Pop ups spread across Edinburgh and Glasgow
Guide to the best street food in Scotland
Down Candleriggs way in the Merchant City in Glasgow this month there's what might be mistaken for a circus big top, recognisable to those in tune with the culture and festival circuit as a Spiegletent. The show in town is good food, and the performers haven't rolled in from afar but in fact from local restaurants such as Red Onion, Burger Meats Bun, Cau and The Finnieston. Each of these, and a number of others, are popping-up for a night in the Spiegeltent as part of Glasgow's Restaurant Festival, which got under way at the end of March and has already seen a series of Secret Dining events and some 'plate-crawls' involving different dishes eaten in different venues around certain districts of the city. From 18 April, the festival spreads further around the city with over 60 venues putting on special set-price menus under the theme of Dining in the City.
It's not the only food festival to be inaugurated in Glasgow in the past year, with the hugely successful Let's Eat Glasgow having made its debut at SWG3 in September, beer festivals including the first North Hop in Glasgow in June and further outings from the likes of Section 33.
Meanwhile Edinburgh has seen the Pitt, a monthly covered street food market with live entertainment, showcase a range of exciting food businesses and entrepreneurial ideas. Then there's the growing Leith market with its imaginative monthly Vegan quarter, the crowdfunded Edinburgh Food Studio hosting weekend residencies from intriguing international chefs and Edinburgh's Food Assembly (which since its launch in October is now offering versions based at Drygate in Glasgow and, soon, Haddington in East Lothian), successfully changing the way we think about how and where we can buy local food.
For all that there's plenty of 'street food' being served at tables and chairs within the cosy confines of restaurant walls. All these events, along with the increasing number of food trucks, trailers, bikes and carts serving good quality, small-scale, imaginative food and drink, provide an excellent commentary on the dynamic potential of the food and drink scene in Scotland. It's lively, appealing, imaginative and it's finding an audience. It's popping up and hopefully not popping back into its box any time too soon.