There seems to be no stopping Tony Crolla of the Vittoria Group with the opening of his latest venture Bertie’s Restaurant and Bar in Edinburgh, which has to be Scotland’s largest fish and chip restaurant. I was lucky enough to be invited to the #BertiesVIP launch party last night. Wow, is all I can say.
With a £3m investment, it opened on 8 December, in what was St John’s Church on Victoria Street, which heads down from George IV Bridge to the Grassmarket. The building has lain empty for 10 years, since its previous owners Khushi’s Indian Restaurant suffered a devastating fire.
With 300 covers, it’s vast. Set over three floors, with the welcome desk on the ground floor, dining and kitchen on the first floor and more dining on the second floor, a range of special sketches by award-winning former Evening News cartoonist Frank Boyle, encircle the staircase leading up to the upper seating deck, adding an element of fun and in the corridor leading to the loos! He’s even captured the entire Crolla family, including Tony’s new baby grandson. There’s really good disabled access too with a lift from the ground floor to the first floor, although not up to the top floor and the restaurant is roomy enough for wheelchair customers to manoeuvre around.
A move away from their other Italian restaurants, with Bertie’s, Tony Crolla has set out to offer an “affordable menu” that “reinvents some traditional British ‘chip shop’ dishes” while celebrating specialities including fish and chips – along with contemporary twists on the chip shop experience.
While it’s essentially a fish and chip restaurant (and therefore not great for me with my fish and seafood allergy), there was plenty on offer to tempt me such as the amazing black pudding Scotch Eggs, a Crombie’s ‘Auld Reekie’ Smoked Sausage, and a Steak Burger. The fish and chips, I was told, were ‘delicious’ – and they even have their own ‘Bertie’s Edinburgh Chippy Sauce’, which was amazing with the double cooked chips. I can’t wait to return and try my own chip butty (not on the menu but they do serve bread and butter so I’ll make my own) or Bertie’s breaded chicken escalope served with twice cooked chips and slaw. They also cater well for vegetarians with dishes like the Vegetarian Pie and Burgers, or for vegans, the Vegan Fish n Chips (which is aubergine).
There’s even a separate gluten free range solely for gluten-free customers, with these menu items cooked in vegetable oil. I know many of my gluten-free/coeliac friends will be very pleased with this consideration. Their menu is also clearly and pictorially indicated with dietary allergen guidelines.
The icing on the cake last night was the entertainment. While the food and alcohol flowed, I did question whether I might just have had one too many as I started to see things – George Michael to be precise, who appeared to have risen from the dead and was our top-entertainment for the night, capturing the real George’s moves and melodies. It made this blogger very happy.
So for you fish lovers who want proper fish and chips, head to Bertie’s. I’m not sure you’ll find anybody that does it with quite as much panache as Tony Crolla. He not only has the Midas touch where restaurants are concerned but he’ll most certainly ‘fry you to the moon’ with this latest venture.
Bertie’s Proper Fish & Chips
9 Victoria Street
Edinburgh EH1 2HE
Tel: 0131 322 1000