The Scran & Scallie – nae cheap for a swally.



Tom Kitchin the corkscrew curly headed Michelin chef with a lovely smile, a charming enthusiasm for all things food and an increasing brood of children as well as restaurants has just opened The Scran & Scallie in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge.


The Scran & Scallie touted simply as a ‘pub’ slid quickly into the iconic San Marco site in Stockbridge seamlessly opening on Easter weekend.  Opposite the soon to be revamped  Raeburn Hotel and round the corner from the new  Edinburgh Accies rugby ground and clubhouse this will bring lots of new faces and their purses to the area. A good thing as there was a point when Stockbridge consisted of a series of charity shops which was fine for daylight hours but after that well……things got a little quiet. But this is just the latest in along line of foodie delights in Raeburn Place. This should be good news for all the other businesses in the area. So what’s it like?

How much for a burger?
How much for a burger?

At £7.50 for a bog standard small glass of wine – not cheap. Well in fact if you consider you can get a bottle of wine for less than that then it’s darn expensive for a swally. Never mind a scallie.

So what about the food?

The food is good.

No the food is better than good. It is very good indeed.

I was just surprised at their price point. With the word pub, the expectation was of something accessible and family orientated where a chip for him, a pie for her and a half pint  for the old bird – that’s me obviously – would be on the cards for less than a Kings ransom is somewhat misguided. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great place but its’ not a day to day pop in every other day for a wee snack type place which in my old fashioned head is what a local is all about.

Let me elaborate. There is one menu from running all day so prices which you feel are not bad for dinner are also applicable at lunch which is a different thing altogether.  An example was the monkfish tail which was served on the bone and honestly delicious but at £18 that didn’t include vegetables of potatoes so you are instantly coerced into spending another fiver at least so it all adds up. Also the burger and chips was £18 – smelling salts for Miss Craig. OK maybe I am being too Aberdonian about it but if you do fancy something less expensive at lunchtime there are lots of places to choose from and you could do a lot worse than The Bailie, Buffalo Grill, Lancers, Hamiltons or Hectors, Bells Diner which are all within a 3 minutes shuffle from here. Of course people will come and eat and love it but as for the locals well its more of a special occasion destination in my book. Still opening a business in this climate is a sign of optimism and a new local business is aye a welcome thing. I wish them every success.

Twitter feeds of the above:

The Scran and Scallie – @ScranandScallie

Raeburn Hotel – @Raeburn

Edinburgh Accies @EdinburghAccies

Tom Kitchin @TomKitchin

Bailie Bar – @Bailie_Bar


The Scran and Scallie
1 Comely Bank Road,
Telephone 0131 332 6281

Here’s the menu cut and pasted from The Scran & Scallie website. Minus prices.

Yer starters

Sheip’s heid scotch broth
Chicken liver parfait, toast & pickled cabbage Roasted bone marrow, shallot & parsley
Crab claws, lemon & chive mayonnaise British snails & snail butter
Oysters, 6
Oysters, 12
Tripe & ox tongue
Smoked salmon & rye bread

Yer mains

Grilled monkfish tail, garlic & herbs
The Scran & Scallie’s Wagyu burger & chips Haddock, chips & chunky tartare sauce Hake, artichoke barigole & black olive
Calf’s liver, spinach & shallot marmalade The Scran & Scallie’s fish pie
Duck leg confit & red pepper piperade Braised hogget shoulder, peas & lettuce
Rib eye steak, béarnaise sauce & chips Chicken breast, coco beans & basil butter

Yer Puddin’s

“Yo’ can nibble awa at the puddin’ at yer leisure…”

Blood orange jelly & ice cream
Crumble of the day
Alison Jack’s syrup sponge
Warm chocolate chip cookie & hot fudge sauce Rhubarb & orange fool

A selection of British cheese

Nae meat, nae fish

Green spelt salad
Warm leek confit vinaigrette Tomato, avocado & mozzarella Pearl barley, pea & lettuce risotto Braised artichoke with coco beans Cauliflower cheese

Bits ‘n’ bobs

French beans & shallots Buttered heritage potatoes Broccoli
ChipsCauliflower cheese

Braised cabbage & bacon Roasted celeriac & lemon confit Mini roasted chorizo potatoes

Yer salads

Green spelt salad
Mixed salad leaves
Beetroot salad
Lentil & butternut squash salad

Bar scran

1/2 pint of prawns, garlic mayo Crispy pigs ears pork scratching Oysters, 6
Oysters, 12

Homemade spiced nuts Pork pie & chutney



“Aifter that there’s naething but coffee, a wee dram an’ lurk in the bar….”


