Edinburgh is a city with two very different faces. The crowded, gaudy, noisy summer season, where the streets of central Edinburgh are thronged with tourists and comedy fans on pilgrimages to the world famous Fringe festival. Everywhere is busy, streets are plastered with posters and bars spill out onto the streets into the wee hours.
For the rest of the year, however, the city can be stunningly peaceful, and affords travellers the opportunity to get to know its restaurants and museums without the crowds. It’s a city that is always welcoming, warm (even when it’s freezing cold) and endlessly beautiful.
Edinburgh is fast becoming a destination for food lovers and chefs alike. Long-time Michelin-starred stalwarts like Restaurant Martin Wishart and The Kitchin are showing no signs of budging from the Leith waterfront, and young chefs are opening new places every year. So, we've compiled the best of Edinburgh’s culinary scene for you to enjoy once lockdown eases.
For intimate fine dining - The Little Chartroom
On the main road down from the centre of Edinburgh to Leith, sits an unassuming little restaurant - The Little Chartroom. It’s run by Roberta Hall-McCarron - named Breakthrough Chef of the Year by Food and Travel in 2019 - and she is clearly going places.
If dining alone, try and grab a seat at the counter, so you can watch the young chefs plate dishes in front of you - the presentation is sublime and the process intricate. The menu is pared back, but make sure you go in for all three courses - you won’t want to miss out on anything. The menu is seasonal, local produce, and it’s all perfect. We had duck, venison, and a rice pudding so beautiful it could have been art. It’s a relaxed, unassuming place with a laid back atmosphere, but it serves food that would be at home in the hush and starched linens of the Michelin-starred places down the road. If you can score a table, you won’t regret it - this may be the best restaurant in Edinburgh at the moment.
30-31 Albert Place, EH7 5HN
For a quick lunch - Bross Bagels
There are six locations of this cult bagel bar, spread across the city all the way down to Leith and Portobello. Their original Montreal-style bagels (the real deal - forget New York bagels) are packed with classic and original fillings, making it the perfect pit-stop for lunch. Picking up a ‘Porty’ - hot smoked salmon, lemon, dill and black pepper - or a ‘Porkin Chick’ - chicken, chorizo, smoked applewood cheese and pickles - from the Portobello branch and finding a spot on the expansive seafront to watch the windsurfers zip up and down the bay is one of the better ways of spending a breezy afternoon in Edinburgh.
186 Portobello High Street
For a meal with a view - The Lookout by Gardeners Cottage
If you’re looking for a restaurant with sweeping views of the city, there aren’t that many to choose from. However, The Lookout, from the team behind the Gardener’s Cottage, is perched atop Calton Hill, and it’s huge panoramic windows give an amazing view of the city skyline.
They use only the freshest local ingredients, and serve a pared back, Scandinavian-inspired menu. Go for breakfast (or brunch if the idea of an early walk up the hill isn’t appealing). There’s only one thing on the menu - breakfast. It’s a set meal, and a smorgasbord of delights; cured meats, boiled eggs, fresh fruit, yoghurt, smoked salmon, sourdough… lingering here with a cup of coffee and watching the skyline is something special. They also do lunch and dinner - the offering is light, fresh and local, and there’s plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. There’s an almost spa-like atmosphere to this place - take your time to drink it all in before heading back down the hill.
For a lazy weekend afternoon - The Scran and Scallie
The neighbourhood of Stockbridge is nestled down by the river, away from the hustle and bustle of Princes Street and the Royal Mile, and it’s full of good food. Chief among the myriad cafes, delicatessens and pubs is the Scran and Scallie. It’s warm and spacious, with an extensive wine list and the atmosphere, with dark blue walls, plenty of leather banquettes and tweed cushions, could almost be the perfect template for an upmarket Scottish pub. The menu is the product of a collaboration between two of Edinburgh’s top chefs - Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack, and is full of upgraded pub classics.
If it wasn’t already clear from the menu - entitled ‘Oor Menu: sit ye doon yer welcome’ - they are keen to showcase the very best of Scottish produce. The jewel in the crown is the steak pie - glossy, perfectly crisp pastry, with a whole hollow bone protruding from the top. Don’t perry, it’s not grisly at all - it allows the juicy bone marrow to slide down into the pie and add to the richness. Combined with a side of creamy mashed potato and a large glass of red, it’s the perfect cosy Sunday lunch. Make sure to book a table - it gets busy!
