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Restoration Yard



06 Mar 2019

With a CV including stints at Gleneagles, Edinburgh’s The Caledonian Hotel and as Nick Nairn’s executive head chef, Colin Halliday arrives at Restoration Café with as much pedigree as the produce he cooks. We caught up with the new head chef at Restoration Café to discuss passion, produce and provenance… 


When and why did you first find yourself in a  professional kitchen? I studied food and nutrition at high school and felt an unbelievable sense of achievement when I immersed myself in the cooking. I was always making soups, casseroles and Sunday roasts. Then, aged 15, I started as an apprentice chef at The Caledonian Hotel and I’ve been in the kitchen since.

Which chefs have you found most inspiring in the time since? I’d have to say John Webber, who I worked with at the Nick Nairn Cook School. John has been awarded a Michelin star on two occasions in his career and has a depth of knowledge that’s second to none. When we were teaching, he would relay information to the customers about the produce they were going to be using and I would think, wow, I never knew that! I learnt a fantastic amount just listening and watching.

Describe the creative process of bringing a Restoration Café menu together… I start with random scribbles, to be honest! Then I look at seasonality, current trends, customer feedback, social media, cost, balance of dishes and, of course, I take input from the team.

How important is local produce in that process? Very.  Using local ingredients adds a real sense of provenance to Restoration Café and shows customers we’re supporting local businesses.

What are your dreams for Restoration Café? I’m passionate about making this a destination restaurant, one that offers the best dining experience and exceeds the expectations of our customers. That’s the level I want to achieve across all the eateries we have here, as well as our growing Restoration Yard events and wedding business.

Do you find it easy to switch off from the kitchen when you’re at home? No, I’m forever scribbling down ideas, watching cookery on YouTube and reading Saveur and The Staff Canteen. I’m travelling to London this weekend and, even then, I’ll be spending a couple of hours in Borough Market.

Are you a reserved diner or a ‘go for it with all three courses’ type when eating out in or around Edinburgh? I prefer savoury dishes and always go starter and main – though occasionally, I’ll have the cheese trolley.

What are your musts for a successful dining experience? The company is the most important thing. The food has to be good, cooked well and seasoned correctly, and everything on the plate needs to be there for a reason. The ambiance has to be one in which we feel relaxed too, meaning the service needs to be friendly, attentive and not overbearing.

Restoration Café serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea seven days a week, as well as offering special evening events and private dining options. For more information, visit or search @restorationyard on Facebook and Instagram.

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