Always best to eat where the locals do. This restaurant just up from Haymarket Station is one of the best in town for fairly priced, imaginative Scottish food with a twist. Book ahead as the locals love it!
99-101 Dalry Rd (up from Haymarket Station);
tel: 0131 313 4404
With its bright yellow interior, this cafe feels like being inside one of Van Gogh's sunflower paintings. Tucked away in a side street off the Royal Mile, near steps leading down to Princes St Gardens, it's the type of place where you can sit for hours and read the paper without being disturbed.
8 St Giles St, Edinburgh
If you’re a foodie, find the ultimate deli: Valvonna and Crolla. This is for the serious gourmet. Squeeze past each other in the narrow tiled aisles and avoid the hanging salamis and hams overhead. Sample the succulent fat-laden mortadella. Be tempted by the transparent shavings of prosciutto freshly cut. Indulge your baser instincts in the creamy soft blue St Agur that slowly melts on the tongue to the gentle persuasion of Graham’s Vintage Port. And for a present to bring home? An estate bottled olive oil from Umbria? Some bulbs of roasted garlic from the Languedoc? And as for wine...
When the finest Italian food shop in the country only sells one fresh sausage, you know it's going to be good. Valvona & Crolla's Fonteluna doesn't disappoint. This is a solid, semi-cured sausage flavoured with chilli and fennel. As it is semi-cured it can be eaten raw as a salami or cooked. It can be cooked by either frying or grilling. As it is a dry sausage it really needs a wet sauce - I like it diced in a tomato sauce, thinly sliced and used as a pizza topping or with peppers.
It's not cheap at £4.95 for 265g but this is concentrated, strong tasting sausage with no water or cheap filler. Highly recommended! It would be a hard soul that would not come out of here the richer in taste and the poorer in pocket. Worth visiting on a Sunday morning, especially for their imported Indian peppercorns, or just to sit and have tea in their restaurant while the world muses and peruses. Blue Mountain coffee or green tea? Jalapenos peppers or habaneros?
Valvona & Crolla: 19 Elm Row, Edinburgh EH7 4AA
VinCaffè: 11 Multrees Walk, Edinburgh EH1 3DQ;
Breakfast. Forget those spartan breakfasts with a few dodgy rolls and luke-warm coffee. This was it. Everything for the cosmopolitan traveller, including as near to an Ulster fry as you’ll ever get.
Are your taste buds beginning to tremble at the thought of such seductive fare? Is the saliva flowing? The sheer joy of savouring the smell from a plate with rashers of succulent shavings of bacon beside plump juicy sausages and carefully fried eggs. This, complemented with those hallmarks of excellence, soda bread and potato bread, and black pudding and grilled tomato cooked properly, with the tomato beginning to blacken and the pudding just on the verge of crisping. Which of us has not succumbed to temptation at some time?
And as for the philistines who claim that a fry does not fix a hangover… let them feel the soothing balm of such fodder on a morning when the hands shake and the pulsing head yearns for pity and even death is seen as a welcome release. When eternal promises to never again indulge in the demon drink are made. When even the Almighty is invoked in an effort to remove the awful consequences of over-indulgence. It is then that the magical restorative properties of the fry come into their own.
To witness such a miracle is to visit any early opening restaurant on a Saturday or Sunday morning when pathetic specimens of humanity, who, the previous night, ready to take on the world, now cringe at the sound of a closing door. The secret is to find The Right Place. And here it was. In the breakfast room of the St James Thistle.
St James Centre, Edinburgh;
tel: 0131 556 0111
Vegetarian & vegan restaurant, with fantastic and imaginative dishes. Neither me nor my partner are veggies/vegan but have eaten here twice as the food is simply great, especially the pasta dishes. Leave room for dessert too as they are sublime!
Always busy so best to book ahead.
