Aurora: the northern lights of Great Junction Street
- Jo Laidlaw
- 9 April 2018
Recent opening in an unfashionable part of town brightens even the darkest of nights
With a run of glossy new openings in the city centre and a string of second, third and even fourth new venues planned for some well-known local names, you'd perhaps be forgiven for thinking the Edinburgh dining scene is a familiar story. But take a closer look along the edges of the more familiar food streets and districts: you'll see bright, shiny new talent, taking advantage of lower rents to strike out and start up. Take North Leith, already a place with its fair share of proudly indie outliers – Coburg Street's cosy Ostara and the fabulously irreverent Dreadnought at the end of North Fort Street, to name but two – are now joined by Aurora, an informal neighbourhood bistro which sits at the furthest point of Great Junction Street just before the shops run out.
Optimistically described by chef and owner Kamil Witek as 'a stone's throw from The Shore' (let's be honest, you'd need a pretty strong throwing arm) Aurora exemplifies the trend of starting small in modest spaces, building a loyal and local customer base while experimenting and perfecting an approach to food and hospitality. That Aurora is already a really rather lovely place to be is a bonus. Known for a stint at Salt Café (another locals' local), Kamil uses seasonal ingredients and surprising flavour combinations to create an always-evolving menu. Breakfast and lunch see a focus on eggs with florentine, benny and royale all present and correct, as well as spicy North African shakshuka. Lunch time sees a half-dozen larger plates added, like pork cheek and barley ravioli bathed in a chicken consommé, or peppercorn crusted tuna with avocado nori, all supported by bread and pastries made on the premises.
But it's in the evening that Aurora's playful side really comes to the fore. Currently only open on Friday and Saturday nights (so you already feel clever for securing a reservation and making the trip across town),the compact a la carte often features fish, for example in a lobster bisque with a yin and yang of black and white ravioli or wobblingly perfect cod, while regular fixed-menu event nights feature themes like Land and Sea or Childhood Memories to inspire one-off, inventive menus.
+ Shining devotion to creating interesting, imaginative dishes
- It is a short menu, though well-conceived
£12 (lunch) / £18 (dinner)