The Frugal Foodie: Uptown Junk
Winners of both the British and European Street Food Awards, Junk have brought their much-acclaimed dishes indoors with their bar and restaurant in Newington. Building on their most popular award-winning street food creations, the freedom of their own restaurant has allowed owners Cam and Jade to spread their culinary wings, while still staying true to their origins and also joining the line-up that comprises Edinburgh Street Food at the Omni Centre.
We visit on a Wednesday night assuming the restaurant will be quiet. Despite only being open for six months, word has spread like wildfire and the small space is packed with lively diners and busy staff. With bare brick walls and industrial-style decorative features, the feel is modern and sophisticated yet relaxed.
The restaurant offers a regularly updated menu of small plates ranging in size and price from £4.50 and £16. Everything looks so intriguing and delicious, we are happy to place ourselves into the capable hands of the chef and opt for the ‘Dealer’s Choice’. This is a selection of the restaurant’s favourite dishes and costs just £25 per person at lunchtime and £32 at dinner, and for that, we enjoyed eight unique small plates.
Drawing on Junk’s street food prowess and experience as creators of innovative recipes, the plates are playful and take inspiration from a variety of culinary influences. There is no junk here – every dish is packed with fresh, high-quality ingredients, delightfully presented, and a treat for the tastebuds. This is exemplified in the first dish we try – ‘Snow Cone’ is a small bite that packs a punch – a small wafer cone filled with BBQ langoustine and cherry hot sauce, served with ice-cold Bloody Mary granita.
Other stand-out dishes from our meal are ‘The Spanish Armada’ – crispy tatties with Sobrasada and black garlic – a popular choice from the street food offering that is unfortunately now coming off the menu for something new; Hot & Sour Soup – a spicy, Thai-inspired broth with pickled ginger and a crispy dumpling filled with Loch Fyne white crab; and On the Gyro – light and tender marinated chicken breast with vegetables, olives, cumin tzatziki, and guindilla.
I’m keen to return to try more of the menu, but even as just a bar, Junk would be well worth a visit, with a great range of wines and well-chosen and rare spirits, many of which are Scottish. The knowledge, flare, and invention that come through in the food are also evident in the cocktails (priced £8-10). With so much on offer in a small space, booking ahead is strongly recommended!
58 S Clerk St, Newington, Edinburgh EH8 9PS
Serving 12-9 pm