We’ve found a new lockdown hobby - pique-nique a l’auto.
We get a takeaway from somewhere and bring it back to the car, to sit in, where the cold can’t touch us.
There are napkins, toothpicks, salt sachets and breath mints in the glove compartment. This is no amateur outfit.
Sometimes we’ll slip in a Drive Time CD, in an Alan Partridge style. We are one step away from putting a white linen tablecloth and candlestick on the dashboard.
This time, we were trying the new restaurant, Bundits, owned by the team behind Edinburgh bistro, New Chapter, and Otro, which has sadly now closed.
They’ve brought their colourfully branded bao buns to Leith, where they’ve set up in what used to be The Fly Half pub.
Expect to queue. I don’t think we were anticipating the lineup along Constitution Street.
There were about 15 people in front of us, then the same amount formed a crocodile behind.
We waited for about half an hour, though, after an enforced hermit-dom, I enjoyed the people watching. My eyes were boing-ing out on stalks as long as pampas grass.
Although it was 12.30 on a Saturday, there was a dude outside the Port of Leith having a good old drunken and raspy sing-song, which was punctuated by shouts of “Oy!” to nobody in particular. The we-bought-a-puppy-over-lockdown crew was out in full force, so there was a furry parade going past, between us and the fence that cordoned off the tram-works. I studied the other humans like an anthropologist or a constable in the fashion police.
One of us was dispatched to look at the menu, which hangs outside their hatch.
Although I was keen to try their puddings of deep fried bao ice-cream sandwiches, which include versions filled with honeycomb, banana and passionfruit curd, it wouldn’t have worked out, unless we ate them as starters or, later, as liquids.
There were also lots of taste-bud resuscitating sides, like Korean cauliflower, smacked cucumber and house pickles with Szechuan chilli oil and fried onions.
If you’re there before noon, you can try their breakfast menu of steamed baos stuffed with hash browns, bacon, egg, cheese and other goodies. Next time.
The savoury buns for lunch are £4.50 for one, £8 for two, and we ordered four.
We got our spoils back to the car, which was parked with a view of Leith Links, and stashed them in the footwell.
First to be unpacked was the braised shiitake mushroom version.
The hirata buns here aren’t as doughy and puffy as I’ve had before, and I prefer the lighter texture. They’re also less porcelain white, since they use unbleached flour.
Although this veggie version hadn’t been our most anticipated, it was magnificent.
There was a nest of shaved pickled carrot, mushrooms, crispy onions, truffle mayo and sesame seeds, for a zingy, musky mouthful. It deserved a rendition of Sunshine on Leith.
“My tears are drying, thank you, thank you”.
The prawn katsu bao was special too, with a couple of seafood nuggets in a feathery russet crumb, a ponzu mayo, sweet chilli sauce and some lettuce.
This came in a box alongside another chamois-textured bun, this one containing a slab of Korean chicken, speckled with sesame seeds and slathered in a bright red and sticky sauce. It was teamed with silky kewpie mayo and a crunchy cabbage slaw.
Our final bun was another peach.
It contained a burly blend of shredded braised short beef rib, pickled red cabbage, chopped spring onion and barbecue sauce.
Each of our choices was quite distinct from the others, so our feast didn’t ever get boring. Anyway, we’d tried the whole savoury bao range, apart from the tofu and pork belly numbers. We’d also ordered a side of skinny fries (£3.50), which were crispy beauties. They were dusted with shichimi pepper and came with a roasted garlic mayo dip. There was another little pot containing a creamy, mushroom-y and salty beige coloured gravy, which was ridiculously addictive.
In fact, my dining partner ended up drinking it out of the pot, as if it was a Cup a Soup.
And, in his enthusiasm, he managed to dribble it on his trousers.
It’s looking like I might have to pack some pelican bibs and Stain Devil into the glove compartment for my next visit here, especially as I’m planning on tackling those drippy ice-cream buns. Bundits pique-nique a l’auto, part deux.
48-52 Constitution Street
How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £19.50
Places to try Nearby
Printworks Coffee, 42 Constitution Street, Edinburgh (0131 555 7070)
This small cafe is currently doing takeaway, so you can get your coffee, chicken pesto panini and whatever cake (the carrot is a goodie) that they’ve got on the go.
Razzo Pizza Napoletana, 59 Great Junction Street, Edinburgh (01331 554 3738, www.razzopizza.co.uk)
You can still order from one of our favourite pizza joints for delivery or collection. We like their Speck pizza, with fior di latte cheese, speck (lightly smoked prosciutto), gorgonzola, acacia honey, evoo, and walnuts. Read our review here.
This Lioness of Leith, 21-25 Duke Street, Edinburgh (0131 629 0580, www.lionessofleith.co.uk)
This bar is currently operating as a burger restaurant, with their menu of Burger Mama offerings, which you can click and collect or order through Deliveroo. We like the sound of the Eros, with falafel, tzatziki, baby gem and pickled red chilli in a brioche bun.