1 Comely Bank Road
With so many amazing places to choose from, Edinburgh's food scene is fighting for recognition - and winning.
While some people are uncomfortable dining alone, in my line of work I tend to dine out alone quite often, so I've become accustomed to it and actually look forward to it from time to time. During a recent visit to Dublin, I went for lunch at The Grayson, a restaurant I'd heard a great deal about, so I couldn't wait to enjoy some fab food, while having a bit of down time.
Grayson’s motto is for 'every guest to leave feeling better than they did before they entered,' and my experience certainly didn’t disappoint.
The restaurant is located in a previously residential townhouse opposite St Stephen’s Green. Built in 1745 as a home for Mrs Ruth Croker, it is said that she hosted many fabulous parties for Dublin’s eminent figures and it's evident that the staff hope to continue that very ethos.
The building itself is extraordinary and the designer has managed to highlight its original features and protect its structure while creating a fresh, bright and comfortable atmosphere. Upon arrival, the first thing you notice is the facade, covered in luscious ivy that runs the height of the building, giving a contemporary chic feel to the place. Through the Georgian entryway, guests are greeted by an exquisitely carved staircase that winds its way up to the two stories above.
Arriving at the ground floor reception, I headed to the back of the building to check out the Atrium, a bright, warm and welcoming area where I perched at the bar and enjoyed a chilled glass of champagne as I perused the menu.
Marble is the standout feature on the ground floor, even extending into the lovely bathrooms, with four varieties sourced from Portugal and Italy, all having subtle differences in colour and pattern. Art brightens the walls across the entire building, with pieces from artists Phillip Allen, Mark Francis, David Godbold, Callum Innes as well as Swiss artist Liliane Tomasko.
When I was ready for my lunch, I ventured to the upstairs dining room. The hallway is quite grand with the original decorative ceiling high above, and the wall panelling and gold detailing that decorates the staircase is all intact.
The dining room was impeccable, with big sash windows overlooking Ireland’s arguably most famous park. High ceilings, parquet wooden floors, fireplaces, and elegant small bars shape all the rooms.
Food in the Grayson is the brainchild of Head Chef Jacson Reboli, who has been putting together a diverse menu that is centred on fresh ingredients that are bursting with colour and flavour. The menu is contemporary and modern Irish cuisine, and is an assortment of salads, meats and seafood.
I had the Parmesan Chicken Salad, which is a combination of chicken breast, baby gem, roasted peppers, Nduja aioli topped with Parmesan cheese, all washed down with chilled champagne.
Hospitality is the name of the game at The Grayson, and in my opinion they've nailed it! The food was delicious, the service was impeccable and the location, the interiors, and the atmosphere were all wonderful, making for a delightful afternoon.
With only 48 hours to spend in Stratford upon Avon, we wanted to ensure we made the most of our time there. When we asked our friends for dinner recommendations, Loxleys was at the top of everyone’s lists as the 'must visit' restaurant in the area. Having come so strongly recommended, we couldn't wait to dine there.
Given its popularity, it's advised to book in advance, so we booked in for an early dinner.
There’s a very elegant little wine bar by the entrance, for those who want to enjoy a drink before their meal, however as we were famished, we asked to be taken straight to our table. The restaurant is spread over two floors, and we were seated on the ground floor, towards the back of the restaurant. Exposed brickwork throughout creates a very relaxed atmosphere.
During our visit on a Friday night, the place was pretty packed, however, the waiting staff were still attentive, without being intrusive.
Loxleys is a family-run restaurant with a mission “to offer customers a fresh, locally produced product with excellent service.”
The varied seasonal menu caters for all tastes and features an excellent selection of fish and grill specials, salads, classic dishes and small plates. To kick things off, we ordered a couple of small plates to graze on while we pondered our options for the starters and mains: the Nocellara del Belice olives, which come with smoked almonds, and the red pepper hummus, which was accompanied by a selection of crudités.
Given the menu had so many excellent options to choose from, we had the staff help us select our starters and mains.
