You may do a double take next time you walk along Edinburgh’s Cockburn Street.
What used to be the comparatively inconspicuous eight-year-old Laila’s Mediterranean Bistro has been painted macaron pink, and they’ve simply renamed it Laila, spelled out in gold above the doorway. There are white marbled tables and chairs, and swathes of flowers, mainly roses, above each window, including ones that curve round onto the murky Fleshmarket Close. It’s the Marie Antoinette of restaurants.
They’re opening for takeaway on March 27 and the focus now will be on brunch, though they offer lunch too.
The new look was implemented over lockdown by hospitality marketer and social media manager, Sabrina Gali, 31, who has worked as a private chef in Atlanta and for Edinburgh’s Compass Group, who operate Chop House, among other venues.
“Cooking has always been a pivotal part of my life, having been brought up in a mixed race household with Italian and Algerian cuisine prepared by my parents'', Sabrina says. “Both always encouraged my involvement. My father was also a chef, so I think I’ve always been drawn to cooking and the creative diversity it allows”.
“We’ve all noticed a massive surge in trendy brunch places opening up throughout the city and this adds something new to the scene with a cultural spin”, says Sabrina. “Middle Eastern flavours have always drawn me in, so I was excited to work as the marketing consultant for Jamal, whose roots are Kurdish, thus the cuisine is close to his heart. Diners can expect new combinations they’ve not been presented with in any other Edinburgh brunch venue, a serene and painfully Instagrammable backdrop and somewhere special to eat in that’s comfortable enough to enjoy without feeling pretentious”.
As a teaser, Sabrina, who has 26.4k followers on her @justsabrinagali Instagram account, has posted pictures of the dishes that will be served.
There’s a green goddess hummus that’s topped by red chillies and radish, buttermilk chicken with crumbled feta, Aleppo aioli and more chillies, as well as sweet stuff including pink waffles with beet coulis, chocolate chips and lemon balm. Probably the most Instagrammed will be their buttermilk pancakes with candyfloss and rose maple syrup, though the unicorn lattes and pink waffles, all created with natural colouring, might come close. If they taste as bonnie as they look, there will undoubtedly be queues.
“It's essential that dishes look visually appealing, after all we instinctively eat with our eyes before our mouths”, says Sabrina. “Social media isn’t necessarily a tool I use to sell my dishes, but more so to showcase the precision and care that has gone into every single one of the plates. Once I post these dishes on my carefully curated Instagram feed, which I use to show my passion, I think that it’s only natural that people enquire about how to access them, as they want a piece, quite literally”.