From Michelin star extravagance to simply delicious dinners, sample the best
3 Royal Terrace
Tel: 0845 222 1212
Near Five minutes from the Playhouse
Having opened in May 2009, Paul Kitching’s opulent restaurant was awarded a Michelin star the following January. The contemporary dining room and open kitchen are housed in an elegant Georgian townhouse but the food is cutting-edge modern. Expect the unexpected from the daily changing menu, with many of the dishes featuring head-spinning numbers of ingredients all carefully balanced. A typical dish might be the starter of white crab claw slaw; a creamy gourmet mushroom risotto including shitake, shimeji, button, morel, truffle and chestnut; cucumber wafers; smoked duck and pak choi with a morel mushroom, Madeira and white truffle oil sauce. It’s a bold, sometimes baffling and unique experience, though Kitching claims to have calmed his more extravagant tendencies.
Scotch Whisky Experience
Tel: 0131 477 8477
Near Two minutes from the Tattoo
With 300 malts, this restaurant café at the top of the Royal Mile will put a smile on the face of any whisky fan. During the day, the café menu includes dishes such as Scottish tapas or lamb stovies. In the evening, the candles come out and the operation kicks up a couple of gears, with options such as guinea fowl beast with skirlie, spinach and glazed carrots. Whisky heads can ask the sommelier to match malts to each course of their meal. If you want to push the boat out, try private dining in the vault, housing the Diageo Claive Didiz Scotch Whisky Collection.
BLACKWOOD’S BAR & GRILL
10 Gloucester Place
Tel: 0131 225 2720
Near Five minutes to St Stephen’s
Impeccably sourced Scottish ingredients, much of it cooked in a charcoal-fired Josper grill, are at the heart of this restaurant. Blackwood’s is part of the Nira Caledonia hotel and the dining room is as elegant as the Georgian townhouse it sits in. The food tends towards the honest and simple. Grass-fed Highland cattle provide the dry aged steaks. Given a light, smoky tang from the Josper served with a shallot and port wine jus, it’s hard to see past the sirloin steak; but there’s a good case for starters such as the Shetland mussels cooked with white wine and chilli.
33-35 Castle Terrace
Tel: 0131 229 1222
Near Five minutes from Traverse
Tom Kitchin, the Michelin hotshot chef and owner of The Kitchin, opened this new venture in 2010 and it was given its own star by the Michelin Guide in October 2011. Kitchin’s old friend and colleague Dominic Jack, who had had a similarly stellar career to Kitchin, is the main man in the kitchen. They have also won both Restaurant of the Year and Most Innovative Restaurant at the 2012 Scottish Restaurant Awards. Sourced, seasonal, local produce with a touch of the Med is the house style. Think seared fillet of North Sea John Dory, served on a ragout of coco beans, artichoke and aged balsamic. The three-course lunch is for £26.50. One of Edinburgh’s top restaurants.
CUCINA AT HOTEL MISSONI
1 George IV Bridge
Tel: 0131 240 1666
Near Two minutes from Underbelly
Opened in June 2009, Hotel Missoni was the first in a series of hotels from the Italian fashion and design house Missoni. The first-floor restaurant is a buzzy space majoring in a modern take on classic Italian cooking. Well-sourced, seasonal ingredients treated simply are the main focus of the regular menu from head chef Matti Camorani, a protégé gnocchi of Giorgio Locatelli. Think pork fillet, saffron gremolata and basil crust or guinea fowl stuffed with mushrooms and cabbage with roasted vegetables. The desserts, especially the poached pear, honey ice cream and amaretto jelly, are more experimental. The restaurant won the Italian Restaurant of the Year award at the Scottish Restaurant Awards in 2011, 2012 and were nominated again this year.
THE FORTH FLOOR
at Harvey Nichols, 30-34 St Andrew Square
Tel: 0131 524 8350
Near Five minutes to The Stand
With views across the City skyline, very professional staff and a good wine list, Harvey Nicks has a lot going for it. In the recently revamped restaurant (ask for a booth), head chef Stuart Muir rustles up main courses such as the roast saddle of Highland venison with pomme mousseline, braised cabbage, stuffed plum with haggis and cocoa nibs. The brasserie menu is simpler and correspondingly cheaper. Typical dishes might be the roast Loch Duart salmon with sautéed potatoes and cherry tomatoes or the pan-fried calf’s liver. On a sunny afternoon, if you can get a seat, the balcony is a great place for a steak frites or seafood platter. They are pretty nifty with a cocktail shaker as well.
