Design Focus: Enzo, Edinburgh

September 10th, 2014 | Posted in: Features,Restaurant News

Located in the burgeoning Quartermile area of Edinburgh, which lies south of The Royal Mile, Enzo is a multi-faceted venue that aims to bring a touch of Italian style to the hospitality, retail and residential development. The new bar and restaurant is owned by Michele Civiera, Barrie Brown and Robert Reid, who are keen to stress the venue’s versatility, and have positioned Enzo as offering something different for the locality’s diverse population of office workers, students and tourists.
Although Enzo only opened at the beginning of August, chances are that you may have heard of it already. Four months ago the style bar and Italian restaurant began a social media campaign that featured people from all over the world posing with the Enzo monograph in front of famous landmarks and destinations. Michele told me, “Our agenda was that by the time we opened everyone in Edinburgh would know what the Quartermile was, who we were and what we did.”
The three men each live in the Quartermile area, and used to pass the vacant site that would become Enzo every day. Eventually they made their move. Says Michele, “The project took 18 months from the lease being secured to opening day. We were looking to recreate the spirit of a 90s style bar but with an Italian flavour and sense of purpose.”
The bar’s main entrance is on Lister Square, overlooked by the surrounding residential and commercial properties that comprise the Quartermile. The building is essentially a glass cube, and the symmetry of the exterior is maintained throughout Enzo’s design. Speaking of the challenges that his company faced when conceiving of Enzo’s interior design, Roddy McLean of Form Design says, “The original brief was to create a high-end, quality restaurant that provides something that hadn’t been done before. It was just a space, a large, double-sided cube, and the challenge was trying to fit a bar and restaurant into it while maximising the volume of the room.” The main contractor for the property conversion was Craig Murie’s SJS Property Services.
The signage above the front door is minimalist, a feint print of the Enzo name and logo. Michele told me that they had sought to feature the Enzo monogram as much as possible in the venue’s layout, as a means of solidifying the brand. There are two outdoor seating areas for al fresco dining. The first, by the entrance way, features a series of black, square tables with black and white seats alongside some raised round tables and red and black bar stools. The second sits a few feet away in the middle of the square, and is a real sun-trap. The same square tables and black and white chairs sit upon a stretch of artificial grass, The area is surrounded by large plant features, matching the small plant pots that adorn each table.
The entrance leads you straight into the bar area, a stylish, comfortable environment. The space is divided into two halves by the staircase to the restaurant, and in keeping with the theme of symmetry and angles, both halves of the bar replicate each other. Each has an identical cocktail lounge, featuring aqua-blue banquettes and walnut wood panelling. LED cube lights hang above the tables, which also double as foot stools, and grey, acoustic foam panels have been arranged in a rectangular fashion above the seating.
Two thin, black raised tables sit directly opposite the bar, lined by hand-made, monarch orange, leather bar stools, which like all of the seating in Enzo were imported directly from Italy. The walnut bar top stretches the length of the room, with eight of the aforementioned bar stools arranged in mirrored, angled rows of four at either end. An LED wine rack imported from Canada is the focal point of the back bar, and the numerous spirits are housed in a walnut, cubed gantry.
The staircase that leads up to the restaurant dominates the ground floor. The adjacent pillar has the Enzo monogram patterned throughout, with fitted reflective lights adding character and illumination to the monolithic structure.
The 60 cover restaurant greats you at the top of the stairs, a modern, minimalist space that overlooks the Lister Square courtyard. Each of the walnut tables are north-facing towards the sunset, maximising one of the advantages of being housed in a glass building. The row of tables that line the windowed wall are faced by yellow, leather banquette seating encased in a walnut, wooden border. The table settings continue the angular structure of the room. Says Michele, “Everything from the cutlery to the wine glasses were chosen to replicate the straight angles. We wanted the restaurant to be quite stylised and contemporary, which is juxtaposed with the authentic Italian food offering.”
A row of three, black, spherical lampshades hang above the banquette; the rest of the room is lit by spot-lighting, and another LED wine rack adds its own particular form of illumination. Behind the banquette is the open kitchen; when I visited the strains of Italian chefs working away were clearly audible, lending further authenticity to the Enzo experience. Michele had made a point of telling me that everything in Enzo felt quality to touch, and the walls at the far end of the restaurant are no exception, being as they are papered in suede.
Enzo is a very sharp, modern and stylised venue that’s accentuated by the site’s unique, glass cube space. Although it had only been open for a week when I visited Michele was extremely pleased with how trade was going, and he told me that going forward the plan was to emphasise Enzo’s flexibility. He said, “Our main focus is to turn it into a London city bar midweek for the surrounding residents and businessmen, then a destination venue at the weekend. We’re open from 8am to 1am seven days a week, we’re ticking as many boxes as possible and stressing the venue’s versatility.” Given Enzo’s locality and stylishness, they won’t have many problems attracting people to the site.

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