Eating & Drinking Guide Awards 2018: Edinburgh winners
White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar
The List proudly presents the 25th edition of the Eating & Drinking Guide and its 2018 award winners
The List's annual Eating & Drinking Guide, published on 18 April 2018 with coverage of almost 1000 food and drink venues across Edinburgh and Glasgow, has announced the winners of its reformatted Eating & Drinking Awards for 2018.
The guide has traditionally used its awards, first established in the 10th edition of the guide in 2004, to recognise the best new openings in various categories. To mark the 25th anniversary edition, the new style for the Eating & Drinking Awards provides a single, exclusive list of eight recipients of an annual award. 'We wanted to highlight the exciting and essential places of the past 12 months,' explains guide editor Jay Thundercliffe. 'These can appear across all different styles of the food and drink scene, from fine dining to cafés or street food – and often the distinction between these categories can start to blur. We wanted to recognise where fresh thinking, innovation, originality and quality was happening right across the local eating and drinking scene.'
Of the eight award winners announced in the 2018 guide, four are located in Edinburgh. These recognise the 24-seat café-bistro Aurora run by chef Kamil Witek in Leith, the fine but still informal Franco-Swiss-Scottish restaurant Le Roi Fou of chef Jérôme Henry just off Broughton Street, and the White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar, a renovated Royal Mile pub opened in late 2017 by the group behind Monteiths and Edinburgh's Chop Houses. Another locally based group of venues run by Charlotte and Chris Thompson, the team behind the Pantry cafés, was also recognised for its successful Stockbridge café and recent openings The Pantry Colinton and Finn & Bear in Leith.
In addition, the newly published guide announced the results of its annual Readers' Awards, made in association with Birra Moretti, a poll conducted in recent months on line with thousands of readers voting for their favourite venue in each city.
The Edinburgh winner for 2018 was announced as LeftField restaurant, Bruntsfield, with runners up First Coast restaurant in Dalry, and The Roseleaf bar near The Shore in Leith.
Eating & Drinking Guide Award Winners: Edinburgh
Le Roi Fou
Jérôme Henry spent 20 years at the sharp end of fine dining and brings every inch of that experience to Le Roi Fou, his casual bistro in Forth Street. Precision-cooking sends every plate out picture-perfect and, while there's more than a touch of luxury around his menus, a simple salad can be the bright, beautiful highlight of a memorable meal. Execution is exemplary, ingredients are sourced with care and the carefully curated wine list reads like a dream. Jérôme is the embodiment of the chef-patron, working at the stove, popping up behind the bar and (if you're really lucky) flying the flag for his native Switzerland by explaining the mostly Swiss cheeses on the well-stocked trolley.
Kamil Witek's Aurora is not in a fashionable part of town. It's not particularly big, or particularly plush. It's not open all hours either. But it is a statement of intent from one of Edinburgh's hottest new talents – that it already feels like your go-to spot is testament to the team's skills. Day-to-day, Aurora focuses on serving the good people of Leith, whether that's a quick homemade pastry for breakfast or a fish sarnie for lunch. But the monthly theme nights are where things get really interesting – themes have ranged from childhood memories, to ginspiration, to land and sea, each a unique menu and unique night from a unique talent.
White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar
Edinburgh is not without its fair share of seafood restaurants, but has lacked a casual, drop by to sit at the bar and slurp on an oyster kind of place. Until now. The sensitive reimagination of the White Horse has brought this beautiful old bar slap bang into the 21st century without losing any of its charm. Careful sourcing, simple treatment of the raw ingredients and bold flavours see small plate after delicious small plate streaming out of the kitchen. Customers are just as likely to pitch up for a glass of fizz and half a dozen oysters at the bar as they are for a full-on seafood platter blowout: both activities come highly recommended.
The Pantry Team
To grow from one venue to two is difficult. To add a third (within the space of year) takes a certain level of commitment, energy or madness. With the original Pantry in Stockbridge, a new Pantry in Colinton and now new baby Finn & Bear, a brunch-lunch-dinner-and-bar spot on The Shore, you've got to wonder when Charlotte and Chris Thompson sleep. It's no cookie-cutter approach either; each venue is unique but shares the same welcoming warmth, quickly becoming part of the fabric of their local community. Perhaps that's because brunch is at the heart of each menu, served in linger-worthy environments where ordering just one more coffee is practically compulsory.
Reader Award Winner: LeftField
Every neighbourhood needs a neighbourhood restaurant: the kind of laid-back place that suits every and any occasion. And according to our readers, Bruntsfield has a new contender for this coveted position in the shape of LeftField, a cosy, tiny steak-focused place (with a little bit of excellent seafood too). Owned by Phil White and Rachel Chisholm and with cracking views out to the links, they keep things simple at lunchtime with a set lunch, before busting out the big grills in the evening. It's all topped off by a lazy Sunday lunch, all brilliant value and all delicious.
Reader Award Runner-ups
If a year is a long time in politics, 15 years is an eon in restauranting. First Coast is an endearingly simple spot, beloved by readers for its classic bistro cuisine and warm welcome. A regularly changing menu means things never get boring, and there's a real comfort-level in stepping through its Dalry Road doorway and knowing you're in such safe hands. Here's to the next 15!
It's easy to forget that pubs used to be a bit dull. Places like the Roseleaf changed all that. Cocktails come in teapots, the food is great, the environment quirky, the drinks interesting and the staff welcoming. It's got 'great night out' stamped through it like the letters on a stick of rock, and if our readers know one thing, it's a great night out when they see it.
The 176-page List Eating & Drinking Guide 2018 is available from bookshops, newsagents and online, priced £7.95.
97–101 Dalry Road,
Entering its 15th year, this Haymarket stalwart continues to do everything well at affordable prices.
12 Barclay Terrace,
Confident and uncomplicated eating in a welcoming and relaxed neighborhood eatery, with Scottish Border beef steaks to the fore.
Le Roi Fou
1 Forth Street,
Fine French dining with exemplary execution and a friendly face.
White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar
Oysters make a welcome return to the High Street, accompanied by all sorts of fishy delights in this laid-back bar/restaurant.
187 Great Junction Street, Leith,
A local café/bistro serving highly satisfying breakfasts, lunches and weekend dinners making a virtue of seasonal, local produce and creative culinary design.
23–24 Sandport Place,
Welcoming pub with a chintzy clutter of board games, beer, healthy juices, comfort food and cocktails.
Finn & Bear
58 The Shore, Leith,
Waterfront venture down in Leith offering breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, with a big outdoor terrace for those sunny Scottish days.