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Edinburgh Dining Suggestions

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My husband and I will be in Edinburgh at the end of this month and are looking for some great dining and pub recommendations. Some requirements -

- We will be staying at the Hotel Missoni and would prefer suggestions that are in walking distance or at the very least a short cab ride from there.
- Speaking of the Hotel Missoni - has anyone eaten at their Cucina? Is it good for a meal or two or should we definitely go elsewhere?
- We'd like recommendations for all times of the day - great breakfasts, lunches and dinner.
- We love fine dining and are relatively adventurous; however, we won't be traveling with formal attire, so no recommendations that would require a jacket and tie for my husband or a dress for me please.
- Would love recommendations for places with local sourcing/flavors/atmosphere. It doesn't have to be traditional Scottish food, but definitely not French (we're going to France too and I suspect we'll get our fill of French food there).
- A great recommendation for fish and chips would be wonderful, although we'll also be in London on this trip and plan on going to Master's Superfish based on Chowhound recommendations here. If you think that's the preeminent fish and chips place, we'll call that good. :)
- Would also love recommendations to some traditional Scottish pubs with good whisky and beer.

Thanks very much!

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  1. Pubs - with real ale and whisky, you should do some reading on Scottish real ale, the quality and variety is great - some companies to start of with, Fynn Ales; Harviestoun; Brew Dog, Williams Brothers, Stewart Brewing is the local company, I won't recommend any beer to try as that will depend on what type you like, Bow Bar is really close to you, halfway house, not to far away.





    I presume you'll be working your way round the standard list of fine dining places in Edinburgh as you like fine dining however for local sourcing, put the Kitchin at the top of your list for some game

    Breakfast at the Urban Angel - not the cheapest, but the bacon and sausages are free range, you'll have the opportunity to try haggis and black pudding


    Ondine is next to your hotel to try the local seafood, the seafood platter gives you the opportunity to eat spoots.

    If you need a cafe near by, Peter's Yard is a nice space for cake and coffee. If you're wandering in town, then the nearest decent coffee shop is Wellington Cafe on George Street. The scones are nice, and you might get some local flavour jam, bramble jelly or rhubarb was the choice in its sister cafe last week.

    The grain store is round the corner from you, local sourcing, plenty of people like it, I wasn't too keen, but I seem to be the only one.

    1. If you are interested in Italian food, be sure to visit Valona & Crolla, one of the finest Italian delis in Britain. A very good lunch is served in the back room there (the Caffe Bar). V&C also operates VinCaffe in the central shopping district of Edinburgh.


      1 Reply
      1. re: DavidT

        seige - most of the michelin rests in edinburgh focus on traditional scottish produce, underpinned by classic technique. my faves are martin wishart and the kitchin (both in leith, about £7-8 cab from the missoni). they both have a star, but fair to say they punch above their weight and well worth experiencing whilst you are there.

        both are also relaxed in terms of dress code and don't enforce one, though smart casual would be advised. shirt, jeans and a casual jacket is more than ok. wishart is perhaps the dressier of the two.

        unfotunately i haven't been to 21212 yet, the city's latest fine-dining edition, though word of mouth is very positive. however, it doesn't seem quite as focused on local produce and undoubtedly has foundations in a more molecular approach, so based on your brief may not be what you're looking for.

      2. You’ve left quite an open ended brief there Seige so I’ll try to pick up on a few points and then if you need more detail I’ll comment back later, otherwise this will go on for ages!

        Firstly, as Marcus says there isn’t a restaurant in Edinburgh where you need to go jacket and tie. I usually wear a shirt and smart jeans at even the top end places and this isn’t out of place. Best restaurant in town is definitely Martin W and it compares with the best in the country in my mind. Well worth checking out the lunch menu’s on all the top end places.

        I’ve been to 21212 several times and I wouldn’t class it as molecular approach, it’s just that Paul throws a lot of ingredients together so the taste combinations are very complex. It is not to everyone’s tastes (and I’ll be honest that I have had some dishes where I felt they missed) but if you say that you’re adventurous then I would recommend it as there is no-where in the UK where I’ve eaten this style of food.