Fatty Bannock finds East Lothian baker from heaven.

2013-03-31 19.33.43After a week of gorging on wonderful food in the North West of Scotland the diet was due to start this week. Above pictured a light snack between meals – those Highlanders know how to eat! So the endless face stuffing and the fact when we were away I was photographed with my entire face inside half of a giant easter egg just stuffing it into my chops one night on the couch.  Yes a couple of glasses of wine and I lose all control.Meant something had to be done.  So this week is a new week. A week of impending spring weather – for Gods sake PLEASE some heat – so peeling off the 6 layers of thermals and jackets means the blue flesh will see the light of day so time to do the annual diet. Blue, goose pimples not a good look.

So Monday tstarted well with porridge but by 2pm my calorie input had exceeded all expectations and I blame my Mother. She zipped in to see me+ so after a general catch up we arranged to go for a quick coffee, I missed the turn off to drop her back to North Berwick and so ended up in  Dunbar. Now…..Dunbar…..yes it may well ring a bell recently had the most sumptuous delight of The Dunbar Bakery contending in the British Bakery Of The Year Awards but it was pipped to the post at the last moment so I wanted to see it with my own two eyes and of course the ubiquitious open mouth.

I loved it. L OV E D IT. Its on the high street, small and bijou and there’s not much space to sit down – eg one high bench 4 high stools and a wee window seat but it was big enough for mum and I to perch and stuff.

So we did. Perch & Stuff.

Look at what we stuffed.


A fresh buttery flaky pastry, an unexpectedly  a lemon tart  lurked beneath,topped with this wonderful raspberry concoction. Melt in the mouth. Well it would if it had been given the chance.  As it was I wolfed it down making noises like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.

The chocolate profiterole hazelnutty thing was as light as air but decadently creamy and delicious. I bought two more to take home. I locked them in the boot as I knew I would stop and eat them in a lay-by if they were within grabbing distance.


Its a co-operative and anyone can invest and be part of it. I just loved the idea until I saw the word -‘committee’ and having been committed before I gave up committees for Lent 10 years ago and have never regretted it.  But don’t let that stop you – I am just a pain in the neck. As well you know and let’s face it you wouldn’t want to be on a committee with me anyway would you?  Exactly. I rest my case. Here’s the link to read more about it if you’d like to give them some dough – BAKERY DUNBAR






The Fish People Cafe, Glasgow. WOW.



So there we were through at Scothot sloping around having a look at all new innovations in the catering world at the SECC Glasgow tasting ice creams, olives, talking recycling, talking till systems, bouncing on chairs, nibbling lovely snacks after a few hours our legs were considerably shorter and we were in dire need of a major face stuffing. Yup lunch was looming. Naturally we couldn’t get into the only restaurant at Scothot so I recalled a friend of mine Kirsteen recently raving about a great new place to go.  I texted her. The Fish People Café it’s called she said it is right next to Shields Road Tube station and there is parking right next door. We found it on Scotland Street in the least likely place you can imagine.

The Fish People Café is a literal oasis amidst a busy industrial landscape. Right next door to the fish shop, their fish shop, which you can see is a busy buzzing business with white aproned , welly booted men, But as promised there it stood as if it had landed from another planet. out, really light, modern, warm with tinkling jazz, a very cool bar and a few folk finishing off as we scooted in about 2pm on a Tuesday.


Lunch a 2 course option for £10 was exceptional value but as were on a day out from our fellow restaurant in Edinburgh we went off plan to the a la carte.

Boy oh boy.


We ordered up fresh homemade bread and butter, anchovies in oil and a few olives whilst we ogled the menu. Wow. Could have ordered anything. But seafood won out.

