There’s an air of mystery about Checkpoint and their website doesn’t give a lot away, other than their menu and that ‘it’s a place to eat . . . a place for a coffee . . . a place to drink . . . a place for all of it and more and one of the 25 coolest restaurants in Britain’ as mentioned in the Times.
I’m familiar with Checkpoint and many a life-saving coffee has been consumed here during the Edinburgh Fringe, being so close to George Square where much of the activity takes place.
I’ve often refuelled on their simple bowl food of chicken, rice and ginger, which at £5 is an absolute steal and always fills a gap when I can’t get into Ting Thai Caravan around the corner, which always has too long a queue during the fringe.
You might even spot the odd celebrity here too, especially. During the summer, I spotted Jim Haynes. For any foodie, his legendary regular Sunday supper clubs in Paris are a must and I hope to visit very soon. Anyway, I was invited to sample Checkpoint’s autumn menu and went along on a cold, windy, November Friday night.
Choose your table carefully. I had to ask to move as there was a gale blowing up my trouser leg at my original table, which wasn’t going to make for a pleasant dining experience. We were given the choice of where we would like to sit and I chose to sit in the old shipping container with its cut-away sides, which gives it a somewhat cool New York feel, along with its rickety chairs.
Checkpoint’s menu is eclectic offering ‘Daybreak options’ (anytime before five) to Philfy Rolls offering a range of fillings in a sesame brioche bun to bites and bowls.
My dining companion KB and I shared some starters of a lone potato, chorizo and black pudding hash cake with brown sauce served in a bowl, and a seared flat iron steak, baby corn, spring onion, with kohlrabi and chimichurri.
Chimichurri, often seen as an accompaniment to steak, is a piquant South American sauce of parsley, oregano, garlic and chilli, oil and vinegar. On this occasion, there was a little too much oil to vinegar ratio but it was still delicious and an amply big enough portion to share a starter size.
For mains, KB chose the roast cod, pistou cockles and pan fried greens, which she described as perfectly light and relatively healthy whilst I craved something warming to accompany a glass of red and therefore chose slow roasted duck leg, chorizo braised lentils and butternut squash samosa.
All the flavours complemented each other beautifully and the slow cooking of the dug leg meant it wasn’t fatty and fell off the bone.
You should definitely leave room for dessert. Whilst the list is not extensive, their espresso chocolate tart with salted caramel ice cream served on a sticky caramel sauce was an absolute winner.
Whilst KB’s avocado and lime cheesecake served with blueberries was beautifully smooth, it was slightly overpowered by the addition of coconut, which wasn’t listed as an ingredient but was suitable for vegans and vegetarians. It wasn’t unpleasant but it might be good to list this ingredient.
With over 16 craft beers and 16 wines, almost all available by glass or carafe, some great cocktails and food to suit lots of different tastes, Checkpoint is a great place to hang out whatever time of day and especially handy if you’re in the vicinity of the University and Bristo Square. You might even get to spot the odd celebratory too.
3 Bristo Place
Edinburgh EH1 1EY
Tel: 0131 225 9352
Kerry dined as a guest of Checkpoint.