        Orchidalbion has pointed out some great beers and I thoroughly recommend both the bow bar (beer and whisky) and half way house (beer and quaintness factor as it’s tiny). You’re just around the corner from the whisky museum and you can just go into their bar which has a huge choice of whisky.

        For fish and chips everyone has their own favourite but I’ll recommend The Tailend on Leith walks as they have a seated area, cook everything fresh and the guy who owns it won awards at the universally recognised Anstruther Bar.

        I like The Grain Store that is mentioned above, it sits just below fine dining and I like the old town space that it sits in. Worth knowing about if you can’t be bothered trekking too far one night. Another place that is close by and at the other end of the food radar is Monster Mash. It’s a diner type place focussing on top quality sausages and mash and some other British classics. Last tip for places close by is Dubh Prais, which although it’s on the Royal mile actually does decent Scottish food!

        1. These are all fantastic suggestions - thanks so much! Makes me wish we were spending more days in Edinburgh than we are. I realize the request was a bit broad, but ultimately everyone has their favorite places, regardless of the specific cuisine, and that's what I've been hoping to hear from people. We want to go to the best of the best while we're there. Best of the best to us doesn't mean it has to be a 3-star Michelin restaurant though. We're just as comfortable at a hole-in-the-wall kind of place. Only real requirement is that the food be good and hopefully a little something we can't get back in the States.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Seige

            If you're looking for slightly different it may be worth taking a wonder to Victoria St round the corner from your hotel. In the space of 20 metres you have Oink (a shop where they slow roast a pig and serve it on the meat rolls to take out), Demi John (a shop where you can sample and buy olive oils and infused spirits like elderflower gin, grapefruit vodka etc) and knowing how bad the cheese is in the US, there's Mellis cheese shop which has some fantastic choice! There is also Hanedan which is an Iranian/Kurdish place just up by the castle which probably differs from the kind of stuff that you get at home but is very good.

            1. re: AWaiting

              "and knowing how bad the cheese is in the US"

              Easy there, mate. I'm not sure how you can know this unless you made a tour of the entire US and tried every piece in every region, but even then, I'd question that claim. There are some outstanding cheeses and there are some outstanding cheese shops even more committed to ensuring a collection of cheeses from around the world.

              That said, I second I.J. Mellis. They are my go to place for my stiltons and St Felicien.

          2. I think I have found my foodie twin in Orchidalbion as I'd wholeheartedly back up all the places mentioned. Ondine is a fabulous restaurant for lunch or dinner; all their fish is fantastic, from top to bottom - even their classic fish and chips is superb, and it is bang next door to your hotel. The Kitchin would also be my choice for top meal in Ediinburgh (even though it's a taxi ride away) - the food is fabulous and locally sourced, service is top-notch and the atmosphere is unstuffy. And Urban Angel, Peter's Yard and Wellington Coffee are all great picks too.

            I'd through in a couple of suggestions too - I live over in the New Town (the Georgian part of town), so if you wanted to try something over this end of town, there is Redwood, a tiny, tiny restuarant with wonderful locally sourced food, cooked by a Californian. We also are regulars at Iris in Thistle Street - the menu uses good local meat and fish and we're never diappointed. It's quite casual and usually buzzing. Agree with others that Andrew Wishart's food is lovely, ranking alongside The Kitchin (and also in Leith), but with a sightly more formal atmosphere.

            Finally, I'd suggest you try the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Queen Street for at least a drink and perhaps food in their upstairs bar. In theory, you need to be a member to drink in the bar, but just say you are interested in membership (they have a lot of overseas members) and go upstairs to the bar. They have a range of whiskies straight from the cask (and very very strong!) and their food is good, and their bar food is very good value too. It's a very nice spot. They also have a branch in Leith which might be somewhere to head before or after a meal at The Kitchin or Martin Wishart.

            The final thing to bear in mind is that many of Edinburgh's museums, galleries and attractions have good cafes. The cafes at the Botanical Gardens, Holyrood Palace, Dean Gallery and the Museum of Contempory Art in particular are good, and make a good place for a light bite after an explore!