The restaurant serves modern British dishes with a focus on classic flavour combinations. Head chef, Paul McCoombes’ aim is to cook simple food brilliantly with its own Loxleys' ‘twist’ that is impossible to find in any other restaurant in the area.
For starters we decided to go local and opted for the Cotswold Gin Cured Chalk Stream Trout with Horseradish Crème Fraiche and Pickles served with rye bread; and the whipped Black Pepper Goats Cheese with Butternut Squash, Filo Pastry, Pickled Beetroot, Vanilla Honey, Old Winchester and Walnut Crisp. The starters were well-sized portions and were bursting with an array of flavours.
For the mains we opted for a Loxley’s classic, the Super 12 Salad, which consists of quinoa, cape gooseberry’s, beetroot, pomegranate, red cabbage, edamame beans, bean sprouts, chickpeas, spinach, conﬁt garlic, chia seeds & tahini dressing with a side of grilled chicken. My dining partner chose the Thyme Roasted Chicken Supreme with soft herb giant couscous, glazed carrots, and celeriac served in a chicken reduction.
For drinks we opted to share a bottle of reasonably priced Laurent Perrier Champagne, which was superb. Unfortunately, we didn't have room for dessert as we were too stuffed, but it was probably for the best anyways as when we looked around the restaurant, we realised we were the last patrons! That being said, even though time had escaped us, the staff were waiting patiently to close up. This is the beauty of Loxleys, it is so relaxed, no one rushes you out the door and it's evident that service and hospitality are of the utmost importance.
The food is creative and well executed and the service is outstanding thanks to a hospitable owner and a service-oriented team.
One of D&D London’s many impressive restaurants within its portfolio, Bluebird is a Chelsea institution renowned for its fabulous location on the Kings Road and its well-heeled clientele who go to enjoy delicious food in elegant surroundings.
I had always assumed Bluebird was named after the bird bearing the same moniker, however, it was inspired by the Bluebird K7, the world’s first successful jet-powered hydroplane, which was driven by British racer Donald Campbell who set seven world water speed records between 1955 and 1967.
The décor is industrial chic / New York loft meets refined elegance. Floral displays and trees scattered throughout the restaurant create a sense of calm and bring a bit of the outdoors in, while soaring rust-coloured steel rafters and large leaded glass picture windows looking down onto the action of the Kings Road below create a striking focal point. Add to the mix lashings of 60s-inspired décor and I can’t help but think that Mad Men’s Donald Draper wouldn’t feel out of place sipping an Old Fashioned at the bar, while admiring the stylish diners from afar.
I’ve been to Bluebird on many an occasion for a lazy and indulgent brunch, but I’ve never been for dinner, so I was excited to try the new menu by Executive Chef Harvey Ayliffe. Bringing over 30 years’ diverse experience (including J Sheekey, Le Caprice, The Ivy and Soho House), Harvey’s updated edition of Bluebird’s menu reflects the fun-loving nature of the restaurant.
The new menu focuses on classic dishes with a new twist. There are comforting options such as the Bluebird chicken pie, with cep mushroom, smoked garlic mash and January king cabbage or for those who like a bit of spice, there are more exotic dishes to be had such as the Malvani monkfish & king prawn curry served with coconut chutney, lime rice and naan bread. There are also a selection of vegetarian and vegan options, including dishes like cumin roasted aubergine, toasted freekeh, pomegranate and pistachio dukka.
The chicken pie was like a comforting hug – the perfect meal for a cold, winter’s day. With lots of chunky veg and lashings of gravy, it was all the things a pie should be. Carrying on with the comfort food theme, we had the vegan truffle macaroni and cheese, which was actually quite nice given the bad rep vegan cheese has, although it wasn’t as creamy as traditional cheese, but that’s pretty difficult to replicate, to be fair. Although the macaroni was covered in truffle, it was actually very mild in flavour, so for those who find too much truffle overwhelming, it’s just right.
Other dishes we tucked into included the spatchcock chicken - a Caribbean-inspired dish with a mild bit of a kick, served with fresh slaw and shaved slices of mango and pineapple.
