Superstar Edinburgh chef, Martin Wishart (who brought the city its first Michelin star with his namesake Leith eatery) has interpreted the French-style bistro in his own inimitable way with The Honours. Surprisingly, given the air of his Leith restaurant, The Honours is a charmingly less formal setup that still retains Wishart’s sense of panache and artistry. The brasserie food is sent out on trolleys, with a small army of servers attending each table, keeping glasses perpetually filled and hoovering up crumbs. The gold leaf decor and resplendent chandeliers also go some way to evoking an ambience of la belle epoque Paris. The pride of the kitchen is the famous, albeit pricey Chateaubriand and the excellent selection of steaks. Make sure to leave room for the renowned desserts – cheese boards from Henri’s deli in Stockbridge, the soufflé du jour, a sharing tarte tatin with cinnamon ice cream and sundaes with caramelised bananas and crunchy pecans. If there’s any room left, patrons are encouraged to head on through to the cocktail lounge and sample a punchy Zacapa espresso with 23-year-old rum and creme de cacao.
Price: Fine dining
Opening Hours: Tues – Sat: 12pm – 2.30pm; 6pm – 10pm
Watch out for: The brasserie style menu and trolley service
58A North Castle Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 131 220 2513
The Pompadour by Galvin
Like Dick Whittington in reverse, London’s Galvin brothers came up north a few years ago to seek their fame and fortune. They happened upon the faded splendour of the Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Hotel’s dining room and rehabilitated it as The Pompadour to all of Edinburgh’s benefit. The room has been restored in a dainty French style, akin to a Palace of Versailles powder room. Any allusions regarding the cuisine however, are ill-founded with executive chef Fraser Allan vehemently pronouncing a Scottish accent in the language and technique of traditional French cuisine. Standouts include the Isle of Skye crab and hollandaise tartlet as well as the stuffed rack and confit leg of Ayrshire rabbit. Sweet tooths will be enraptured by the tarte tatin with clotted ice cream, which oenophiles should put complete trust in the knowledge of the roaming sommeliers – some of Edinburgh’s finest. Book your table ahead of time to ensure a window seat overlooking the Castle, or alternately, in the likelihood of full bookings in the main dining room, head next door to the neighbouring Parisian-style bistro, Galvin Brasserie De Luxe for the best steak frites in the capital.
Price: Fine dining
Opening Hours: Wed – Sat: 6pm – 10pm
Watch out for: French flair with a Scottish accent
Princes St, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 131 222 8975
Chef Paul Wedgwood has brought his traveling experience to bear on the Scottish-Asian fusion menu at his eponymous restaurant Wedgwood. A contemporary ambience can justifiably be detected in the décor and the varied backgrounds of diners with the restaurant attracting a wide cross-section of young professionals, tourists and seasoned locals. The level of service is extremely professional but quirkily playful, perhaps a necessary complement to menu options such as ‘Deciding Time’, a selection of amuse-bouches and a glass of champagne for £9.95 to pass the time while one agonises over what to order for main course. Chef Wedgwood is also a keen forager, co-running a Gourmet Wild Food Foraging Course elsewhere in the city, with the rest of his menu exhibiting a passion for wild herbs and diverse flavours. Try the lobster thermidor creme brulee, the diver-caught king scallops, venison, or the bone marrow popcorn, but always leave room for the sticky toffee pudding with Caol Ila whisky butterscotch. While all of the above may sound like the recipe for an expensive night on the town, but with the lunch menu going at £12.95 for two courses, Wedgwood represents that rare example of gastronomic decadence without pushing the boat out.
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm
Watch out for: Foraged flavours and Asian fusion
Royal Mile, 267 Canongate, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 131 558 8737
Inconspicuously situated on Hanover Street, behind a single entrance door guarded by a pair of stone dog statues is The Dogs Kitchen and Bar, a mid-priced gastropub offering from Edinburgh restaurant kingpin David Ramsden. The cooking is no-frills yet appealingly scruffy and honest. The menu prizes cheaper, more unusual cuts of meat and offal that aren’t always seen on nationwide pub menus, such as liver, oxtail, venison and rabbit. Pescetarians will find much to admire in the locally sourced seafood dishes including citrus marinated seabass and home smoked trout and non-meat eaters will appreciate the puff pastry log of vegetarian haggis. Wine is attractively inexpensive too.