56-58 St Mary's Street, Edinburgh,
(Off the Royal Mile and the Cowgate): tel: 0131 556 5888;
Rick's is a great bar/restaurant with rooms on Frederick Street just off Princes Street.
The food is lovely and the place very buzzy. The rooms are pretty stylish in a luxurious minimalism sort-of way. Rooms with breakfast cost £129/night - pretty good value.
Frederick St, Edinburgh
Wonderful little Turkish restaurant doing simple but hearty kebabs. I have watched Gursel, owner and chef, carefully prepare his lamb, lovingly getting rid of all fat and gristle. It is then marinated overnight, with herbs wiped off before cooking to make sure they’re not burned and then added again. Delicious, big portions, very reasonable, dependable and friendly.
West Preston St; tel: 0131 667 4242
Fabulous Italian restaurant, specialising in seafood and Neapolitain cuisine. A wee bit of heaven on Dalry Road, with a warm welcome from chef Rosario. Hard to beat, and getting well known these days, so booking ahead is a good idea. A la carte is available but it's hard to see past the specials.
Dalry Road - three minutes walk from Haymarket Station
Finding somewhere to eat on a weekend away is generally a hit-and-miss affair – there’s just no time to learn from your mistakes. Which is why a restaurant like Rick’s is a godsend. In fact, it was so good we ended up eating there two nights in a row.
55a Frederick Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1HL; tel: 0131 622 7800; www.ricksedinburgh.co.uk
A Mexican bar/restaurant found on Broughton Street. The food is pretty basic fare, but is a reasonable price and the restaurant is always busy. It's a great place to go for lunch or a light evening meal or even just some drinks with friends, with a good atmosphere and a great location.
It's simple, but effective.
This is a traditional bar on the south side of the city with a cosy atmosphere, excellent beer, a huge choice of whisky and champagne, delicious food (mostly smorregebrod) and a courtyard for secluded al-fresco libations in the good weather.
239 Morningside Road
A cosy little bar and restaurant on the Shore, where you can curl up in winter with the papers over a great coffee and sit outside in the summer with a cool pint. The food's fab, whether dining in the restaurant or sharing a huge bowl of steaming mussels in the bar. And the best things... the unprententious and friendly staff, the jazz pianist, and the other clientele!
3 the Shore
An Edinburgh institution for 40 years, Henderson's sells all sorts of nutritious and comforting vegetarian food in a very friendly environment. The Bistro is the smaller, more intimate restaurant attached to the main salad bar and shop. Practically everything is homemade, such as delicious soups,curries, cakes, bread, veggie pates and pastries and the fruit and veg is bought from local farmers. They also are able to cater for any special diets - all you need to do is ask!
26 Thistle Street, just off Hanover St.
A great place to stop after a walk on Arthur's Seat, the Engine Shed is an unpretentious vegetarian cafe-cum-community project (several of the staff have Down's Syndrome, for example). Give something back to the local community and stop here - also handy for Inspector Rebus sites...
19 St Leonard's Lane, Edinburgh, EH8 9SD
Plaisir is the chocolate-lover's G-spot. Hot chocolate, bitter with chillies or creamy with creme de chantilly and whisky; towering three-layer gateaux of pear and ganache; bon-bons; tartes and brioches. Baudelaire decorates the floor; silver samavars the walls. Ideally, have the gateaux OR the hot chocolate - both can kill you! (Also serves dozens of teas - but not coffee).
Modern Scottish food intrigues, but there is not enough of it. La Garrigue does great things with duck and other Languedoc specialities, and the cheeses and lavender brulee are very good indeed.
www.lagarrigue.co.uk/ 31 Jeffrey St, Edinburgh
This pub is very upmarket and expensive but serves great food and has a startling array of malt whiskys, wines and beers. The menu is top class and food is served until 10pm (7pm at weekends). The pub has a sedate atmosphere at the weekends. A couple of tables outside allow you to watch the world go by in the evenings.
159 Rose St
Tel: 0131 225 4610
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