Prawn cocktail.



Mussels with chorizo


Superlative, fresh, plump, delicious, fill in your own favourite adjective here – it will fit this food. Yumola.

Main courses.

Hand dived Scallops 6 ginormous of the juicy, plumpacious delights with a pile of fresh salad leaves with the most delicious fresh dressing with a spritz of lime. Of course we had a side order of chips – hand cut and fried to perfection. A side salad with yet another fresh and unique dressing.
J, one of our number ordered up a baby poussin and chips and S a whole Tandooried seabass. Be still my beating heart.  At this point no more food pics because frankly I was far too excited and enjoying it too much!

Its not often you get 5 foodies round a table who just grinned at each other.We were in the presence of genius.

Location. Idea. Presentation. The unexpected brilliance of this tucked away wee gem.

I had to leave a scallop and a half I was so full. I do not have a small appetite but honestly I did.  The others didn’t hold back and swooped them up so this Aberdonian could rest easy.

Then came the option of sweet.  Could we? Should we? Well we couldn’t and we definitely shouldn’t but we did. Same words of description and joy apply. Mmmmmmmn.

To top off our top foodie delighst our waiter was a charming smiley guy – ‘How long have you been open?’

“ 5 months. In fact this time 5 months ago I was a fishmonger – there” he said pointing next door” but when I heard about the restaurant I thought aye,  I’ll go and work there it’s warmer.”

He’s found his calling. So has the chef. So have I to sit there regularly and wonder at the freshest most delicious fish in town.


The Fish People Cafe.

Shields Road Subway Station
350 Scotland Street
G5 8QF.

Tel 0141 429 8787

Open all day from mid-day til 9 week days, 10 weekends and 4 on a Sunday.  Now…..over to you….but you better book because this place will be the hottest ticket in town.















Currying favour in Edinburgh.

I love food. This is no big revelation but it is a fact. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it. Fact. So when you end up in a restaurant which knocks your taste buds into next week with joy it is only fair to write all about it. So here goes….

Indian food. First first foray was the dreaded school version of stringy aged chicken in a Vesta sauce, not an auspicious start. Shortly after that my Mum jumped on the bandwagon and in all fairness to Mrs Craig she produced a very nice curry which was slightly overshadowed by the compulsory side orders of tinned mandarins, desiccated coconut, sliced banana and raisins. For years I assumed was the norm until the day I visited my first Indian restaurant in Glasgow. The day a life long love of Indian food was born.

Seldom a week goes by when I have not indulged in a curry. I cook them, buy them, dream about them.

So what about Kebabish in Dalry Road, Edinburgh then? Now I love a kebab but the thought of a doner kebab rarely sets my heather on fire – unless it’s 2am and the sight and waft of that vast turning lamb chunk catches my hooter as I wander past the open door of the local kebab shop.

A quick look at the website to confirm the location and a flashing image said ‘Cook now for Christmas 2012’ and welcome to the latest in the Kebabish Original chain which hardly filled us with joy. Like it or not the word ‘chain’ has connotations of mass produced, heartless, production line grub. So….

The second we got there it became apparent why their website is out of date. They’re too busy to change it. Our party of 9 adults and 5 kids rolled up early on Friday evening and the place was already heaving. Large tables, packed with Indian families all tucking into what looked like delicious food. They have no license so you BYOB – we obliged with wine and beer. And be still my Aberdonian heart. No corkage charge.

Smelling salts for Ms Craig.

We ordered a selection of starters and main courses and all shared the lot. I won’t go into specifics other than to say this was superlative Indian food without glow in the dark additives and colours. The flavours were wonderful a mix of subtle herbs, spices, chilli kicks and fresh vegetables. Chicken, lamb and beef that that melted in the mouth. No horse. And naan bread that received gasps when it arrived. It practically had to be tethered to the table it was so light, perfect crispy and fabulous. In fact I was so excited I didn’t take any photos of the food so all of these are from their website except this one which was taken when we got home. My depressed and incredulous dog sitting staring at a bowl of dried dogfood when I had promised her a doggy bag before we went. As you can see she was not amused. And as you can tell I couldn’t give a monkeys. Slurp.