For dessert we went for the Bluebird –which consisted of chocolate and praline mousse, and candied hazelnuts and chocolate ice fashioned into a glittering blue version of the hydroplane served on a bed of dry ice for dramatic effect. Although it was tasty, I couldn’t really get my head around the look of it, but I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to desserts. The honeycomb mousse with caramelised banana and crushed biscuit ice cream, was much more to my liking, but it’s hard to go wrong with those flavours!
Bluebird Chelsea is the perfect place to visit when you want to enjoy a leisurely meal in gorgeous surroundings. In the heart of the action on the Kings Road, it’s the ideal place to visit after a spot of retail therapy.
Feast on meat at this stunning riverside restaurant
You can keep your Veganuary, we're going meaty all the way! Carnivores rejoice - this meat-focused oasis in Butler's Wharf is scrum diddly umptious.
I've long been a fan of the Butler's Wharf area near Tower Bridge with its wide assortment of riverside restaurant, cafes and boutique shops, perfect for popping into after a long stroll along the Thames. Given I hadn't been to the area since summer, I was excited to visit The Butler's Wharf Chop House, a relaxed riverside restaurant celebrating all things meaty and wonderful.
The location is hard to beat. Smack bang next to the River Thames looking directly across at Tower Bridge, you couldn't get any closer to the bridge unless you were dining on top of it.
Restaurant review: Parlour, London
The word 'parlour' originates from the French world 'parlez' (to speak), which explains why the parlour has long been used as a room for entertaining guests - a room where people literally meet to speak.
At this fantastic little gem of a restaurant, Head Chef Jessie Dunnford-Wood has created just that. A place for people to connect and converse all while enjoying delicious food that's guaranteed to keep everyone gathered round the table.
This all-day restaurant is popular with locals thanks to its relaxed atmosphere and the friendly staff who strike the fine balance of being warm, welcoming and attentive, without being intrusive.
The tasting menu
While there is an a la carte menu, I recommend ordering the superb 10-course taster menu, which is perfect for whiling away a few hours with friends, while enjoying a magically playful dining experience.
We kicked things off with a glass of cava, which was served with six homemade syrups you could use should you choose – the apple pie being our favourite of the lot. If you’re not drinking, the syrups are equally delicious paired with sparkling water.
While we loved everything on the 10-course menu, some of our favourite highlights included:
To compliment the tasting menu, we were recommended a delicious Bulgarian Bordeaux, which paired beautifully with the dishes.
Given this was my first experience of a tasting menu, I didn’t know what to expect, however, the enthusiasm and knowledge of chefs Lorenzo, Matthew and Blondine brought an almost theatrical element to the experience.
Other food to enjoy
Parlour’s signature dish, Desperate Dan’s Cow Pie, is large enough for sharing. The tasty gravy with chunks of juicy, tender meat covered in a blanket of light melt-in-your mouth buttery pastry, is a must! For the locals reading this, they are currently doing a pie night every Wednesday, with two pints, a pie and two sides for £20!.
For the carnivore who loves roasts, the mixed roast is fabulous. It includes beef, chicken, pork belly and lamb, served with a fantastic range of vegetables (including potato spaghetti), all topped off with gravy.
We paired the mixed roast with a slightly weightier Argentian Malbec, which was the perfect choice. To round this all off, we were brought a tray of digestives to choose from, which was a nice end to the meal.
A sweet Magic Pill
To move from savoury to sweet, we were given the ‘Magic Pill’ experience. This much celebrated miracle fruit officially named 'synsepalum dulcificam' originates from Ghana. When you chew it it transforms your taste buds for about 10 minutes making everything taste sweet. It's an incredible taste experience and sets you up nicely for the desserts. At this point we were about three hours in to our meal and loving every minute of it!
Desserts included cheesecake with apple crumble, salted caramel rollos, chocolate fudge and a cheese board as we had to try the home-made Eccles cake and the whipped goats cheese.
We rolled out with our bellies full, smiles on our faces and a sense there's no better way to spend a cold drizzly Sunday. We can't to visit in springtime to enjoy brunch in the garden. See you there!
Glasgow's Style Mile has a fabulous new addition in the shape of The Ivy Restaurant. Located on the site of the former Nationwide Building Society, in the heart of the city centre in The Royal Exchange Square, this new haunt will no doubt prove to be an irresistible magnet for the Glasgow glitterati.
