The first half of 2022 has seen our capital city bursting back into life, with new hotels, shops, brilliant places to eat and drink, and a renewed energy that’s wonderful to see.
The much-anticipated Gleneagles Townhouse opens on June 6 in St Andrew’s Square, after a five-year restoration by Ennismore Design Studio. The hotel will initially open only to members and hotel residents, with all-day restaurant The Spence opening later in the summer. The Spence promises to take diners “from Bloody Mary breakfasts all the way through to dynamic dinners” with Jonny Wright as head chef.
Signature dishes will include wild mushroom tart with goats curd and hazelnuts, and roast turbot with fennel and chili. The roof terrace bar Lamplighters will be exclusively for members, with views over both the Old Town and New Town.
Virgin Hotels Edinburgh also opens in June and a first look reveals the beautiful restoration of the India Buildings on Victoria Street, and some very chic contemporary spaces.
New launches continue at the St James Quarter as Ka Pao, already a Glasgow hit, has arrived in Edinburgh at the St James Quarter. Ka Pao – the name a play on the Thai word for holy basil – is inspired by the food of Southeast Asia.
Head Chef Sandy Browning says: “The vibe at Ka Pao is fun and relaxed. It’s really welcoming and there’s something for everyone. If travel and money were no object, my ideal night out would be at a night market, struggling with the humidity and inhaling intoxicating scents, and eating whatever I’m offered. The setting here might be starkly different but the idea of sharing food with people you like, surrounded by noise and buzz is universal.”
Go with a group for the sharing menu (4+ diners) and be prepared for a feast – dishes include red curry with sea trout, coley and langoustine, burnt tomato and lime leaf; corn ribs with salted coconut, shrimp, and lime; and crispy pork belly, sorrel, watercress and calamansi salad.
Also at the St James Quarter, the new Everyman Cinema is proving a popular addition to the city. With sofas, at your seat waiter service and a full bar, it makes a cinema trip much more of an event.
Edinburgh’s post-covid café boom continues, and the capital’s caffeine fiends are never sated.
Fans of much missed The Water of Leith Bistro will be delighted to see owners Ana and Mickaël Mesle open a new spot on Leith’s Jane Street. Cocorico is a cheery spot for breakfast or lunch, including the best croque monsieurs and, happily, the return of their iconic Cullen Skink.
Also in Leith, Connoisseur Coffee Club is new to Duke Street, serving up Santu Coffee and a range of baked goods from top Edinburgh bakeries. In the back room is a ‘speakeasy barbershop’, the Connoisseurs Barber Club, so you can get a sharp cut with your strong coffee.
In Abbeyhill, The Alibi is a new community favourite. Owner Frances Gilmour’s Parisian pastry training is evident in the delectable savoury croissants, pistachio raspberry financiers and other tasty treats. There’s a focus on local sourcing and delicious specialty coffee from new Edinburgh roaster Spaceboy.
Top coffee roaster Fortitude has opened a Newington branch, bringing speciality single-origin coffee and an in-store bakery to the Old Town. Just across the Meadows, Machina coffee is opening a new café on Marchmont Road.
Craft chocolatiers Ocelot are ready for visitors in Stockbridge, with a new shop, factory and café. Husband and wife team Ishbel and Matthew Broadbent have come a long way from making chocolate in their kitchen eight years ago.
On the new space Matthew says: “The vision was to create a timeless space where luxury meets industrial by using a mixture of top-quality materials and simple finishes and keeping a lot of the industrial elements visible, as well as installing a large wall of windows where you can sit and look into the chocolate factory. In the café you can sip on an organic hot chocolate made with free pouring melted 70 per cent Virungan chocolate, or a freshly ground organic coffee, with a homemade cookie or brownie. There is also a selection of organic kombuchas, teas, fresh croissants and brioche, and biodynamic wines by the bottle and glass.”
To get our homes ready for summer, creative studio Style Your Spaces has opened a permanent space on Howe Street offering interior design, sustainable floristry and homewares including ceramics, glassware and table linens. Creative director Katie Brigstock has over a decade of experience in high-end events, and impeccable taste.
Bright and bold new bar Tipsy Midgie specialises in whisky and gin. Alongside hundreds of single malts, you can try whisky highball cocktails like the ‘Rusty Girder’, made with Kingsbarns Balcomie, Drambuie syrup and Irn Bru sorbet.
With chocolate pairing on Tuesdays, Distillery Discovery’ Thursdays and whisky flights on a Sunday, this new drinking den promises to invigorate the whisky scene.
Popular Stockbridge wine bar Smith & Gertrude has unveiled the location for their second venue, and it’s lucky Portobello, continuing the stratospheric increase in excellent eating and drinking options in that neighbourhood.
Co-owner Amy Linklater says: “We will take the exact same relaxed approach with the focus being on creating a comfortable sit-in wine bar, but this time we will have the addition of a dedicated retail space at the front of the site so we can offer a far more extensive off-sales range. A new addition to our Porty site that we’re pretty excited about is our wine on tap offering. – perfect to take to the beach.”
With the lively Neighbourfood food market starting up again in Stockbridge, and plenty of new festivals and celebrations planned – including Edinburgh’s first beer and whisky festival, ‘The Mash Up’ at Holyrood Distillery on June 3-5 – there’s never been a better time to visit, or live in, Edinburgh.