“Do you know who Gordon Ramsay is?” I asked my eldest niece.
“Yes, he’s the chef who swears a lot”, she said. The other two, aged nine and three, didn’t have a clue.
But they still want to try his pizza. They want to try anyone’s pizza.
We arrive at the new takeaway restaurant on a Saturday at noon, thinking that it might be hoaching on its first weekend. But, nope. Perhaps others have also been blindsided by the arrival of this place, which is the first of this chain outside London. I only realised they’d opened when I saw the excitement on social media after they gave away 250 pizzas on opening day.
Soon, Gordon will have three places in the Scottish capital: one-year-old Bread Street Kitchen on St Andrew Square and Gordon Ramsay Street Burger at St James Quarter, which is on the cusp of opening.
Before visiting the most recent launch, we had been mightily confused by the website. It says the Edinburgh restaurant offers “bottomless” pizza.
This is primarily a takeaway, with just a few window seats and two Central Perk-esque sofas. How do you take advantage of bottomless pizza slices, when you’re getting delivery? Does the Deliveroo cyclist just keep yo-yo-ing back to your gaff? Anyway, ignore it. I think this must apply to the other sit-in venues.
There’s just a normal menu on the board, and we commandeered some of the seating. (NB. There are no toilets, so arrive dehydrated and desiccated.)
All the pizzas are 14", so the youngest kids shared a classic Margherita (£10). Silence is the greatest endorsement, and they noshed away with the box on their four knees, flicking me the occasional thumbs up. Soon it was gone, bar four rejected basil leaves.
My sister, eldest niece and I shared the butternut squash and blue cheese (£11) and the fennel and sausage (£13). Both had salty, thin and crispy sourdough bases. They’re more biscuity than the addictively chewy and yeasty crusts you might get from Edinburgh’s East Pizzas, Wanderers Kneaded, Civerino’s Slice or other well-loved independents, but pleasant enough.
The vegetarian version’s toppings were sweet, oily and tangy, with mozzarella and Stilton, as well as a few crispy sage leaves, and tiny nuggets of the gourd, which the niece kept picking off.
Trick or treat? Junior said it was the latter.
My sister thought the slightly anaemic-looking fennel-seed-flecked sausage balls on the other option were a bit dry, but I enjoyed the texture of the crispy kale that was stuck to the thick layer of smoked mozzarella, and there was plenty of broccoli too, should you want to cancel out the calories with health and vitality.
There are Sides & Sharers of dirty fries and street slaw, which sounds like something horrible you might find on the pavements on a Sunday morning, but we sampled the chocolate BBQ wings (£8.50 for five). What a mess we made. It was like letting a pack of Labradors loose on a tub of gravy. There were blobs of brown on our jeans, jumpers and I think we might have spilled some on their Chesterfield. They had to hand over about 20 lemon-scented wipe sachets. The wings weren’t crispy, but they were meaty rather than stringy and the thick sauce was like a sweet vinegary and garlicky mole.
There was just one dessert. However, once I’d said “ice-cream” out loud, it was game over. The three small people all wanted a soft serve (£4). It was a help yourself kind of affair but they may have to revise that policy. Never let kids have free reign over an ice-cream machine. It’s amazing how much Mr Whippy you can fit in a relatively small container. It just kept coming, like a skyscraper version of the Golden Turd. In fact, they used up all of the mixture in the machine, to my shame.
Apologies to the lovely staff, who put up with us reprobates. They also provide bottles of chocolate, caramel and strawberry sauce, which the kids used to grease their gravity-defying towers.
“My hands are sticky,” said the little one, leaving prints all over the wooden counter.
I wrangled them out of this place, which was no longer so box fresh.
Despite the bottomless ice-cream, I wouldn’t say Gordon’s latest venture is a match for Edinburgh’s established independents, but it might be an alternative to upmarket chains like Franco Manca.
Just try not to make such a b****y mess.
9-11 Henderson Row
(0131 252 5210, www.gordonramsayrestaurants.com)