The Ivy Collection is a well-known group of upmarket restaurants, brassieres and cafés, first established in London and now growing regionally across the UK. This is their second offering in Scotland, with the first Ivy established in Edinburgh.
Set across two floors, the The Ivy Buchanan Street brassiere offers sophisticated yet relaxed all-day dining, striking interiors and fabulous menus. Here Glaswegians are able to enjoy breakfast, elevenses, lunch, light snacks, afternoon tea, cocktails, weekend brunch or dinner.
As a nod to its location, the walls of the restaurant are adorned with locally referenced artwork, including prints featuring influences from Mackintosh, Glaswegian fashion, Scottish opera and transport.
As well as the main restaurant, the space features two beautiful onyx bars and a glamorous private dining room, seating 24 guests and providing a beautiful location for exclusive events, drinks receptions, birthdays and working lunches. The Parisian-style outdoor seating area can be enjoyed all summer long, whilst DJs and musicians provide exciting, regular entertainment on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings for those dining upstairs or enjoying cocktails at the beautiful first floor bar.
Head Chef Brian Scanlan oversees the kitchen, and he offers a wide and varied menu which also includes "Ivy classics", so if you're a fan of the London based restaurants, you won't be disappointed.
My family and I chose to dine on a Tuesday night and the place was packed to the rafters, creating a buzzing atmosphere. Our only issue was that the music was too loud, or perhaps that’s us just showing our age!
We ordered a selection of starters, including the oak smoked salmon, the native lobster served with a samphire risotto, the prawn cocktail and the tempura prawns with salt and pepper squid. The most outstanding starter was the risotto, which was devoured as soon as it arrived at the table!
For mains I opted for the native lobster linguine, made with a chilli tomato sauce, fresh San Marzanino tomatoes and garnished with parsley and spring onion, which exceeded expectations. My husband chose the steak and was pleasantly surprised as they cooked it exactly the way he likes it - rare. We've eaten out on many occasions and they always manage to overcook it, however they nailed it. My son had a chicken salad and my daughter Karam chose a smoked salmon dish.
I’m a huge fan of coffee flavoured everything, so it was a no brainer when it came to dessert, I ordered the warm chocolate cake served with coffee sauce, I hate to say it, but I was rather disappointed, the cake was not warm and the coffee sauce wasn't strong enough. That being said, the day was saved with the apple tartin, which comes with a side of theatre - flambéed tableside, it certainly grabbed our attention and the children loved it! We can also recommend the melting chocolate bomb, a sphere that dissolves once the hot salted caramel sauce is added.
All in all, we had a wonderful time and have already booked in our next visit.
106 Buchanan Street
Overlooking the crystal-clear, azure waters of Calida Tarida Beach, Cotton Beach Club is one of the most exquisitely decadent spots in Ibiza. Located on the west side of the island, teeming with dozens of sailboats, speedboats and super yachts, this fabulous beach club is second to none for luxe lovers seeking sublime food and wine with jaw-dropping views.
The decor & design
Almost as an homage to Ibiza's famous exports – salt, where Ibiza gets its name; The White Isle, and style; the Cotton Beach Club is gleaming white throughout, creating a sense of relaxed sophistication.
The majority of the seating options are inside the terrace with its unobstructed view of the seascape, however, there are a few tables outside for those who wish to enjoy the heat under the cover of sails and parasols. There is also a decked area adjacent to the terrace where people can imbibe while appreciating a cool sea breeze or the small, private beach that’s perfect for lounging with a cocktail in hand.
This gorgeous venue attracts equally gorgeous patrons; making it the perfect escape for the jet set who appreciate the finer things in life. Its sophistication is evident in every detail from crisp white linens to sparkling glasses.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by two beautifully spirited girls with abundant smiles, who led us to our table past the reception area with its cute lounge area with comfy armchairs (a great spot where guests can chill out).
As you’d expect with an establishment of this calibre, all ingredients are locally sourced, and everything is handmade with panache on the premises. The menu is an interesting fusion of influences across Asian and Mediterranean cuisine and includes a selection of meats (beef, ham, burgers, lamb and pig), fish and seafood and salad. The desserts are pretty special and the wine list quite an adventure. I'm a big fan of sharing and being so close to the ocean, we fancied diving into some of the seafood, sushi and fish on offer. We went for a mix of South American and Asian flavours.
