‘If Yelp did parties, they'd be the finest parties in the world. Oh wait. They do, they did, and it was!’ Susan D
On one wintery Scottish eve in Edinburgh, the Ghillie Dhu opened its door and rolled out its red carpet for an evening of foodie feasting, tipsy tipples and a fantastically fun hootenanny for Yelp’s Winterfall Wonderland! Over 280 locals filled the Grand Hall to meet 15 brilliant independent businesses and brands, for an evening celebrate what a truly wonderful city Edinburgh is. It was a magical eve indeed that kicked off the Festive party season in true Yelp style!
And what style. The Elite Yelpers rocked up onto the red carpet for the pre-event Elite hour bedecked in their finest frocks and suits, looking very glitz, glam, dapper and downright delightful. The Ghillie Dhu’s Grand Hall upstairs was the perfect venue for a night of celebration. Susan M felt like she was in 'a castle or in the magical world of Narnia' with the 'stone work, pillars, vaulted ceiling and stunning chandeliers.'
To match the tuxedos and fabulous frocks, Miss Dixiebell transformed the ladies’ hair into stunning vintage styles, and added some foxy femme make up. During the Elite Hour, Kelly F was ‘lucky enough to get my hair pinned up in a gorgeous 1940s style which resulted in me being papped by admirers all evening. To my shame I may have squealed on several occasions that my hair style made me feel like a princess. (ahem).’
And then the doors opened to an eager queue of local Edinburgh Yelpers, waiting to sample some of the delicious wares on offer. Lou V recokons ‘this is what heaven must look like (and if it’s not, no pearly gates for me, thank you.)’ At the head of the Grand Hall lay a whole hog roast, for rolls upon rolls of pulled pork goodness, from Oink. Jackie G was immediately smiling ear to ear after the ‘welcoming divine smell of Oink’s delicious hog roast, served with a generous helping of apple sace and of course a large slice of the crispiest tasting crackling – heave on a plate!’ What’s better than a fresh pulled pork roll? A pulled pork roll with beer! Innis & Gunn kept the Yelpers topped up with their brilliant locally brewed beer, including their special Rum Finish.A firm favourite of the Yelp community, it was to Penny C’s delight that Union of Genius were there offering their soups. ‘Who would have thought to marry leek, pear and potato in a pot - guess that's why they're called Union of Genius.’ And coupled with delightful canapés from The Edinburgh Larder, such as their 'hugely moreish' herring appetisers.
The Hula girls kept everyone’s sweet tooth happy with their fresh juices and smoothies, Mrs C’s baked delights and gluten-free Love Pure Cakes. Not to mention their new winter warmer, and hit of the night– the Hot Apple Pie juice, which according to Caz H was ‘liquid amazingness! If I didn't get so many dirty looks, I would've stood there all night just drinking them dry of it!’
Appleton’s brought a taste of the tropics to the wintery Scottish night with their Jamaican rums, their hit of the night being the coconut Koko Kanu. Easy to drink by itself, it also mixed wonderfully with Hula’s Hot Apple Pie apparently.
The Chocolate Tree, who make all their own chocolate from scratch here in the Burgh, brought their bean-to-bar chocolate and hot chocolate (which was literally pure melted chocolate) much to Sabina W’s delight. ‘I was sold on their Haggis Spice chocolate! Who knew savoury chocolates works too?’
All that eating can be thirsty work, so just as well there was a stall packed full of different tipsy tipples. From the ever-popular botanical Brockman’s Gin, to a 70% rum, and all sorts of AIVY flavoured vodkas, it certainly put a smile on many a Yelpers face. ‘Brockmans gin is now on’ Sara C’s ‘drinks to look out for in Edinburgh and a bottle may come home with me at Christmas.’
With all the eating and drinking, a little r&r was required. OMH Therapies had created their own corner of bliss and tranquility, offering massages to ease the hyper Yelper’s minds. ‘These Yelp events are becoming something of a spiritual experience’ for Craig N. He luxuriated in a state of meditative bliss as ‘the lovely woman massaged the mojo back into his hands’.
With chakras aligned and a bit more tummy room, it was back to the eating! MacSweens brought some of the best haggis around which for Baxter T 'is, and always has been, the best haggis ever. Fact', which paired beautifully with local brewery, Harviestoun’s, beers. With several different kegs there was a beer for everyone. 'As a beer connysewer' Alex R ' could go on about it but all in all I would just suggest getting along to one of the fine purveyors of alcohol that sell these beers and drink them. Especially Schiehallion.'
If that wasn’t enough, Herbie had brought along enough deep-dish quiches, sandwiches, breads and dips to feed even the hungriest of Yelpers. And for a final sweet treat, Peppers had brought some of the most addictive brownies in the Burgh. With flavours like peanut butter, it’s no wonder Yelpers were going back for seconds, and thirds. Lisa L 'was especially impressed with Peppers. The girl running their table was so happy to tell me about the different brownies she brought along for us to try. And they were just beautiful.'