58a North Castle Street
Tel: 0131220 2513
Near Five minutes to Book Festival
Having kick-started Edinburgh’s Michelin star rush with his eponymous fine dining restaurant in Leith, Martin Wishart’s City Centre venture is his take on a classic Parisian brasserie. It certainly looks like a grand old European institution – all high ceilings, mirrors and marble effect floors. The menus consist mainly of polished brasserie classics. Think salt cod with carrot and star anise purée, rigatoni and black pudding sauce, or crispy pork belly with spiced lentils, sea scallops and apple. Paul Tamburrini, an old compadre of Wishart’s, heads up the kitchen. The set lunch and pre-theatre menus are good value for money, too.
78 Commercial Quay, Leith
Tel: 0131 555 1755
Near Ten minutes by taxi to City Centre
Open less than a year before gaining its first Michelin star, Tom Kitchin’s restaurant has lit up Edinburgh’s dining scene and his subsequent TV appearances have further polished his reputation. The chef trained with big names such as Pierre Koffmann and Alain Ducasse, which is reflected in the classical French slant to the food. ‘From nature to plate’ is the restaurant’s philosophy and a recent menu boasted dishes such as seared, hand-dived Orkney scallop served with a ragoût of sea kale from Eassie Farm; poached monkfish tail from Scrabster, cooked on the bone with saffron, squid, winkles and squid ink pasta and roast breast of duck from Loomswood Farm served with duck leg pastille, endive tatin and an orange sauce. You’ll pay top whack, but remember the meal long after the bill stops stinging.
7 Dock Place
Tel: 0131 554 0008
Near Ten minute taxi to Playhouse
Although run by the same people as the popular Khushi’s, Mithas bears as much relation to the standard Indian restaurant as foie gras does to liverwurst. Having won Best Indian Restaurant at the Scottish Restaurant Awards last year, they aim to redefine what its customers think of as a typical Indian restaurant. Mithas is pitched at the fine-dining end of the market. Forget chicken tikka masala and think monkfish tikka, tandoori duck and whole tawa lobster, delicately spiced before being cooked on the tawa grill.
11a William Street
Tel: 0131 225 6061
Near Five minutes to Book Festival
Almost certainly Edinburgh’s most blue-blooded restaurant, the Mulroy is the baby of Clemens and Patricia Hoss-Estenfeld, a couple with close links to European royalty. You don’t need a king’s ransom to eat here, just an appreciation of top-notch French food courtesy of chef Damian Rolain, formerly of Abstract and The Atrium, plus assorted French Michelin-star restaurants. A typical main course might be the duo of Border spring lamb: roast saddle and braised shoulder, button mushroom, mint and green pea purée, chive pomme dauphine and lemon thyme jus.
Balmoral Hotel, 1 Princes Street
Tel: 0131 557 6727
Near Five minutes to Playhouse
Head Chef Jeff Bland secured a Michelin star at number one in 2003 and shows no sign of relinquishing it. The basement restaurant is as sumptuous as you might expect at one of Rocco Forte’s flagship hotels and it has deluxe food to match. Beef sirloin, tongue, shallot spelt risotto and aubergine purée is a feature on the menu. The a la carte is £64 for three courses. The multi-course taster menu offers a blow-out at £70 plus £55 if you want to spoil yourself with selected matching wines.
2 George IV Bridge
Tel: 0131 226 1888
Near One minute to the Underbelly
Ondine is a smart, chic place whose distinguishing feature is a horseshoe crustacean bar where diners perch on stools, sip champers and tuck away oysters, clams and lobster. The hot shellfish platter with aioli is Brett’s signature dish but there are plenty of earthy meat options. Brett used to work for Rick Stein and shares his enthusiasm for sustainability. It’s always nice to know that your grilled langoustines in pastis butter are ethically sourced. Ondine is said to be Alex Salmond’s favourite restaurant.
