Edinburgh has some great generalist delicatessens, plus some Chinese and Indo-Pakistani supermarkets that are must-visits for certain ingredients and spices. But for the provenance-quoting foodie who wants the very best raw material to take home and cook? Here are the city’s leading butcher, cheesemonger, farmers’ market, fishmonger, specialist deli and wholefood store. Unless you think differently...
You could argue all day about Edinburgh’s best butcher but a great case can be made for George Bower. The business has been trading since just after World War II, it can source game that is hard to get anywhere else (partridge, rabbit or woodcock for example), its conventional butcher meat and poultry is excellent plus there is cooked meats, farmed goat, fine sausages, venison, wild boar and more.
In the south of the city, among the baronial tenements of Marchmont, Eddie’s is simply a brilliant place to buy fresh crustacea, fish and shellfish. In business for nearly 30 years, usually you’ll find langoustine and lobster here, still twitching; clams, mussels, oysters and scallops; familiar fish that will taste Michelin class if cooked correctly; plus relative exotics like snapper or swordfish. The salmon and tuna is ‘sushi grade’ of course.
A seductive avenue of more than 40 stalls, this market graces Castle Terrace, just off Lothian Road, once a week. Here you can find top-class German baking, artisan cheese, buffalo meat, excellent Scottish soft fruits, fresh fish, organic lamb and a great deal more; the producer stalls are leavened with street food outlets. Now in its 15th year, this is one of Edinburgh’s biggest foodie successes of the 21st century.
A small, cool cave of tile and brick, IJ Mellis radiates the faintly ammoniac aroma of ripening artisan cheeses from all over the UK, Ireland and Europe. For cheese fans, it's a wonderland and although there are now half a dozen branches of the business in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews, this was the first, launched in 1993. (For the other Edinburgh branches, see website.)
Real Foods has been operating in Edinburgh since 1975; its main Broughton Street store serves as the city’s premier wholefood supermarket. There is some fresh fruit and veg, there are chilled dairy items, toiletries, cosmetics and bottles of beer and wine, oils, vinegars and spreads – but the choice of dry goods (grains, pulses, herbs, spices, muesli and a great deal more) is simply astonishing. Anyone for some white quinoa from Essex?
With roots in the city going back to 1934, an award-winning Italian wine selection, a nifty caffè-bar, and arguably Scotland’s most celebrated delicatessen – all under one roof – Valvona & Crolla is the kind of venture that attracts superlatives. The fresh produce comes from Milan markets, the Italian cheese is gorgeous, the salumi equally so. Even if you go in for fresh bread, it’s hard not to emerge with a few treats.