Eating around Edinburgh
A friend and I have just spent a glorious three days in Edinburgh, where the sun actually shone for the majority of the time – what a difference a bit of sunshine makes. We wandered up and down the city (preferring to spend our time in the more characterful Old Town than the commercial New Town), which was probably a good idea considering how much we managed to eat. We didn’t have one dud meal, even with my total lack of planning (luckily, there were some eating recommendations from Helen and EuWen). So rather than write yet another epic post, here’s a brief guide to the various places we stuffed our faces at, in chronological order.
After trekking nearly 40 minutes to our hotel from Waverly station, it was definitely tea time. Bring on Eteaket, a brilliant little tearoom in New Town decked out in vibrant magenta and turquoise. The waitresses were incredibly upbeat and friendly, explaining the different cakes and pastries on offer. The tea list is pretty impressive, too, with over 40 types of (ethically sourced) loose-leaf teas; a little triple hourglass device is brought to the table to time how long your tea should be steeped. We opted for the cream tea, and two of the largest scones I’d ever seen arrived – and they were perfect, with a soft crumb and slight chewiness that I love. A perfect little place to while away an afternoon. We had no idea why Café Rouge next door seemed to be packed, when a place like this exists.
41 Frederick Street
0131 226 2982 / www.eteaket.co.uk
Tony Singh is one of Edinburgh’s better known restaurateurs, being the man behind Oloroso on Castle Street. Recently he opened his so-called ‘casual’ dining concept around the corner on North Castle Street, a family-style bistro. We came with expectations of a Canteen-esque eatery with rustic elements and good, solid comfort food and were pretty surprised by the strangely louche decor – all blood red, gold and chandeliers – and immediately felt out of place in our jeans and hoodies. Witty phrases were written across the arches, such as ‘I’m not a vegetarian because I love animals; I’m a vegetarian because I hate plants’. Check out a Twitpic of the restaurant here.
The set menu, at £20 for three courses, is a pretty good deal – but we could only fit in two after gorging on the overgrown scones just less than two hours ago. The dishes are pretty full-on, with lots of meat and pies and the like, which I just couldn’t stomach; luckily one of the specials of the day was a duck breast and ‘monk’s broth’ dish that carried a £2 supplement. The duck was perfectly cooked, all pink and juicy, while the broth was intensely flavoured and soothing – but in the end it was just a simple consommé with shredded vegetables (carrots, cabbage, and other such boring vegetables) and asking for a £2 supplement felt a bit cheeky. Soldiering on, a dessert of Scottish strawberries with creme fraiche was simple but gorgeous. Verdict? A slightly strange place to eat but there’s good grub to be had.
58a North Castle Street
0131 226 6743 / www.tonystable.com
Edinburgh Farmers’ Market
The city’s farmers’ market is held every Saturday from early morning until about 2pm, and its held on the lovely Castle Terrace where the stalls have the added bonus of the magnificent Edinburgh castle as a backdrop. I didn’t make any notes about the producers who attended (not there to WORK, afterall!), but one did stand out – the award-winning Piperfield Pork and their absolutely amazing scotch eggs. Okay, so it wasn’t piping hot (it was a market stall, afterall), and the egg was completely cooked through (again, as the nature of the market dictates), but the meat was spot-on. Perfectly seasoned, even slightly juicy – not dry or crumbly or overly processed – and, before we knew it, gone like that. Truly one of the best scotch eggs I’ve had so far (yes, to rival even the Harwood Arms’ and the Bull & Last’s!).
The Strawberry Store was also selling punnets of ripe Jubilee strawbs for £2.50 a pop, as well as wonderful Scottish raspberries, both of which we proceeded to devour while watching the marketgoers. One of the longest queues (in fact perhaps the only one) was for Falko Konditormeister‘s stall (pictured above), a German bakery and patisserie that’s situated on the other side of town. Gorgeous rye breads, strudels and various confections including a creamy blueberry cheesecake (which we bought and devoured on the train back on our last day) were all on display – next time I’m in Edinburgh, this will be the one of the first places I’ll go back to. Other thing at the market: Scottish heather honey, blueberry liqueur, a porridge bar, fudge, wild boar burgers, cheeses, and of course all manner of fruit and veg and meat stalls.
Edinburgh Farmer’s Market
Every Saturday 9am-2pm
185 Bruntsfield Place
0131 656 0763 / www.falko.co.uk
It’s no secret that I like a blahdy good cup of coffee. We’re spoiled for choice these days in London, but it never even occurred to me to seek out some decent cups while in Edinburgh. How wrong was I – luckily we stumbled across Wellington Coffee on our way to seek out the National Portrait Gallery (er, we subsequently didn’t go, and got distracted by the Lakeland flagship, too). A little post-research reveals that this little joint is actually created by the same people behind the Kilimanjaro Coffee bar, and that the man behind it, Jonathan Sharp, is actually Scottish Barista 2009. Nice one, chap. The flat white wasn’t quite as good as the ones I’ve had recently at The Espresso Room, or at the ever reliable Lantana, Milk Bar and co, but pretty invigorating nonetheless. Plus points for the sleek Synesso espresso machine, and gorgeous noir cups (I’m a sucker for good mugs).
Tiny, but a great place to watch the people float by on George Street. Didn’t try any of the food offerings, as we were gearing ourselves up for a slap-up seafood meal at our dinner destination.
33a George Street
0131 225 6857
… Which deserves its own post (also because, for silly aesthetic reasons, the pictures I took there are stylistically different to the ones in this one and I like consistency). Having opened just a few months ago, there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of press about it, which is a shame. It was definitely one of the highlight meals this summer, and will be writing about it in more detail in due course. Ditto for…
The Grain Store
… Which was highly recommended by Helen and rightly so. It was our last meal before heading back on the train to the Big Smoke, and a nice one to round off with.
Oh Edinburgh. I loved you the first time and I still do, after this time. I’ll definitely be back again another day, if only to eat that scotch egg again…