It can be a bit grim at this time of year, while summer is in its final throes and the news is full of bad stuff.
Before the SAD sets in, again, we’d like to prescribe some of the comfort food that can be found at our favourite Edinburgh venues - mainly independents.
We’re talking about the goodies that usually consists of high carb stodge and sugar, which gives you a hit of nostalgia or make you want to take a nap. It’s not an everyday diet plan, but treats are okay - whatever gets you through. It will be winter soon, so you’ll need extra junk in your trunk.
Lettuce just ain’t going to cut it right now.
CHEESE (AND WINE)
You have a friend in cheese. As well as Stockbridge’s George Mewes Cheese (www.georgemewescheese.co.uk), Edinburgh’s various branches of IJ Mellis (www.mellischeese.net), are the number one destinations when it comes to all things fromage. Throughout September (and beyond), with the next date on the 21, from 6.30pm, IJ Mellis is running Wednesday wine and cheese tastings in their Cheese Lounge at the 330 Morningside Road branch. These involve chat from their expert mongers, plus a tasting of three vinos and six cheesos, all for £35. Other cheesophile venues include the new branch of Smith & Gertrude (www.smithandgertrude.com) at Portobello, or their original at Stockbridge, as well as Tollcross newbie, the wine and grazing board bar, A Wee Taste. They’re holding their first Wine Tasting Event on October 20, which will involve five autumnal wines and five matching cheeses. Tickets £38 at www.aweetaste.co.uk
This has got to be the ultimate comfort food. Although Edinburgh might not have that much in common with Italy, we do pretty well as far as pasta goes. As well as Contini George Street, there’s Æmilia (www.aemilia.online) in Portobello, who, among other things, do a takeaway lasagne on Fridays and Saturdays, not to mention The Artisan Pasta Maker, which has recently opened a shop and small restaurant at 138 Dundas Street. We suggest you try their cheering tagliolini nduja e burrata - tomato, spicy sausage, burrata ball and extra virgin olive oil. Yours for £8.50. Follow that up with some tiramisu to takeaway or sit in.
It was probably Bridget Jones who made eating a whole tub of ice-cream a prerequisite when you’re feeling low. It doesn’t matter that it’s no longer summer, as the cold stuff provides succour all year round. There are so many good places to try in the capital, from S Luca (get the hot fudge sauce on your scoop of fudgy wudgy), Mary’s Milk Bar and Alandas, to Soderberg and Moo Pie Gelato on St Mary’s Street. The latter were recently offering a blues-busting sticky toffee pudding soft serve.
Some low maintenance people are happy with bog-standard off-the-corner-shop shelf chocolate. However, if you want the whole Willy Wonka experience, Morningside’s Edward & Irwyn (www.edwardandirwyn.co.uk) make some fantastical sweet things, including Icelandic lava salt chocolates, vanilla salted caramel dragon tails, cardamom and ginger chocolates and chocolate frogs wrapped in gold foil. Also, Mary’s Milk Bar does more than just gelato, they also offer their own chocolate in varieties including Salt ‘n’ Vinegar, Malted Pecan Milk and Old Bay Spice White Chocolate. The Chocolate Tree in Bruntsfield also has their own craft chocolate, but we love sitting in for their hot chocolate, which is super rich and intense. Also, for caffeine lovers, Coco Chocolatier (www.cocochocolatier.com) has launched an intriguing sounding Cold Brew Coffee Dark Chocolate.
Look away, vegans, because we fancy a steak to boost our iron levels. It’s hard to beat Hawksmoor (23 West Register Street, www.hawksmoor.com), where the Sunday roast option costs £23 and comes with beef dripping roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, carrots, greens, roasted shallots and garlic, plus bone marrow and onion gravy. If you’d prefer your meat as a more convenient burger, try El Perro Negro at Bonnie & Wild, St James Quarter. On September 28, they’re holding a El Perro Negro x Brindisa Spanish Tapas Takeover dinner, with sittings at 5.30pm and 8pm, and a menu of Spanish sliders, tapas sharing dishes, three matched wines (or cocktails), all for £55pp.
Noodles are comfort food for those who covet slurp-ability. Edinburgh has plenty of options. For example, everyone loves Gulp (9 Albert Place, www.gulpramen.com), and Ikigai, which now has two branches - the original one at 13 West Crosscauseway, as well as a newbie, where the focus is also on cocktails, on South Bridge. There’s also Kenji and Rokko Rokko Desu in Stockbridge, all the Maki & Ramen branches, including the newest at St James Quarter, plus Umai, with its Studio Ghibli influenced interior, and plenty of other destinations in the capital.
PIZZAThe Surf and Turf pizza (topped with pancetta-wrapped prawns, pesto and lots of mozzarella) at Wanderers Kneaded, which is also now on Little King Street, just outside the St James Quarter, as well as their usual pop-up spot on the Meadows, always turns our frown upside down. We also get guaranteed happiness from East Pizzas at Bonnie & Wild at St James Quarter, Matto at Morningside, Civerinos Slice at Portobello and Forrest Road, as well as Pizzeria 1926 and Pizza Geeks, both in Dalry. It’s not independent, but the new branch of Franco Manca in Stockbridge, where there used to be a Pizza Express, is definitely worth a punt.