Vote in The Skinny Food and Drink Survey
Our annual readers' poll to find the country's best food and drink returns – it's time to reintroduce The Skinny Food and Drink Survey, and argue about what a restaurant is
‘Oh no,’ you’re thinking, ‘not this again. How many times can The Skinny stretch the explanation of what is a fairly straightforward concept to something beyond a simple sentence?’ Well, we’re up to eight years on the bounce now, so it’d almost be a shame to stop.
Yes, it's The Skinny Food and Drink Survey, our annual attempt to convince you to do our jobs for us and tell us which are the best food and drink spots in Edinburgh and Glasgow. To encourage you all to get voting here's a run through each of this year's categories, some of which we have subtly rejigged so that a) they make sense and b) you don't give up halfway through filling out the form. Scotland's food scene is an ever-shifting morass of great producers and venues, and we love to celebrate it as much as we can. We don't love the spreadsheet-based fun that comes along with this format, but it's all worth it in the end. Anyway, here are your instructions for this year...
Best Pub or Bar
Everyone loves a pub full of old wood, nice beers and the occasional fire and/or dog. The best ones are cosy, noisy and filled with tasty and well-looked-after beers. We also all love a bar, packed with crazy light fittings and nice bits of interior design, their cocktail-wielding staff normally festooned with the full Guess Who? set of disguises (hats, glasses, facial hair etc).
Best Cafes and Coffee Shops
Much like those pubs and bars, cafes and coffee shops are two subtly different things. A cafe is a sort of daytime cousin of a pub, a place to unwind with a slice of cake in a big comfy chair; a dedicated speciality coffee place is more like the coffee equivalent of a cocktail bar, all about precision and delivery of expertly-crafted flat whites. Not to say there isn't room for both, but we are asking you just to pick one, so choose wisely.
It's the most important meal of the day, or at least that's what it says here. From fried breakfasts that haven't changed for decades to quaint new options which answer the question 'How Many Ways Are There To Cook An Egg?', this is a category with plenty of room for interpretation. Just tell us which is your favourite breakfast place, and we'll take it from there.
Best Lunch or Dinner
The problem is, and we don’t know the best way to explain this, the phrase ‘best restaurant’ has a bit of an unnecessarily fancy air about it. An office chat revealed that many of our favourite places to go for lunch and dinner aren’t really what your mum would call restaurants – they’re bars, or canteen-type places, or holes in the wall with two tables in them. We considered ‘laidback eats’ or ‘casual dining,’ but those options made us want to throw up on ourselves. ‘Non-street food’ seemed too sarcastic, so at the end of the day, we decided to just describe the thing we meant. Lunch or dinner was what we meant, so that’s what it says.
Best Vegetarian and Vegan
It's a good time to be into vegetables – veggie places are springing up like the onions which share their name, and even the most carnivorous of bars and venues are trying their hand at this whole 'not eating meat' thing. There are many, many options to choose from here, from veggie fine dining to amazing comfort food that just happens to be mostly cauliflower – good luck picking a favourite.
Best Street Food Stall or Takeaway
Exciting dishes you can eat with one hand, tasty flavours from around the world to fuel you through music festivals, and enormous piles of chips – these are just some of the things that can be found from our favourite street food vendors and takeaways. People sometimes say you shouldn't eat on the go, but those people are just wrong; the street is where some of the most interesting food can be found, so let's celebrate it.
Best Food and Drink Shop
We all have to go home sometimes, but that doesn't mean the foodie fun has to stop. This category's all about celebrating your favourite bottle shops, delis, grocers (both green and standard) and all the places you go to get those beers and sauces you can't live without.
Best New Place
The last 12 months have been typically interesting in the Edinburgh and Glasgow food scenes, and there are a fair few spots that have joined our list of favourites since the turn of the year. The first few months can be make or break for new places, and it's hard to underestimate the amount of work that goes into running a cafe or bar – use this opportunity to shout out the brand-new places you're most fond of.
Finally, another category that's been slightly expanded this year. Previously we had this down as Best Beer, and would frequently receive the following responses. 1) 'I don't like beer, what am I supposed to do?' 2) 'What do I do if I prefer gin, or possibly a nice locally-produced craft soda?' 3) 'I only drink tea, I don't understand any of this.' We don't really have much to offer that last one, but we get the point on the other two – dive deep into your drinks cabinet and let us know what your favourite tipple is.
If you work in the wacky world of food, tell people about this survey. Suggest that they vote for you, stick it on Twitter and the Instagram. If you have a friend who's doing something cool and culinary, vote for them and tell your friends to do the same. If you have a really nice slice of pizza sometime between now and the middle of November, throw a vote their way. Get ready for a glorious example of democracy in action, only with fewer dodgy political opinions and much more eating and drinking.