Flavours of the month - Festival Food

Olive Branch bistro

The street level entrance of the new Olive Branch bistro opens onto a small sandwich bar with the main dining room downstairs

Food and Drink editor Donald Reid surveys what’s new in the eating out scene around Edinburgh as the Festival frenzy looms

It’s hard enough keeping track of new restaurants in Edinburgh – on average more than one a week opens over the course of the year – but the lead up to the Festival is always particularly frenetic. The owners always plan, of course, to open around April or May, allowing a bit of time to get into the swing of things before it all gets too hectic. But delays, hold-ups, unforeseen problems. Let’s just say that during June and July it’s hard to find a free joiner.

One place that did manage to meet its predicted timetable was List readers’ favourite Urban Angel, which has opened a second branch in the old Tapas Tree premises on Forth Street, just off Broughton Street. Nearby, the Bakehouse is now offering classy afternoon teas and properly made sandwiches while Blue Moon Café has finally opened up its Broughton Street entrance as a take-away juice and snack bar called Sejuiced.

The Olive Branch Bistro, these days one of Broughton Street’s more venerable establishments, now has a third venue in town on George IV Bridge, while a New Town venue with an even stronger claim to venerability, the Magnum on the corner of Dublin Street and Albany Street, is under the new and revitalised ownership of Chris Graham with ex-Howies chef Ashley Ford in the kitchen.

Elsewhere in the New Town the St Vincent Bar is now offering food under the auspices of local chef and at-home caterer Craig McAlpine, a past winner of Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me show.

Under the heading of pubs with decent grub you should also be able to file the Earl of Marchmont on the corner of Marchmont Crescent/Rosneath Street, recently taken over and refurbed by the team behind Café Renroc.

Moving into core Festival territory the longstanding North African restaurant Phenecia on West Nicolson Street has recently been replaced by Pink Olive (see Take Three, below). A block away, style bar 56 North has replaced Human Be-In, serving a fairly standard bar menu as well as an extensive array of cocktails in a setting that’s a winner when the sun is out.

Stylish drinks will be to the fore when the North Bridge Brasserie in the Scotsman Hotel emerges from a major refurbishment in late July. Elsewhere in the city centre Café Andaluz is set to open any day on George Street, while on Hanover Street Edinburgh has, once again, at least one restaurant dedicated to Greek cuisine with the opening of Athena from the owners of a restaurant of the same name in Bridge of Allan.
If that isn’t sufficient to give you a few new options for the weeks ahead there’s a more thorough round up of the best of the established restaurants and cafés around town in our Festival Preview Guide, included with this issue.


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