Being half Scottish, you can imagine how excited I was to take a trip to the capital to embrace my heritage and try out the local dining scene this Spring.
And just to clarify before you read on, this post will not just be covering the traditional ‘neeps’, tatties and haggis which you’d stereotypically think of when it comes to Scottish food, although a little haggis obviously had to be tried…
Edinburgh for me is the true heart of Scotland with its endless attractions – my favourite being the grand historical castle heading up the famous Royal Mile. This is the perfect viewpoint which overlooks the medieval city filled with cobbled streets and elegant Georgian buildings.
Weather-wise, we were lucky with clear blue skies & sunshine the entire weekend, although it was freezing as it is Scotland after all! So always make sure to wrap up warm before setting out on your next foodie search around this city.
When researching ‘best places to eat in Edinburgh’, I’m sure you’ll come across the following most popular restaurants – The Witchery, Castle Terrace, Aizle and Forage & Chatter. As the reviews are phenomenal I will definitely be trying out the menus on my next trip but as this was my first solid sampling opportunity around the city, I decided to dig a little deeper on my food search and discover the hidden gems as follows.
In the words of the publishers at TimeOut, I couldn’t have said the below statement better myself;
Edinburgh is a culinary wonderland, with Michelin-starred restaurants living cheek-by-ethically-sourced-jowl.
Here’s my top three recommendations for where to eat out if you’re limited for time and only in the vicinity for the weekend.
Kick-starting this blog post with my first restaurant experience in Edinburgh – Monteiths.
Monteiths is a boutique cocktail bar & restaurant which is situated directly in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. The award winning venue is located just off the historic Royal Mile; the perfect stop for quirky cocktails followed by a relaxing dining experience.
We thoroughly enjoyed a ‘Sloe 75’ Gin Cocktail upon arrival in the candle-lit bar area. For £9, the cocktail includes Sipsmith Sloe gin, lemon juice, rosemary syrup, Angostura bitters & Da Luca Prosecco. Very sweet (but not too sweet!) and refreshing.
Now lets get to the good stuff.
A creamy Seafood Chowder priced fairly at £8.50 came with mussels, clams, salmon & smoked haddock. A true & tasty dish which was almost as Scottish as the dish to follow…
Haggis, neeps and tatties in the top right image – had to be done! As this is a specialty starter dish, the price was a little steeper at £13.50 so this isn’t your casual dining out experience, it’s one to save for a special occasion or romantic night out.
Now for another strong meal which contained the true Scottish haggis tradition – the Roast Chicken priced at £18. This of course came with haggis, shallot & turnip and topped with a delicious creamy peppercorn sauce.
I also tried out my boyfriend’s dish below which was a good old steak.
The steak was recommended by the waitress as the restaurant sources it’s Scottish beef from one of the country’s most celebrated artisan butchers, therefore renowned for the finest Scotch beef. All their beef is dry aged to a minimum of 3-5 days to increase flavour & tenderness; the restaurant’s steaks are reserved with triple cooked chips, roasted vine tomatoes & Béarnaise/ Peppercorn sauce.
2. Devil’s Advocate
My next recommendation just a little further up the Royal Mile and down one of the quirky side-streets lies Devil’s Advocate.
To be perfectly honest it hadn’t been long at all since my last meal, so we went ‘light’ and decided to settle down to a sharing board and cocktails as we approached later on in the evening.
The ambience was perfect for evening vibes and the night just got better as soon as the Terrine & Cheese board arrived. The £15 mixed platter included the following ingredients; Dunlop cheddar, Scottish blue, ham hock, daily terrine, pickles, grapes & sourdough.
As the restaurant was so dimly lit I could barely capture my parmesan & truffle triple cut chips in the bottom right of the image above. Just wow. Very naughty but a complete no-brainer delicious side dish to order when visiting this restaurant.
The bar holds an eclectic collection of Scottish and world whiskies so is mainly notorious for this spirit. And so the modern dining experience ended with a tumbler filled with Scottish whisky on the rocks – very cultured, and very tipsy…
3. Divino Italian
If looking for a more romantic place to eat, Divino Italian is the place for you.
Considering we arrived so late from the long drive up North, the staff were exceptionally attentive and accommodating even though it was 10 minutes past closing!
Turning up late always makes you question the quality of food, but the chefs sure delivered. We sat down to a fine bottle of red recommended by our waiter who was spectacularly friendly and Italian.
Hidden in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, Divino Enoteca offers a unique twist on contemporary dining with an archetypal wine cellar which was made for the elegant fine Italian dining area we were seated at. Bathed in soft lighting with comfortable chairs, the rustic stone walls, oak floors and an open fire all added to the highly welcoming atmosphere.
We let the waiter take the lead with our order as he was so accommodating; he suggested the ‘Pappardelle Alla Genovese’ pasta dish which accompanied the house red perfectly. This dish consisted of rich egg pappardelle pasta with braised veal, white wine and onion.
If you’ve got time to spare on your journey back from Edinburgh, I couldn’t recommend this quaint town of Leith more! Visit the docks and spoil yourself with a fabulous meal in the sunshine.
Just 20 minutes out of Edinburgh City Centre, this restaurant is situated on the stunning waterfront; a fantastic place filled with seafood bistros and traditional pubs on the Shore.
1. The Ship on the Shore
The perfect spot for shellfish and champagne by the waterfront, The Ship on the Shore.
Again highly accommodating and friendly staff which is a trend we found across all staff throughout the entire weekend. This place was filled with elegance and surrounded by romantic decor and instant smells of home-cooking to die for.
After seeing what the couple next to us ordered, we couldn’t hold back and went for the Seafood Paella with Chorizo; ideal for two and priced at £40.
All in all, Edinburgh is my new ‘go to’place in Scotland for a fun, foodie & cultural weekend where you can soak up stunning views and experience exceptionally great restaurants.