For a number of years, the southern side of Edinburgh’s grand St Andrew Square felt extremely neglected, with a many of its buildings either lying empty or virtually starting to crumble. However, after a couple of years of (often controversial) construction work, the area is springing back to life and brings with it two new additions to Edinburgh’s food and drink scene – The Refinery and Dishoom.
The first venture north of the border for bar and restaurant chain Drake and Morgan, The Refinery is the city’s newest all-day drinking and dining destination. The building it occupies was controversial from the moment it was announced, but it’s a whole lot better than what was there previously and offers a futuristic contrast to Jenner’s Victorian architecture opposite.
Set over two floors, the floor to ceiling windows mark The Refinery a great spot for watching the world go by. It feels pretty cosy inside, with natural timber, comfy armchairs and intimate booths. You can also keep an eye on the chefs while they work away, with a marble counter set against the open-plan kitchen. Or for those happy to brave the cold, the outdoor area comes with warm blankets and plenty of hot water bottles.
The launch night was so busy that I never got a chance to taste what sounds like a fantastic array of cocktails, but I’ll swing by soon to sample a few, along with a selection from the jam-packed all-day menu.
Right next door to The Refinery there’s Dishoom. Another import from London, the Edinburgh outlet marks the popular Indian restaurant’s first foray out of the capital, where it currently operates across four sites.
The new eatery is housed in a beautiful 1920s-era Grade-A listed building, which was originally built as a warehouse for Forsyth’s department store, but had fallen into serious disrepair in recent years. The restaurant is spread out across three floors, with an open kitchen downstairs, a first-floor dining room with view across St Andrew Square, and a cocktail bar in the basement.
The food on offer at Dishoom pays homage to the Irani cafés of Bombay, which were opened last century by Iranian immigrants. I popped in for lunch during its launch weekend and wasn’t disappointed. A flavoursome chicken biryani filled this hungover blogger right up, along with some Black Daal (which I could eat buckets of!) and the best Masala Chai I’ve ever had in Scotland. OK, the only Masala Chai I’ve had in Scotland.
Both restaurants will bring much needed variety and competition to Edinburgh’s food and drink market, as well as injecting some life into a formerly neglected corner of our beautiful city.