7 reasons why Edinburgh’s chippies are fantastic

Chip shop of the year winner, Eatalias, owner Ida Scarano and her husband Roberto. Picture: Lesley Martin
Chip shop of the year winner, Eatalias, owner Ida Scarano and her husband Roberto. Picture: Lesley Martin
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WITH Good Friday upon us, you could do a lot worse than hitting up one of Edinburgh’s humble chippies - those over the counter heroes offering some of the finest fish suppers you’re likely to find anywhere.

In case you needed reminding why Edinburgh’s chip shops are up there with the best of them – here are seven reasons to celebrate our Friday night dinner heroes.

1. They invented their own sauce

Maybe one of the most divisive questions in the Capital – the sound of ‘salt n’ sauce?’ has some licking their lips in anticipation whilst others shudder at the very thought. ‘Chippy sauce’ is the brown runny lifeblood of Edinburgh’s chip shops and is truly an Edinburgh-only affair. Not quite brown sauce, gravy or vinegar – lashings of the mystery concoction can be found in supper trays city-wide.

Our cousins across on the West are so puzzled by this brown ambrosia that they accused our chippies of ‘racism’ for dishing it out for free. That’s jealousy for you.

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2. They have famous fans

It’s not just us ordinary Joe Bloggs types who are fascinated by Edinburgh’s own murky nectar. Former Doctor Who assistant and Guardians of the Galaxy star Karen Gillan let her Twitter followers know of her fondness for the Edinburgh chippy creation. When the actress received the obvious ‘what is chippy sauce?’ question from fans, she replied that it is ‘the greatest sauce in existence’.

3. There’s some pun-tastic chippy names

We can forgive you for not chuckling at ‘The Tailend Restaurant and Fish Bar’ on Leith Walk and even let you off with not finding Oxgang’s ‘Chip Inn Restaurant’ particularly hilarious. But you cannot expect us to believe that a smirk didn’t creep across your face when first discovering ‘The Codfather’ – that’s deep-fried comedy gold.

4. There’s UK-wide award winners

It’s all well and good being recognised by the locals, but Edinburgh’s fish and chip offerings have achieved national acclaim. L’Alba D’Oro on Henderson Row has been a supper institution since 1975, and was the first chip shop to receive a four star award from tourism body VisitScotland.

The New Town fish bar has gained UK-wide acclaim, having previously sold fast-food versions of crocodile, ostrich and venison and kangaroo next to the usual chippie fare and was recently named the UK’s number one chip shop by The Times.

5. There are chippies with history

We’re not talking fly-by-night offerings here. Edinburgh’s chip shop scene is home to a number of local institutions. The Jubilee Supper Room on West Granton Road claims to be the city’s oldest takeaway still going – serving ‘original’ fish suppers since 1935.

The previous holder of the title of ‘Edinburgh’s oldest supper’ was Brattisani’s – a family-owned busineess who claimed to be the city’s first ever chip shop, having originally opened on Church Lane when Brattisani senior moved to the city from Italy in 1904. After 100 years in business, Brattisani’s served their final portion of chips in 2004.

6. There are modern takes, too

Whilst there’s plenty of old-school establishments available out there, there is also exciting businesses adding a modern twist to the usual offerings. Barnacles and Bones operate from the police box by the Cathedral Lane tram stop, dishing up shellfish and chips from their cosy set-up to hungry passers by. It’s a delicious fish supper, but not quite as you know it.

7.. They’ve taken on celebrity chefs (and nearly won)

Having recently been named the Evening News inaugural ‘chippy of the year’ in a public vote, Eatalias was the perfect city offering to represent the city’s finest takeaways. On the 2009 BBC series Take on the Takeaway, the Leith Walk eatery went head-to-head with Italian chef Antonio Carluccio to see who could satisfy hungry customers on price, speed and taste.

Caruluccio may have won his battle to prove that home-made food beats the late-night offerings but it’s clear that Eatalias won the city’s affection.

Originally published in Scotsman Food + Drink