Part of WUWO Magazine’s ‘Comedy Take Over’ edition.
WUWO Magazine went on the search for Edinburgh Fringe fast food legend. By legend we mean the night worker that serves junk food through to the early hours of the mornings, the staff that keep us smiling after a night out at the dodgy local night club.
We find Cafe Piccante and co-owner Haydar Yildirim
Black and white checkered floor, people dancing to the beat of the music, electric neon lights, an alcohol licence, flyers and photographs pasted across the walls; anyone would think I’m describing a nightclub. Instead I’m talking about Café Piccante. Keeping the clubbers clubbing, it’s perfect for a late night munch as it serves the widest range of food to be found in Edinburgh at 3am.
Haydar Yildirim, 43, the co-owner of this 13 year old chippy, demonstrates how to make a deep-fried Mars bar whilst filling me in on Cafe Piccante’s fame: “We’ve been interviewed many times by magazines, newspapers and even TV stations, British and international. People from many places such as Germany, Croatia, France, and Argentina have come here. I think it’s good for Edinburgh’s advertising.”
He informs me that up to 500 people can pile into Café Piccante on a weekend night and about 30% of those are regular customers. Haydar says: “Five out of 10 tourists ask for a fried Mars bar and many people come here to check out the atmosphere. We used to have a live DJ playing on weekends but somebody complained and the council stopped us.”
The council might have stopped the live DJ, but music continues to play at all times and punters turn up to carry on the party. Over the years Haydar has witnessed many a funny thing at Café Piccante: “People come here on a very high and positive energy after parting and clubbing. Most arrive smiling and seem happy which I like. It’s late night work but it’s a happy job.”
“Some people take lots of photos or just start dancing and singing with some even getting up on the tables and dancing on them. We join in sometimes and have fun with the customers. There’s a great atmosphere and when we finish the team chills out together with a beer.”
They’re not short of drunken customers due to the fact that they close as late as the nightclubs that surround them; 2am on weekdays, 3am on weekends and 5am during the festival.
Haydar relays: “Many girls have come here and flashed us, and even some boys have stripped off their clothes and all we can do is laugh. But we’ve also had rude customers, in the worst cases we have had to ask the security guys from the neighbouring clubs or the police for help. People get out of hand, but is not very often.”
From fruits and salads, to pies, deep fried black pudding or haggis, their menu has it all. Although their pizzas and fish are a popular choice, Haydar reveals that their best sellers are the chips, served with everything and anything including, the most popular, cheese and sauce.
He says: “In London or Glasgow or anywhere else, people ask for salt and vinegar but in Edinburgh people always ask for salt and sauce with their chips. It’s typical of Edinburgh.”
Perhaps that explains how Selim Sener, Haydar’s business partner, broke the Guinness world record for the most portions of chips wrapped in a minute. Wrapping 10 portions in one minute, yep, there is no doubt that he has a lot of experience in the chip arena!
7 East Norton Place