50-54 Henderson Street
Tel: 0131 554 5556
Near Ten minutes by taxi to the City Centre
Complex, classical cooking is the name of the game here. A typical starter would be guinea fowl and leek terrine with shallot and prune purée and pickled shimeji mushroom salad. Sautéed tranche of calves liver and pancetta, alongside horseradish mashed potato, broccoli, dubonnet and orange and shallot sauce is the sort of dish that might appear among the changing main courses.
POMPADOUR BY GALVIN
The Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Princes Street
Tel: 0131 222 8975
Near Five minutes from Usher Hall
The flagship restaurant of the relaunched Caledonian, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Pompadour by Galvin is a classic and high end French restaurant. Chris and Jeff Galvins’ surname is on the door but the day-to-day cooking is done by the talented Craig Sandle. Presented with verve and precision, dishes such as the roulade of foie gras and ham hock, pineapple purée and fennel croutons keep it innovative while respecting French traditions. The signature dish of chicken cooked in a pig’s bladder with foie gras sauce is a real showstopper. It won’t be a surprise if this adds to the growing haul of Michelin stars.
RESTAURANT MARK GREENAWAY
69 North Castle Street
Tel: 0131 226 1155
Near Five minutes from Assembly Rooms
Now in new premises, Mark continues to develop his own take on contemporary British cooking. Never dull, his dishes aim to surprise without feeling forced. A typical main course might be the Goosnargh duck, cooked sous vide and served with crispy skin, duck leg croquettes, watermelon, toast purée and tarragon jus. A three course dinner is upwards of £35 while the set lunch/pre-theatre starts at £16.50 for two courses.
RESTAURANT MARTIN WISHART
54 The Shore
Tel: 0131 553 3557
Near Ten minute taxi ride to City Centre
Wishart trained with Michel and Albert Roux and worked alongside Marco Pierre White, so it is no surprise that his elegant cooking is strongly influenced by the classic French tradition. A typical dish might be the Shetland monkfish, with thinly sliced, confit tomato, Pecorino sardo, verjus and crispy shallot. Lunch is £70 for three a la carte courses, or £75 for six tasting courses. Unusually for a restaurant of this calibre, it has a dedicated vegetarian tasting menu.
Tel: 0131 225 1333
Near Ten minute taxi to Pleasance
Before James Thomson took over, Prestonfield House was showing its age. Enjoy its theatricality, where a typical dish might be a roast loin of Strathspey red deer, black pudding crumble, red cabbage purée and potato mousse.
12 Picardy Place
Tel: 0131 557 0952
Near Two minutes to Playhouse
This new, dramatically designed restaurant has Jason Wright at the helm of the chargrill. An update on the steak house, it pulls in a young, swish crowd with a large variety of different beef cuts and breeds which are sold by the 100g. Very good it is too, although the aesthetic may not be for everyone.
Museum Of Scotland, Chambers Street
Tel: 0131 225 3003
Near Five minutes to Festival Theatre
This has some of the best viewing to be had across the Grassmarket to the castle. Rock oysters, hand-dived scallops and very posh Isle of Mull crab fish fingers are among the shellfish options while the house venison Wellington; eggs Benedict with Bodega ham and bouillabaisse are typical of the Tower favourites. The wine list has won a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
WEDGWOOD THE RESTAURANT
267 Canongate, EH8 8BQ
Tel: 0131 558 8737
Near Five minutes to the Tattoo
Intimate and cosy, Wedgwood lets the food do the talking. Lacking any obvious pretention, the space is well utilised. With seasonal, local ingredients even foraged by the chefs themselves, Paul sources his flavours and textures keenly. Enjoy a starter of diver-caught king scallops with cauliflower korma, pistachio and peanut dust, pineapple and capers, and perhaps a main course of seaweed-crusted lamb loin with truffled goat’s cheese dauphinoise, black pudding and anchovy cream.
THE WITCHERY BY THE CASTLE
352 Castlehill, Royal Mile
Tel: 0131 225 5613
Near Two minutes to the Tattoo
The building goes back centuries; candlelight, oak panelling and beamed ceilings complete the picture. Sourcing of ingredients is well signposted and the food hearty, with seafood platters jostling for space with double sirloin steaks served with goose fat chips. The wine list has won awards.
Words Jonathan Trew