            In summary, my 3 top "nice" restaurants would be The Kitchin, Martin Wishart and Ondine. Do try at least 2 of them, and perhaps try Iris or Redwood too. Enjoy!

            1 Reply
            1. re: GillH

              I'd second the Gallery of Modern Art for a bite to eat, its nice homey food with decent side salads (as opposed to a sad bunch of supermarket green leaves) with a selection of home baking, though beware, due to its popularity things could be a bit bare a couple of hours after opening for lunch so you'll be better of in the Dean Gallery if you're there in the afternoon. The surroundings of both are lovely. Even if Modern Art isn't your thing, its worth going there for a walk along the Water of Leith, the stretch from the Gallery of Modern Art to Stockbridge (which is also close to the botanics) is particularly lovely. In Stockbridge is Redwood and a branch of IJ Mellis as mentioned above. Also if you're up in Leith, I haven't been for a while but I seem to remember the Malt & Hops as good for beer and a cosy place for a drink, its just a few doors down from Martin Wishart, I think they were even serving Stovies last time! It's next to the more famous and (busy) King's Wark, and supposed to do good food and good breakfasts though I've never been.

            2. You're all so helpful - thank you! Quick question about The Kitchin. It looks really interesting, but I'm a bit concerned about timing. The only day we can really dedicate to a nice dinner may put us a little short on time. We've got an event at 9:30 on the Royal Mile that we'll need to be at. According to Google Maps it's about a 10 - 15 min. drive from The Kitchen to there. I've seen the hours for The Kitchin - some say they open at 6:30, others 6:45 and the tasting menu has a "warning" to allow at least 2 hours for the meal. Is 2 hours realistic or really rushing things? We'd maybe have a max of 2 1/2 hours if we're lucky. I'd hate to go there and feel completely rushed through the whole thing. Also - does anyone know if you can make online reservations there? I've just seen a phone number so far and was trying to save myself the trouble of phone calls with time changes, etc. if at all possible.

              Thanks again!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Seige

                According to their own website, they open at 6.30. I'd tell them in advance the time by which you need to be away, and then you should be able to have a good meal at a decent pace there. Service is good there, so as long as they have advance warning thye ought to be able to accommodate you without you feeling as if you are being rushed. Allow 15 minutes for the taxi trip back to the Royal Mile. They have an email address too - info@thekitchin.com so you should be able to ask them questions, tell them your time limitations and then book using email. But if you are worried about timing, then you'd get a lovely dinner at Ondine too, which is just a stone's throw from the Royal Mile. (and thanks to orchidalbion for correcting my post - I did of course mean the cafe of the Gallery of Modern Art (rather than the Museum of Contemporary Art - I've just come back from holiday and am getting my art gallery and museum names all mixed up!) Do let us know how you get on!

                1. re: Seige

                  Oddly, I've just had this conversation with them. A 630 dinner will be over by 930, but they did suggest that coffee and cognac might overshoot this.

                2. A really good restaurant is "The Outsider" on George 4th Bridge. Very relaxed, great food and very good service.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: jamesfarrell

                    I agree with James, as my husband an I were just up there on a spur of the moment trip. After a full day and evening of tourist sightseeing we were just walking around looking for a place to eat at 9pm. The Outsider was packed but they said they could work us in. Gave us menus, took our drink order, and 10 min later we were ordering. got the Lobster and he got the stuffed Quail and wowo it was all great. Good portion size and very good with a moderate price.

                    1. re: Rayanne Staubly

                      It seems to have some very mixed reviews on the service - James and Rayanne, what were your thoughts?

                      1. re: mr_gimlet

                        Service was always really good for me.

                  2. If you are staying at the Hotel Missoni you simply HAVE to try Castle Terrace Restaurant, sister restaurant to The Kitchin in Leith. It's a stone throw away from George IV Bridge and the Missoni, nestling right at the end of Johnston Terrace. We went there for dinner two weeks ago and it was absolutely to die for. Service is fantastic, and the food is en par with any of the Michelin stars in Edinburgh. Our friends went for lunch this week (3 courses under £20 I think) and said exactly the same. Think locally sourced, Scottish produce with a Mediterranean influence. Superb!