We ordered the heavenly Peruvian Ceviche with Tiger Milk, which was oozing with delicate fragrant flavours; the catch of the day with sweet potato, coriander and corn of the Andes (€30). We also splurged for oysters (€15) and the Chef’s sushi plate – a mix of sashimi, nigiri and premium rolls (€78).
It was so hot on the day that unfortunately the sushi Chef's Plate got warm pretty quickly without us realising, so we didn't finish the last few pieces, which was a shame. So, if you order this, ask your waitress to hold it until you are ready, so it’s served perfectly chilled.
To finish, we went for the incredible coconut crème brulee with vanilla, coconut and lime and the creamy white chocolate soup, which sounds odd, but is divine.
The service was fantastic throughout our meal; at no point did we feel rushed nor suffocated by over-eager staff and our wine and water was always topped up in perfect rhythm.
Open daily from April until October. Food is served from 1.30pm until 01.00am.
Carrer Posta de Sol
Carrer de Cala Tarida, 21
For anyone that’s enjoyed reading Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit, famed for his cheeky antics in Mr. McGregor’s garden, the The Peter Rabbit™ Afternoon Tea at Le Meridien Hotel, Piccadilly, isn’t to be missed. The afternoon tea is situated on the second floor in The Terrace restaurant, a chic, light and airy conservatory style space, which is bright and cheerful on a sunny afternoon.
I love anything nostalgic, especially if it’s well executed, so I couldn’t wait to see how they’d brought the theme to life throughout the afternoon tea. The exceptionally cute menu, with its gorgeous Peter Rabbit illustrations, helped to set the tone and got us in the mood for what was to follow.
Other tasty items included a marvellous strawberry ganache mushroom with a crunchy meringue stem, carrot cake (a favourite of any rabbit), an open blackberry macaroon topped with creme patisserie and a blackberry garnish, and fresh scones (fruit and plain) with jam and clotted cream and a selection of loose- leaf teas.
All of the delightful items for the adult’s afternoon tea were served on a multi-tiered slate board, which added to the rustic garden feel and gave us a good view of all of the treats on offer. The children’s version was served in a wooden crate, which is also cute and included lovely little touches, such as a 'no rabbits' sign tucked inside the edible flower pot.
We’d definitely recommend the Peter Rabbit afternoon tea for anyone looking to relive this favourite childhood classic.
STK’s menu is not for the fainthearted at the best of times, so it’s no surprise to discover it’s new Sunday Roast is a beast of an affair.
The slick eatery at the ME London hotel is renowned for its decadent setting as much as its 28-day custom aged USDA prime beef. The huge space more resembles a nightclub than a restaurant and its Sunday roast clientele appeared to be dressed as such; a dozen women with the same eyebrows out for a Sunday date with their skinny jean and polo shirt wearing boyfriends. Plus my friend Chloe and I ready to gorge ourselves on every carb under the sun… It is also worth noting the playlist was absolutely banging, the perfectly curated smorgasbord of noughties R&B.
The roast is exceptionally good value for money at £24 per head with bottomless drinks options available to tack on and the amount of food is staggering.
Unsurprisingly the meat was sublime; two massive slabs of succulently juicy beef accompanied with plentiful supplies of gravy and horseradish. The side were pretty carb-heavy. Roasted parsnips, carrots and butternut and STK’s famously delicious parmesan truffle chips would have been enough. The cornbread, whilst undoubtedly an American classic, felt like a slightly unnecessary addition to the spread, but the truffled mac and cheese I could have eaten for days; the perfect levels of cheesy. To top it all off the piece de resistance was two Yorkshire puddings literally the size of our heads. Pretty darn tasty however we only managed one; the second was taken home in a doggy bag but I did see several around us being sent back which seemed a little wasteful.
My only critique was that it could do with some greenery, a sentence I never thought I’d say, but the carbfest needed maybe even just a dish of spinach to alleviate our gluttony with something that resembles a shred of vitamin. That being said, bar the cornbread it was a pretty superb roast.
For something that was only a few pounds more than an extremely average experience in a local pub, if you’re after a different location for a slightly more special experience, you’re in for a treat.
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There's nothing more delicious in life than indulging in a sensational meal.