So all I can think about is when I will go back. What excuse I need. Well blow me if it isn’t blawin’ a holy out there today! It’s freezing so I am on my way back….now. See you there….

Kebabish Original

Dalry Road
0131 337 3371

Que Sera Sera

Bloggers leg. That;s what I have been suffering from. Sometimes life gets in the way and all must stop. Well it did but it is starting again. And how.

Last weekend my dear pal Dynamite got herself hitched, wedded, betrothed and what a do it was.

She looked absolutely beautiful and radiated happiness and this is the biggest photo I have so use your imagination.

There is something incredibly moving about attending a wedding where both parties are getting married for the first time and neither are in the first flush of youth. Och yes there wasn’t a dry seat in the house – proof the guests are not in the first flush of youth either. In fact there were so many gay men and menopausal women in attendance there was a virtual tsunami of tears as the vows were taken.

The sun shone down from a cloudless sky and we all toasted their happiness in the grounds of Prestonfield. Perfect.

Ann Smith – currently on tour as Subos Mum in the stage production of her life an old old pal of Dynamites sang Sunshine on Leith by The Proclaimers. A lovely song but the lyrics were so apt we were all off again.

Here’s a wee reminder if you haven’t heard it for a while it really is a beautiful song…..

When the bride and groom walked in for the wedding meal it was to Que Sera Sera by Doris Day and the whole place joined in with the resounding chorus as they made their way to the top table. Wonderful food, speeches and then hours of dancing courtesy of Lenny Love performances by Grant Stott and John Wood amongst others (not including the one who shall remain nameless who cannoned off the stage landing on her now burst ankle and no it wasn’t me). The meeting of friends and relatives from all over the world all happy as happy can be made it an absolutely top day.

Unlike the next morning as you can well imagine. Hmmmmn.

Nonna’s Kitchen – a family affair.

Nonna’s– well well well. What a glorious surprise.  On Morningside Road, right next to The Churchill Theatre the perfect spot for us for an early Saturday dinner as we were off to the Edinburgh Gay Mans Chorus at 8pm – more of which later.

A family owned and run business. Running the show now is Gino Stornaiuolo but when they say family they mean family and the whole family are here smiling, working and welcoming. Gino’s father the chef at Nonna’s – Mimmo has worked that stove for over 40 years and he cooks like a dream with a lightness of touch that makes your heart sing.  If you think even for a moment that a chef of a certain age might be in danger of being stuck in the past, think again.


Nonas exterior does them no favours – brown,  grey slate tiles which hardly made my heart sing as we pulled up outside. But the second we were over the threshold at 6pm on Saturday ye old adage ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ tripped into my brain. The place was packed with a great buzzing atmosphere, tables and chairs are light, the walls clean and bright with pepperings of photographs of Italy, family a lovely warm, welcoming, modern space.

Smiling staff showed us over to our table and with it a drink was offered. Gavi for the wine lovers and for me a glass of Prosecco which arrived quickly with a fresh strawberry bobbing about in it.  Perfect gargling material as we perused the menu – which is great full of favourites pizzas, pastas, salads but the remarkable, eye watering, amazing thing is the waiter Jimmy who came over and listed the specials. It was like a Victorian memory man show. There must have been over 20 specials including starters, mains and desert – and he reeled them off without hesitation.

This is a family business and Jimmy has worked with them for about 30 years. He started with them at The Patio in Hanover Street and then when they moved up to Nonna’s Jimmy moved too. What a guy  – with a memory like that Britain’s Got Talent may very well snap him up.

Seafood was dominant and as he listed each item I fancied the lot. Decisions had to be made. To start I had king prawns with chilli and tomato, chilli which arrived in a flat dish with a lip and a soup spoon as you wouldn’t want to leave one drop of this unctuous flavoursome liquid. Others kept swooping in with their bread to taste as I fought them back with my fork. Long suffering husband loved his scallops & black pun, Dyna had tomato and mozarella salad, thick coins of cheese with tasty red tomatoes with fresh basil neatly laid on top and Bridezilla the dressed crab which he declared was wonderful too.

