Edinburgh restaurant reveals hidden history

In this guest blog post, Evan Taylor - restaurant manager turned Urban Detective - shares the story of 57A Frederick Street and its hidden history.

Submitted by BELTED on 16-04-2016 16:51:34

A Belting great find!

When we first viewed the site at 57A Frederick Street as a potential venue for our second restaurant in a growing Scottish chain, we were curious about the site's history.

Tthe old mosaic tiles on the pavement in front of it only added to the mystery.

For many years, the location was home to a Chinese restaurant called 'Wok and Wine' - that's all we were really given information wise when we entered through the door and down the darkened steps into the basement space that would later become Belted.

A curious group of people, the Directors and myself scoured the internet to find information on the history of our potential new restaurant. 

The tiles lying there - decorative yet decaying - drew us in with their somewhat esoteric facade. With nothing more to go on than a crumbling number 57 and a barely there name 'Ciceri and Co', this was about to become a ghost hunt into our new premises' urban past.

We had no idea initially just what ghosts we may uncover but we were excited to find out.

The mysterious tiled mosaic at Belted, 57A Frederick Street, that started our hunt to find the building's urban past. 'Mosaic' by Evan Taylor is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

Our initial investigation brought us results that the mosaiced tiles once marked the spot of a No. 57 tramline stop but, unable to find anything further to substantiate the urban legend, we began digging even further.

At this exact same time, we started work on the interior of our soon to be gourmet burger restaurant and bar. During the renovations, we knocked down a faux wall and discovered more than we bargained for. 

At first we saw glimpses of the rich architectural brickwork that Edinburgh's past is famed for and decided that we would keep the historical brickwork as a design feature, celebrating our venue's antiqued past... but the best was yet to come.

As the old restaurant wall came slowly down, the history of our site really began to show itself. An original fireplace, cut from the same stone that the building was made from, an old stone bread oven and stunning cast iron pillars (the very foundations holding the upper floors safe and sturdy) made themselves known. 

It was at this point that we discovered that our site was the workshop of famed carvers and gilders 'Ciceri and Co' who operated a workshop from our site circa 1860 and with excerpts from the Edinburgh and Leith Census Papers and Post Office Directories we were finally able to substantiate our new restaurant's history.

A scan of a post office directory relating to Edinburgh and Leith.Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory, referencing Ciceri and Co.

We decided that we would retain the original brickwork, fireplace and iron pillars and add gilded mirrors and framework, both modern and antique, to remain sensitive to our site's urban past.

The final result is a truly spectacular coming together of both the modern and the historical.

We are extremely proud that our food is traceable. We understand that the provenance of our meat is important to our guests, so we are truly excited that the provenance and traceability of our beautiful new home has been traced also.

A photograph of a basement restaurant with both modern and historical decor.'Belted Restaurant' by Evan Taylor is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

 

Evan Taylor is the Operations Manager for Belted Burgers, a Scottish chain of gourmet burger bars.


 

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