Roberta hall-Mccarron-ELEANORE, Leith

One of the many exciting things about opening a new store in a new city is stepping off the sleeper train and knowing absolutely no one. Not quite William Sutcliffe’s “Are you experienced?” (the greatest and funniest book about gap years ever written – currently £2.94 on amazon and all good book shops…), but nevertheless, an exhilarating and nerve-wracking voyage into the unknown. 

So, when we started thinking about opening up our second Aubin store in Edinburgh last year, Rachel & Helen (Aubin’s creative powerhouse) packed their rucksacks and headed north. And because they’ve got noses like a sommelier’s bloodhound for the coolest places and the coolest people of a new city, we all ended up falling in love with Leith. Especially, Leith Walk. 

Leith Walk feels a little like walking around Brooklyn. Albeit a tartan one. It’s definitely rough around the edges in parts. But hidden away in this corner of Edinburgh is basically, the best restaurant on the entire planet. 

Surrounded by newsagents and betting shops, Eleanore, the brain child of Roberta Hall-McCarron and her husband Shaun McCarron, have created an exquisite understated modern take on fine dining. 

Roberta’s vision is to make the restaurant feel like her customers are coming around to her house for dinner. The staff are incredible. And the ambience, at least when we were last there, is set to the soft soundtrack of 90’s hip hop.

Her professional journey started with a week’s work experience at sixteen, but unlike everyone else’s post GCSE work experience, it ended up totally inspiring her. And she went on to pursue a career in fine dining.  This journey took her through some of the best kitchens in Scotland, then onto the Burj al Arab in Dubai. Here she had instant access to the finest ingredients money can buy, imported from all around the world “we’d even import langoustines all the way from Scotland” she laughs. Then back home to Edinburgh from Dubai to work with Tom Kitchin at Michelin starred The Kitchin (get it?).  

But it wasn’t until Roberta was asked to be part of the opening team for Tom’s brand-new restaurant Castle Terrace, that she met her future husband Shaun McCarron, the restaurant manager. Love and business blossomed, and the couple opened their first restaurant The Little Chartroom in 2018. Scaling right back to a tiny eighteen cover offering and serving a more casual style of food. 

Explosive success followed, a stint on the Great British Menu (winning the fish course, no less) and expansion for The Little Chartroom to a new larger site nearby to free up the location for what has become the magical and sublime Eleanore. 

"Both restaurants serve nothing but incredible local seafood, game, locally grown produce and foraged herbs and mushrooms “it’s literally all here for the taking, we just want to show it to the world.”

“We all work on menus together, that’s the best way to create dishes because nobody knows it all, it can be one little garnish added to a dish that elevates it completely.”

So, you heard it here first kids. Make that work experience count. Don’t just use it as an excuse for a non-uniform day and no homework. It may just inspire you to open the greatest restaurant on the planet.

Strong recommendation from us to get your reservation in now before it gets its Michelin star.

Follow Roberta on her Instagram @chef_roberta_hall or head to @eleanore_leithwalk and @thelittlechartroom for menus, opening hours and bookings.