                    1. Some wonderful Edinburgh restaurants:

                      Creelers - fantastic seafood. Try the scallops and seafood platter

                      Dubh Prais - traditional Scottish food, very well cooked, lovely, lovely food and tiny place

                      Fish and chips. Not in Edinburgh but nr St Andrews, about 1hr 15 mins away from Edinburgh, town called Anstruther. The Anstruther Fish Bar is excellent and UK award winning.

                      1. The cocktails at the Missoni Bar are great!

                        The Outsider on George IV Bridge is lovely - literally 1 min from your hotel.

                        The most romantic restaurant in Edinburgh is Rhubarb at the Prestonfield Hotel - 15 mins in a taxi

                        1. Thanks everyone! We should arrive in Edinburgh tomorrow. Unfortunately, I've not made any reservations yet, but I'm hopeful everything will fall into place once we get there. Just haven't had time and don't think of these things until it's the middle of the night in Edinburgh.

                          BTW - is it really going to rain there all week? I realize that's probably the quintessential Scotland experience, but we were really hoping for some nice weather. Oh well - look forward to good dining nonetheless. Will definitely report back!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Seige

                            Seige, we are there in a couple of weeks so could you post back a trip report?

                            Weatherwise, Thursday is mean to be OK but cloudy, and Saturday sunny.

                            1. re: mr_gimlet

                              Of course Saturday is sunny. That's the day we head back to London. LOL Will definitely report back!

                          2. So do any of you have recommendations for London because you've hit it out of the park with Edinburgh?

                            We'll be leaving for London tomorrow and are hoping to get to Peter's Yard or Wellington Cafe before we leave, but I wanted to check in while things are still fresh in my mind.

                            Arrived Wednesday night in the pouring rain. We were tired, wet, and cold so decided to stay in the hotel and ate at Cucina. I had the partridge; my husband had the venison. Both were quite good. I'd never had partridge before, but I thought it was done well with the right combinations (spinach, balsamic pumpkin and garlic puree). I don't recall what all the venison sides were, but my husband quite enjoyed it. We also got the tiramisu for dessert. Is was good, but having had tiramisu in Italy, it's hard to compete. Our only real complaint is that our waiter seemed to disappear after our main course was served. We know wait staff doesn't hover like they do in the States, and we like that, but we couldn't even see him (or anyone else really) to request the bill. Made for awkwardness when we had to just get up and go looking for someone to help us.

                            Thursday morning we walked to Urban Angel. I had the eggs benedict with streaky bacon; husband had the eggs benedict with haddock. He also ordered a side of the sausages and black pudding. Oh and I had a mocha while he had a latte. Excellent! I would like to smuggle some of that streaky bacon home with me. So good! I also didn't think there was any way I would eat black pudding. The thought of what it is sort of made my stomach turn, but I threw caution to the wind and just tried it. Shockingly - I liked it! I couldn't consume a lot of it, but I liked the little bit I had. Oh and the mocha was phenomenal!

                            We had a tour scheduled yesterday at 12.30, which got delayed to 1.00, so we stopped at a pub behind Waverly Station. Husband had a beer (Gold something?), I watched. :) Cute little place - unfortunately I don't remember the name of it.

                            I managed to get last minute reservations at The Kitchin for last night. What a gem all around - the food, the service - so impressive! They seated us right in front of the window where you can watch the chefs. We also decided on the land and sea surprise tasting menu and made the mistake of getting the wine pairings too. I say mistake not because anything was wrong. Quite the opposite - the pairings were amazing but I was pretty much trashed by the 3rd course! I clearly don't have much of an alcohol tolerance and that was A LOT of wine. :) First course was a chicken consomme, 2nd course escapes me now, but it was good whatever it was. 3rd was a terrine with foie gras, 4th was pig head and ear with a scallop (the one thing I feared eating the most but again - it was very good!), fish course was halibut - amazing! Meat course was venison - delightful and the dessert was an apple millefeuille. So good! We've been fortunate to dine in some great restaurants, but we think this was the best meal we've ever had. And the service was absolutely impeccable. Well done, CHers!

