The Bonnie & Wild food hall in Edinburgh’s new St James Quarter is showcasing Scotland’s whiskies, gins, and beers – plus a wine or two, writes Peter Ranscombe.
AFTER last night’s official opening, I think it’s fair to say that Bonnie & Wild is going to live up to the hype.
The upmarket food hall in Edinburgh’s new St James Quarter brings together eight food stalls run by restaurants from throughout the country, along with a butchery, patisserie, cheese counter, and coffee shop.
The venue also boasts three bars and a bottle shop, all supplied by Glasgow-based drinks wholesaler Inverarity Morton.
Visitors can buy dishes from any of the food stalls, and then select their drinks from the main bar.
“In effect, we’ve had to come up with drinks lists for eight restaurants in one,” Inverarity sales director Steve Annand told me during last night’s event.
Those drinks include draught beers and ciders from familiar names like Edinburgh Beer Factory, Thistly Cross, and Williams Bros, with cans from Drygate and Stewart Brewing.
Gins from throughout Scotland feature on the menu, ranging from Arbikie in Angus to Raasay off Skye, and including two of Edinburgh’s Secret Herb Garden gins, made by former Inverarity director Hamish Martin.
The whisky selection is also up to the same high standard you’d expect from Inverarity, with bottler Douglas Laing’s Rock Island Maritime Blended catching my eye, along with Kingsbarn’s Dream to Dram Single Malt.
Other popular Scottish tipples on the list include Wester Pineapple Rum, Bon Accord tonic water, and Feragaia’s alcohol-free “spirit”.
What is in the Bonnie & Wild bottle shop?
It was great to see four of the wines from the Sea Change range placed prominently on the menu, along with more adventurous bottles like Jean Loron’s Rift 69 gamay noir natural wine.
Although there’s a nod to Scotland with the name of the “Lomond” wines from South Africa, I wonder if there’s perhaps room to stock some bottles by Scottish winemakers in the future, with master of wine Norrel Robertson springing to mind.
As well as the main “Hauf & Howff” bar, Bonnie & Wild also has the smaller “Dookit” and “Tryst” bars and the “Butt & Ben” demonstration kitchen, which can all be used for events.
That ability to use the spaces flexibly will come in very handy in the weeks and months ahead, with Annand explaining that he aims to run food and wine matching evenings with some of the food stalls.
Annand is also keen to use the spaces with visiting wine producers, and to help smaller brands launch products in the bottle shop.
He described the boutique as being like “travel retail”, and it definitely has that open and airy airport feel to it, with a range of wines, whiskies, and gins on display on its stylish shelves.
That selection caters for a range of audiences, from people popping in to buy a bottle to take home, to those holidaying in the apart-hotel at St James Quarter.
It marks the company’s first foray back into retail since the closure of its Inverarity 1-2-1 bottle shop in Glasgow and – harking back a bit further – the Inverarity Vaults shop on Montrose Terrace in Edinburgh.
Last night’s festivities kicked off with a glass of Poilvert-Jacques Brut Champagne (£20, inveraritymorton.com), an absolute bargain, with lots of sweet brown sugar on the nose and then rounded apricot and red apple joining the off-dry brown sugar on the palate to balance the acidity – a great way to welcome an exciting addition, not only to Edinburgh’s drinks scene but also as a shop window for Scotland’s wider expertise.
Read more of Peter’s beer, wine, and spirits reviews on his blog, The Grape & The Grain
And for more on Bonnie & Wild’s food, check out Rosie Morton’s article