In a nutshell
If you’re looking for a buzzy all-day dining experience with a twist, Checkpoint should definitely be on your list.
It’s located in a beautiful grand old church dating back to 1899, and some of the tables are inside – wait for it – a converted shipping container. As such Checkpoint’s interiors are minimal with industrial lighting and reclaimed furniture.
Head chef Phil Lynch has cooked in various Edinburgh establishments, most notably the ultra cool Bon Vivant on Thistle Street. He’s put together an accessible, internationally influenced menu of small plates instead of an a la carte.
What are they cooking
The menu might be inspired by cuisines from around the globe, but for chef Phil local and seasonal ingredients are key, too. It’s all about relaxed dining, starting with ‘Daybreak’ dishes then ‘Bowls’, ‘Po’ Boy’s’, ‘Salads’, ‘Substantial Stuff’ and ‘Extras’, should you need them.
The Po’ Boy’s (all at £7) are Checkpoint’s take on an epic Louisiana sandwich. The fillings vary from chilli fried chicken with hot mayo sauce, and crispy pulled pork shoulder with sprout kimchi, to a more familiar fish fingers and smashed pea tartare number.
We opted for dishes from the Substantial Stuff section (£7.50-14) – there’s no starters as such, but you can dip into other parts of the menu should you need a nibble before the main course. We duly ordered house breads, dips and olives to take the edge off before mains arrived. The baba ganoush was moreish, but the guacamole and humous lacked a little, flavour-wise.
The substantial stuff followed. Our 6oz rump steak arrived rare as ordered, with beet slaw and potato rosti; it was full of flavour and cooked as well as anywhere we’ve eaten steak in Edinburgh. The meat was served sliced and on top of a large rosti potato that was slightly overdone; but still a nice contrast to rare steak and creamy slaw.
Haggis-stuffed pork belly took its ‘substantial’ promise seriously: a huge hunk of melt-in-the-mouth pork encasing perfectly spiced haggis, accompanied by celeriac, apple and celery.
What’s the room like/atmosphere
Hip and cool, as you’d expect from a shipping container conversion, and exactly what Edinburgh needs right now. The history of the building itself makes for great conversation – the shipping container makes up part of the dining room, with tables and chairs inside. It’s a vast space too, with seating for 120 people.
Wood, steel, filament bulbs, menus on clipboards, old school chairs… everything has been thought about. Although quiet during our midweek visit, it’s the kind of place that would be jumping at the weekend.
Menu must-orders and misfires
The informality of the menu may put some people off, but for us it was bang on the money. There’s a lot of choice and we’ll definitely be back for brunch: smashed avocado with piperade; soft-boiled eggs and mayo croutons; and paprika or chorizo spiced beans with toasted sourdough and goats’ mousse.
With the Po’Boy’s, salads and bowls (‘hearty snacks to see you through a wee while’), you could pretty much spend the day there, which is probably the idea.
Checkpoint has a great wine selection; the team uses a local supplier and bottles range from £15 to £35, or £27-£75 for sparkling. The beer range is where they excel – Beavertown, Meantime, Ayr Brewing Company, Williams Bros and Magic Rock are just a few of the craft beers on offer.
Checkpoint is an excellent all-rounder. You could meet friends for brunch, pop in for a coffee and a small dish midday, use it as a work space one afternoon during the week, or have dinner and cocktails with your friends on a Friday night. All boxes have been ticked.
Written by Hilary Sturzaker, April 2016
3 Bristo Place
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