Chaophraya, Edinburgh

The site of Edinburgh’s former restaurant Oloroso has been transformed into the latest outpost for Chaophraya and its Palm Sugar bar

With its superb food and uninterrupted views of Edinburgh Castle, Tony Singh’s Oloroso was one of the stars of the Scottish capital’s restaurant scene for over 10 years. When it fell victim to the economic downturn last summer, operators large and small looked at the landmark site in a listed building in Castle Street but the new occupant turned out to be expanding Thai restaurant group Chaophraya. It has invested £2.1.million in the site, transforming the interior with Jonathon Morgan Design Associates (JMDA) and creating a new Palm Sugar lounge bar.

Taking advantage of the building’s biggest asset, the 3,250 sq ft space has been extended with a new “glass box” to the existing terrace, providing diners with year-round views across the Edinburgh skyline from the castle to the Firth of Forth. It now has 60 covers externally on top of the 150 inside.
The formerly claustrophobic entrance lobby on the third floor has been given a wow factor through illuminated feature walls and mirrors which, according to JMDA boss Jonathon Morgan, conveys “the sophistication and energy of a major Thai city”. Guests now enter the fourth-floor restaurant and bar via a staircase that takes them through a copper and polished “gate” within one of the illuminated walls, adding to the theatrical experience.

In line with other sites, a large fish tank – here measuring three metres – has been incorporated into a centralised screen as part of JMDA’s efforts to create more intimate spaces. There are also two wine walls, one 4.5 metres long and vault-themed, holding 230 bottles, and another with a chrome cage and integral lighting. Another signature Chaophraya feature is the exhibition kitchen which, Jonathon explains, has been given the “Rolls-Royce” treatment with granite-clad walls plus angled walls to the pass, covered in three types of mirror.

A luxurious Palm Sugar bar has been a key feature of the company’s sites in Liverpool, Glasgow and Leeds, and JMDA has incorporated this into Edinburgh, albeit on a smaller scale. However, it still adds glitz with a back bar made of illuminated onyx, chrome and glass, showcasing its extensive range of spirits. The dynamic internally lit granite-clad bar counter echoes the black and white criss-cross design of the entrance lobby’s feature walls. The bar appears to continue seamlessly through the plate glass wall onto the external terrace.

One feature retained from Oloroso is the VIP room which can seat up to 16 people. However, it now looks completely different with gold-quilted wallpaper, a deep buttoned padded wall incorporating AV facilities and a bespoke feature light fitting. There is also a new full-height glass door and walls around the entrance to the room.

As the sixth Chaophraya within the group, Edinburgh is an evolution of previous incarnations, Jonathon points out. “We are proud of achieving a stunningly contemporary yet relaxed, intimate and moody interior which is set to change both the landscape and people’s preconceptions of fine dining in the city,” he adds.

The drinks menu features the same focus on premium spirits and cocktails as other Chaophrayas and Palm Sugar bars. Signature “authentic Thai” cocktails include the Chaophraya River – which, like the restaurant, is named after the main waterway in Thailand – made with Canadian Club whisky, blue curaçao, peach schnapps and passion fruit shaken with orange and lime juice. The Yok Lor is a mix of raspberry-flavoured vodka, Chambord and cranberry juice shaken with muddled blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.

Eight years after opening their first Chaophraya in Leeds, founders Kim Atcharaporn Kaewkraikhot and Martin Stead have brought in an experienced team for their Edinburgh opening, led by manager David Bassett who was formerly at Angels With Bagpipes in the city’s Royal Mile. Ahead of the official opening, they maintained the Thai custom of bringing in Buddhist monks to bless the business but, with their successful concept combined with a unique location, luck is clearly already on their side.

Chaophraya, 33 Castle Street, Edinburgh EH2 3DN Tel: 0131 226 7614

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