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In a short three years, Twenty Princes Street has managed to earn its place as an Edinburgh stalwart—an impressive feat in a city this old. It’s worth visiting just for the amazing view of Edinburgh; the vista sweeps across Scotland’s most glamorous high street and over the medieval Old Town. After you feast yer eyes, you may want to just feast, because Twenty is one of the finest dining establishments in the city. Upon opening in 2013, it was dubbed the Best New Restaurant in Scotland at the Scottish Variety Awards.
Executive chef Tony Sarton makes the magic by taking advantage of the wealth of ingredients on his doorstep, cooking seasonally to keep his menu fresh and inspired. Sarton loves experimenting with flavours, and one of his favorite combinations is crab and rhubarb!
“Scottish crab & seafood are definitely two of my favourites, but heading into the winter season, the wood pigeon and Perthshire venison are particularly good. ”
They smoke their own venison and bring it to the table under a dome full of smoke for a theatrical dining experience. For meats, they use a Josper Grill fuelled by hardwood charcoal that cooks at up to 500°C. To complement these robust flavours, Sarton opens his cellar.
“I love New World wines, and, in particular, Pinotage. There’s also a brilliant Shiraz—Fincas Las Moras from Zonda Valley in Argentina. Another favourite that’s on our wine list at Twenty Princes Street is the Emiliana Organic Adobe Carmenère from Chile.”
The cooking bug grabbed him at an early age. “I’ve just always wanted to do this. And, my earliest memories are of baking cakes and making peppermint creams with my Mum and making quiche for my older sister,” Sarton says. His cakes have grown a bit since then. If you’re one for the dramatics, the Baked Alaska is sure to satisfy.
Since then, he’s had an interesting career. He spent some time at the Ritz in London whilst also cooking at Buckingham Palace where his duties included preparing meals for the Queen’s corgis. He’s also cooked for other high-profile Londoners as Head Chef at the Old Bailey, and after in Manchester and Glasgow, he opened Twenty in August of 2013.
Thankfully for regulars at Twenty, it seems that Sarton will remain in Edinburgh for the foreseeable future. He clearly loves being in Scotland. “I love the fact that I can enjoy city living but also have the great outdoors on my doorstep—whether it’s sea-fishing, golfing, skiing or just simply taking the dog for a walk on the beach. Edinburgh really does offer the best of both worlds.”
Sarton takes the bus to work every morning and could pass for a local, but his roots are a long way off. He actually hails from Devon which explains his passion for sea-fishing. He takes the Twenty Team on fishing days “and then host a dinner in the restaurant where we serve what we catch.” So you never know, Sarton himself may have caught what’s on your plate.
Edinburgh’s food scene is buzzing at the moment, and Sarton has a few favourites of his own. He is a big fan of Leith and Sushiya, a tiny Japanese place near Haymarket Station. Seeking an after-meal cocktail? Sarton recommends the rum Manhattan: “very tasty and just a little sweeter than the usual version” from Juniper, the cocktail bar at Hotel Indigo Edinburgh – Princes Street. If that doesn’t take your fancy, then, as you’d expect from bar’s namesake, they have a great range of gins.
After an evening at one of the best venues Edinburgh has to offer, you’ll be ready to take on the city. Just make sure you put on some sensible shoes—Christian Louboutins and steep cobbled streets don’t make for a great combination.