A sleek new sign hangs in place of former Stockbridge cafe and deli Henri as a top city chef moves into the popular Raeburn Place spot with new wine cafe “Whiskers”.
Chef Jonnie Cook, who has manned the pass at restaurants across the city from One Square Restaurant at The Sheraton to the The George Hotel – now the Printing Press – has opened the cafe and wine bar after he his wife Lorraine and family, renovated the space almost entirely by themselves.
Nestled between Costa and the path to Galerie Mirages the licensed until late wine bar also doubles as a cafe open from 9am.
Throughout the day and evening small plates will be available created from produce sourced from local suppliers.
Jonnie said: “I have planned to open my own place for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity – when I’ve still got the energy. I love and have a real interest in wine and the changes in wine at the moment so decided a cafe, wine bar and restaurant was the best option.
“We are creating small plates with no set theme. We work with small local suppliers and what they have on a week by week basis.”
Dishes currently on the menu include venison tartare with organic egg, shallots and herbs from East Lothian; Shetland mussels with white wine, garlic, parsley, sourdough bread; broccoli and shiitake salad with miso dressing, roast shallot and almonds and chocolate and vanilla pannacotta with stewed organic rhubarb.
Jonnie said Stockbridge is the perfect location for how he imagined his first place. “It has the village, community feel that I imagined for the first place I owned - regulars coming in every week where you learn what they order and create real bond - as well as people coming from outside the area.”
The inspiration for the name tells a tale of determination to succeed, an analogy for Jonnie’s hard work and ambition to open his own place before he was 30. He said: “It’s called Whiskers after a story told in the Catch Me If You Can movie in which Christopher’s Walken’s character Frank Abagnale Sr says ‘two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse, wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out’.”
The 29-year-old, who has been cooking for 14 years, set his heart on a culinary career while still at university in Newcastle.
Not content with the traditional university experience, he combined his studies with working full time in a kitchen. It sparked his passion for food and drink and he went on to study a diploma in culinary art before moving to Scotland.
He worked at luxury East Lothian hotel Greywalls before stint at The Sheraton, a Sous chef at the George Hotel and on to hone his butchery skills as head and brand chef at Chop House.