Wow another coffee-come-restaurant-come-venue comes to Stockbridge/Canonmills. How many more can one ‘wee’ corner of Edinburgh sustain? Have we reached a point in our society when no one actually works any more, all we do is drink coffee in little tasteful eateries? A coffee shop culture out of control?
I was very sceptical when I saw yet another ‘Bistro’ take over from a vegetarian café next to a French restaurant…you get the picture! But I wanted to go because they had advertised Sunday Night music Session and one of my favourite new Edinburgh bands, The Haar, were due to play. So why not?
What a surprise. The place was buzzing, if you’re still allowed to use such a ‘70’s word, but it was. I knew The Haar would have brought a loyal following with them, but the place took on the music challenge and rose above the norm. I must admit to being very jaded when it comes to the whole coffee shop thing, but what Lucy Balloch & Stephano Agostini have created is a comfortable yet very understated restaurant on Eyre Place. Stripped backed walls with minimal art work, yes all done by the obligatory local artist, but this time not water colours of the New Town rather really cleverly bizarre portraits.
So the look is great, the atmosphere fantastic so what about the food? Well, here the surprise really starts. Yes it’s going for that home cooked local fare, but look beyond the usual brunch & coffee and there are little gems of Italian cooking. Fettuccine, Aubergines, Stewed Red Onions and Pecorino Romano, fantastic, Gnocchi with Simple Tomato Sauce, Olives, Basil and Parmigianino. Beautiful, yes simple, but so flavoursome. Our table of Haar fans had gone for a Tapas of all their dishes and I admit I let the music wash over me as I savoured my Olive Tapenade, Grilled Halloumi and Grilled Aubergines. Again really simple but prepared so well. Even the Home Made Chips were brilliant as brilliant as the tunes.
All the desserts are home made and beautiful. What about the coffee? Well I am a bit of a snob…….but it was good, very good! Oh no, I’ll be coming back in the morning to join the mums and the push chairs, but why not? It’s great. The tapas were fantastic and just kept coming as we ate and ate. Some fan tried the Roamin’ Burger with Roamin’ Sauce served with Chips Salad & Chutney and it looked and smelled wonderful, so that’s what I’m having when I go back.
Everyone was having a ball. Feet were tapping, chins were wagging and chat was being chatted. The main thing though, everyone was having fun. The music though was good, very good.
The Haar, who are they? Four young folk who play a mix of self-penned indie rockers and lovely soulful sad songs. Guitar, Piano, Drums and Violin mix together with the two beautiful girl singers. There were a couple of cleverly arranged dance classics mixed in with their own material but all played with a maturity that far outstrips their years. I was talking to a friend who had been to see AC/DC play and who was blown away by the fact that the bands combined age were 380! Well The Haar barely make retiral age among them, but play their music with a sharpness that would make those Antipodean rockers jealous.
The songs are all wrapped up in lovely arrangements, with great rhythm changes, great licks and lovely melodies. I listened intently to my favourite song ‘Young Girl’ and was actually scared by the intensity of the lyrics. Wonderful. I really hope they can retain their intensity as they keep playing and I hope I get a chance to review them at a big concert venue soon.
So if you get a chance make sure you try out both these Edinburgh necessities. The Roamin’ Nose for its down home Italian perfection and the Haar for their scarily beautiful tunes and make sure you get along to the next Sunday Night Music Session.
You will love the surprise.