Karen’s Unicorn, Metropolitain and Mimi’s Kitchen amongst recent Glasgow and Edinburgh restaurant openings
8b Abercromby Place, New Town, 0131 476 2602, £13 (lunch/dinner)
Having taken over the running of the long-standing Unicorn Inn at the quieter end of St Stephen Street, Karen’s Unicorn opened a second venue in late 2009 in the prominent New Town corner site vacated by Bellini. Decor is modern if conservative and unexciting, with wall-mounted plasma screens showing off various dishes from the long menu well-padded with familiar favourites: house specials that might turn your head are salty and spicy squid or steamed halibut in a black bean sauce.
4 Picardy Place, New Town, 0131 556 6629, www.metropolitainedinburgh.co.uk, £16 (lunch/dinner)
The arrival of Metropolitain marks a revival for the G1 Group’s Picardy Place venue, with new tenants running the ground floor restaurant, bar and handful of hotel rooms, though not the popular downstairs GHQ nightclub. The name and decor hint at a fin de siècle Parisian vibe, a style perhaps better complemented by the classy cocktail list than a relatively unadventurous menu featuring club sandwiches, bowls of pasta, burgers and fries.
158 Rose Street, New Town, Edinburgh, 0131 220 0477, pickledgreen.co.uk, £7.50 (lunch) / £15
Into the unlikely setting of Rose Street, and fired with the optimism and energy of youth, pickledgreen exudes ethical attitude, its green principles going well beyond good sourcing into recycled wood and careful waste management. A bright, light café with a long, blond wooden communal table dominating the ground floor space, the sit-in menu has snacky items including a crab and lemon tart and ‘toasts’ with toppings such as ham hock and lentils. More substantial options include caramelised parsnip tarte tatin with chestnuts or sticky oxtail with mash.
168 Hyndland Road, West End, 0141 357 6336, nickswestend.com, £8 (lunch/bar menu) / £16 (dinner)
As the appeal of Byres Road hotspots such as Ashton Lane pales for the West End’s thirty- and forty-somethings, they seem to have fallen upon new arrival Nick’s in their droves. Decked out in undressed wood and bare brick, this replacement for the odd hairdresser-café affair Eden brands itself as an Italian kitchen and bar, serving contemporary styled food across a wide range of genres from breakfast to bar food to to daily specials and a main menu featuring well-dressed pasta dishes, salads and burgers.
93-97 St George’s Road, Charing Cross, 0141 237 4515, mimiskitchen.co.uk, £7 (lunch)
Situated in St George’s Studios, looking out over the concrete chasm of Charing Cross, Mimi’s is a new café and sandwich bar that tries to be a neat version of your kitchen (or dream kitchen) at home. Black and white tiles on the floor, a big cooking and serving area, wooden spoons as a motif and wall decoration, along with sufficient pink to announce its feminine appeal. Friendly and functional, breakfasts include porridge with honey, filled bagels and full Scottish, with the lunchtime line-up ranging across keenly priced fresh soup, filled panini, wraps and salads.
56 Ingram Street, Merchant City, 0141 553 2470, £10.95 (set lunch) / £18 (dinner)
Despite our interest in local food, we tend to be sceptical of Scottish-themed restaurants. Rightly so, as few manage to serve anything more enlightened than dull cliches and whisky flavoured everything. Ingram Wynd, from the team behind Chisholm Street Italian Esca, is undoubtedly bolder than most, mixing Scottishness with Victoriana in a two-storey restaurant which merges smart gentleman’s club with Highland hunting lodge. The menu keep its options open with fish and chips, grilled steaks and variations on haggis, but there are hints of greater things with well-flavoured lamb stovies, or pork and black pudding with gingerbread toast and pineapple.
Athena Greek Taverna
1116 Argyle Street, West End, 0141 339 3895, www.athenataverna.co.uk, £7.50 (set lunch) / £14 (dinner)
Another dash of enthusiasm and exoticism for the busy Finnieston stretch of Argyle Street, Athena steps into to the space vacated by the short-lived Andre’s French Bistrot. Simple but smart in its decor, the credentials of the taverna lie in a menu which - at least for now - pushes out beyond the standard Greek roll-call of calamari, dips and dolmades with dishes such as avgolemono (egg and lemon soup) and afelia (marinated pork with coriander seeds).