Cutting Chaii once sent a driver out to fetch the diet version of the soft drink I wanted.
I had settled for a glass of water instead and was happy with that. The staff there didn’t tell me the restaurant could, or would, go fetch it for me and my drink just turned up with my especially tasty food.
2021 was awful in many ways, but I found success in finding some fantastic Indian restaurants. Cutting Chaii is one of them. I’m going to see if I can find better in 2022, but I’ve my doubts I’ll succeed.
I’ve been there many times, so I’m not suggesting drivers will be sent out for everyone, but I am hinting that you make yourself such a frequent regular that the cosy restaurant considers it.
Cutting Chai’s food
The phrase “Cutting Chaii” refers to half glasses of tea. Of course, I tested Cutting Chaii’s cutting chai, which was delightful.
In the context of this Leith restaurant, it really means Indian tapas. You get small but not too small portions of food, and I recommend two or three orders per person. Most dishes are probably larger than standard tapas but only large enough for a second person to steal from rather than split. I’m greedy, though.
The style has several advantages:
- You get to sample several different dishes!
- It tends to come quickly.
- You can mix and match, such as cherry-picking a bit of succulent meat between veggie dishes.
Since we’re speaking of veggie dishes, there are plenty of non-meat options here. I think lactose-intolerant eaters will find it together, as is often the case with Indian food.
For me, it’s the freshness and tenderness that makes Cutting Chaii’s food so good.
However, the size of the menu makes the Indian tapas work. Too few options, and all you’d have small dishes instead of a regular Indian meal. In contrast, too many and in addition to choice paralysis, there would be kitchen logistic challenges that would impair the food quality. Cutting Chaii gets the menu spot on, you’ll get choice, and the kitchen isn’t too stretched.
The restaurant’s vibe
Cutting Chaii is an oasis of flavourful delight on the edge of Edinburgh. There are residential buildings on two sides, construction and warehouses on the other. The lack of windbreak and the proximity to the coast often means it’s biting cold on the bleak street outside.
Wriggle open the tight little double doors (you’ll have to, sadly), and you’ll step into a warm welcome of scents and dining nooks.
I can’t see large groups working here nor rowdy drinkers. Cutting Chaii is for small families, curated groups of friends, couples and solo diners. More on the solo dining in just a bit.
Let’s talk about couples first.
You can both order separate meals, each getting two or three dishes of what takes your fancy, and there will be enough room on the table. I’ve not carefully studied couples eating at Cutting Chaii, but my casual observation is that this is what most people do.
However, I think you could also order the same amount, plus or minus a dish or two, and try and share. The challenge here is that it’s hard to tell which options you can do this with before the food arrives. You can easily share the chips, but the Dal Makhni is a single-serve.
Unless you both live close by, I wouldn’t suggest Cutting Chaii for a first or second date. The lovely restaurant is otherwise perfect, and it’s romantic! My caution comes from the location, as it’s out of the way. Potentially scary walks, such as Seafield and Leith Links as prominent ways out.
Safety of location aside, Cutting Chai is an Indian restaurant that should impress your date. Also, I’m in no position to offer romantic insight; consider this just a practical analysis of the walk home.
Solo dining at Cutting Chai
Solo diners should flock to Cutting Chaii. It’s perfect for us! They have two or three little tables in corners and nooks, and the tapas approach works well. If you don’t like dish one (a scenario I struggle to imagine), you have another.
I’ve found the staff to be as quick and as attentive to single tables as they are to the larger groups. At the end of the meal, there doesn’t tend to be that frustrating wait for the bill to arrive. I’ve never been hurried out, though.
I recommend trying Cutting Chaii and that you book in advance.
How important is booking on Friday nights or weekends? I’ve only ever got a table in the little restaurant on busy days by booking ahead.
Cutting Chaii is also on Deliveroo, but I can’t comment on that as I’m yet to test it. I suspect that’s inevitable, though! There’s undoubtedly going to be a rainy day in the coming weeks when a spur of the moment injection of Indian delight is a necessary pick me up.