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December 23, 2019

The big restaurant story of the next twelve months will be the unveiling of the revamped St James Centre.

Rechristened Edinburgh St James, the 1.7 million square foot development is scheduled to open at the east end of Princes Street in October.

The W Hotel at Edinburgh St James.

The W Hotel at Edinburgh St James. Pic: Development website.

Costing upwards of £850 million, it is billed as 'a world renowned, retail-led, mixed-use destination for the future' which will 'strengthen Edinburgh's global standing by transforming the city's east end'. It will create 3,000 permanent jobs.

As well as Scotland's first W Hotel, an Everyman Cinema and more than 80 new stores, the complex will house 30 food and drink outlets.

The only one to be announced so far is The Alchemist, a chain of cocktail bars and restaurants which claims to be 'home to masters in the dark arts of molecular mixology'. Main pic is from The Alchemist Cardiff.

Massive investment

As an Edinburgh resident, this blogger is delighted to see the huge investment that Edinburgh St James represents for the capital and we're sure that a number of the 30 planned restaurants and bars will be interesting.

At the same time, I can't help but feel that it has the potential to have a damaging knock-on effect for Edinburgh's indigenous restaurant scene.

I don't know what other food and drink brands will be going into the space but I suspect that the majority of them will be big, national chains.

There is nothing wrong with big, national chains - they get to be big and national by being popular and consistent - but when you have 30 of them setting up shop in the city centre then that is a lot of bums on seats which are not sitting in venues operated by small, local independents.

Edinburgh has a brilliant eating out scene because it has so many unique restaurants and bars. Will there be space for them alongside the big boys?

I hope so.

Johnnie Walker Visitor Centre

At the opposite end of Princes Street, the new Johnnie Walker visitor centre is pencilled in for a 2020 launch.

In addition to an immersive visitor experience, the seven floor building will feature a flexible events space, a bar academy and rooftop bars with views of the Castle.

On a smaller scale, Edinburgh's first Dr Noodles will open on Shandwick Place in January.

This is the sixth site for the Scottish restaurant company which launched in St Andrews in 2010.

Cutting Chaii

Lamb samosas at Cutting Chaii.

Lamb samosas at Cutting Chaii. Pic: Facebook

Last but not least, we'll give a warm welcome to Cutting Chaii, a Bombay-style café, bar and kitchen that recently opened on Salamander Street in Leith.

If you feel a craving for fenugreek Bombay fries, Amritsari fish pakode or even a royale Nawabi chicken then you know where to go.