Food & Drink Survey: Around the World

Time to put on your explorer’s hat with the detachable hairnet, as we go us on a journey around the world (of food) (in Scotland)

Feature by Peter Simpson | 07 Jan 2014
  • Mother India's Cafe Edinburgh

Your foodie world tour begins in the hot, humid and tropical climate of Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens. Leave them, and head down Byres Road to La Vallee Blanche, one of your favourite places for European cuisine. Well, French to be exact, with a menu focussing on Alpine classics made with the sort of prime Scottish ingredients that normally get spirited away to the far-flung corners of the world.

After your French sojourn, head over the culinary border to Italy, and La Favorita on Edinburgh’s Leith Walk. Your standard pizzas sit alongside some left-field alternatives in the wood-fired oven, and the arancini are like big, lovely risotto cricket balls. The decor is nice and subdued, there’s a nice family air without it all being overly familiar, and they deliver. Not that it really matters, given that we’re on a big adventure, but it’s good to know.

From Europe to Asia, and you did what every traveller does at some point – called out for Mother. Lucky for us, it was Mother India, and we didn’t have to try and contact hundreds of parents to tell them their grown-up children had injured themselves doing an online survey.

Mother India’s Cafes in Edinburgh and Glasgow combine the joy and variety of curry with the mild greed and occasional problem-solving that comes with tapas. You like filling the table with lots of little nuggets of Indian goodness then scrapping over who gets what – we can’t say we disagree.

At Kismot, food fights are much more personal affairs. The Indian/Bangladeshi favourite is revered around Edinburgh for its ‘Kismot Killer’ curry, a challenge that has felled many food lovers in its time. The standard, out-of-competition curries are brilliant as well, and the place is always packed with happiness and cheer. Well, cheer and curry-induced terror.

Moving on to Asia, and you picked out a range of options from across the continent. Your favourites included Edinburgh’s Chop Chop, with its brilliant northern Chinese dumplings and blink-and-you-still-won’t-miss-it bright red and yellow paintwork. You also rated the Chinese/Malaysian mix on offer at Asia Style in the heart of Glasgow, with the cracking food again outweighing concerns about the colour scheme.

No such problems over at Kanpai, one of your favourite Japanese restaurants in Scotland. Cool, sleek and unassuming, it puts out some of the best sushi in the country while hidden in plain sight on a tenement row beneath Edinburgh Castle. 

When it came to picking your favourite American restaurants, the North won hands down. You liked, among others, the brilliant burgers and shakes of Edinburgh’s Wannaburger, where gourmet-quality burgers come at takeaway prices and sit with a side of topical humour from a specials board that’s always got some kind of pun on it.

Another favourite was just up the road, in the shape of Tex-Mex joint Illegal Jack’s. Burritos, benches, and a big space that always seems to have space for a few more diners – just what the weary foodie traveller needs. Glasgow new boys The Squid and Whale also popped up in your favourites, with their US and Mexican-inspired goodies hitting the spot in the West End.

And to finish it’s back to Europe, and a homegrown representative for this global odyssey. Edinburgh’s Timberyard turns great local ingredients into brilliant modern Scottish dishes, all in a lovingly-converted old… well… an old timber yard.

Still, with all the variety on offer in Edinburgh and Glasgow, it’s nice to know exactly what to expect from time to time.