Hardeep Singh Kohli opens restaurant in Leith

Hardeep Singh Kohli launches his new venture. Picture: Toby Williams

Hardeep Singh Kohli launches his new venture. Picture: Toby Williams

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IT IS billed as Scotland’s first craft beer and curry bar – with which broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli hopes to take a bite out of the Leith foodie scene.

The TV chef and comedian was inspired to set up his first restaurant, VDeep, at the former home of The Vintage pub, in Henderson Street, after getting a taste for the area’s thriving culinary scene.

The neighbourhood now boasts three Michelin-starred restaurants – The Kitchin, Plumed Horse and Restaurant Martin Wishart – and a lively range of gastropubs and eateries.

First-time restauranteur Hardeep said: “I was on the verge of opening a place in London when the credit crunch hit and it just became impossible.

“I started thinking more about where this concept would really work and hit on Leith.

“I think Edinburgh, and Leith particularly, has some of the best food in the UK considering its size. It probably has a more exciting concentration of restaurants than London.”

He added: “I want the place to be nice but casual.

“It’s going to be traditional Indian food with dishes cooked in a really new and exciting way.”

Born and raised in Glasgow, the restauranteur has set up a home in the Capital’s New Town and insists he will be very much hands-on at VDeep.

Hardeep has collaborated on every detail of the menu with head chef Ruairidh Skinner, the former head chef at The Vintage.

He said: “There has been Indian food in this country for more than 50 years and it is ready to be moved on.

“The British version of so many dishes is so different that it gives you scope for creativity.

“We are trying all kinds of exciting things with seasonal produce, such as using rhubarb and asparagus in our curries.”

The dishes will be less heavy than normal Indian fare as they will be made using rapeseed oil and quality butter from Fife rather than ghee – a form of clarified butter present in Indian cooking.

Hardeep said: “I never used ghee in my cooking at home and I am happy we are able to use other things.

“Some Indian restaurants need to cook big batches all day so it helps to preserve the food but we are cooking everything from fresh.

“I am really keen on using local produce as well so everything will be coming from Scottish suppliers.”

The bar will be serving a range of ten craft keg beers and three craft cask beers, including a limited-edition guest beer called Vindabrew which has been brewed by the team.
The 5.5 per cent cardamom-infused IPA is the first in a series of small batch craft beers designed to pair with specific curries.

Hardeep said: “I was interested to explore how beer accompanies curry.

“In India people don’t drink beer with food so I realised it was wide open for interpretation.”

There will be a communal dining aspect inspired by the Sikh idea of langar – or the communal kitchen – which Hardeep experienced growing up.

He said he hoped it would encourage diners to chat and even share one another’s curry and beer choices.

The comedian said: “When you go to the pub, you always end up having a chat to the people next to you; that’s the pub experience.

“At the heart of Punjabi dining is a shared experience too.

“I just want to make people happy and get smiles on their faces.”

The 80-cover restaurant will be open for business seven days a week, starting from tomorrow. A takeaway service is due to launch at the beginning of April.

Best of British and Indian on menu

THE Craft Beer and Curry Bar plans to thrill diners with a spicy mash up of British dishes and classic curries.

Top of the list will be Bangras & Mash, along with Cauliflower Cheese Curry and a special Pork Cheek Vindaloo.

VDeep has also brewed its own cardamon-flavoured IPA known as Vindabrew, to wash down some of the spicier dishes.