Monday, 3 August 2015

Capital city value eating

I will never make a restaurant critic like my friend Matthew Fort (that's a terrible photo of him on the Guardian page, btw), in part because I have the kind of unsubtle tastes that mean that anything 'smothered in barbecue sauce' attracts my instant attention, but I just wanted to recommend two discoveries of American restaurants in capital cities that are well above the average TGI Friday/Hard Rock Cafe tourist food quality and yet not exorbitant despite being in high end locations.

In London, I have been highly impressed by Joe's Southern Kitchen and Bar in Covent Garden (apparently there is also now one in Kentish Town). Excellent chilli cup and great 'Southern fried bird'. The wings are great too. If you want to be more exotic there's blackened catfish fillet that took me back to New Orleans and an impressive sounding vegetable gumbo (not tried that). The ambiance is murky but fun and the music can be overloud (my 21-year-old daughter said this, so it's not just me being an old fogie), but a great meal right by one of London's top tourist destinations.

In Edinburgh, I ate last week at SYGN. Just off the West End of Princes Street, tucked away in a cobbled courtyard opposite a French restaurant that is straight out of Le Touquet, this is a very design-focussed and fresh environment - absolutely everything is branded. They have a great range of really interesting cocktails (plus some good non-alcoholic stuff: I recommend their homemade ginger beer). Their starters were absolutely outstanding: the best wings I can ever remember having and hand-made nachos with pulled pork that were stunning. It may be because we were so stuffed with these, but we found the mains fine but not quite as remarkable. Still well above average, though. All in all well worth a visit - you even get free use of a ping-pong table.

Neither venue is as cheap as McDonalds or even Five Guys - but comparable with the likes of TGI on price while streets ahead on the food.

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