Edinburgh has more restaurants per head of population than any other city in the UK and offers a huge choice of restaurants, cafes, pubs and bistros, featuring cuisine from every continent. The following brief notes are adapted from the Edinburgh Food Guide (www.edinburgh-food-guide.co.uk) and feature a number of establishments by area around the city centre.
The Old Town and Greyfriars
Edinburgh’s Old Town is steeped in history with architecture dating back to the 11th Century however the food on offer is anything but dusty. Some of the very best of Scottish restaurants are tucked away down the closes and alleys off the Royal Mile. The Witchery, just below the castle is renowned for its fabulous food and its candlelit stone flagged rooms, oozing atmosphere.
Jackson’s (Tel. 225 1793) provides the very best of Scottish produce including the best whiskies to try with your food, or visit the ultra modern Tower (Tel. 225 3003) restaurant inside the new Museum of Scotland building for a blast of culture and taste of Scotland today.
Old Town is still making history and the new Scottish Parliament, celebrating its first year in office since 1907, is housed on the Royal Mile, awaiting the opening of its official home near Holyrood Palace. Rub shoulders with the MSPs at The Grain Store (Tel. 225 7635), with its particularly elegant light lunches or stop off at Reform (Tel. 558 9992) restaurant near the new Parliament building with its diverse menu and minimalist decor.
New Town, Broughton and Leith Walk
The New Town is an area filled with things to see and do. Everything you need is right here in these picturesque Georgian streets; from the best shopping in Edinburgh, to Scotland’s finest art galleries and the site of the World famous Hogmanay Street Party.
On the food front, the area is packed with classy wine bars, restaurants and cafe bars. The Dome (Tel. 624 8624) is a wonderful choice for Sunday brunch with live music and a relaxed atmosphere.
For a taste of the finer things in life treat yourself to dinner at Hadrian’s (Tel. 557 5000) at the Balmoral Hotel. Sample a slice of Scottish history at No. 27 Charlotte Square (Tel. 243 9339), the square created by Robert Adam in the year of his death, and home to Scotland’s first minister. Or try fresh seafood direst from the West Coast at the Mussel Inn (Tel. 225 5979)
Bohemian Broughton, tucked between New Town and Leith, is fast becoming one of the most popular areas in Edinburgh for entertainment and eating out. An afternoon sipping cappucinos at Baroque’s pavement cafe, can easily turn into an evening bouncing to the beat with a beer at The Basement or dining in style at Wow Brasserie (Tel. 558 8868)
Or visit Leith Walk where you can do it in style at Number One at The Balmoral (Tel. 557 6727), one of Edinburgh’s top dining experiences, or pop into Giulianos’s (Tel. 556 6590) for a late night pasta supper.
Lothian Road, Bruntsfield & Morningside
Lothian Road is fast becoming the hub of the city’s financial moving and grooving The Sheraton Hotel has a luxury to suit its new neighbours’ leanings with shear indulgence on offer at The Grill Room (Tel. 221 6422) and for those with a little less weight to the wallet they offer a mix of high quality and lower cost at The Terrace Restaurant. (Tel. 221 6423)
As well as being a commercial hub Lothian Road is also an entertainment centre, with a variety of theatres, cinemas, pubs, night clubs and a choice of eating to match. Whatever your taste an eclectic mix of flavours guarantee you wont leave disappointed. Take your pick from Italian, Indian, African and
French, through various shades of Scottish, to Chinese, Cantonese and the thouroughly recommended Thai Orchid.
Venture further on past Tollcross to the summary delights of Bruntsfield and Morningside with cafes, bars and restaurants galore. There is everything here from beautifully prepared contemporary cuisine at the Potting Shed, to the colourful surroundings of Parrots (Tel.229 3252 )and laid back drinking and dining at the Royal Ettrick Hotel. (Tel. 228 6413).
Venture a few steps further to The Carriage House (Tel.466 7666) a new and suitably stylish addition to the Morningside dining scene or The Pavillion (Tel.445 5584) , voted Edinburgh’s best out of town bar.
Newington, Mayfield & Marchmont
Edinburgh’s South side is an area thriving with pubs, bars and restaurants, nestled in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, next to the ivory towers of the University. Much like its two physical bookends there is a diversity here that ranges from the naturally Scottish to the excitement of cultures new.
For quality food and service to match, look no further than Potters Fine Dining (Tel.662 9010) , with a menu that celebrates the best of Scottish produce. Fenwick’s (Tel.667 4265) is the ideal bridge between Scotland and Europe, a restaurant that mixes Scottish ingredients with Mediterranean influences and flavours to create a distinct and mouth watering blend.
For a more casual bite try the Pigs Bistro where a broad choice of daily specials as well as a la carte choice makes this cheerful BYOB restaurant a popular destination.
If the thrill of the new is what you’re after, then try out the highly recommended The Marque. (Tel.466 6660)
Leith has a history and style all of its own, with plenty for local and tourist alike
The shoreline is ever evolving, with developments ranging from the proposed ferry terminal at Granton in the West along to the newest housing and leisure developments on Leith Shore itself. An influx of the city’s bright young things has brought a clutch of bars, restaurants and bistros to suit their hectic and stylish lifestyles. Restaurant Martin Wishart, La Camargue (Tel.554 9999) and The Rock (Tel.555 2225) all offer world class dining that makes the most of the freshest seafood available.
Further along the coast is Newhaven, an old port bustling with new developments. One of the most striking is The Forth Element (Tel.467 8737) fitness centre and Restaurant Bar, ideal for replacing any calories you might burn off. Off course the flavour of old Leith is never to be far away and after a trip to the Heritage Centre you can sit in the scenic Starbank Inn, (Tel.552 4141) stare out to sea and dream of a past life on the ocean wave.
The West End, Haymarket & Stockbridge
The demands of Edinburgh’s financial community keep the restaurants and bars of the West End and Haymarket busy day and night. So whether it’s coffee and a snack, a quick and classy lunch or an evening meal with a glass of wine, you need look no further than the stylish Indigo Yard (Tel.0800 298 3416) with an extensive bar area and restaurant, packed out in the evening with Edinburgh’s in-crowd.
After a day listening to delegate’s speeches at The International Conference Centre you’ll be glad of a comforting drink at the Caley Ale Houses (Tel.337 1006) in Haymarket. A visit to their restaurant upstairs will soon remove any stress with its smooth combination of mellow jazz and luxurious food. Or why not sample the spicy spark of a Khukuri (Tel.228 2085) curry at this delightful family run Nepalese restaurant.
The West End and Stockbridge offer some of the best gastronomic entertainment available in the city.
Class and sophistication abound at The Pompadour (Tel.459 9988), The Bonham (Tel.623 9319)and the little piece of heaven that is Channings (Tel.315 2225) , or try the Watershed for cool drinking on summer days.