Our favourite Scottish restaurant reviews of 2022 so far

Here are the most memorable meals we’ve had in the first six months of this year

We’re more than halfway through 2022, so it’s time to take stock of where we’ve been eating this year.

As far as The Scotsman Magazine restaurant reviews go, it’s been a pretty good vintage so far, with 27 weekly reviews in the bag. Here’s hoping that the remainder of the year will bring more top scoring meals (and maybe even bag that elusive 10/10).

This was one of the first reviews of the year, so we peaked pretty early. At the end of last year, The Little Chartroom moved to Bonnington Road, and the second project from Roberta Hall-McCarron and her husband Shaun McCarron, slipped into their old property. It’s a lovely, though bijoux, space, with a design as if you’re on a boat, coveted window seats and a soundtrack that includes Fleetwood Mac. On our visit, we had cured halibut and orange kosho, as well as BBQ king oyster mushroom. The current menu is just as exciting, and includes a couple of top fish dishes - trout, crab bisque, XO sauce and sesame, or halibut, fennel, walnut and fermented white asparagus. For pudding, there’s strawberry, creme fraiche, sake and pink peppercorn.

This place recently won Restaurant of the Year at the Edinburgh Restaurant Awards.

30-31 Albert Place, Edinburgh (0131 600 0990, www.eleanore.uk)

Shucks 8.5/10

Watermelon Lah cocktail at GaGa

It seems that everything the team at Cail Bruich touches turns to gold at the moment. They’ve got their original Michelin-starred restaurant, which is looked after by head chef Lorna McNee. Then there’s all-day venue Epicures and, just across the road, this new seafood restaurant, which we visited back in June. It’s pretty plush, evidenced by the fact that it has a cruise ship style Champagne trolley that includes a bottle of Dom Perignon. We had the beautiful kingfish dish and Peterhead coley with crushed potato, mussel and Arbroath Smokie cream. However, they’ve currently offering oysters at a “buck a shuck” from Wednesday to Friday, 4-6pm, and there’s a new BBQ mackerel, oyster and wasabi emulsion, cucumber and bonito dish that we have our eye on.

168 Hyndland Road, Glasgow (0141 473 0080, www.shucksglasgow.com)

This is the only one of our destinations that isn’t new, but has been around for a few summers. However, eating sustainably sourced seafood including lobster, crab and squid, along with the best chips, on The Old Pier at North Berwick Harbour seemed rather magical and life affirming after a couple of years of grim lockdown, so we’ve included it in our round up of newbies. The food is well worth the inevitable queues on a sunny day, and there is some covered seating as well as plenty of benches to commandeer.

Shucks exterior

Ka Pao 8.5/10

Our taste buds were pretty jaded when we visited this South East Asian restaurant in St James Quarter back in April, but the dynamic food reinvigorated them. Dishes on offer include the hispi cabbage, cashew nut butter and sriracha, or a hot jungle curry of monkfish cheeks, pork belly and ramiro pepper, and the cocktails, such as the lime leaf negroni and burnt orange margarita, are excellent. It joins their original two-year-old branch, which is situated in the Botanic Gardens Garage on Vinicombe Street in Glasgow.

Unit 240, St James Quarter, Edinburgh (0131 385 1040, www.ka-pao.com)

The French Fox van

We found our favourite Isle of Arran restaurant (well, food truck) back in April. It’s owned by Guy Gautier and his partner, Emma-Jane Fox, who station their turquoise van at One Auchrannie Road in Brodick from Friday to Sunday. The menu of Gallic-influenced grub changes regularly, but current options include the poulet Gautier - braised chicken thighs in a mushroom, brandy and cream sauce with pomme puree, or nduja croquettes with emmental and Arran Oak Smoked Mature Cheddar. If you’ve just tackled Goatfell, don’t forget the bramble profiteroles for afters.

GaGa 8/10

The prawn toast at this place, which is owned by Julie Lin of Julie’s Kopitiam, should be banned. It’s so addictive that we’re still thinking and salivating over it four months later. The South East Asian food menu also features other joyous delights, like Taiwanese popcorn chicken, mandarin sauce and sesame, or nasi goreng, lardons and egg. Don’t forget the cocktails. If we were there right now, we’d get a caffeine boost with their Malaysian coffee, which contains Havana Spiced Rum, iced coffee with condensed milk and spiced syrup.

556 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow, (0141 334 9407, www.gagaglasgow.com)

The Lobster Shack

The Lantern Room is this hotel’s restaurant, and it serves burgers, steak, sticky toffee pudding and fish and chips - not necessarily in that order - to keep golfers and hungry dog walkers happy. However, there are also some interesting flourishes from head chef, Nick Lang, with starters including the Scottish king scallops, taramasalata, green apple and chicken wing sauce or a main course of braised and peppered brisket, caramelised onion puree and pickled shallot. Expect big portions.

East Links Road, Gullane (01620 842 299, www.watchmanhotel.co.uk)

We haven’t written the review yet, but we recently darkened the door of this spanking new venue to visit their all-day restaurant, The Spence. See The Scotsman Magazine on July 16 if you want the gen. Let’s just say that it made us feel VERY fancy and that even their ice-cubes have logos on them.

Ka Pao pork and bone marrow sausage
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