Ailidh Forlan is an Edinburgh-based food journalist, author of Street Food Scotland *AND* our brand ambassador. Her Instagram account @plateexpectations is filled with complete reviews, photos and videos of Scottish produce and independent eateries. That’s why I couldn’t help myself, but ask her for a list of her top 5 restaurant choices which we can browse and order through Secret Takeaways.
All I can say is that you’re going to be hungry after reading this…
“I absolute love a Saturday night curry on the sofa and both Solti and its sister restaurant, Gautam’s, always deliver on intensively rich and flavoursome dishes. Solti is home to hearty Nepalese fare with a modern twist and at its helm is father Chef Shovakhar Gautam who started his career in Kathmanu some 30 years ago. Meanwhile, son Khima is front of house, chatting to customers as if they went back years – ‘Solti’ is after all a phrase of affection to describe a close friendship and so patrons are treated as just that.
When takeaway removes that dine-in intimacy, Solti’s food continues to speak for itself. Their Chicken MoMo – steamed dumplings with chicken and spice filling – might just be the best outside of Nepal, whilst the signature Himali lamb hot pot sauce is the perfect pool in which to dunk a freshly baked naan.”
“When Fred Berkmiller isn’t rustling up the likes of langoustine bisque or stuffed veal caillette in his charming French bistro, he’s exercising his green fingers at the Georgian Newtown Garden where all his restaurant’s vegetables and herbs are grown. This passion for sustainability joins only the very best produce, including wild Scottish snails from the Isle of Barra and free-range duck from Gartmorn Farm by Alloa, translating into a flavoursome Scotland meets France style plate of food.
When I order a takeaway I like to try something that I can’t easily whip up at home and with my cooking skills that’s Fred’s entire menu. What’s particularly spectacular is L’Escargot Bleu’s steak tartare which is perfectly balanced with capers, onions and herbs. I’d start with this before moving on to a more decadent and rich main, such as the 24 hour low and slow coq au vin.”
“Their short rib of beef is the kind you can only dream about and, I’ll let you in on a little secret, the lesser known star of Smiddy’s slow smoked line up is their own link sausage. It’s made with prime quality brisket trimming, pork fat and Smiddy’s special seasoning, before resting in the Bronsen for an irresistible oak smoked flavour.
Sam and Cameron are big on Texan BBQ and the outdoor lifestyle that comes with it, but in terms of the produce it’s all Scottish. The gents work with local farmers to source top tier grass fed cuts, proudly tracing their briskets from farm to table. It’s all phenomenal and that means dessert too. Don’t scrimp on the peach cobbler!”
“Still fairly new to Edinburgh’s food scene, Taco Libre is a taqueria that’s owned and operated by Mexicans. Step aside Tex Mex, I’m here for an authentic experience! I’ll confess to currently averaging two orders a week from Taco Libre, their jam packed corn tortillas are simply that good. The Fish Baja boasts crispy coated yet still moist cod enhanced by shredded slaw, chipotle mayo and pico de Gallo whilst the Arrachera marinated hanger steak filled one is so tender it just glides through your teeth. For those chorizo hankerings I’ll order the Especial Quesadilla and then for a tongue tingling chili kick it’s the cheese stuffed jalapeño peppers for me. It’s all top draw.”
“Taza in Town is more than just my favourite Syrian restaurant in Edinburgh; it’s a success story that the whole community ought to be proud of. Abdullah Razzouk left Syria in 2009 and set up his Syrian Bakery Taza Bake in 2014. From out of it comes freshly baked Khobez, Baklawa and Ma’Moul Bel Ajweh, which are supplied to many restaurants in Edinburgh and are served alongside juicy kebabs and authentic Arabic meze in Abdullah’s own restaurant, Taza in Town.
Taza means freshness, so you can expect everything to be made from scratch, including those outrageously good falafel – the best in the city, I’d say. It all travels extremely well, making that Levantine cuisine ideal for a living room feast, and it’s as feel good as it is taste good with Taza In Town continuing to support lots of refugee charities and local food banks.”