You know what goes well with brownies? Gin! Edinburgh Gin, raspberry flavoured. Edinburgh Gin, as the name tells, brought their local gins to sip and savour and kept many Yelpers happy. Paddy H would have 'drunk it until he fell over' and Sharon G 'ordered a bottle of their very good vintage Sheeps Heid whisky for Christmas supping.'
And what are all these wonderful, colourful paintings on all the Yelpers? Why Fantoosh, of course! This lovely Edinburgh lady only needs a small bag to paint a whole universe of delightful face painting, and had a queue that lasted all night. She painted Lisa L's 'face last year, and happened to remember her! 'I was thoroughly impressed. Additionally, I asked her to do whatever she liked – creative license. And she incorporated my fairly distinct tattoos into her design. Truly talented.'
Before the night came to a close, local Edinburgh musical legend Toby Mottershead of The Black Diamond Express, brought his band along to serenade the Yelpers with a wonderful mix of blues and folk style songs.
With over 280 guests, it was a busy evening full of laughter, ooo’s, ahh’s, mmm’s and a shared love of Edinburgh and supporting local businesses. Alex R ‘felt proud to call myself an Edinburgerian. I regretted immediately not having worn my kilt, as this could have added more to my Scottish pride.’ Jennie S ‘sampled EVERYTHING and I cannot fault any of it. It makes me so proud to call Edinburgh my home when we have all these amazing businesses on our door step.’
But enough from us. What did these very fine Yelpers have to say about the Wonderland themselves?
And it’s not just the delicious and brilliant local businesses that make Yelp events what it is. There’s a friendly community of Yelpers ready to celebrate these businesses together:
'Very simple to sum up, really: an absolute triumph. What Jenny & Yelp offered the many excellent local businesses involved in the evening was an opportunity to show themselves to their best advantage, with an audience (and a sizeable audience, at that) of Edinburgh's finest to offer their opinion, delectation, and appreciation.’ Blythe R
'Wow! Just wow. I was expecting Jenny and the gang to pull out all the stops but this just exceeded everyone's expectations! First off, OHMYGOODNESS! Oink! Chocolate Tree! The Edinburgh Larder! Hula! Herbies! Peppers! Amazing. Everything that was available for sampling was top notch, absolutely delicious.’ Sara C
‘Having only been Yelping in Edinburgh for less than a week, I feel overwhelmingly lucky to have scored a ticket to this jaw-droppingly amazing event! I actually don't really want to name any particular favourites from the night, because they were quite honestly ALL incredible.' Alex J
‘Yelp has become a force of nature in Edinburgh, bubbling away through weekly emails, check-ins, reviews and plenty of socials. Then something like the Winterfall Wonderland comes along and the size of the community begins to become clear.' David J
‘My highlight of the evening was the Yelpers themselves. The chat and laughter with so many friends is what made my night and sent me home with my face aching from all the smiling. Thank you so much to our CM Jenny. L for bringing us all together for such an amazing evening.' Kelly F
'Over a year ago, I attended my very first Yelp event. I didn't know anyone at all, but I was met by a warm, friendly bunch of folk who loved to talk, socialise and experience the best things life has to offer. Fast forwarding to last Thursday night, I was positively overwhelmed by the number of wonderful friends I've made!' Susan M
'My first Yelp event absolutely blew me away! What an amazing atmosphere. There was a real feeling of community and celebration. You reminded me how amazing Edinburgh's community of independent businesses is. Long may they thrive so that I can eat, drink and shop from them.' Pam V
What a great night! My first Yelp event and I can go on the record saying it will not be my last! It was really good to meet some other Yepers and appreciate the diverse background of the Yelp community.’ Dave T
The biggest of thank yous to the Ghillie Dhu for opening their doors and providing the perfect setting to a Winterfall Wonderland, and to the staff who kept it running smoothly; to all the businesses and brands who brought all their delicious, delightful and down-right decadent samples to all the Yelpers delight; to Robin Mair for his super photography skills and snapping the Yelpers in their finest; and to other Yelp colleagues who pulled together to put on the Edinburgh party of the season: Rowena H (Leeds Community Manager), Alex S (London Community Manager) and Katie N (Yelp Edinburgh Intern).
You can see all the photos of the Yelpers, the food, the drink, the fun times and the magic here; read the rest of the reviews here; and if you're curious about what all this yelping and Yelp events are about, message Jenny L here and read about the Elite squad here.
Yelp is all about celebrating Edinburgh and all the fantastic businesses it has, discovering new places and sharing your own favourite places by word-of-mouth recommendations with online reviews. There’s a whole host of events happening each month, from regular CMYEs from brunch and movie nights, to the exclusive invitation-only Elite events. Anyone can join the site and get involved!
Until next time, have a wonderful time in Edinburgh over the festive season and see you on Yelp soon!
Yelp Edinburgh Community Manager