I'm a recent transplant to Edinburgh. In my last city, I was a regular reader of chowhound, but my experience of the UK board is that it is basically (as another poster put it) "London and other places" (though there seems to be a decent Manchester contingent). However, I just saw a bunch of Edinburgh topics come through so now seems like a good time to ask:
Are there other Edinburgh chowhounds here? And if you're here, what are you eating?
I've put up some of my own thoughts in a couple of recent threads, but I'm certainly missing a lot:
I'd like to get a good thread going on Edinburgh, but I don't want to just talk to myself. :)
I have my fingers crossed that the Tartan army will arrive on your threads with good info about Edinburgh.
For info, there are, I think, four of us in north west England, who regularly post. Two were here before I joined getting on for a year ago. Another has joined more recently. Other folk pop in from time to time (but Chowhound generally isnt a site Brits find - or, at least, post on - however, you'll no doubt find local review sites are packed with contributions).
As one of the zillion attendees of the Fringe this August, I would like to encourage Edinburgh folk to respond to your invitation. It's the fifth visit my wife and I will be making to your fine city, and our third Fringe. Normally we would look forward to many good Indian meals, a couple of visits to Henderson's Salad Table, and one or two nice but expensive dinners of fresh Scottish fish. But this time we are traveling with a vegetarian threesome, one of whom is a teenage girl who eats little but salads and Italian food. Any suggestions for the latter--moderately priced, veg-friendly Italian restaurants?
The "Sea" in my name is the Pacific Ocean--we're all from Southern California.
re: Lee by the Sea
As a longish time Edinburgh resident I can recommend a fantastic vegetarian (though I'm not one myself) place called David Bann in the Old Town. It will be really convenient if you are going to see shows at The Pleasance which is one of the main venues. Their website is : http://www.davidbann.com/. Its not cheap but is really superb quality and attracts a lot of non veggies too. Have a great time in the festival, Edinburgh is the best place to be on the planet in August!!
I'm an Edinburgh resident, flitting between Aberdeen and far flung places in the world.
Your right about not many people posting on here. I've contributed a little to some topics, I think you popped up on one where I waxed lyrical about the joys of the rat dumplings from Rainbow Arch on Morrison St..
I’m from Edinburgh. Recent eats - I’ve been in the Broughton Street area, had a craving for pierogi’s – Pani Solinska’s were very nice, but pierogi’s shouldn’t be that expensive. Went to early dinner at L’escargot Bleu – main dishes 7.90, was exactly as it should be at that price, will be returning to try the pork belly salad for starters and the intriguiging shepard's pie lookalike that other diners had. Been breakfasting at Urban Angel in Forth Street the past couple of weeks, been enjoying their smoked haddock Eggs Benedict. The cakes look lovely and it’s a lovely place to relax at 9am in the morning with the papers. Went to Golden Bridge to try out their Szechuan food. It was good as far Chinese restaurants go, more interesting and tastier than the average Chinese place, but it doesn’t resemble Szchuan food that I’ve had in restaurants elsewhere (and severely toned down for Scottish tongues and not a dan dan noodle in sight). I could make it at home better with the help of Fuschia Dunlop. However I would use it as my takeaway of choice on my ‘exhausted and needing comfort food‘ days if I lived nearby. Tempted by the new Korean place in Dundas Street – Silla as I adore Korean food, did try its sister restaurant in Glasgow – Koryo which was fine. But a bit put of by the prices, another one I’d rather attempt to cook at home. Avoiding the new East Africa Restaurant in Tollcross as East Africa food brings back nightmares but I do love trying new things and it seems to be Sudanese from the description in the list which isn’t the source of my horrors . Wish somebody would open up an Ethiopian restaurant. Loved the Rhubarb tart in Falko Konditerie – disappointed by the pretzel - wasn’t as good as when they started out in the Farmer’s market many years ago. Going back for the rest of their cakes which looked delightful. Trying to go for lunch at 21212. I’ve missed going out and trying different types of tea so was happy to see tea shops opening in Edinburgh. Eteaket in the city centre was tolerable but it didn’t have a relaxing vibe or interesting cakes, Loopy Lorna’s next on the list. Avoided buying sushi as its expensive and never very good in Edinburgh, but with the backlog of things I have to cook and its over a year since I’ve had some, I think I’m going to crack and try Sushiya or No.1 Sushi. Noticed the fishmonger in stockbridge – George Armstrong is selling sashimi, they’ve even got the fish names in Japanese in the shop. That’s at the top of my list now.
