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Since The Gardener’s Cottage opened its doors in 2012, chef and co-owner duo Ed Murray and Dale Mailley have earned themselves some serious culinary kudos. Their ethos is simple: create a great sense of place, with seasonal food, that connects the diner, the producer and the landscape.
Locanda De Gusti launched on the other side of Edinburgh some years ago, moved to up-and-coming Dalry Road in 2014 – less than five minutes’ walk from Haymarket Station – and now enjoys an enviable reputation for its food and service standards. Chef Rosario Sartore is from Naples, so the cooking has a pronounced Southern Italian style, with lots of great seafood, while the décor puts diners in mind of a bright, polite farmhouse kitchen.
A talented chef and a showman – he’s been on the telly – Greenaway brings both professionalism and fun to fine dining. He burst on the Edinburgh scene in 2011 at Picardy Place then moved his restaurant to North Castle Street in 2013. Here the interior colour scheme is predominantly pale blue and the furniture modern, but it somehow fits in a building that’s very much part of the Georgian New Town.
A city-centre restaurant with links to the Michelin-starred Kitchin in Leith, Castle Terrace has been pleasing Edinburghers’ palates since 2010. If you’re after a weekend table, you’ll have to book a few months in advance, but your efforts will be rewarded by a top-notch culinary experience.
Chef Scott Smith used to work at the Michelin-starred Peat Inn, across in Fife, but he opened Norn with his wife Laura in 2016. It’s a simple, neat space with a self-conscious absence of interior design – although the effort that goes into the food more than compensates for the lack of decorative panache.
Launched in 2015, this restaurant has one table – a breakfast bar affair immediately adjacent to the open-plan kitchen – and caters to a maximum of ten diners in a single evening sitting. The environment is swish and you interact with the chefs as they cook – it’s hard to know where the fine dining ends and the performance art begins.
Chef Stuart Ralston and front of house supremo Krystal Goff opened here in 2014 pursuing the concept of ‘bistronomie’: fresh local food and informal surroundings, but with the kind of tasting menu you’d expect in a much swankier environment. This place has a fresh, bright bistro look with a board of the latest ingredients up on the wall from which Ralston whizzes up a five-course menu.
The creation of not one, but two of Edinburgh’s Michelin-starred chefs, gastro pub The Scran & Scallie was never likely to disappoint. Couple its top-notch cuisine with its Stockbridge location – one of Edinburgh’s most affluent stomping grounds – and you have a sure-fire winner.
Not for nothing is a trip to The Witchery still considered destination dining in a capital bursting with younger, hipper models. It remains unashamedly old school, attracting moneyed Edinburghers and tourists who are more than happy to pay a few extra quid to eat in such charming historic surrounds.
Few things are more pleasing than seeing a great little pop-up get the recognition it deserves, and so it is with Ting Thai Caravan. Once serving just four great Thai dishes, it now boasts a hearty street-food menu of thoughtful innovations and taste combinations.
Dishoom has been a contemporary London success story since the original launched in 2010 near Covent Garden. As with that flagship venture, the Edinburgh outpost draws on the idea of south Asia’s Irani cafés, like the ones opened by Iranian immigrants in Mumbai back in the day.
Since opening in the home of a former clockmaker in 2008, L’Escargot Bleu has fitted in nicely among trendy coffee shops, independent booksellers and award-winning butchers. Floor-to-ceiling windows and cosy tables at the front of the restaurant create ample occasion for a cosy tête-à-tête, while the bustle of the open kitchen to the rear adds further to the bohemian Frenchness.
Right in the heart of studentsville, on the Southside of the city, Field stands apart from the so-so eateries that surround it. Its ethos is a simple one: take the model of what makes a great Michelin-starred restaurant and strip it right back to its basics, using ethically, locally and seasonally sourced produce.
Café St Honoré has been around for donkeys, but still, quite rightly, comes up in conversation as one of the nicest spots for a smart bistro meal in the centre of Edinburgh. The French angle got sidelined long ago in favour of locally sourced Scottish produce, cooked expertly, slavishly following the principles of Slow Food.
Timberyard is a very special spot on the Edinburgh restaurant scene – mostly because it nails so many of the requirements for an excellent meal out. It’s a family-run business, and owner-operators the Radfords – along with their extended team of local growers, breeders, producers, suppliers and foragers – have you in very safe hands.
This is a smart option that’s mercifully free of the stiff airs and graces you’d normally expect. It’s brasserie food with the stops pulled out, and is especially famous for its steaks. Desserts are also a highlight.
There’s a lovely relaxed feel here, from the contemporary décor to the modern Scottish menu. The dinner menu is rich in choice, with signature dishes like lobster thermidor crème brûlée among the popular choices. For dessert, it has to be the sticky toffee pudding with Caol Ila whisky butterscotch.
Despite competition from other Thistle Street eateries, and the growing number of Thai restaurants in Edinburgh, this compact, stone-walled spot remains popular (it opened in 2002) thanks to its quality cooking. Beautifully balanced Thai, Japanese, Chinese, French and Vietnamese flavours are neatly dolloped over Scottish produce.
Mother India began as a café in Glasgow in the ’90s, and this Edinburgh outpost popped up in 2008, serving Indian food in tapas portions. There are some 50 dishes on offer, some giving a fresh twist to Indian restaurant staples – the chicken tikka, for instance, comes in two variations, with nuts or with peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes.
Paul Kitching’s 21212 (opened 2009, Michelin star by 2010) is tucked away on Royal Terrace, a distinguished, cobbled boulevard of nineteenth-century townhouses on the side of Calton Hill. The cooking is among Scotland’s best. Dinner is structured around a choice of three starters, soup, a choice of three mains, a cheese course and three dessert options.