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Bringing small plates, wine & good times to Edinburgh’s Canongate

L to R: Stuart Hunter, Cameron Taylor, Murray Ainslie.

On Monday 19 December, The Black Grape will softly launch their offering of “small plates, wine & good times” at the former Pancho Villas site on Edinburgh’s Canongate, with the official launch taking place in mid-January.

Award-winning entrepreneurs Stuart Hunter and Cameron Taylor have teamed up with experienced restaurateur Murray Ainslie to launch The Black Grape. After 12 successful years with The Compass Group, Murray is a highly respected figure on the Edinburgh hospitality scene, having launched and operated some of the some of the city’s most popular bars and restaurants.

Murray commented: “Of course it’s a challenge to open a restaurant in this economic climate, but we’re firm believers that quality offerings will always succeed. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, we believe our great food, polished service and stylish interior will ensure we really stand out from the crowd.”

The 60-cover bar and restaurant will focus on small-plates designed for sharing, allowing guests the opportunity to try multiple dishes and fully immerse themselves in the dining experience. With a focus on great produce*, bold flavours and quality cooking, the team are developing a menu of irresistible dishes including beef tataki, yuzu hollandaise and crispy shallots; bbq fillet tail, peppercorn sauce and black pepper oil; nduja arancini, fennel and lemon; and fried potato skins, caviar and sour cream.

A wine list that will explore some of the world’s most intriguing vineyards is being carefully-curated in conjunction with award-winning wine merchants Hallgarten. Whilst Class Magazine’s former ‘Bartender of The Year’ Joey Medrington is collaborating with the team on a range of classic drinks that will pair perfectly with the dishes on offer.

“The Black Grape is a culmination of years of dining out and socialising. We’ve created an offer inspired by some of our favourite restaurant experiences across the world. Each drink and dish has been carefully considered and we aim to recreate the amazing buzz that the best bars and restaurants offer.” said Stuart.

Cameron continued: “Whether you’re joining us for a glass of wine and a small plate, or feasting with a group of friends, we want you to feel at home.”

Located in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town, the spacious interior flows seamlessly over two levels. The journey begins in the bar where a communal 10-seater table, designed for sharing, takes centre stage. The adjoining restaurant level holds 40 covers and features a luxurious private booth, as well as two grand window tables that look out onto the Royal Mile.

The atmosphere is further enhanced by bespoke playlists that fuse soul, funk and blues. The venue is undergoing a full refurbishment with design and build undertaken by award-winning Edinburgh agency Splintr. Decorated in hues of soft greys and rich blues, the space abounds with bespoke design details including a suspended mild steel ceiling raft dressed with greenery, a delicately curved bar topped with vibrant green Terrazzo, and a powder-coated bar gantry that follows the soft lines of the counter.

The setting is sharp and polished with elegant half-moon banquette seating, and contoured panelling juxtaposed with exposed brick. The materials used throughout are ultra-premium; in addition to the imported Italian terrazzo, tabletops are being crafted from Foresso, a wooden terrazzo made sustainably and ethically in the UK. Despite hospitality’s well-documented staffing problems, this exciting new venue is attracting a team of diverse talent. Stuart and Cameron operate an award-winning recruitment firm renowned for its ethical employment credentials that prioritise integrity, transparency and trust. This extends to The Black Grape’s ethos to take excellent care of staff, providing multiple benefits such as bi-annual staff away-days, a monthly wine club and access to market-leading external training. *suppliers include Welch Fishmongers, Shaw’s Fine Meats, I.J. Mellis, Company Bakery, East Coat Cured and foraging experts Coeur Sauvage.

The Black Grape, 240 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8AB Monday to Friday: 3pm – late Saturday / Sunday: 12pm - late @blackgrapewinebar

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