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The best of the new restaurant, café and bar openings in Glasgow and Edinburgh

Glasgow SMOAK TAKEAWAYS 61 Old Dumbarton Road, West End, 07580 414621,, £5 Hidden away in a quiet bit of town, Smoak comes across like a response to the proliferation of the feminine afternoon tea trend. You’ll find no finger sandwiches or dainty pastel cupcakes here. Instead they specialise in hot sandwiches of the very meaty kind with a strong Tex-Mex slant. There’s brisket, given a spicy Texan rub and slow- roasted to melting delight, served in a ciabatta with a tangy home-made red pepper sauce, and pork shoulder, rolled up with robust herbs accompanied by apple sauce. Their own oak-smoked products include pork loin and cheese, and there are various standard sandwiches too but it’s hard to see past the excellent specialities.


205 Fenwick Road, Southside, G46 6JD,, 0141 621 1903, £9.95 (set lunch, 3 tapas) / £20 (dinner) Owner Dep Purewal’s passion for Italian food and his love of sharing it has led to a menu dominated by piccoli piatti or small plates at his sophisticated and cosy restaurant. The scallops, pan-fried with lemon butter are well-cooked, firm and meaty, likewise the prawns, while the grilled flat cap mushroom with fresh ricotta cheese and basil oil is another success. Some plates play a little safe the spicy Italian sausage stew, for example, lacks spice. Desserts are not all homemade, but the good crema Inglese is. Diners may not travel south to visit but it’s a welcome newcomer for locals.

PINTO MEXICAN KITCHEN MEXICAN 138 Queen Street, City Centre, G1 3BX,, 0141 221 9330, £8 Mexican fast food is currently a big shaker on the UK food scene, and this fairly high-profile recent addition is hoping to make a few local waves. It has a polished generic feel with a slick brand-conscious identity, bright colour scheme and anchored stools. The compact menu leads customers through steps: pick burrito, tacos, or nachos;

32 THE LIST 22 Sep–20 Oct 2011

THE FRENCH FANCIES FRENCH 42 London Street, New Town, EH3 6LX, £6 (lunch) A simple, unadorned wee venture run by a Lyonnaise couple in a New Town basement just off the foot of Broughton Street, the French Fancies is a reminder that the French have as much affinity for rustic, homemade simplicity as they do for haute cuisine. A room at the front houses a counter showing off freshly made tartlets and macaroons, with shelves alongside stocked with glass jars of pickles and jams sporting hand- written labels. The back room is similarly sparse, with half-filled bookshelves, mismatching lounge chairs and a window onto a backgreen. Open early, you can stop in for café au lait with a croissant, while lunches offer croque monsieur, filled baguettes or fougasse a Provencal flatbread stuffed with cheese and olives or meat to sit in or take away.

CAFÉ CASSIS BISTROS & BRASSERIES Salisbury Hotel, Salisbury Road, Southside, EH16 5AA, 0131 667 8991,, £7.95 (set lunch) / £19 (dinner) This Newington newcomer is doing its bit to transform the image of the hotel dining room. Out go pink tablecloths and sweet wine, in comes laid-back bistro cooking with a strong French accent and one of the best outdoor eating spaces in the city. Wisely, proprietors Alison and Denis Guillonneau (both late of Daniel’s Bistro) are aiming squarely at locals, with families dropping by for coffee and a go on the swings during the day, and a frequently changing menu with plenty of specials to keep things interesting in the evening. The standout starter is haggis with polenta and cranberry chutney and a simple salmon fillet is beautifully presented, seaweed butter adding an almost shocking slick of iodine-black across the pink flesh.

Independent write-ups on all the restaurants worth knowing about in Glasgow and Edinburgh are available on our online Eating & Drinking Guide at Prices shown are for an average two-course meal for one.

Fishing new grounds Café Fish has shifted from Leith to Stockbridge with most of its style, staff and seafood-led menu intact. Donald Reid visited the reincarnation

D espite its relative success since opening in 2009 beside The Plumed Horse in Leith, Café Fish upped sticks earlier this summer and moved into the former Zanzero site in Stockbridge. Hoping to bring the restaurant to the notice of a larger audience, owner Richard Muir also acknowledges the challenges of the location, a former bank, where he has reinstated Art Deco features, brought the kitchen pass into the restaurant and created a slightly stark feel thanks to high windows, lowered lights, white walls and aluminium tables. That aside, there’s a lot of the original formula in evidence, with chef Stuart Lynch’s short but energetic set-price dinner menu offering often boldly flavoured and complex dishes such as chilli potted shrimps, confit octopus with a caper- studded parsley salad or roast cod with vanilla spiked borlotti beans. Notable features of the new venue are the west-facing deck outside for al fresco drinks and snacks, a broader wine list, and a little extra space to accommodate the increased rate of walk-ins that the stroll down from the New Town will surely deliver.


15 North West Circus Place, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, EH3 6SX,

0131 225 4431, Ave. price two-course meal: £22 (lunch/dinner)

add a filling, such as chargrilled chicken, steak, slow-cooked pork or barbacoa (shredded beef) or veggies; then add various toppings such as coriander lime rice, beans, and various salsas. Pinto is a welcome addition to Glasgow’s Tex- Mex options, and a fresher, healthier option than most takeaways, but the fast-food-chain vibe is a detraction.

Edinburgh BLUERAPA THAI THAI 6 Torphichen Place, Haymarket, EH3 8DU, 0131 629 0447,, £7.50 (set lunch) / £15.50 (dinner) Given the number of Thai restaurants in

Edinburgh, any new contender is going to have to go out of its way even to be noticed. The owners of the family-run Bluerapa Thai do at least have the advantage of ten years’ experience, having previously owned Chiang Mai on Dalry Road. These new premises aren’t as well-located, but with a blend of more typical dishes offset by distinctive homemade recipes it’s worth seeking out. Traditional Thai salad dishes of yum, laab and nam tok are served in starter-sized portions but can be augmented to a main with some rice; mains include lightly spiced and succulent drunken king scallop or pan- seared duck delicately blending the bite of red curry marinade with a pleasing sweetness.