It’s a year since the first lockdown, but my memories of the last couple of restaurants I reviewed are still vivid.
Glasgow’s Gloriosa was beautiful.
I remember their burnt caramel panna cotta, the fish tank in the corner, and feeling tipsy after a strong negroni.
Then there were the amazing sandwiches at Alby’s and a visit to The Colonnades at the Signet Library.
It was taken for granted. Now I can hardly imagine being in such a beautiful space, instead of sweatshirt-clad in my dusty flat.
If we’d known what was coming, I’d have ordered a magnum of Champagne, and hung around until dusk. I would have clung onto the table leg, as the maitre d’ dragged me out onto Parliament Square.
After lockdown was announced, we decided I’d continue reviewing, but takeaways.
Since then, with a few dozen under my belt, I’ve been amazed by hospitality’s speedy adaptability. It’s never been difficult to find somewhere to review.
Instagram has become an ordering tool, restaurants are thinking about eco-friendly packaging, independent delivery services like Farr Out have launched, hatches have opened, socially distanced queues have lengthened, and chefs have expertly gauged how much of the cooking customers are willing to do at home. (In my case, not very much).
Now, more of them are offering nationwide delivery, takeaways for every occasion, and have refined their offerings.
Although I’m looking forward to the 26 April, I’m hugely grateful for the amazing takeaways I’ve had. Here’s our selection of the best.
Fin & Grape - 8/10
This seafood and wine restaurant, which opened during lockdown, has recently had huge queues for its lobster rolls. I tried its Grab and Go offering back in January. This included a fish finger brioche sandwich, lamb tacos for two, as well as the below.
“Our cured sea trout only had to be plated up, and we were as artful as a pair of cack-handed idiots can be. There was a fanned layer of the gummy and briny pink fish, then one of gently acidic half moons of thinly sliced pickled cucumber and a blob of dense and creamy horseradish on the side. Beautiful”.
Julie’s Kopitiam - 9/10
Rosalind Erskine reviewed this Malaysian restaurant’s takeaway service and gave it a big score. “We opted for the set menu for two (meat option), which includes corn fritters, Gado Gado salad, nonya chicken curry with rice, breakfast nasi goreng and smashed cucumber, and sides of prawn crackers, hot and fiery (numbing) tatties and a peanut dip”.
1109 Pollokshaws Rd, Shawlands, Glasgow, www.julieskopitiam.com
Alanda’s - 7/10
Proof that summer 2020 wasn’t a total washout was a birthday visit to this fish and chip van. “I’d deviated from the obvious choice, with battered king prawn and chips. It was a beast of a meal, with five huge prawns, each the size of a fledgling, threaded onto a wooden kebab stick. The pale batter wasn’t your sophisticated sort, but more like an oiled and inflatable Sumo suit”.
Longniddry Bents, www.alandas.co.uk
Leftfield - 8.5/10
This bistro’s seafood platter was better than a summer holiday back in June 2020. “Everything is cold, so there’s no thundering home in a panic, as the heat ebbs from your food like the air in a leaky balloon. All we had to do was de-lid our trays to reveal a diorama of fishy joy”.
12 Barclay Terrace, Edinburgh, www.leftfieldedinburgh.co.uk
From April, this chef’s takeaway option will be available for delivery nationwide. I tried it in January this year, and had salmon wellington and sticky toffee pudding, among other things. “Greenaway has designed a menu that requires a soupcon of heating and stirring, but not the full Fanny Craddock faff. Every pot is labelled and numbered, which helps, when you’ve had takeaway meals during lockdown that have tested the brain as much as a 1000 piece Rothko jigsaw puzzle”.
Rutland Street, Edinburgh, www.makgreenaway.com
IN - 9/10
There was no plating up involved with this place, now Rogue Dining, as everything was served ready-to-go. “Early on in lockdown, head chef of The Kitchin (temporarily closed), Lachlan Archibald, set up IN and, thus, pretty much created the new genre of “fine-dining takeaway”. Since then, they’ve consistently been selling out their four course menu, served from Thursday to Saturday, fuelled in part by swooningly gorgeous teaser photographs that appear on their Instagram account”.
144 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, www.roguedining.co.uk
Afternoon Tea by Rose - 8/10
Sometime mid-way through the pandemic, afternoon tea deliveries became massively popular. This is the best I’ve ever had, with cakes included apricot, orange and almond fondant fancies and blueberry tart. “This lockdown business is owned by Rose Gregory, who was the chef at The Fat Pony on Bread Street, which shut down last year. This one-woman-band brings her wares (or you can collect from her Leith premises) to your door once a month on a weekend”.
Hickory at Home - 8/10
Catering companies have a head start on knowing what travels well, and this business creates meals that have minimal cooking but are still impressive. “While events are thin on the ground, they’ve set up [email protected], which delivers to your casa on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays, if you live within most Edinburgh or East Lothian postcodes. As they understand the logistics of transporting food, we were expecting zero congealing or oxidisation, no sloshing or collapsing”.
Underdog - 8/10
Cat Thomson ate beef and pastrami rolls and plum and frangipane tart from this new food trailer. “It is run by Stuart Clink, ex-head chef of Urban Angel in Edinburgh, who has recently set out his stall in the back of a repurposed equine wagon, selling high quality lunch grub to go”.
Whitehaugh Farm Road, Peebles, www.facebook.com/pg/underdog.trailer