                            We were out touring most of the day again today, but made it back to head to The Outsider for dinner. We didn't have reservations - just popped in around 8.30 on a wing and a prayer and they got us in! I had the guinea fowl; husband had the whole seabream. Both were delicious. I also got the lemon mousse with berry coulis and honeycomb for dessert, while husband got the raspberry/white chocolate millefeuille. Both were delightful, but I'd seriously sell a limb for honeycomb. It's like they knew we were coming!

                            Ended the night with a pint at the Bow Bar.

                            Thank you again for all of your help. We've thoroughly enjoyed our time here. I knew it would be fabulous purely based on how helpful all of you have been. Sadly, folks from other cities we'll be visiting haven't been quite as helpful. And I'm serious - if you have London or even Paris suggestions - I'd love to hear them! I can't imagine any of you steering us wrong. Thanks again!

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Seige

                              Thanks very much. I am already salivating with the thought of the Kitchin in a couple of weeks time.

                              1. re: mr_gimlet

                                Just remembered the second course (although it may have been the 3rd - too much wine!) - it was razorfish and squid. Absolutely delicious! You will love The Kitchin - loved that Tom was cooking too. We've found that a lot of chefs aren't as "hands-on" - would go back in a heartbeat!

                                1. re: Seige

                                  If you've not had any London reccs yet...St John for nose to tail British eating (given you've been admirably brave with your black pudding!) or Rules which is the oldest restaurant in London and has an amazing cocktail bar. J Sheekey for fish and seafood if you sit up at the bar. Masters Superfish as you say above for the finest fish and chips. Harwood Arms or Anchor and Hope for the best gastropubs. Viajante to be out there. The Ledbury/Launceston Place/Gavroche lunch deal to be in there. And the Wolseley for breakfast.

                              2. re: Seige

                                Thanks for the full report - it's always interesting what others thought. Glad it all went so well, and we'll try and get better better for you next time!

                                1. re: Seige

                                  For Paris try Le Notre in the Jardins des Louvre, lovely little place with a cook school attached. We've been twice, superb both times, I'd recommend booking for lunch but they usually have availability during the week for dinner.

                                2. Hi there.

                                  Glad to hear that you had such a good time up here. It's not badly catered for considering the size of it!

                                  I'm not sure how long that you have in london and I'm not as well versed as the locals but I can share the places that I know in London. Borough market should be top of the list since you don't need to make a reservation and it's great to soak up the ambience. It's not so nice now that the winter's closing in and it's in an open warehouse style set up but even still there are enough treats to make sure that you should go. It's only open Thursday, Friday and Sat although Thursday has limited stalls and Sat can be very busy.

                                  We ate at the Ledbury a couple of months ago for lunch and it was stunning. Food top class and service to match. We ordered the lunch menu twice over since it's such good value and it let us try both of the dishes for starters and mains and they only charged us for one telling us that they'd reduced the portion sizes. It wasn't noticable! St Johns is the first top end restaurant that I ever went to so has nostaligic memories altthough don't expect your usual M starred set up. This is good offal cooking. Le Gavroche lunch deal is famed but chances of a table now are slim at this notice. We had some great food in Terroirs a wine/open kitchen place. There's a real vibe to the place although if you're heading to Paris you may want to save off on the french style.

                                  What kind of thing are you looking for?

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: AWaiting

                                    How do Blonde and Tower rate to other restaurants in Edinburgh?

                                    1. re: fvande

                                      Blonde is a decent enough bistro type place. Nothing to get overly excited about it but I wouldn't be complaining if someone had organised a meal there. I tend to go to Howies if I'm going for that kind of food but that's down to their locations more plus the fact that they're BYOB.

                                      The Tower is a typical James Thomson place. More about the location than the food. Great views looking over to the castle but that's accounted for in the prices. If you do want to go then I'd go at lunch where the offer is decent enough.

