Food Survey 2013: A World Tour of Scotland

Scotland may be a grey and rainy land full of sheep and cobblestones, but it's also home to vibrant and exciting food from around the world. Here's a globe-trotting guide to your favourite food spots from across the planet

Feature by Peter Simpson | 14 Jan 2013
  • Mother India's Cafe Edinburgh

Regular readers of this section (hello again) will know that we love a bit of globetrotting in our food coverage. From our meticulous documenting of the ins and outs of Nigerian drinking culture (drink Guinness, eat paste, party comme c’est 1999) to our reporting on the Japanese confusing KFC baron Col. Sanders for Santa Claus, we like to embrace the whole world of food. Well, it turns out, there've been outposts of said world sitting on our collective doorstep this entire time. Here are your survey picks from our ‘Round the World’ categories, as well as some top tips from well-travelled and broad-paletted musical types (and King Creosote).

As you always should on these kinds of journeys, we’ll start with a small change. La Vallee Blanche (Byres Rd) puts out French cuisine with a Scottish flavour in Glasgow’s West End in a cosy log cabin-esque atmosphere. When it comes to Italian food, there’s one name you lot seem to favour and that’s Vittoria (Leith Walk; George IV Bridge). The Edinburgh institution is one of your favourites and with good reason – their pizzas and pastas are packed with fresh ingredients and classic flavour combinations, while their La Favorita pizza restaurant on Leith Walk does much the same thing but they’ll even bring proper restaurant pizza to your house. Oh yes they will. However, according to Kenny Anderson, aka King Creosote, Little Italy in St. Andrews is the best Italian in Scotland. Italian's the only European food Kenny will eat, he tells us, “as it's mainly yellow coloured.”

From Europe to the Americas, and to Mexico apparently. Your responses make it clear that when it comes to American food, you prefer it to come from south of the border. Maybe you’re still annoyed about that ol’ Iraq business, maybe the ubiquity of North American culture leaves the USA’s food hidden in plain sight, or maybe you all just prefer burritos to burgers – who knows? What we do know is that in Edinburgh, you enjoyed the hand-stuffed brilliance of the burritos at Illegal Jack's (Lothian Rd) and Los Cardos (Leith Walk), while Glasgow plumped in large number for the speed and punch of Taco Mazama (Renfield St), and the homely and laid-back fare at Bibi’s Cantina (Dumbarton Rd). 

From the Americas to India we go, and there’s one clear winner in this category. Mother India’s Cafe dominated in both Edinburgh (Infirmary St) and Glasgow (Argyle St), powered by the genius that is Indian tapas. Truly, there aren’t many better things in the world than a table full of curries and pakora-type bits, bringing groups together in friendship, harmony, and a desire to get to the last samosa without resorting to fists. A case in point is Broken Records’ Jamie Sutherland, who says that Mother India has “gotten us through two records now. It may collectively remind us what fear and festering resentment of each other tastes like, but that doesn't mean it's not really good!” If that’s not a glowing endorsement, we don’t know what is.

And to finish our tour, another glowing rock star endorsement of global food available right here at home. FOUND’s Tommy Perman rates the dim sum at Leith’s Stack (Dalmeny St) as the best he’s had in the world, and makes a point of mentioning that he was on tour in China not long ago. That’s right, Leith makes a better dim sum than the Chinese. You lot liked Stack too, and you showed some love to Gordon Ramsay’s favourite f**king Chinese restaurant Chop Chop (Morrison St), but you also branched out further into Asia in your selections. Pho Vietnam House (Grove St) got your attention, as did the Glaswegian/Malaysian/Singaporean canteen that is Asia Style (St George’s Rd), and the pan-Asian comfort food of Glasgow’s Bar Soba (Byres Rd, Mitchell Ln). As we went to press, Soba had just unveiled an Edinburgh branch to go with the one in the West. See, that’s the thing about the wonderful world of food; it’s broad and exotic, exciting and fun, and it really is getting smaller and smaller all the time. 

Food and Drink Survey 2013 - Results