It’s a day for new beginnings. While crowds gather to welcome Obama on the other side of the Atlantic, Ray and I celebrate change with a glass of wine over lunch on the opening day of yet another new restaurant in our neighbourhood. Broughton is now surely the cafe culture centre of Edinburgh. We’re the only diners in the place so far but L’escargot bleu deserves to thrive.
Looking out the window it is hard to believe this is the same district we came to more than 30 years ago. Old landmarks have changed beyond recognition: the ironmongers where we bought paint and picture frames now sells organic nappies and designer clothes for babies; the post office where I queued for family allowance sells cheap dvds; the launderette is a fantastic new Italian restaurant; Just Junk’s eclectic mix of, er, junk has given way to a blooming florists, and almost every other available premise between London Street and Picardy Place is now a deli, cafe, bar or restaurant. (Simply can’t remember what used to occupy the space now selling organic sex products for women!)
I feel a moment’s nostalgia for Ritchies’s the clock makers who set up shop in 56 Broughton Street 100 years ago (and mended the old pendulum clock in our hall). But they are now in Dundas Street and we are sitting at a table in their old shop eating a delicious warm salad of leeks and celeriac. At the bar they are talking in French. If you closed your eyes you could imagine you were somewhere in Montmartre.
It’s a brave time to be opening a new restaurant and there is plenty of competition in the street, not least Bella Mbriana in the old launderette. But if today’s lunch is anything to go by they could do well. (After salad we had a very tasty coq au vin: two starts, two mains, two glasses of wine and an excellent coffee for £30). So here’s to Barack Obama and L’escargot bleu.
Blurry pic not the result of a glass of wine – something sharper taken from the street outside will take its place soon.