Edinburgh has lots of restaurants and there are many guides that rank these by the quality of the food, the ambiance of the restaurant and the friendliness of the service. Although these are all important, two other criteria are equally as important during the Fringe: location and speed of service. Here’s a list of a dozen Fringe-friendly places to eat near the main locations – all highly recommended by The Englishman Who Ate Everything.
Near the Royal Mile (High Street)
Whiski Bar & Restaurant, 119 High Street. Atmospheric and busy bar and restaurant. Try the excellent wild haggis stack with neeps (turnips) & tatties (potatoes) or a perfect Cullen Skink (Scottish smoked haddock chowder). They have a limited breakfast menu but are good for lunch and dinner (and whisky of course).
Larder Cafe and Larder Go, 11 & 15 Blackfriars Street. Two excellent cafes for eat-in or takeaway breakfasts, lunches and afternoon tea and cake. Seasonal organic food, sourced in Scotland. The cafe is also open Thursday to Sunday for dinner but booking is essential. Excellent plaice with capers and foraged sea vegetables.
Near The Pleasance
Lovage, 38 St. Mary’s Street. Upmarket modern seasonal Scottish cuisine. Open for lunch and dinner but booking is essential. Just down the hill from The Pleasance. Recommendation: pork belly with kimchi, smoked tofu and pear starter. Lamb with moussaka, aubergine, watermelon, almonds and potato gratin. Eton mess with lemon verbena sorbet.
The Fig Tree Bistro, 8 St. Mary’s Street. Down-to-Earth fusion Lebanese/Scottish café – perfect for afternoon tea, carrot cake and a bowl of lentil soup with a lemon wedge. There’s a pleasant little garden at the back in the unlikely event that it’s dry and sunny.
David Bann Vegetarian Restaurant, 56-58 St. Mary’s Street. There aren’t that many up-market vegetarian restaurants around so when you discover one that carnivore friends might also enjoy, you should encourage it. On the whole, the food at David Bann makes this easy. Seasoned vegetarians might find the dishes somewhat conservative but they are well executed and reasonably presented.
Near Surgeon’s Hall / Festival Theatre
The Mosque Kitchen, 31-33 Nicolson Square. A large, informal, self-service restaurant offering good authentic Indian food. Lassi and water can be ordered by the jug.
Mother India’s Cafe, 3-5 Infirmary Street. We ordered spinach with paneer (creamy), spicy fishcakes (refreshingly light), lamb kharie (tasty), dry okra with tomatoes (spoilt by some woody okra), lassi (rich and creamy – both the mango and salty), chapattis (light and fluffy) and masala chai (refreshing). Good and friendly service, clean restaurant. Popular for the right reasons.
Near the Assembly Rooms / George Street
Papii, 101 Hanover Street. Greek / Scottish fusion cafe. Excellent for breakfast especially if you order the Eggs Florentine or Eggs Benedict. Expect to queue but worth the wait.
Urban Angel, 121 Hanover Street. Patience is a virtue that you’ll need for a visit to this wonderful little cafe. You’ll probably have to wait for a table and then wait for your upfront coffee order and then wait for your food … but don’t be deterred … just bring your Guardian (Angel).
I. J. Mellis, 30A Victoria Street. If you fancy a quick cheese and wine snack, then this cheesemonger is perfect. They have very limited space but as most people are either buying or photographing the cheese, I’ve never had to wait. Ask for an explanation of the excellent Scottish cheeses.
Lovecrumbs, 155 West Port. What more do you need? This popular cafe, a stone’s throw from the Grassmarket has all I need in a coffee shop. Great coffee, tasty cakes and a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
The Kitchin, Commercial Quay. If you have a non-Fringe evening and want to experience one of the best restaurants in Scotland, then make a reservation at Kitchin and order one of the tasting menus. See Where … the Leith police …