Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- Frankie's Bistro, Tollcross, Edinburgh

The Location
The Odeon and Cameo cinema, Lyceum, Traverse and King's theatres, and the Usher Hall are all a few minutes walk of this charming little Italian bistro at 27 Bread Street (Telephone 0131 229 4343). It's also opposite the Point Hotel and round the corner from the Sheraton Grand on Lothian Road - so perfect for cinema / theatregoers and visitors to town. Look out for the large "F" sign above the long window.

The Restaurant
Frankie's Bistro Frankie's Bistro is the first restaurant venture for Celena Collins and Daniel Perera. Celina lived in Italy for several years teaching English where she was taught to cook real Italian home cooking from her partner's mother. Later on, working in the restaurant business in Edinburgh, she saw there was a gap in the market with regard to her particular regional Italian cuisine and the idea was sparked to open a restaurant serving authentic food from the Latina region of Southern Italy.

Frankie's opened in August 2004 and is now well established with a wide fan club of regular diners. While Celena is head chef in the kitchen with her second in command, sous chef Carly, Daniel is the front of house manager and affable, welcoming host. It's an intimate L shaped room, surrounding the central bar with wall banquette seating and polished tables. Soft American jazz and romantic ballads provide a relaxed atmosphere.

The Food
Latina is about an hour from Naples where the traditional food is fresh and natural, based on quality local fish, meat, green vegetables, tomatoes, pasta, olive oil, salads and cheese. Celena (who calls herself a good cook, rather than a formal chef), is passionate about recreating the wholesome, tasty home-cooked meals, which she experienced in Italy, just as Mamma taught her. Every dish is made to order and therefore the menu is fairly short but perfectly wide ranging for all tastes with appetising daily specials. For instance starters may include a superb bruschetta piled high with deliciously delicate sautéed peppers or share a large platter of antipasto Italiano featuring Parma ham, mozzarella, olives, marinated aubergines and courgettes. To follow, try the baked meatloaf with fresh tomato sauce and peas, or spicy Tuscan sausage with fresh spinach. A classic Lasagne is precisely made with half steak and half lamb mince with ragu, ricotta and Parmesan. The oven-roasted chicken flavoured with garlic and rosemary is particularly delicious and a feast in itself. There is no pizza on the menu and don't expect a list of various (non-traditional) cream sauce smothered pasta dishes. You may be offered a speciality Spinach and Crayfish spaghetti, spiced up with tongue-tingling red chilli and drizzled with oil, or a penne salad with anchovies, tomatoes and olives.

From Thursday to Saturday, there's also Catch of the Day, when Celena has selected the freshest fish in the market each morning. Whatever fine seafood she is able to buy, - perhaps octopus or rock fish - this will be on the menu with a specially created dish to suit. Desserts include, naturally, Italian ice-creams, chocolate tart and Tiramisu - said to be the best in town and I could not disagree. A specially selected wine list offers quality with good value house wine under £ 10.00. At lunch time if you cannot stay for a full meal, why not pop in for a gourmet snack and coffee. Frankie's warm paninis with a long list of fillings are all made to order and heated in a pizza oven as well as (cold) cheese, proscuito, salami and salad sandwiches. Take away service available.

The Bill
Lunch - Franki's warm Panini: £2.95 - £5.00.
Dinner - Starters: £4.50. Main course: £8.90 - £13.60 (steak).
Dessert - £2.90 - £4.90.
House wine from £ 9.90.

There are dozens of Italian restaurants around Edinburgh, but every one offers a totally different experience, style and quality of cuisine. Frankie's Bistro offers the real McCoy - deliciously simple, traditional home-cooking without fuss or frills. Many guests at the nearby Point Hotel and the Sheraton Grand have been known to call in one night by chance for dinner, then returned each night during their stay because they have enjoyed it so much. I loved it too - the genuinely friendly welcome, attentive service, the romantic, laid back ambience, and the pure fresh taste of classic Mediterranean, sunshine food.

Vivien Devlin

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