In a nutshell
Smith & Gertrude is all about spending time with good company. The site, in the Stockbridge area of the city, was previously a ‘cat café’ but there’s no sign of any moggies now. It’s all about refurbished gymnasium flooring, long tables, benches, ercol chairs, and a brilliant corner dedicated to old vinyl and a turntable. And the food and drink, of course.
It’s drink that’s king here. The well-travelled team behind Smith & Gertrude bring their expertise to the fore with a fantastic list that offers plenty of wines by the glass. We sampled a lovely Albarino from Rias Baixas and a great red Zinfandel (yes red, not rosé) from California. The wine list leans towards new regions including Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria and England (Bacchus Dry, Camel Valley 2013 from Cornwall for example), but there are some classic French wines too including a Chablis, Sancerre and a Beaujolais.
Wine flights (£13/£13.50) come with three pre-selected 75ml glasses served on handmade wooden boards, and can be matched to the food. There’s also a great selection of beers (including local brewery Stewarts), guest beers (at the time of writing this included The Wild Beer Company), whisky, gin, rum and a couple of great sodas from Kitsch (hand crafted in Edinburgh) including a rhubarb and Thai basil soda.
Food is prepped by bar staff and comes out fast. Think cold sharing plates, such as a variety of cheeses (£15 for a five cheese board) including French Comte, Brie de Meaux, ‘Bonnet’ (a semi hard goat’s cheese from Scotland), and Montgomery’s English cheddar. Charcuterie features salalmi, speck and coppa from Italy, organic chorizo and a fantastic fennel salami from local Scottish producer Peelham Farm.
The ham hock terrine (£6) using Ramsay’s of Carluke produce is a delight, as are the warm mini cheese scones with red onion chutney (£2.75). Serrano, manchego and rocket bites were akin to ‘pigs in blankets’ (£4) – rocket leaves and manchego wrapped snugly in Serrano ham – and are cleverly paired with the Californian wine flight.
Menu must-orders and misfires
The menu is simple, so you can’t leave without trying the wine flight and a mixed sharing board (£16). And if you’ve room for something sweet, try treats from local chocolatiers Edward & Irwyn, such as honeycomb (£4.50), salted honey caramels (£4.50) and dark chocolate shards with black salt and vanilla (£3.50). Partner these with a Steampunk coffee from North Berwick – arguably one of the best coffee roasters in Scotland.
What’s the room like?
Neither too loud, nor too quiet, Smith & Gertrude strikes the perfect balance for its informal dining with drinks vibe. You can pop in for a quick drink and a bite to eat at the bar or window seats, or settle in for the night at one of the tables.
What else did you like/dislike?
You should really check out the toilets in the basement; it’s like descending into a deep, dark cave glimmering with fairy lights. Sit content in the knowledge that you’re in what used to be the old Stockbridge market, the original entrance being on St Stephen’s Street, which backs on to Smith & Gertrude. Word of warning, though: if you’re above 5’4” you’ll need to duck.
Smith & Gertrude is one of those local neighbourhood places that you can pop into for a quick glass of wine on the way home from work, a coffee and doughnut on a Saturday morning, or for a sourdough cheese toastie on a Sunday. In other words, you’ll never want to leave.
Smith & Gertrude, 26 Hamilton Place, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, EH3 5AU
Words by Hilary Sturzaker (mymonkfish.com), written October 2015
Images courtesy of SPLINTR (splintr.co.uk)
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