Our favourite haunts in this dramatic city…
Though I always to struggle to say 21212 without getting tongue-tied, it does make sense once you see the menu. Paul Kitching’s Michelin-starred restaurant is definitely one for special occasions. It has captured a particular essence of Edinburgh – the dramatics of ancient art and architecture together with classic elegance – and any visit is a sumptuous experience. Those who know Paul’s restaurant Juniper will be on familiar terms with his modern French style of cooking and will relish tasting it here.
Khublai Khans Mongolian Restaurant
Definitely a restaurant for an event; Khublai Khans offers the chance for the head of your party to adorn themselves in traditional Mongolian attire, perch on an ornate throne and declare themselves ‘king’ of a princely feast. And, it’s a feast that can include kangaroo, wild boar and perhaps some unadulterated horse meat!
The sandy beaches and fantastic views that can be found in North Berwick make it one of those truly magical Scottish gems. It’s a town full of history; is not far from central Edinburgh and is home to my favourite Italian fine dining restaurant – Osteria. Angelo Cocchia (if you remember Edinburgh’s Cosmo, you’ll remember Angelo) provides simply exquisite food, as does his daughter. Talent is certainly in the genes here; Daniella won Chef of the Year when she was only 20 years old and continues to provide foodies with gourmet Italian cuisine.
Tucked away in central Edinburgh, The Mulroy has all the peace, class and tranquillity of a fine-dining restaurant located in a country house – yet it’s right in the centre of the capital. This is exactly what I love about this place; I can think of it as my very own secret. It’s a dining experience for special occasions and somewhere you know the food will be elegantly executed. I always recommend The Mulroy to those who are looking to celebrate an anniversary.
You know when you get lost in your own imagination; when you’re dreaming of vintage teacups and simpler times, when quality was paramount and afternoon tea really did last all afternoon. Days that like that I usually wind up in Casa Angelina – it’s the stuff dreams are made from. Their cakes are divine, and the teas range from the classic to the exotic. I say don your vintage clothes, tuck an old book under your arm and head down – you’ll feel altogether more relaxed after an afternoon here with a pot of Rosie Lee and one of their cupcakes.
The Dining Room
Whisky connoisseurs take heed: The Dining Room at 28 Queen Street is not just an exceptional restaurant, it is also part of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and offers divine whisky-tasting tours. If you are visiting the city, The Dining Room needs to be on your list of places to visit for a real Scottish experience and is especially good is you want to show off some old-school Edinburgh.
The Horseshoe Inn
If you’re heading out of the city, to the fresh, clean air of the Scottish Borders, The Horseshoe Inn in Eddlestone is a restaurant that provides food to feed your soul in a peaceful environment. Two AA rosettes were bestowed when it first opened; soon followed by another, and the awards keep flowing in to this day. I love visiting here, for country decadence. The beautiful rural setting means it’s also a top place to stay overnight, especially if you’re making the most of the excellent fishing at the River Tweed.
Café Royal and Oyster Bar
If there is anywhere more apt for eating oysters than Café Royal, I’d like to see it. Luxurious stained glass windows, Victorian architecture and Doulton ceramic murals certainly help me feel spoilt while quaffing a glass of Champagne and enjoying oysters Rockefeller at this Edinburgh institution.
Smoke Stack, for the uninitiated, is a pretty darn simple concept pulled off brilliantly. Simplicity and quality are at the heart of Smoke Stack and, as a result, it’s been a meat eaters’ haven for over 16 years. Your food won’t look like a work of art, but it will taste phenomenal. Of course, they are members of the Scotch Beef Club – something I, personally, always look out for when eating out in Scotland – so the meat is top-notch. If you love a deliciously chargrilled steak in a retro, chilled out environment, you’re going to love it here.
Blue Parrot Cantina
Once you eat at The Blue Parrot, you’ll be coming back on a regular basis. There are those who make a beeline for the Parrot when visiting the city, and even more who declare it the best Mexican food in Edinburgh and for miles around. Blue Parrot has that perfect balance between friendly staff and charming and slightly quirky surroundings coupled with the superb home-cooked Mexican food.
The Beach House
If it’s stunning views you’re after, The Beach House is the only place. It’s my perfect Saturday to meander along the Promenade in Portobello – both in the sunshine and on those typically blustery Edinburgh days – and then duck into The Beach House for some lunch. It’s all freshly prepared, from the hot meals to the huge chunks of soft, sweet cake. You could easily while away hours here.
Wedgwood The Restaurant
It’s well-known that Paul and Lisa Wedgwood created a fine-dining establishment based on all the elements of their own perfect night out. I, for one, have always had a lovely night out here, so they really hit the nail on the head. You can spend a whole evening at Wedgwood (you’ll never be ‘turned’) being wined and dined and always made to feel special.
Forth Floor @ Harvey Nichols
For amazing views over Edinburgh, you can’t beat Forth Floor @ Harvey Nichols. Nothing is more satisfying than off-loading a day’s retail therapy and supping a glass of Champagne to recuperate. Not just a place for tired feet and thirsty shoppers, Forth Floor is an exceptional restaurant too. With the lights of Edinburgh twinkling through the floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s one of the most romantic settings in the city, and certainly boasts the food to match.
If you’re going to trust anyone to supply you with the finest seafood, it may as well be a mussel and scallop farmer. So centrally located, it really would be a crime to miss out on the Mussel Inn, especially given the amazing standard of seafood. It’s everything you love about seafood: the sociable atmosphere that comes with sharing platters of mussels with chattering friends, and the delicate, fresh flavours which make this type of cuisine so very moreish. The scallops here are to die for.
The World’s End
Here is a traditional hideaway that will have history buffs clamouring to visit. It’s so rooted in Edinburgh’s historic old town that, of course, the menu is traditionally Scottish with black puddings and haggis all round. I love the story behind this pub’s name – its situation was originally at the old gates to the city and in the 16th Century, Edinburgers believed that these gates marked the end of the world. Drastic! Thankfully, the end of the world has never occurred thus far, so there’s still the chance to enjoy a pint and yummy Scottish fare.