Main course seafood linguine for two of us with fresh clams, garlic, tomato and chilli – they were struck dumb as they sooked up the delicious spaghetti and popped the sweet, tender clams into their smiling chops. The other two  we we had the seafood platter – grilled. Salmon, scallop, squid, hake, all sorts of white fish lightly grilled and served salad and a chunk of lemon. I swear it couldn’t have been better. Bridezilla had chips too and we the fresh bread and butter replenished. We were excited and already planning to come back but were on a count down to the concert at The Churchill Theatre so could we fit in a pud – well bring it on. Special again! Chocolate mousse and ice cream sundae with cream, nuts and chocolate sauce – two specials four spoons. Four sticky happy faces as we paid and ran for the door. Realising the bus that goes right past them goes right past our place on the other side of town we are all now seriously considering a season ticket.

To sum up. This is a cracking Italian restaurant – the dishes you expect are there – pizza, pastas, meaty delights and the specials are really special – last night on top of the plethora of fishy offerings were T Bone steak or rack of lamb amongst others. If you can’t find something you love on this menu then you should not allowed  out. A great family owned and run local restaurant. If you’re not local to the area – travel it’s worth it.

Nonna’s Kitchen

45 Morningside Road

Closed on a Monday

Tues – Sun – 10-2.45pm  5pm – 10pm


Blogging is a love in – with cupcakes.

Cupcake edifying but not fattening.

Today through one of the long suffering husbands restaurants I received  a package. It looked like an IKEA light but on the front it stated clearly ‘ this is not an IKEA light ‘ so intrigued I opened it to find the most delicious delectable framed picture of a cupcake. Made of wool, silky silvery threads, fronds, squirls, candy colours  with a cherry on top. It is a small and perfectly formed work of art that  looks good enough to eat.
Intrigued I read the enclosed letter.

It is from a reader of this blog. The letter was moving, funny – I mean laugh out loud funny – moving, sad, heart warming and sent to say Alison’s Diary blog has helped her through a few dark days over the past few years.

As I read the letter I felt tears rolling down my cheeks.

She had no idea.

The timing was impeccable.

Yesterday I was discharged from hospital after a two week stay and have recently had a few dark days of my own.

Whilst I read her letter she put a smile on my face, sadly lacking over the past wee while, and helped me remember how I felt before all this recent drama.  She unwittingly has helped me in just the way she says this blog of disorganised outpourings has helped her.

So thank you.

Thank you for the letter

Thank you for the picture.

Thank you for reminding me a blog is not just a blog it is two way support mechanism for the like minded.

And thank you for getting me from the bed to the desk to the pc to the blog.  Here we go again…..

Most of all thank you for it being today of all days.


Onward and upward……….


The Lobster Shack

North Berwick is a seaside town in East Lothian which brings the blood pressure of golfers to dangerously high as Muirfield, North Berwick Links, Gullane 1, 2 & 3, Luffness, The Glen, Archerfield and Renaissance Golf Clubs are all within minutes of one another. That is irrelevant to this blog post as frankly I couldn’t give a flying fandango about the game of golf. It is to do with food. As it usually is.

So there are not many days in Scotland you can sit out and lounge without the addition of thermal underwater, ski jackets, balaclavas, knitted socks and hand warmers but knock me down with a patio heater this week it was hot. Really hot. Hot to the point where if you didn’t slap Factor 30 on your face you might well be on a one way ticket to Casualty with sunstroke. What a shock. So what do us Scots do when the sun comes out ? Head to the seaside – quick and don’t spare the horses.

