It’s been another tricky year for hospitality, with the cost of living crisis and the aftershocks from lockdown and Brexit.
However, Scottish restaurants have continued to deliver, and I’ve very much enjoyed eating out at all the new openings for The Scotsman Magazine this year.
After cogitating on what’s been scoffed so far, these are 10 of the most positive reviews of 2022, in no particular order. Bring on 2023.
We still dream about our summertime visit to this destination. It’s owned by business partners Hazel Powell and Giacomo Pesce, who make everything in house, using very local produce. We remember the oregano and gooseberry friand, the amazing focaccia, and pork rillette. The current menu is as seasonal as always, and features a scone made from St Andrew’s Cheddar and red onion skins with sage and brandy butter, and there’s a beef neck, horseradish emulsion and Brussels sprout sandwich. Bakes include mince pie, blueberry, toasted almond and more brandy. After opening, they also branched out into events, with a Summer Nights series of dinners. Here’s hoping for more of those next year.
Bowhouse, East Neuk, St Monans Instagram @baern_cafe
Its name always installs a rendition of Queen’s Radio Gaga in our head, but we still love this South East Asian restaurant, which is owned by restaurateur Julie Lin.
566 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow (0141 334 9407, www.gagaglasgow.com)
This venue is from the people behind Glasgow’s Eighty Eight and Hooligan. It’s in a slightly nondescript space in the city centre, but don’t stroll on by, as they’re serving vibrant small plates with a focus on BBQ and seafood. Expect dishes including monkfish with raita, or bavette with ajo blanco and chimichurri. Wash these down with one of their speciality margaritas, including a spicy or red wine tops version.
26a Renfield Street, Glasgow (0141 473 1966, www.scampglasgow.co.uk)
We fell for this turquoise food van on a visit to the Isle of Arran and would like to wish them a joyeux Noël and bonne année. They’re still pitched up at their spot on Auchrannie Road in Brodick, where they serve confit de boeuf, Alsace turnovers and croque monsieur, among other Gallic treats.
We started 2022 on a high, when Eleanore opened on Albert Place. It’s from the team behind The Little Chartroom, who moved their operation down to Bonnington Road, and is in their former premises. We were happy to bag a table, since it’s been pretty booked out since. At the moment, they’re serving some winter warmers, with a menu that includes cured beef, devilled oyster, shallot and toast, and pork belly, hispi, turnip tops, quince, sherry. They’re also offering a four course Festive Lunch for £45, or five course Festive Dinner for £55. Both are rounded off with the excellent sounding dessert of Mont Blanc choux.
30-31 Albert Place, Edinburgh (0131 600 0990, www.eleanore.uk)
The ink hasn’t dried on our review yet, but, spoiler alert, we enjoyed this year old Elgin venue, though it took us a while to make it along there, since it opened back in 2021. It’s in a Victorian building in this Moray town, where chef and local, Andy Fyfe, is cooking up some smart dishes, including their own upmarket take on Cullen skink. They also serve a good selection of classic cocktails. On our next visit, we hope to sample his clootie dumpling.
2-6 South Street, Elgin (01343 457 564, www.orrinrestaurant.com)
Thou shalt have a fishie, preferably at this seafood restaurant, where there’s a Champagne cart doing the rounds. This is a sister venue to Glasgow’s Cail Bruich, where you’ll find Lorna McNee at the stove, and Epicures. We visited back in the summer and had Peterhead coley with crushed potato, mussel and Arbroath smokie, and enjoyed the chic interior, with its fish scale tiles.
168 Hyndland Road, Glasgow (0141 473 0080, www.shucksglasgow.com)
Glasgow has had a Ka Pao for ages, and theirs was awarded a Bib Gourmand in this year’s Michelin Guide. In 2022, Edinburgh got its own branch, round the side of the St James Quarter. They serve East Asian influenced dishes, some of which have a Scottish twist, like the Arbroath Smokie miang, galangal, spinach leaves and peanuts, or Shetland mussels with chilli jam and Thai basil.
Floor 4, St James Quarter, Edinburgh (0131 385 1040, www.ka-pao.com)
After a busy summer popping up at alfresco events, this Sri Lankan street food van won the People’s Choice Award at the Scottish Street Food Awards at The Pitt in Edinburgh. They followed that up by opening in Bonnie & Wild at the Capital’s St James Quarter. If you haven’t tried one of their hoppers yet, you really should.
We were sad to see the closure of L’Escargot Blanc (its sister restaurant, L’Escargot Bleu is still on Broughton Street), but this seafood restaurant is a worthy successor. We visited in September, shortly after its launch, and tried trout pastrami and lobster crumpet, among other things. Since it opened, the chef patron and former MasterChef finalist Dean Banks has further expanded his empire, which also includes Haar in St Andrews, Dean Banks at The Pompadour, Lunun Gin and Mond Vodka, to include a gastropub in Dollar called The Forager.
17 Queensferry Street, Edinburgh (0131 573 7575, www.dulse.co.uk)