What a miserable bunch on the top deck of the Edinburgh tour bus.
I gave them a wave, every time a new batch went past, presumably en route to the Royal Botanic Gardens, post castle visit. Nobody waved back. They all had their hoods up, or were on their phones, or in a dwam. I imagined they were all wondering why it was still so cold, in May, and wishing that they were at some White Lotus-esque resort in the Med instead.
“Get off,” I wanted to mouth, while pointing at the stop outside. “And come in here”.
We had the perfect people-watching window seat when we visited tipo - the new place from Noto and Aizle’s Jade Johnston and Stuart Ralston, as well as his brother, Scott, formerly head chef for the Compass Group.
You’ll know the address, it used to be David Ramsden’s place, The Dogs. Then, for a few years, it was The Perch, though I never made it there.
They’ve created a very appealing venue. The ergonomics are just right. Its walls are mottled white and cream, there are wicker and wood chairs, and the tables, topped by wispy dried flowers, appear to be made from up-cycled wrought iron sewing machine stands.
It’s named after the finest grade of flour used for making pasta, and they offer dishes that feature pappardelle or paccheri. Otherwise, there are Snacks, Small Plates, Main Dishes and Sides. They come as they’re ready. You know the drill.
First up was the sea bass crudo (£14). It was a beautiful start to lunch. The pale cured fish was cut into satisfyingly thick but tender lozenges, like the biggest pads on a cat’s paw. Each was topped by a tiny juicy dollop of pink grapefruit, as well as chives, mint and a sprinkle of nutty puffed rice, for crispy texture.
This was perfect alongside the acidic Apples & Pears cocktails (£12 each), which featured Tapatio Blanco tequila, Lucky Liqueurs Apple, pear, celery and lime. There are lots of other tempting drinks, as well as vino from ‘small domaine artisanal family-owned wineries’.
Our next Small Plate had been ordered in a last-minute tizz but I’m so glad we went for this dramatic lipstick-red assemblage. There was beetroot, crunchy treviso, walnuts, a sweet and vinegary saba. The bowl also featured piped-on blobs of a beautifully mushroom-y soft cheese, and a pool of pesto underneath the leaves. This was no ordinary salad, but the elevated combination of dreams.
Round three involved a pasta course. Our waitress explained that strozzapreti translates as ‘priest strangler’. It originates from regions including Emilia-Romagna and the twists are thought to have been named after the greedy clergy who would eat so many of them that they would choke. I have sympathy. We were guzzling them down like the Vicar of Dibley breaking a fast. These were compulsive eating, with crumbs of meat in a sausage ragu, chilli, cime di rapa, a heady wild garlic puree and crumbs of Parmesan and Pecorino.
We could have finished this bowlful, but we paced ourselves, because we knew we had the whole fried sea bream (£25) to come. He was a handsome beast, with a red chilli seed paste slathered across his plump and crispy-skinned belly. We took turns at forking away a chunk of pillow-y white flesh, and anointing it with the bright green tarragon emulsion on the side, or some of the mustard-y kohlrabi slaw. This dish was teamed with a side of Jersey Royal potatoes (£7), all sloshed in a balmy wild garlic butter.
That pairing has become part of my fantasy perfect day in the Capital. You know a restaurant is good when that happens. This is what I want to do on my birthday, except, when that date comes round, I’ll also order the warm chocolate cake and sabayon (£7) because I’ve had it on a previous visit and know it’s incredible.
Until then, we got the bill as another tour bus went past.
I waved. Again, no response from another bored-looking crew. Maybe they could be cheered up if they were to add tipo to the itinerary. I’d say it definitely qualifies as one of Edinburgh’s premier attractions.
110 Hanover Street
(0131 226 4545, www.tipoedinburgh.co.uk)