched with six evocative courses – and not in any way a stuffy, formal event. It should have general appeal – even as an early Mother’s Day treat,” explained Karen.

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The restaurateurs say that the flexible set-up also makes it ideal for private dining, with options for lunch or dinner in the upper level of the restaurant. They also hope to offer a bespoke service for birthday parties and business lunches, sit-down meals or more casual canapes and drinks. There are also plans to link up with city tour providers, offering quick and delicious lunches, and even a take-out service.

Ruori said: “Overall, we offer good food in a casual environment at Chessel’s. The food is high class, but black tie it ain’t!”

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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