Cappuccino, Mustafa's Dera & Dizzy Izzy's, Edinburgh
We try out a trio of new spots across Edinburgh, opening their doors just in time for those festivals everyone’s been talking about
We begin, as so many days do, with a small dog barking at us for trying to go through a fire door. Cappuccino (25 Jeffrey St) is a brand-new coffee shop between Waverley Station and the Royal Mile, and the first thing to report is that the staff are absolutely lovely. Unprovoked nice comments about our jumper will always sit well with us, but they’re very nice and personable, which is what you want first thing in the morning.
As for the coffee, it’s pretty damn good. Is it going to trouble The Skinny Food Section’s Edinburgh Specialty Coffee Leaderboard? Probably not (firstname.lastname@example.org if you want the goss), but our cortado (£2.90) is well-made with a nice, chewy kick. It also comes in an achingly trendy Huskee cup and saucer, made from recycled coffee husks. This cup is incredibly light, it’s very early, we don’t realise this right away and very nearly yeet the whole thing across the room.
The whole place is a blend of terracotta paint (and a lovely hand-written sign outside), brushed concrete and lovely chairs. For a chilled, on-trend spot just off the Royal Mile – grab a seat, enjoy the plants and try not to launch your cup in the air – it’s well worth a visit.
From the outside, Mustafa’s Dera (161 Dundee St) is a lot to look at, with its bright pink walls and handwritten notes all over the windows. Inside it’s equally active with artwork posted up everywhere, and the menu of Pakistani and Indian dishes is similarly full. There are some fantastic hits in here; the kebab roll (£2.99) is a spicy, juicy sikh kebab rolled up in naan dough and will make you wonder why you’ve been tolerating boring old sausage rolls all this time. The gol gappay (£5.49) are fantastically crisp puffs ready to be loaded with sauces and fillings, then eaten in one big mouthful hopefully without covering yourself in tamarind.
So that’s a tick for crunchy stuff. As for curries, the lamb achari (£10.49) is excellent; good levels of pickle, and impressive commitment to spice. The Yakni (£7.99) is billed as a ‘meat stew’, and that’s what you get – lots and lots of meat, in a deliciously spiced sauce – while the keema aloo mutter (£12.95) is just a great example of the genre. Big chunks of lamb, tasty gravy, occasional peas for health, love it.
It’s a tiddly little space with six or so tables, and a real family affair in both the front and back of house. It is also, as the table behind us proved, possibly too spicy for some. But a small, family-run restaurant doing tasty, home-cooked food that won’t break the bank? We’re on board.
Time, as Matthew McConaughey once said, is a flat circle, and tonight we’ve stopped at the bit of the circle you might know as ‘the late 2000s’. Dizzy Izzy’s (3 Bristo Pl) is a dive bar-inspired spruce-up for the surprisingly spacious bar unit that previously housed Checkpoint, and before that the Forest. Think big comfy chairs, Chesterfield sofas that you can sink into, loads of leopard print, and a suspiciously high level of alleged graffiti for a bar that’s only been open for a weekend when we pop in.
In fact, forget ‘surprisingly spacious’, this place is enormous; if you need a place to take the various pals who’ll be crashing on your sofa this Fringe, this feels like a solid bet. And it’s a great bar – attentive staff, a great drinks list filled with interesting cocktails and dive bar classics (a boilermaker for £6, in this economy, let’s roll), nice touches of detail and one shuffleboard table for everyone to fight over. How it’ll fare in the raging pool of August remains to be seen, but on a first visit it looks like Dizzy Izzy’s should be a welcome addition to town.