A quick 30 minutes train journey from Edinburgh takes you to North Berwick and a 5 minute walk from the station along the beach to the harbour will bring you to the seasonal delight enjoying its second year of huge garlicky butter success namely The Lobster Shack. A portocabin branded up and manned by a smiling band of seasonal staff smiling and working their buns off to keep up with demand. For £8.95 you get a half lobster with chips and salad in a recyclable brown cardboard box. You can sit in the small area of tables and chairs laid out to the side or you can sit on one of the dozen wooden benches that line the harbour wall to scoff the goodies. And amazingly even on a not so hot day the benches are all tucked under the height of the surrounding harbour wall thus giving a hot sunny spot where you can bask.
The menu is short an sweet. ½ or whole lobster. Crab cocktail. Fish and chips – the day we were down it was hake and it was fresh fresh fresh. AS the lobsters are consumed Sterling the proprietor can be seen swinging into view carting a large plastic container full of the next batch of clamping, strapping, struggling, dark blue lobsters fighting the good fight allowing people to select the one they would like to eat. To drink you can choose organic lemon cordial, coffee, tea, wine, or my particular favourite which we have just started stocking in HowiesThistly Cross Cider – brewed in Dunbara mere 8 miles away. It is refreshing cidery and perfect to slake the thirst…..So in baking Scotland we sat outside amongst the clang of boat bells as the tide rose and boats in the harbour rose up to eye level, eating lobster, people watching and drinking in cider in the sun. Bliss.

Our perfect seaside day was finished off by walking over to the Seabird Centre (the nearest loo) and queuing up to buy a Lucas ice cream. There are two ice cream vans – a bright yellow glamorous painted one which I bet has a bell and a whistle too. OR and this is the one you want – a strange Pope mobile shaped white van, under played, low key and to be honest a bit ropey looking. But believe me please – steer yourself and walk past the yellow pimped up machine and queue at the funny one for in this pope mobile lurks the unsurpassable delight of Lucas ice cream. Italian, Homemade. A world beater. Quite divine. A plain vanilla cone with a chocolate flake in it will bring you back to the days when sand between your toes, a bucket and spade and a pair of knitted trunks (oh is that just my husband then) were all the rage
Podged up, we wandered back to the train station for the easy journey home, grinning. Wehad been and done the lobster shack and on some level transmogrified from blue skinned Scot into a red toasted lobsters too.

Open from now til 31st October or when the weather collapses….go……

The Lobster Shack.
North Berwick Harbour
East Lothian.

Waldorf Astoria

So now the Caledonian is being rebranded as The Waldorf Astoria? In Edinburgh? How glamorous is that?

Well very.

So a sudden uplift in full length white furs (good fakes of course) will be reported, with cigarette holders, platinum blonde baronets and men with pencil thin moustaches.

Ah yes, Edinburgh knows how to rise above the recession – starving but stylish – to the last.
Love it.


The Restaurant Business – back in it – are we mad? Em……well we will be soon.

My long suffering husband started Howies 21 years ago and sold up 5 years ago thinking it was time to move on. So you can imagine when we heard that Howies Retaurants had gone into administration  we were gutted.


The year we met I was doing the breakfast show on Radio Forth FM and he was wittering on about wanting to start his own restaurant. After a particularly long late night which ended in me poking him the shoulder and saying ‘well for goodness sake stop talking about it and get on with it’ before collapsing face down. So he did.


The story of Howies is a long and amusing tale. One I been thinking about a lot in the past few months as we have been through the process of wrangling with an administrator to secure the sites we wanted.


In the ideal world we would have bought back the whole lot but what are we the Onassis family?
Also to be honest in this economic climate we had to look at it with our heads not just our hearts.


So we plumped for Waterloo Place, the beauitful Georgian building at the end of Princes St., Victoria Street cos it’s my favourite street in Edinburgh and Chapel Street Aberdeen – well I am from Aberdeen and when we bought it years ago it was called Gerards where I used to work as a waitress when still at school before being sacked after scalding an Americans leg. (Another story).


So once more into the breach. And it feels like that.


Day 1 of taking over I looked round the car. 2 boxes of crackers, an Edwardian chest, a life jacket, a box of flyers, 8 loafs, a battered old chandalier, a squashed and grumpy looking dog – I felt like I was in an acid inspired episode of The Generation Game. Pulling up outside the restaurant I found David teetering on a ladder.

OK? I asked

Yeh he nodded wobbling


Yeh but I’m starving

Me Too.

And then I remembered the irony of having 3 restaurants and forgetting to eat ah that old chestnut.

Still someone snapped a photo of the two of us…before we rushed off for a bowl of beef casserole and mashed tatties….and cracked on…..well there’s a lot to do!