Edinburgh can genuinely claim to be one of the UK’s prettiest cities; its fantastic blend of history-at-every-turn and effortlessly chilled vibe successfully attracting tourists all-year-round from across the globe.
With thousands of photo-clicking, souvenir-buying visitors roaming the streets it’s sometimes easy to forget that this is still a working city – indeed, Scotland’s capital – where some half a million people live and ply their trade. And, much like its bigger but less-picturesque counterpart in England, Edinburgh contains a host of drinking and dining spots for the workforce to descend upon after a long day in the office.
On a recent visit to review the city’s Radisson Blu hotel, I was reminded of this working pace and functionality going on in and around the throngs of tourists. Despite its castle-esque façade, inside the hotel is unmistakably geared up for corporate and business guests. And its food offering – Itchycoo Bar & Kitchen – is no different.
As I enter for dinner, as if to reemphasise exactly who this eatery is aimed at, there are several groups of corporate guests enjoying a post-conference drink at the prominently-placed bar. It offers a modest menu of gastro-pub classics, but it’s in the cocktails where this contemporarily and simply decorated bar-cum-restaurant excels. So, I take my seat and treat myself to a couple of Cosmopolitans (when in Rome, after all…). The drinks are professionally made and the bar staff know their way around a cocktail menu.
To eat, I decide to go with my usual, go-to combination of seafood to start and meat for mains. The calamari, served with a lemon wedge and saffron aioli, is perfectly battered and light; the only gripe being the underwhelming size of the portion. I opt for a large glass of the L’Hospitalet Malbec from France to accompany my 10oz sirloin which is served with thickly-cut, crunchy chips, a fried mushroom and tomato as well as a balsamic-sprinkled rocket salad. It’s exactly what’s required after my long drive north of the border – simple, but well-cooked and tasty food without a hint of pretension.
And this is exactly why this eatery appears to be doing a good trade. As I sip on my Irish coffee (the healthily-sized steak has rendered me unable to attempt a dessert) and watch the businesspeople disappear back into the hotel post-aperitifs, I notice how quickly they’re replaced by the tourist types once again – some in for dinner, others for a much-needed pit-stop on their travels around the city’s Royal Mile. Granted, this restaurant won’t win awards for its décor and there are undoubtedly plenty of considerably more intimate and atmospheric spots for dinner in the city. But what Itchycoo does, it does well.
Perfect for after-work cocktails with colleagues, a quiet drink with a partner or a spot for an uncomplicated bite to eat, this ideally-located bar and kitchen is on course to continue luring the city’s corporate clientele and travel-loving tourists for a good while yet…
Based on a dinner review in April 2016