New frontier in Orkney's street food revolution

From a tiny trailer tucked away on a Kirkwall industrial estate, to the plush surroundings of a seaside bistro, it’s safe to say it has been quite a journey for the team behind Beiting & Brew, Orkney’s street food innovators.

“I don’t think we ever knew for certain where this experience would take us, but we always knew we wanted to grow and develop, and here we are,” says Daniel Gould, who launched the business alongside cousin Kit Bichan in the summer of 2020.

‘Here’ is the Waterside, a small restaurant in the village of Finstown, in Orkney’s West Mainland. It’s the new home of Beiting & Brew after two years serving their street food-inspired creations from their food truck in Kirkwall. ‘Beiting’ is Norse for ‘grazing’, and keen customers have certainly been able to sample some delicious dishes.

Menus have included everything from burritos to burgers, with ingredients supplied by local butchers and bakers. There have been Greek, Chinese, German and Cuban-inspired meals, with a rotating cast of fabulous specials as part of the daily breakfast, lunch, and Sunday brunch offerings.

Needless to say, for a population emerging from pandemic-enforced lockdowns and restrictions, a trip to ‘street food’ has been a very welcome distraction.

“We’ve both always worked in hospitality and started talking about working together back in 2018,” says Kit. “We had the grand idea of buying somewhere and putting our stamp on it, but we quickly realised that was unachievable in the short term, so we started looking into trailers.

“We bought ours in 2019 and aimed to launch early the following year, but of course COVID put paid to that. We ended up opening in June 2020, just as things were starting to ease slightly”

As it turns out, the timing was perfect. With people keen to get out and about after being stuck inside for so long, and the open-air aspect of the trailer meaning there were fewer restrictions to manage, Beiting & Brew quickly became a popular destination for local foodies.

“The support from the public was immense, and I think people were just ready to come out and try something new,” says Kit.

“The local response has just been amazing,” adds Daniel. “It has been really humbling and actually makes me a little emotional when I think about it. A lot of businesses rely on the tourist trade in Orkney, so to get where we are today from nearly all local trade is just fantastic. We can't thank folk enough for that.”

Despite the pressure of launching and running a successful business from scratch, the pair were always thinking back to their original discussions, and the dream of operating their own restaurant. The Waterside had been a bistro in various incarnations before closing a number of years ago, and the Beiting & Brew team had been using the kitchen there for food preparation for the trailer.

“It was always the plan to grow the business, and we’ve had so many discussions over the last two years about how we could push forward,” says Daniel. “Because we were using the kitchen here anyway, it felt like a natural progression for us.”

The move became reality earlier this year and, after a refresh of the fixtures and fittings, the doors to the Waterside re-opened under the Beiting & Brew banner at the beginning of June. The expanded team, now with added kitchen assistants and servers, has enjoyed a steady stream of satisfied customers ever since. For Kit, the aim is to stay true to the street food ethos, but with an expanded and more balanced menu.

“We always followed a theme at the trailer, be it noodles, curries, burgers and so on. But I think at the Waterside we’ll be able to expand on all these ideas. Street food has such a vast array of options and being here will only help unlock that.”

The new home also opens up the possibility of special events, with a Valentine’s Day taster menu earlier this year proving particularly popular. Other suggestions for the future include curry and beer nights, burger takeaways and lots more. “It just gives us that little bit more freedom to do some different things,” says Daniel. “It keeps it interesting for us and for the public too.”

But what of the much-loved trailer, which is already much-missed by food fans across the islands. Will it be seen again? “The trailer was where it all began for us and we have a real soft spot for it,” laughs Daniel. “It was never the intention to close it down completely – we’ll still be popping up at local festivals and shows, and it’s available for outside catering events too.”

“We definitely plan to appear across Orkney with the trailer,” agrees Kit. “We were at the Folk Festival with it, and it was a great success. We’ll also be at Stromness Shopping Week and the County Show, so folk should keep their eyes on our social media pages to make sure they can pay us a visit in our first home once again.”

For now, though, the focus is very much on their new venture in Finstown. There are menus to design, meals to prep, and customers to welcome. The feedback so far has been incredibly positive, and the addition of a takeaway service is keeping everyone busy. But given the meteoric rise of the business over such a short time, is there still more to come from Beiting & Brew?

“I think the plan for now is to settle into this new way of doing things,” says Kit. “There’s a lot more we want to try, but this is the first time we’ve had a solid base to grow from.”

For Dan, arrival at the Waterside is just part of the story that has taken them from pipe dreams to a premises of their own, via a pandemic en-route. “We have no idea what the future will hold for us,” he says. “We're full of ambition, ideas, and passion for what we're doing, and we’re just enjoying the journey and seeing where it takes us.”

You can follow Beiting & Brew's story on social media, including regular updates on menus, offers, and special events. Find the Waterside team on Instagram and Twitter, and you can keep up-to-date with the trailer's travels on Instagram too.

UPDATE 22/3/23: The Waterside Bistro is now closed and Beiting & Brew have returned to their trusty trailer at Hatston in Kirkwall. Get the latest menu updates on Instagram and Facebook. Newsletter

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