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  • Writer's pictureSharon Wilson

Skua - back to your roots


This shoebox-sized restaurant has a red neon sign alerting diners to a basement setting that housed the Blue Parrot Cantina for decades in St Stephen’s Street, Stockbridge. 

The once terracotta and indigo interior has been painted black otherwise the layout is unchanged with a small reception/bar/open kitchen and outside cludgie. 

There are separate food, wine and cocktails menus and one dessert. The sparing menus nod to the kitchen's size, but also to Skua’s ethos. Many dishes rely on assembling seasonal, locally sourced and foraged ingredients and applying modern and ancient culinary techniques.

Once seated we order Vina Zorzal Sea of Dreams White, 2022 from Navarra in Spain; a blend of Garnacha Blanca and Viura (aka Macabeo) varietals. It’s a minimal intervention wine complementing Skua's philosophy. According to the website Barrique Fine Wines the viura grapes are hand-harvested, fermented and aged in concrete eggs. From the first sip, we appreciate its lustrous texture and savoury taste.


We swiftly add some coppa to the table served slightly warm (to reveal its full flavour) with a sprinkle of sea salt and Company Sourdough with a dod of quenelle-shaped Katy Rodgers cultured butter.

The suggestion is to order three small plates per person to share which exit the pass as they are ready.

First up is a plate of diced, gently pickled beets that schmooze with Crowdie and hazelnuts. The dish is sweet, sour, creamy and crunchy. Isle of Wight tomatoes are accompanied by gooseberries and topped with basil and fennel pollen; a serving of summer on a plate! 

Cured Mackerel is an immaculate dish. Razor-precise cuts of shimmering silver-blue fish are paired with taramasalata (a meze made with raw and cured cod) and shavings of al dente strawberry.

Seabass is grilled à point and presented with Milan turnip (Italian root veg) sea aster and an emulsion of butter and lemon. This dish impresses with its gentle cooking and the interesting choice of veg from the land and sea. 

Dessert is a pottery bowl of whipped ricotta, more strawberries, toasted oat cracknel and a show-stopper ingredient: baby pine buds which are sweet and, as Eleonora points out, have the texture of dried figs. 

We must try the cocktails now devised by head bartender, Jacob Thunder.

Kim's Chi

I can’t resist the Soprano-inspired Paulie Walnuts: Toasted Walnut Brandy, Maraschino, House Vermouth. Eleonora has Kim’s Chi Mezcal, Anchos Reyes, Scotch Bonnet, Pedro Ximinez and Kimchi; spicy and smoky.

Skua comprises a highly skilled team who stamp their personality on all.  The black walls enhance the senses so music becomes a vibe - not just background noise. The full range of culinary techniques such as smoking, curing, fermenting, pickling, preserving, blanching, grilling and more (those pine buds are poached), are put to good effect on thoughtfully sourced produce from the forest, hedgerows, gardens, fields, allotments, beaches, rivers and sea. 

A skua is a predatory gull-like bird whose name derives from old Norse. Skua the restaurant can track its DNA to the pioneering Edinburgh restaurant Timberyard, which influenced Norn, Heron, Aurora et al. Ultimately Skua’s roots are the New Nordic cuisine of Rene Redzepi, former head chef of Noma.

The team has earned its Good Food Guide and the Michelin listings with James Aikman Head Chef and Tomas Gormley owner at the helm.

Skua - 49 St Stephen Street, Stockbridge -

Restaurant open Monday - Saturday, 5 pm - 10 pm. Bar Open until noon Monday - Thursday  and until 1 am on Friday & Saturday

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