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May 31, 2011 11:43 AM

Edinburgh Dining

Help! I will be in Edinburgh for just a day and a half and need opinions on where to dine. I have a list of restaurants from my hotel, but the list is too long. If anyone can help narrow down the following list, it would be much appreciated! My family and I are looking to enjoy some authentic Scottish cuisine, as well as dine in beautiful surroundings. Any suggestions would be great though. Thank you!

Number One
Martin Wishart
Castle Terrace
Stac Polly
Cucina at the Missoni Hotel
The Grain Store
Angels with Bagpipes
Monteith's Bar

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  1. Paul's cooking at 21212 will be great and inventive but is not "authentic" Scottish. Or even vaguely Scottish. FWIW, Katie is one of the warmest front of house managers that I know.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Harters

      And it is soooo much cheaper at lunch

    2. Cafe Royal...Can't get more "authentic."

      1. Define "authentic Scottish cuisine"? Generally I would say that Scottish food should be about the quality of the produce since what we have is so good and therefore doesn't need to be masked by rich sauces. Off the list that you've supplied (which isn't bad for a hotel recommendation if it came from them), I'd suggest that, Kitchin, Wedgwood, Castle Terrace and The Grain Store fall most closely into the Scottish theme.

        Martin W is my preferred restaurant in town but he takes his influences from France. 21212 is one of the most interesting and certainly a style that you will struggle to find elsewhere but not really Scottish.

        I'd avoid Oloroso for anything other than a drink since it has a great roof terrace with views to the Castle and the Forth of Fife but food is pricy and basic, likewise I'd avoid Rhubarb if you're looking for quality cooking as very much a case of style over substance. Stac Polly is not what it used to be, Angels W B is overpriced in my opinion and I've not visited Cucina (although Ondine which is in the same hotel is excellent). Monteith's is ok but not in the same league as some of the other places that you mention.

        19 Replies
        1. re: AWaiting

          I'm going to be slightly controversial and say that the food isn't everything about a dining experience on holiday, so I am probably suggesting you consider more criteria. The best food in Paris certainly isn't to be found in turn of the century bistros, or cafes in tourist spots, but they are fun and make a holiday. Edinburgh is one of the oldest cities in the Western world with a unique culture built over centuries, and eating and drinking have been part of that culture, and you need to at least get some taste of it. (And @AWaiting, I appreciate it is different when you actually have to live there)

          We started with a list of the top restaurants, but once we got there we ended up gravitating to casual places and especially pubs. I enjoyed Kitchin, 21212 etc but my lasting memories are of things like walking in the rain to a fish shop, shivering into the Bow Bar or nibbling local cheeses looking out of the window.

          1. re: mr_gimlet

            Mr Gimlet I couldn't agree more. In this instance I stuck purely to the mentioned restaurants mentioned by the OP but my feeling is that unless you go to the very top ie your El Bulli's, Fat Duck, Cellar Can Roca, Noma etc world wide, the decent restaurants produce food in a stylised manner that to an extent it is irrelevant as to the location.

            To my mind, if someone came from out of town and said what should I spend my money on in Edinburgh, I would say 21212. Not because I necessarily believe it to be the best restaurant in town, but it is a style that you generally will not find elsewhere. It is certainly not Scottish either!

            I love the Bow Bar and wandering in and out of pubs and shops, sampling along the way however I can understand the desire on limited time visits to focus on one decent restaurant, it's just a case of what you want in that restaurant. My key aim when responding on here is to make sure that people are aware of places that have bigger reputations (usually due to marketing) that under perform/over charge as far as the food is concerned in my opinion.

            Probably just confused the original poster even more now by going off on a tangent!

            Fat Duck
            High St, Bray, Windsor and Maidenhead SL6 2, GB

            1. re: AWaiting

              Thank you for your responses! I appreciate all of your opinions. On that note, please let me know if there are any speciality shops or bars that you suggest visiting. Do you think Cafe Royal is worth visiting or too touristy?

              Be well.

              1. re: laurend123

                Well, I was certainly a tourist but of the people I observed there, most of whom had the look of locals. It depends also on the season when you visit (I was there in March most recently when few visitors are likely to be found.)

                1. re: laurend123

                  I'd suggest checking out the thread I started on this very subject last October - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/739806 The folks on this board gave me some fabulous recommendations (some of which were already echoed here) and I updated with my thoughts on the places we went. Enjoy your time in Edinburgh! I would have to say of our trip to Edinburgh, London and Paris last fall, I think Edinburgh actually had the best food.

                  1. re: Seige

                    That's a great link - I've summarised it and translated it into Italian for some friends going there later this year! Just one thing: I'd like to recommend a good Indian restaurant in Edinburgh, but I'm really out of touch. Any suggestions anyone?

                    1. re: stuartJ

                      To be honest, Indian is probably Scotland's national cuisine. There are lots of good places in Edinburgh so it really depends where you're staying. I like Mother India but not to the point where I would say it beats all comers.

                      1. re: stuartJ

                        Edinburgh has lots of very good Indian restaurants but none that I would say knock your socks off, but I think that it's hard to get a knock your socks off Indian. Mezbaan is my current favourite in Tolcross but if you give an idea as to what area of the city you'll be in I can try to recomend differently.

                        1. re: AWaiting

                          Any area in Edinburgh is pretty easy to get to... please do go ahead with some ideas! My place of choice a loooooooooooooong time ago was always the Kalpna, don't know how that's doing nowadays...

                    2. re: laurend123

                      For a drink? Definitely - not sure about the food, though. It's a fantastic after-work drinking spot (if only I lived near such a place these days), and most definitely worth putting your head round the door for a wee jar.

                      1. re: laurend123

                        if you are still looking for a good bar to visit - try out Raconteur in Stockbridge. The owner has just won the UK World Class cocktail competition down in London, they make really excellent drinks.

                        1. re: johnnypd

                          THANK YOU FOR THIS REC

                          I went last night and was blown away. This bar is incredible. Some of the best hand-crafted cocktails I have ever had... the lengths they go to to make their own bitters and make crystal clear ice borders on absurd

                          Its also not nearly as expensive as I would have thought it would be

                          Do not miss if you are in town

                    3. re: mr_gimlet

                      Mr Gimlet your post made me remember one of my favourite memories from visiting Edinburgh... a friend who was living there at the time took me to the Baked Potato Shop and I ate a vegetarian haggis baked potato for lunch while sitting on a step nearby and watching all the tourists walk past. Simple, cheap, filling and delicious.

                        1. re: penthouse pup

                          an "mmmmmmmm" of delight, doubt, or irony?

                          1. re: stuartJ

                            The vegetarian haggis at the Dogs was one of the best things I tasted while in Edinburgh. To the OP - if you have room in that day for a casual lunch in a very hip old renovation, I'd recommend it.

                            1. re: penthouse pup

                              As with vegetarian black pudding, the key to success with vegetarian haggis is in the seasoning and the appearance. Done well, veggie haggis and pudding looks and tastes pretty much the same as a meat-based version. Done badly, it's just vile slop.

                              1. re: penthouse pup

                                I had real haggis too, later. lol
                                This one was close to the real thing... had the texture but not the "meat" taste. Lots of nuts to replace the meat.