Went to No.1 Sushi on Saturday, it was pretty damn good. Or at least I thought so. The meal sets at the end of the menu are pretty good value too. If I go again I'm all about trying the ramen - haven't found a good place for it in any of the cities I've been in recently.
Does anybody know any particularly good bakeries for sweet stuff? I don't actually live fulltime in Edinburgh just yet (moving into new flat on the 15th August) but I'd like to have some knowledge to start myself off with.
Can’t think of a bakery as such for sweet things, I normally get take away from cafes for my sweet fix. Aside from Urban Angel and Falko which I mentioned above, I love Wellington Café’s Rocky Road, Sprio’s swirly brioche thing, Herbie Deli’s Date Slice and Cup Cakes and Café Florentine for croissants and pastry, Peter’s Yards cake and muffins look good – Coffee Angel look like they might have some interesting things but its always sold out by the end of the day. I guess Manna house might do some sweet things, I haven’t been there in ages so I can’t remember what they have, I do remember having some moussey type things. The Italian Bakery next to IJ Mellis Cheese shop in Stockbridge does a nice cherry and almond spongey slice thing, haven’t been that keen on their other sweets. Unfortunately my favourite bakery for sweet things is Fisher and Donaldson’s which would involve you taking a trip to North East Fife – but they’re a local institution – you’re most likely to go to St-Andrews there’s one there! If you’re up in August then you’ve got a window of opportunity to go to the book festival – I like the donuts there which I think come from Valvona and Crolla. Hope this helps as a starter, as you can tell I rather like cake.
Good to know No.1 Sushi is fine. I adore ramen and wish Edinburgh was dotted with little ramen joints where one pops in after work for a cheap quick meal – would be great in winter. I prefer to make my own as being raised on soup noodles and gone to excellent places in other countries, I expect a lot from my broth if I’m paying for it and can’t imagine than in this soup noodlesless culture it would be much better than my own – but if I’m wrong please tell me. I look for a real depth of sweetness in a clearer broth or they have some crazy ramen broths in Japan, that despite lots of searching I haven’t managed to fathom what’s in them, they’re quite opaque and rich and I don't have enough facility with language to describe them.
Here is a post I made to the edinburgh couchsurfing website. Thought it might be useful here as well.
Its meant for those not on a cheaper budget but a value based one. I think that applies to all that use chowhound. This is not a decor guide or restuarant 'experience' post, more amazing food in sometimes not so nice places.
A few people have asked me on good eats.. I have included them here for future reference. Any other ideas let me know, I've tried most places in Edinburgh but only put ones here I think are good value for money.
Some places I like are below. (you will have to search for them on google to get an exact fix)
I J mellis, 2 locations, Cheesemonger - amazing selection of cheese and some good bread, if the weather is nice you can get everything for a picnic here to eat in the princes st gardens or on top of calton hill. This is a definite recommend, there is one on Victoria st which you will walk down as it is one of the busiest tourist streets going to the grassmarket.
For fishmongers I use a few different ones depending on what it is I am buying. Armstrongs down in stockbridge is a pretty safe bet for everything other than mussels. Eddies in Marchmont is amazing, there are also 4 fruit and veg places round the corner from it where you can pick up lots of cheap veg. Can do all you shopping from little places in about 10 minutes.
Real foods (one in tollcross and another on broughton st) popular with the earthy crowd, veg is a rip off but for pulses and dried fruit is a major plus. Is organic\wholefoods.
I'm yet to find a proper good butchers so can't really help there. Maybe someone else could? Tried several but none of any great consistency.
The Dogs, bistro type food, very popular and busy, the italian restaurant on the ground floor run by the same person isn't as good, you want the place upstairs.
Urban angel across the road does really good breakfasts but they are not so cheap.
Roseleaf pub down in Lieth is a good secret place with great food and also great breakfasts.
