Head chef of Cafe St Honoré, Neil Forbes, has helped transform Edinburgh’s culinary landscape with his passion for local produce and the slow food movement. Here he tells about the watering holes, attractions and kitchens he likes to frequent on his days off.
Cafe St Honoré’s menu celebrates the ‘Auld Alliance’ with its flavours and produce. What inspires you?
We are blessed with such fabulous produce here in Scotland. There’s plenty of green grass for good beef and crystal clear waters for impeccable seafood. We also have a long history of great cookery in Scotland, which is sometimes forgotten. Being a member of the Slow Food UK Chef Alliance, I do my bit to keep these traditions alive.
Edinburgh is enjoying one of its most exciting times, with award-winning chefs and prizes to the fore. What do you think makes the food scene in Edinburgh so exciting?
Edinburgh is a beautiful city – there’s nowhere like it anywhere else in the world – that has a lot to do with it. The produce available here helps too. There’s been a shift in emphasis for chefs towards using local produce – it’s something Edinburgh has embraced and now does very well.
Where do you like to eat and drink?
Top of the list is a pint in the Oxford Bar on Young Street, which offers a great taste of Edinburgh in a glass in the form of Deuchars IPA. You may bump into author and regular Ian Rankin, or even Rebus himself! Earthy Three on Canonmills Bridge is great for a lunch of spectacular local, seasonal salads with bread you can’t beat.
How do you like to relax when you’re not working?
You can’t beat a slow meander up The Mound to the Royal Mile, taking in the view, followed with a walk down the Mile to the Palace, past the controversial Scottish Parliament building, rounded off with a trip to the top of Arthur’s Seat to see the city in all its glory.
Edinburgh’s got some beautiful green spaces; what’s your favourite?
The Royal Botanic Gardens, on Inverleith Row, is really lovely. In Edinburgh, the Gardens are referred to as the “˜lungs of the city’ and it’s my favourite place to escape to for an hour or two. Take in one of the many year-round exhibitions, the lovely wine shop and the garden centre.