Old-school charm and decadent dining without the stuffiness
Not for nothing is a trip to The Witchery still considered destination dining in a capital bursting with younger, hipper models. Set at the top of the capital’s historic Royal Mile, just a shoe shuffle from Edinburgh Castle, the Witchery hits you with the wow factor before you even walk through the door.
Nestled in a 16th-century building, through an Old Town close, the Witchery was created in 1979, long before the city was booming with fine dining experiences, and has survived almost four decades by playing to its strengths. Today, it remains unashamedly old school, attracting moneyed Edinburghers and tourists who are more than happy to pay a few extra bucks to eat in such charming historic surrounds. The overly attentive staff can feel a tad try-hard, but everything manages to stay on just the right side of pompous.
And though its dishes can’t always match some of the city’s newer faces for innovation, you’d do well to better it for decadent dining out. From the candlelit stone staircase that leads down to one of the dining rooms, to the heavyweight cutlery, crisp linen and splendid candelabras, everything is crafted to make you feel special. Scottish produce is unsurprisingly at the fore, and while the steak tartare is largely punted as a must-try signature dish, it’s hard to beat the Isle of Mull scallops (hand-dived by Guy Grieve of the Ethical Shellfish Company) or the rich and plentiful lamb wellington for two. The wine list, boasting 800 suggestions, makes War and Peace look like a cheeky holiday read, but the sommeliers are good at gauging your tastes, and, more helpfully, your budget, before suggesting what you should plump for.
The à la carte will almost certainly pull at the purse strings, but the lunch and theatre supper menus, both currently £18.95, as well as the Table d’Hote menu, are excellent, and offer a taste of the place for a fraction of the cost.
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The Royal Mile