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.
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
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
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.
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.