Design focus: Bertie’s

A neon sign displaying the legend ‘Fry Me to the Moon’ is one of many wonderfully quirky touches in Bertie’s – the Vittoria Group’s new £3m Edinburgh operation, which also happens to be Scotland’s largest fish and chip restaurant. The Victoria Street unit is housed in an 11,000 square-foot former church, with 300 covers – 130 downstairs and 170 upstairs. Most recently it was Kushi’s Indian restaurant.

Vittoria Group MD, Tony Crolla, said, “We’ve had the building for about five or six years and we sat on the concept, which has always been better fish and chips in a relaxed environment with touches of humour. We didn’t want to turn the place into Treasure Island or anything, like oars on walls, we instead wanted to do our own thing with the design.”

It was designed by MD Hospitality’s Carolann Lever. Company MD Michael Dunn told DRAM, “When Tony Crolla told us his vision for Bertie’s it was one of our greatest Design challenges – to create the UK’s largest and most exciting Fish and Chip Restaurant. Our design pivoted on creating a space of theatre, fun and excitement. All great design is fundamentally built on the emotion that our customers experience and making them feel wonderful in a magical space, and that is what we believe we have created over three floors, embracing many of the original features of the former church’s great light, height and drama of a world heritage site.”Edinburgh company, Specialized Signs and Pride Commercial Interiors were also involved in the project.

Assistant Manager Simeon Lee gave me the guided tour. You enter off the street through an arched doorway in this beautiful stone building and there are two staircases ahead of you: one leading to the restaurant and one leading to a lift a short way up.

This foyer area is lit by a big chandelier-like fitting with globe-like shades. There’s also a window in this area looking in on the first floor of the restaurant, and, once up the stairs, this leads to a corridor with other quirky touches, namely pictures of celebrities enjoying fish and chips. The roll call includes Amy Winehouse, David Beckham, Harry Styles and Lady GaGa.

This, in turn, leads to the main body of the restaurant. It’s a large square space with a big open staircase in the centre. On the right-hand side is the open kitchen, and that neon sign I mentioned earlier hangs over the servery.

There’s also another interesting fact about the kitchen. Explained Simeon, “At 5.5 metres long, the kitchen range is the longest in the UK. We had to use a crane to install it.”

On the opposite side of the space is the bar, around which are dedicated chairs and tables, including high tables with stools, that have been designed with bar customers in mind. At the far end of the space, beyond the staircase, is the bulk of the seating. The bar front is clad in wood and painted in a teal colour, with a marble bar top and a back bar tiled in blue square tiles, and there are metal shelves to store the glassware above the bar. Directly in front of the bar is a chessboard floor, but the rest of the space has been decked out in wooden floorboards. There’s also an industrial feel to this floor thanks to the large exposed silver ceiling pipes.

The furniture on this floor is a mixture of wooden tables and copper-top tables, and booth seating. I really liked the red leather banquettes that add to the ‘bar’ feel. Some of the chairs are upholstered in peacock blue, others are various shades of wood. There’s also a high ‘posing’ table with stools all around it.

One of my favourite parts of the design on this floor is the huge tiled octopus mural. There’s also a smaller one of a lobster, and talking of lobsters, the light shades here kind of resemble lobster pots, as well as the naked pendant exposed filament bulbs dotted all around the place.

On the way up the stairs to the next floor, customers are entertained by a series of cartoons by Frank Boyle, including one of the Crolla family enjoying a Last Supper. (Last fish supper?) There are also other Crolla family pics dotted around the place. Above the staircase is a statement piece chandelier sporting more of those lobster-pot lampshades.

The upper floor is in the eves of the roof and this attic effect, chiefly thanks to exposed oak beams, makes it feel cosier, plus this floor, according to Simeon, caters more for groups and parties. It also has a cosy flame effect fire in front of which is seating, both cafe style and banquette, and a private dining facility in the top left corner and is lit by large pendant fittings that cast a kind light throughout this floor, and wall lights too. There’s also a lot of natural light in this floor, as there is on the floor below, because of the generous number of windows. The walls are exposed stone, and the majority of the floor is floorboards, apart from mosaic tiles in brown and white in front of the fire. On the ceiling directly above the fire is some oak wooden panelling that looks a little baronial to me.

Hanging on the back wall is an under-the-sea painting by Michael Dunn’s daughter Francesca, which provides a lovely pop of red.

The private dining facility has its own window, exposed filament pendant lights hanging off what looks like a big driftwood mount. There are also porthole fittings on the wall and a table on which sits a globe of the world and a silver fish, plus a beautifully patterned tile floor.

All in all, this is a really fantastic and clean design that is quirky and classic and, while they fry you the moon, customers are sure to love it to the moon and back. feel cosier, plus this floor, according to Simeon, caters more for groups and parties. It also has a cosy flame effect fire in front of which is seating, both cafe style and banquette, and a private dining facility in the top left corner and is lit by large pendant fittings that cast a kind light throughout this floor, and wall lights too. There’s also a lot of natural light in this floor, as there is on the floor below, because of the generous number of windows. The walls are exposed stone, and the majority of the floor is floorboards, apart from mosaic tiles in brown and white in front of the fire. On the ceiling directly above the fire is some oak wooden panelling that looks a little baronial to me.

Hanging on the back wall is an under-the-sea painting by Michael Dunn’s daughter Francesca, which provides a lovely pop of red.

The private dining facility has its own window, exposed filament pendant lights hanging off what looks like a big driftwood mount. There are also porthole fittings on the wall and a table on which sits a globe of the world and a silver fish, plus a beautifully patterned tile floor.

All in all, this is a really fantastic and clean design that is quirky and classic and, while they fry you the moon, customers are sure to love it to the moon and back.

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