If you want to splash out The Kitchin is my favourite restaurant (25 pounds for the 3 course lunch, dinner is tres cher) but worth every penny, this is Michelin starred dining though (one of three in Edinburgh but definitly the best and least stuffy).
The mosque kitchen off south clerk st is good filling curry, they do lots of vege options as well, its cooked in oil rather than ghee and you can eat for 4 pounds a person, you sit outside but under covers so best not on a suepr cold day.
There is a very good chinese where you can eat excellent dim sum for around 12 pounds a head. I made a post on some good things to order here.. Its called the Rainbow Arch on the top of morrison st. Don't be put off by the decor, kicks the pants off of chop chop down the road for half the price. Tried the aubergine hot pot and dry fried beef ho fan, both definite recommendations.
The best fish and chips by far is the Tail End, its halfway down leith walk, they have a sit in place as well. The queue for the takeaway is busy all day long! I would go for the haddock over the cod.. Alba D'Oro is ok as well but they have rested on their laurels too long and dont cook the fish to order, also no lemon wegdes and mushy peas.
Well thats a few places, in my opinion the curry in Edinburgh isn't that great, there are a few places you could pay lots for and get mediocre food (compared to Glasgow..). Everyone bangs on about Kebab Mahal but I have eaten there off and on for 8 years but its nothing to make the effort for. Food standards there have definitly slipped.
I haven't recommended any Scottish/fish places here as I would cook food like that at home and I think they are overpriced and for tourists in Edinburgh.
I come from a fishing family so can't abide paying through the nose for something that doesn't cost much to produce.
EDIT Since I posted this I've been to Kampong Ah Lee on Clerk St. Its an awesome Malaysian restaurant. Definite recommend. Many good dishes at a good price.
For ideas about food the only decent reviewer I have found in the Scotland is Joanna Blythman.
You can use the the list or other local papers for reviews here but they are biased to not giving a bad review and therefore loosing advertising revenue.
Hope this helps someone to have a better meal.
Just a small correction: Mellis has (at least) 3 locations: Victoria Street in Old Town, Baker's Place in Stockbridge, and Morningside Road in, well, Morningside. But Clark's on Bruntsfield Place is at least as good as Mellis.
Other than that, I would largely agree with this list (especially The Dogs, Urban Angel, and Tail End), except for Rainbow Arch and the Mosque, which are both mediocre. Chop Chop and Kampong Ah Lee are good for Edinburgh, but quite frankly very average examples of their representative cuisines. Most of the curry shops are also pretty average, though I've had some good dishes at Mezbaan and the Broughton Street Khushi's (which doesn't seem to be related to the Southside restaurant of the same name).
For bread go to Clark's. They get their bread from a local Frech baker who is easily the best in the city -- though it can be found in a few other outlets around town. For German style bread, go to Falko, practically across the street from Clark's (and also usually at the Saturday market on Castle Terrace). Sandwich platters at Falko make a nice lunch, as well.
There are some good dishes at Rainbow Arch. Have you ordered from the Cantonese menu or the regular one? Mosque kitchen isn't that great but for the price I would consider it good value. (This was originally posted to the couchsurfing website so peoples budgets are a bit more limited).
Agree with you about the relative standards of food, obviously I don't think that foreign cuisines here are anything as good as what you would find in a major city (New York, London and Toronto for example), but for Edinburgh they're nae bad.
Looking to try Mezbaan just the prices have put me off (south indian food is supposed to be cheap!), plus there is a very good place in Aberdeen where I can stock up on dosa and idli at half the price.
I'll try your suggestions for bread, although I have been using the No-knead bread recipe that was on the Bitten blog and it makes pretty amazing home bakes. The Clarks website looks nice maybe get up there tomorrow if its not pissing it down again!
With regards to Wisharts, eaten there several times and its been good but not amazing. I think Kitchin is better but to be honest I have had a few dud meals there as well (gritty spinach!). I like the place more overall though as its less informal and the style of cooking is more playful.
Yet to try the plumed horse. I would check that out if your interested in Wisharts standard of dining. Those three restaurants make up the 'Michelin mile' of the Leith docks.
I'm going to Lai Wah Heen in toronto next week for dim sum and can't wait! Now thats a proper food city.