                                      1. re: AWaiting

                                        Thanks. We're most likely going to be going to Edinburgh for 3-4 days in June.
                                        Was there last summer for work and only memorable meal was Blonde.

                                        But I remember the pub food was better than many of the pubs in London.
                                        What are the best gastropubs in Edinburgh these days?

                                        And is Rhubarb really better than Tower for fine dining?

                                        1. re: fvande

                                          What kind of food are you looking for? It's disappointing if you were here last time and only had one memorable meal as generally I think that Edinburgh has some pretty decent places.

                                          Bizarrely enough I tend to think that we lack in the pub grub area as most follow the generic bar menu of food from 10 different cultures! Off the top of my head, I'd suggest Guildford Arms for decent food and great beer and for somewhere slightly out of town there's the Star Bank which has views over to fife.

                                          Good question on Rhubarb vs Tower. I tend to steer clear of both of them since you're very much paying for the location just like the Witchery which is also in the same chain. Rhubarb is certainly an opulent location and food tends to be decent enough. Is there any reason in particular that you're looking at these 2 restaurants?

                                          1. re: AWaiting

                                            Awaiting, It looks like Rhubarb was written up in a lot of the guides (in the States)
                                            and an American friend recently recommended Tower.

                                            I noticed lots of charming pubs when we were there but wasn't sure which ones had the best food. But we loved Blonde and ate there twice.
                                            Also grabbed breakfast at Always Sunday. And had a nice dinner at a Moroccan/French place.

                                            Edinburgh is a very charming city.

                                            1. re: fvande

                                              I'm glad you like Edinburgh, I'm very partial to this city! On the basis of where people pick when they want to go somewhere special/fine dine Rhubarb, Tower et al are chosen if you particularly need fancy surroundings/a particular ambience. Otherwise people usually head for the fine dining places mentioned in this thread. When you mention fine dining and Edinburgh these are the places people think of.

                                              Edinburgh's pubs aren't particularly well known for their food, (i.e. I can't think of anybody who goes to a particular pub because of the food served so there isn't anywhere that's thought of as a gastropub as far as I know) when I'm taking visitors to a pub, I usually pick them on the basis of history, surroundings and choice of beers and whisky served rather than food.

                                          2. re: fvande

                                            I tend to agree with AWaiting that the most special thing about the James Thompson restuarants (Tower, Rhubarb and The Witchery) is their surroundings. The Secret Garden room at the Witchery is one of the nicest rooms in Edinburgh in terms of ambience, and the Tower has some great views of the castle. Their food is good but none of them have blown me away in the way that other restaurants in the city have. Another problem with some of these high end places is often the other diners; but we've found that to be less of a problem at proper foodie places like the Kitchin.

                                            1. re: GillH

                                              I have added Kitchin to my list, thanks!
                                              I am going to go back and read the other recommendations carefully.

                                    2. Seige, How was the Missoni? I have just booked it for New Year. $500 a night is steep, but it looks great. Worth the expense? While the reviews I have found have been good, there are not that many total reviews. Your personal opinion on the quality of your room, service, general ambience, etc., would be much appreciated. Thanks!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: andybreav

                                        Hi Andy -

                                        So sorry I'm just seeing this message now, but at least I caught it before New Year's. :) The Missoni was lovely. The rooms were nicely appointed, the staff was wonderful, and for us the big thing was location. We like to stay in the heart of things so we can walk to most things we want to see/do. Missoni is in a fabulous location. And in keeping with the chowish nature of these boards - the food at Cucina (the hotel restaurant) was good (although not as good as The Kitchin) and the bar is super fun. And honestly, it's so close to so many other fabulous places, I think it's worth the stay.

                                        All that said, our rooms were not $500/night. I know I found a discount somewhere along the way - our stay was probably $250/night. I don't recall for sure, but I either got a deal going directly through the website and pre-paying or I booked it through Orbitz and got a deal. In any event, I hope you enjoy your time there and have fun in Edinburgh! My husband and I both miss it very much.