“They had a trapdoor, an intercom and a pulley and I didn’t have to touch anything”, said the adventurer. “I’ve got the stuff, but I’m so exhausted, and hungry”.
My very own Sir Edmund Hillary was wrestling off his rucksack after trekking through the slush to collect our tea from Susie’s Vegetarian Diner.
It’s exactly 1.4 miles away from our house.
Quite a journey for someone who doesn’t have the right survival equipment or ever watch any Ray Mears on the telly.
The cockapoos of Marchmont can be bloodthirsty, and it’s uphill for, oh, about a fifth of the way.
We’d booked our pick-up slot for 6pm. Order online or call them, and you can collect at a set time between 5pm and 8pm, Friday or Saturday only.
(They’re hoping to eventually do bicycle delivery, but not quite yet).
For now, you can use the clever system at the doorway, which involves contactless payment and some cool hands-free way of getting your food to you.
(My amanuensis was too exhausted, wrapped in his foil blanket, sobbing and popping Haribos, to provide much more detail).
For those who recognise the name of this place, it IS the same people - Ian and Susie Wilson - behind the legendary institution that was Susie’s Wholefood Diner, on West Nicolson Street from 1995-2010.
I ate a lot of vegetarian lasagne there, back in the day, when it was a popular hang-out for youngsters and bohemian types.
Since it closed down, the Wilsons have been involved in various food ventures, including their street food trailer, Susie’s Wagon, and festival project, Eating [email protected] Meeting House - a collaboration with Ben Reade of Edinburgh Food Studio.
Now they’re back, like a tofu-nibbling Phoenix from the ashes.
Their menu, served from behind their green door, features about three or four dishes, and a couple of puddings.
Once he’d death marched our order home, it was still warm in parts, but some elements needed a quick nuking.
We tried the Greco (£9) - a tombola of Greek goodies.
There was a triangular poppy-seed-sprinkled spanakopita, stuffed with a gorgeous earthy mulch of spinach and feta. The pair of kolokithokeftedes, or courgette fritters, were bouncily textured and the shape of Hershey’s kisses. There was also a helping of gently spiced cannellini beans, chunks of herb roasted squash, a duckling yellow and aromatic rice pilaf, shredded carrots, beetroot and peppers and a leafy salad with a splash of vinaigrette.
It was the sort of plateful you end up with when you go to a good buffet.
Our second main course of baked enchilada (£9), was soft and warm like a swaddled baby.
The flour tortilla contained spicy beans and sweet potato, and it was topped with cheddar and a tomatoey sauce, for an overall texture that was squishy and comforting.
On the side was more of that rice and salad, and a ladleful of satisfyingly garlicky and roughly hewn hummus.
We were also seduced into ordering a side dish of macaroni cheese (£3.50), since there were three magic words - “new bigger portion” - beside its listing. It would’ve done us as a main, thanks to chunky pasta tubes and a thick sauce with a breadcrumb crunch on top.
The chilli roast potatoes (£3.50) were crispy and slathered with more cheese and red chilli.
We’d been worried about the pudding, since they’d said it would be available only subject to conditions on the day.
Praise be to The Weather Girls, as we’d received our isosceles of pear frangipane flan (£3.50), and it was buttery, with a crisp frilly edge, like Laurence Llewelyn Bowen’s sleeve, and sunken slices of perfumed pear.
There was also a pot of rice pudding (£3.50), which was dolloped with a thick blob of whipped cream and a blood red ripple of red berry compote.
It’s not fancy food, but it’s wholesome and happy making.
I’ll look forward to when we can sit in again. Until then, I’d be willing to send Edmund out on the same treacherous journey every weekend.
I will buy him some crampons and a sleeping bag.
Susie’s Vegetarian Kitchen
27a Marchmont Road
(0131 466 4873, www.susiesvegkitchen.com)
How much? Dinner for two, excluding drinks, £32
Places to try Nearby
The Rabbit Hole, 11 Roseneath Place, Marchmont, Edinburgh (0131 229 7953, www.therabbitholerestaurant.com)
This bistro is currently offering pre-order for contact free collection on Fridays and Saturdays, with a small plates menu for two people at a reasonably priced £25. Expect around six dishes with options including rabbit and pork rillette, Cajun fish cake and braised lamb shank, Jerusalem artichoke and pearl barley risotto.
Argyle Place, 25-28 Argyle Place, Edinburgh (www.instagram.com/argyleplace)
This smart “neighbourhood cafe and coffee roaster” opened last year, did takeaway offerings for a while, but is now temporarily closed due to restrictions. We’re hoping that they’ll be open again soon, so we can hang out in the large space and scoff some of their filled bagels, brownies, raspberry frangipane, and muffins with hazelnut buttercream.
Elliott’s, 27 Sciennes Road, Edinburgh (www.elliottsedinburgh.com)
Visit their kitchen at number 27, or the shop at 21, where you’ll find jams, condiments and other store cupboard essentials. They’re currently offering takeaway food, including cakes like the brown sugar and blood orange sponge, as well as Obadiah coffee roasters coffee and Edward & Irwyn hot chocolate.