Shish in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s alcohol-free Shish brings creative cocktails and Turkish culinary flair to a city known for its love of the bottle

In Edinburgh, a city where the echoes of clinking glasses resonate through cobbled streets and the 14th century Sheep Heid Inn – older than some countries – still serves ales once supped on by kings and commoners, there lies a curious anomaly.

Shish, an audacious upstart, dares to defy centuries of fermented wisdom in the Scottish capital. This is no ordinary Turkish restaurant – it’s an alcohol-free enclave in a city synonymous with the water of life.

Take the Cosmopolitan, a classic reimagined, where cranberry tang waltzes with lime’s zestiness, muddled with a vodka alternative so cunningly authentic, you’d swear it winked at you.

The Passion-Star Martini is an exotic escape, blending passion fruit’s tang with sweet pineapple, all finished off with a Peach Prosecco Alternative for a drink that’s as visually striking as it is delicious.

But the star of the show is the Raspberry Gin Fizz. It’s a delightful blend of sweet and sharp flavours, with soda adding a hint of sparkle.

Elegantly presented, the drink offers a contemporary take on a timeless favourite, featuring a gin alternative that’s intriguing and refreshing.

But the drinks are just the beginning. The kitchen turns out culinary classics from the heart of Anatolia with a finesse that would make sultans swoon.

Start off with an order of balloon breads – billowing clouds of dough, hot from the oven, bursting at the slightest touch to release fragrant steam.

Patlican sogurme enters next, a dish that sings of the earth and smoke. Aubergines are torched to a char and married with garlic and olive oil that’s mellowed by a gentle swirl of yogurt.

The pièce de résistance of the menu is undoubtedly the enormous mixed grill. A feast fit for the ravenous, it features a carnivorous carnival of meats, from chicken cubes to lamb cubes, lamb ribs, chicken thighs, butcher meatballs, adana kebab, chicken wings and lamb chops.

It’s a sumptuous spread that marries the abundance of the Ottoman banquet with the conviviality of a Scottish feast, creating an experience so plentiful that you’ll be grateful for the doggy bags to savour it all over again at home.

Yet vegetarians need not worry. The sebzeli pilav takes plump baldo rice and adorns it with the jewels of the garden – carrots, leeks, garden peas, and fried courgette.

It’s all accompanied by kuru cacik (cucumber yoghurt), acili ezme (spicy tomato salad), and more of that soul-stirring patlican sogurme, offering flavours that showcase the rich diversity of Turkish cuisine.

The grand finale is the Künefe. Cheese-filled kadayif pastry, its threads golden and crisp, is lovingly doused in sugar syrup.

Topped with a scattering of chopped pistachios, it’s a dish that is both decadent and the divine – and a fittingly filling end to a hearty meal.

The one thing Shish could do with more of is customers, and the lively atmosphere they bring, but that will surely come.

That’s because, in a city where the pub and whisky have reigned supreme for centuries, Shish stands as a symbol of change.

It offers a new kind of night out – one that’s just as joyous and communal, but perhaps a bit clearer the next morning.