Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
July 8, 2023

Chaakoo, Edinburgh, review - there's a new Indian restaurant on Lothian Road

This is the third branch of this Indian restaurant chain

When it comes to working-from-home office lunches, our supplies seem to deteriorate quickly.

Sometimes, Friday will involve scraping peanut butter onto a fuzzy heel of bread, or browsing through the withered cheese scraps on level two of the fridge.

It’s like they say, about the Ps: preparation prevents pitiful provisions performance.

The last time our pantry went prematurely bare, there wasn’t even an egg going begging.

On that fateful day, my colleague/husband and I headed for this new place. We knew we’d overshoot the designated lunch hour a bit. Just don’t tell my boss, or his.

Chaakoo is in the former premises of burger place, Byron, and is inspired by Irani cafes. Essentially, this is very like Dishoom, though they don’t do the ever popular breakfast that’s offered by that chain, so don’t bother asking for a bacon naan.

There are two branches of Chaakoo in Glasgow: one on St Vincent Street and another on Ruthven Lane. The owner is DRG (Di Maggio’s Restaurant Group), who, also have Spanish restaurant Cafe Andaluz and Mexican venue Topolabamba at 93 Lothian Road.

Their newest venue is a small plate affair - aren’t they all, these days - so order two or three each, or five to share, they say.

We read the All Day Menu while warming up, after a Tollcross mini monsoon, with a tiny pot of their excellent and very sweet and cinnamon-y chai (£4). My umbrella dripped in a corner, near the booths that are labelled First Class and Second Class.

Dishes arrive very speed-ily, and are delivered by their smiley young staff.

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From the Irani kebabs section, we had gone for the chicken tikka (£7.15), which is “whisky chip smoked”, and was the first dish to arrive. They went in on a high, with three pieces of soft and pillarbox red chicken that provided a real suckerpunch in the gob. Fiery, and there was an equally hot green chutney dip on the side, as well as an oniony salad, so they could triple-down on the spice.

My taste buds felt like a dead leg, but I still enjoyed the Kerala monkfish (£10.95) from the Chef’s Special Curries section. It featured clods of soft chunky fish and the sauce, though a bit thin, was sweet and coconut-y, with mustard seeds clinging to the inside of the small ceramic bowl.

Our jinga kushrang (£10.95) was pleasant too. They’d been pretty generous with the prawns, since there were nearly a dozen jostling in the dish, along with lots of chopped red peppers and coriander. The tomato-based sauce was slightly lacking in depth and didn’t have the “rich and velvety” texture promised on the menu, but there was a pleasingly gingery tinge.

The third dish was one of the Humble Curries - a kofta one (£7.75), with three dense lamb bollards in a light and tomatoey jus that was topped with fried onions and dotted with nigella seeds. On the side, we had a slightly under-fired garlic naan (£3.60), with its flavour provided by a splurge of green oil, and a portion of lemon rice (£3.60), though, for the same price, they also offer jeera rice, masala fries and other sides.

Since we still hadn’t used up our designated lunch hour, we squeezed in a dessert before the bus home was due.

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Our shared portion of mango and banana crumble (£5.45) was tooth-shiveringly sweet. It consisted of pieces of cooked squishy banana in a thick mango puree, with a layer of what seemed to be crunched up shortbread over the top. I found it quite comforting, even if this option was bereft without any custard on the side. At least we’d ordered a scoop of their decent honeycomb ice-cream (£1.75) to compensate.

And an okay flat white (£2.95), since I would have a full email inbox to tackle soon. If we’d been off duty, we might have added some of their cocktails, or lingered over a lassi.

I wouldn’t have minded, since it’s not bad here. Yes, there are better places nearby - Tuk Tuk, for instance - but the food was an improvement on what was in our fridge at home.

No scrag-ends for me. Well, until next Friday anyway.

kofta curry

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Chaakoo Bombay Cafe, Lothian Road, Edinburgh, UK
Chaakoo Bombay Cafe, Lothian Road, Edinburgh, UK, EH3 9AN
0131 202 5755
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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