Review of the Year 2021 Part 2: 1 – 14

Dean Banks

It's been a long year. This is article 139. Trust me on two things. Firstly, this is definitely the last in 2021; and secondly there won't be nearly so many next year. I really really do plan to get out more. It must be said, however, that we ate out to very good effect this year, in a diverse range of places.

Top of the list is the grandest of them all. I failed to understand why the powers that be who run Edinburgh's Waldorf Astoria hotel - the one that will forever be The Caley to locals - closed The Pompadour in the first place, but they have to take credit for luring Dean Banks to relaunch it.

Lloyd Morse & James Snowden

By way of contrast, second place went to a former bank. Nothing unusual in that, of course, but the new kid on the block, The Palmerston, is a rare beast. The menu is nothing startling: it contains many dishes with which you are familiar. Some of them you may well make at home. But chef Lloyd Morse can take these and, apparently effortlessly, turn them into something many times better than you have eaten before. I haven't encountered that trick since the days of Gary Rhodes.

And finally to the podium, Aurora. You could pass without a second glance. If it looks like a greasy spoon in Leith, that's because it was, not that long ago.

Kamil Witek

From this tiny space Kamil Witek produces imaginative, stunning food. Messrs Banks, Morse and Witek, take a bow.

*** Signifies Guest Reviewer***




Dean Banks at The Pompadour, Edinburgh


The hard working Masterchef: The Professionals finalist has reopened The Pompadour at The Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh’s prettiest dining space.

The Palmerston, Edinburgh


Chef Lloyd Morse and front of house partner James Snowden achieve miracles by producing dishes that you know and may have made at home – just ten times better.

Aurora modern eatery, Edinbugh


Kamil Witek and team produce astonishing and imaginative food in a tiny space in Leith.

45 Jermyn Street, London


Swish flagship restaurant owned and run by Fortnum & Mason. Very good indeed.

Sholeh Persian Restaurant, Glasgow


An oasis in an area of Glasgow which isn’t the best. Iranian chef Vahid and his lovely wife Azar dispense fabulous Persian grub.

Stravaigin, Glasgow


Been here for a very long time. Eat here and you’ll understand why.

LeftField, Edinburgh


Thanks to Craig and Vikki Wood for alerting me to this out of the way wee place on Bruntsfield Links. Phil White cooks up a storm and his partner and their daughters are front of house.

Rajpoot Indian Restaurant, Inverurie


A very ordinary looking High Street Indian serving a great combination of good quality curry standards and local Scottish produce.

Land, Birmingham***


Another guest contribution from Miranda Heggie. A vegan place (she’s not) but it sounds stunning.

The Bay Tree, Burford 20.5 Even by Cotswolds standards, Burford is lovely. The Bay Tree and its food live up to them.

Knockendarroch Hotel, Pitlochry


Charming country house hotel on a hill overlooking the town. The Pitlochry Festival Theatre was founded in the grounds.

Rico's Edinburgh


Upmarket Italian by Stefano Pieraccini. Good food – hope the bread’s improved.

Fishers in The City, Edinburgh


Probably the Johnstons’ most frequented restaurant in the town. Superlative fish and chips. Great fish curries, and much, much more.

Dine Murrayfield, Edinburgh


Wonderful local bistro, the little sister to Dine above the Traverse Theatre. Thank you, Stuart Muir and Paul Brennan, for opening on my doorstep.



  1. Fiona Garwood on 23rd December 2021 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks Tom. We look forward to sampling The Palmerston. Left Field was a great find.

    • Tom Johnston on 24th December 2021 at 10:51 am

      If you liked LeftField, you’ll certainly like The Palmerston too. Both have a similar ability to take the familiar and elevate it to terrific heights. Merry Christmas from Ormidale (Upper).

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