When I was small, we’d go visit my Glasgow granny for Sunday lunch.
There would be a copy of the Beano, Twinkle or Dandy left on the hall table for us, alongside bars of McCowan’s Highland Toffee.
After we’d exhausted those, and our molars were firmly gummed together, we’d play shops.
This would involve shuffling the kitchen table into the doorway and finding her huge jar of copper shrapnel – our float.
My sister would be a difficult customer (plus ca change) and I’d be a jolly Mr Humphries-esque shopkeeper, though always overcharging and telling her that everything was out of stock. We’d trade in packets of custard or stock cubes.
I’m reminded of this when I collect from a restaurant or cafe these days.
To comply with current regulations, everyone has done their best to create a makeshift “shop”, through a hatch or collection area in their doorway.
This seafood and wine place, which opened last year in the former premises of Bia Bistrot, is no exception.
It’s owned by chef Stuart Smith, who has experience at The Fishmarket at Edinburgh’s Newhaven and Osso in Peebles, among other places.
Our order was quickly brought to the doorway when we appeared at the preordained pick up time.
No coppers or faffing about necessary, since you pay in advance for your Friday or Saturday dinner.
It’s an efficient collection, though I got a brief squizz through the window, and wished that I could go inside and christen one of those pews. Eventually, they hope that the downstairs will be a wine bar, and upstairs will work as a seafood restaurant.
We took our boxes home. The re-heating instructions were pinged over by email.
Our cured sea trout (£7) 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.
We also halved a fish finger brioche (£7), after grilling the pillow-y bread alongside their superior take on Captain Birdseye’s digits. These came with a large blob of turmeric yellow curry mayo and some pickled fennel to lift the lardy-ness. It was a sophisticated take on a low rent treat.
(They’ve also been doing this, with chips, as a lunchtime takeaway during the week).
We had an extra small plate, since they’d chucked in a gratis charred broccoli Caesar (usually £5), which was rather kind.
I think I may have blown my cover by booking through Instagram. I must create a fake social account, under the guise of a cute dog wearing various outfits.
Anyway, this gratis dish only needed to be reheated, since the florets were already pre-charred, like when you fake tan before going on holiday.
They were smothered in a creamy and tangy dressing, lardons and croutons. From now on, this is the only way I’ll take my greens, greased up with lard like they’re about to swim the channel.
Our main course was lamb tacos (£40) to share between two to three people.
That’s fine, as I qualify as a person and a half during lockdown. The additional mass is tucked into my bingo wings and muffin top.
To prepare this option, the discs of lamb shoulder had to be fried, until the fat was crispy and the meat fell apart into shawarma-like shards.
It went into a couple of the seven-inch-single sized shammy soft corn tortillas, along with a paprika-sprinkled crunchy cabbage slaw, pink pickled onions, cucumber-y yoghurt, salsa verde and smokey white fried beans. The tortillas were overflowing.
On the side, there were sweet potato chips, which just needed a going over in the oven.
It was a hugely generous amount of food that ended up lasting us two sittings. Our bushbaby saucer eyes were once again bigger than our stomachs.
We’d just gone for the one pudding - the “rhubarb, almond, tonka bean” (£6) - to share.
It was a pale panna cotta with a sort of nutty crumble and struts of soft rhubarb. Just a light thing, which contrasted well with the fishy stuff and the feral crisp lamb.
This place took a while to get going with its takeaway offering, which only launched a couple of weeks ago, but I’m glad it did.
If they ever want to play shops with me again, I’m free!
Fin & Grape,
19 Colinton Road,
(0131 452 6453, www.finandgrape.com)
How much? Dinner for two, excluding drinks, £60
Places to Try Nearby
Decanter, 183 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh (0131 466 5359, www.decanterbruntsfield.co.uk)
This young restaurant - a “winery and dinery” - has been soldiering through lockdown with various popular initiatives, from Sunday roasts, to wine and whisky tastings and takeaway hot chocolate laced with Bailey’s. Check their Instagram to find out what’s coming up next.
181 Delicatessen, 181 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh (0131 299 4554)
For Puddledub sausages, bacon and pork cheeks, Kitled Donut’s wares, wine, cheese and snacks, visit this shop. In normal times, there’s a cafe at the back too.
Honeycomb & Co, 1 Merchiston Place, Edinburgh (www.honeycombandco.com)
By the time you read this, we’re hoping this place will have opened again to offer takeaway or sit in. We’re big fans of their cheese scones and honey and lemon bundt cakes. Currently, you can sign up for their membership scheme, The Hive, for offers, treats and news.