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Noon, Edinburgh, review

This new bar and bistro is from the people behind Kauai

Published: March 5, 2022
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Apparently, if you were floating in space and accidentally got sucked into a black hole, you’d be stretched out like a piece of elastic until you snapped. Ping!

I’m not thinking about this because there are noodles or spaghetti on the menu at this new restaurant.

My Stephen Hawking moment has been inspired by St James Quarter, which has an extremely strong gravitational pull.

Not only for shoppers, bimblers and diners, but also for businesses.

This shopping centre has become its own metropolis, and I’ve lost count of the new places opening up there.

I find myself inside quite a lot on the weekend, and I’m never quite sure how I got there.

I’ll be holding something in Superdrug, or & Other Stories, looking for the toilets in John Lewis, or eating something in Maki & Ramen, and think, hey, here I am, in this strange new and drafty place. I was aiming for Broughton Street, or Princes Street. Gravity strikes again.

It takes chutzpah to open up right opposite this behemoth. If it’s Goliath, this corner bistro is David, with his little potato gun.

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Or maybe it benefits from its proximity. I’m not sure anymore, as this double level spot, which is owned by the people behind Forrest Road healthy fast food place, Kauai, was rammed on our Saturday visit.

We got a window seat, which I felt grumbly about at first, since my sciatic nerves are not fans of high stools, but the excellent people watching, at the Leith Street crossing, made up for that. We were rating outfits as if we were Trinny and Susannah back in Y2K.

The casual menu is quite large, and healthy-ish, with all-day breakfast and brunch dishes, including Turkish eggs, peanut butter porridge, grilled steak flatbread or Persian chicken curry. You order using the slightly annoying queuing system in the quite narrow entrance space.

Anyway, at least you can have a good neb at the open kitchen, where they are making juices and chopping avocados like the squirrels in Willy Wonka’s Nut Sorting Room.

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We ordered a cocktail, the pomegranate Margarita (£8), which was sweeter and jammier than your average take on this tequila based drink, but still hit the spot. Since they were out of kombucha - damn it, our biomes will be withering - my other half opted for the juice of the day.

I say that, but I made an executive decision since I was up ordering at the counter.

He was actually not that impressed by the blend of pomegranate, cranberry, apple and orange blossom (£4), since it tasted like perfume, but I was into it. At least I was post-mortem ready, with luxurious organs that smelled like a Jo Malone counter.

We’d also gone for the chicken salsa tacos (£7), which were pleasant enough, with two yellow tortillas that were filled with loads of a wet mango salsa, plenty of grilled chicken, spring onion, labneh and wheels of red jalapeno.

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The bacon, avocado and feta pizza (£10.50) was decent too. I’m sure plenty of purists - the same people who complain about pineapple - will rally against avocado on a pizza. Fair enough, it was a bit weird, but we ate it all, especially since they’d been very generous with the cheese and bacon additions. Good sourdough base too.

There didn’t seem to be puddings as such, as it’s more of a breakfast pastry place. We went for two of these.

The buff coloured apple and pecan muffin (£3.50) had a great fluffy and feathery texture, like a blow-dried Pomeranian, with a bit of cinnamon-dusted butter icing on top. I had that with a cortado (£2.80) and he went for the double macchiato (£2.50).

I could've taken or left the vegan sweet tahini swirl (£3.50), since it was a bit dry and heavy. I picked out the bits of tahini, cocoa and maple syrup from all its whorls and creases, which were like the jowls on a shar pei.

Anyway, even if the cake isn’t quite there, this place is a good alternative for those who don’t want to find themselves in the St James Quarter again, wondering how they got there, and why this place features so heavily on their monthly bank statement.

Noon does the casual dining thing pretty well, and is exerting its own small, but efficient, gravitational pull.

I have not been turned to spaghetti, but I left a few inches taller.

Noon

1 Waterloo Place

Edinburgh

(0131 259 8294, www.atnoon.co.uk)

Places to try Nearby


Maki & Ramen, 37 Leith Street, Edinburgh (0131 556 4719, www.makiramen.com)

This ramen and sushi joint has another branch on the lowest level of the St James Quarter. It’s always reliable, when it comes to their black tonkotsu ramen, cocktails or set sushi-of-the-day options.

Howie’s, 29 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh (0131 556 5766, www.howies.uk.com)

It’s been a while since we checked out this old reliable, but it’s still here, serving up a two course lunch for the bargain price of £15.95. This includes Cullen skink, and main courses of ghillie pie and their haggis, neeps and tatties.

The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage, 38 Calton Hill, Edinburgh (0131 378 7990, www.thelookoutedinburgh.co)

Escape the madding crowds at the top of Calton Hill, where this restaurant serves its lovely menu of Dunbar crab tart and cured trout with lime, mussels, saffron and dill oil. They also do a mean breakfast, which includes IJ Mellis cheeses.

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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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