We’re all familiar with the usual city centre roster of chains.
However, St James Quarter has just announced the first wave of Scottish independent businesses to add to Bonnie & Wild’s Scottish Marketplace, which is due to open in the summer, depending on covid restrictions. There is no Costa in sight.
The biggest name to sign an official contract is National Chef of Scotland, senior chef lecturer at City of Glasgow College and MasterChef: The Professionals 2016 winner, Gary Maclean who has been involved with the planning over the last two years and will be opening his first solo venture, Creel Caught, on one of their main anchor sites.
It will feature a small menu of Scottish seafood, with dishes that are heavily influenced by his suppliers’ catch of the day.
“I want to showcase the best that Scotland’s got and get people trying something they haven’t had before, like hand-dived scallops, or lobster”, says Maclean, who won’t be giving up his “heart and soul” teaching job.
“I want to get langoustine and crab on the menu so we’ve got the bones to make beautiful bisques. I can imagine on a dark Edinburgh winter night you can go in there and get a lovely cup of cullen skink. We are also going to do fish and chips and monkfish scampi”.
The marketplace will also feature a demonstration area, so chefs, including Maclean and potentially his college graduates, can show us how to use Scottish produce.
At 16,600 sq ft, the open-plan space is shaping up to be like European food markets. In the same vein, customers will be free to sit where they like, as well as order from different restaurants, or shop at the food stalls. There is space for 700 guests, as well as room for private dining, events spaces, shops, a patisserie and a kids’ play area.
Another resident will be Edinburgh business East Pizzas, who are well known in the capital for their 72-hour-proved sourdough pizzas and toppings that are sourced from East Coast Cured and Great Glen Charcuterie. They already have a restaurant in Morningside, currently offering takeaway, though closed their Leith premises earlier this month.
“We’ll be adding some new pizza styles, including the thick crust Detroit and our twist on pizza in teglia alla Romana - a grab-and-go square pizza slice made using organic flour and slowly proved,” says co-owner Roly Simpson.
As far as sweet stuff goes, there’s Perth’s Joelato, who are inspired by the “gelateria of Bologna” and run by husband and wife team Joe and Lucie Sykes. They will be offering gelato in various flavours, including their bestseller, the salted honey and honeycomb, Ferdi’s Flavour, which is dedicated to their son, Ferdinand, who died at three days old in 2019. They donate the profits from this variety to charity, Held in our Hearts.
There are more names in the pipeline, to be announced soon.
“I’ve fallen in love with the concept,” says Maclean. “When Bonnie & Wild took it on and the focus was totally on Scotland, it fitted my whole ethos in food. When you have so many other amazing chefs in the same place, alongside incredible retail, being involved is a no-brainer”.