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 12pm – 4pm, 5pm – 10pm
Watch out for: The unusual cuts of meat ie. oxtail, liver
110 Hanover St, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 131 220 1208
The Gardener’s Cottage
Opened in 2012, the Gardener’s Cottage has a deceptively simple mantra: create a great sense of place, with seasonal food, that connects the diner, the producer and the landscape. If you’ll pardon the pun, this is a truly grassroots dining venture in the capital – brought into being by co-owners Ed Murray and Dale Mailley when they repurposed a disused William Playfair-designed cottage dating back to 1836. Before you’ve even made it past the front door, one is greeted by the aromas and colours of the home grown vegetable and herb gardens outside. It’s but a small index of how seriously Murray and Mailley source their ingredients, with meat reared in Scotland’s most prestigious farms and fish from sustainable Scottish waters. Lunch is a la carte, brunch is served on weekends, and there is a set, six-course dinner menu, but crucially, all dishes feature the finest seasonal produce. Among some of the more outre foods are duck and rhubarb soup, daily mackerel, deer and mutton specialties, crab quiche, Arbroath smokies, hare pie, partridge, turnip and leek gratin, carrot and sea buckthorn sorbet with crowdie, and gingerbread meringue. All of the gastronomic action plays out across two cosy rooms, housing long communal tables for added socialising effect; in the larger of the dining rooms sits the open plan kitchen. Greenfingers and foodies alike are sure to be enchanted by this Cottage.
Opening Hours: Thurs – Mon: 12pm – 2.30pm, 5pm – 10pm
Watch out for: The quaint garden cottage setting
1 Royal Terrace Gardens, London Rd, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK , +44 131 558 1221
Secreted away inside a classic Georgian townhouse is Michelin-starred Paul Kitching’s 21212, a bold and inventive food laboratory amidst elegant surroundings. Kitching’s menu strikes a balance between a light-hearted, quirky mood and serious cooking technique; diners are faced with a choice of three, four, and on Saturdays, five courses wherein there are never more than two choices in any one course, so as cancel any unnecessary waste of his fresh local ingredients. Big flavours sit side by side, and it is to Kitching’s credit that each ingredient retains its robustness, no one flavour cancelling another out. Those simple menu descriptions are merely deep cover for a playfully confident chef who may spring a culinary surprise on you, such as his signature puree served on a toothbrush with a side of minty mouthwash.
Opening Hours: Tues – Sat: 12pm – 1.45pm, 7pm – 9pm
Watch out for: The misleadingly simple menu descriptions, disguising the lab creations by chef Kitching
3 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 845 222 1212
Restaurant Mark Greenaway
Business for Restaurant Mark Greenaway has certainly been bolstered since the chef’s appearance on the Great British Menu TV show, but thankfully fame has not gone to Greenaway’s head and his food is as complex and unconventional as ever. While his 11-hour slow roasted pork belly and economical pre-theatre Market Menu are de rigeur for a renowned city centre chef, what sets Greenaway apart from his competition in the capital is the zeal he possesses for puddings and all things sweet. Just try and walk out of the building without engorging the peanut caramel cheesecake.
Opening Hours: Tues – Saty: 12pm – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 10pm
Watch out for: The desserts menu
69 N Castle St, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 131 226 1155
Dusit has been going strong since originally opening its doors in 2002, despite continued competition from other Thistle Street restaurants and more Thai eateries in the capital overall. This is in no small part due to the consistent quality of its well-balanced Thai, Japanese, Chinese, French and Vietnamese flavours paired with Scottish produce. Poetically named dishes litter the menu with curry dishes appearing prominently – roast duck, sweet potato and king prawns are variously served in creamy coconut sauces and the signature Dusit Curry coats Scottish sirloin steak in red curry sauce. One may also find UK Thai restaurant staples such as as delicately flavoured versions of pad thai, tom yum and tom kha soup alongside punchy barbecue flavours – the Tiger Cry barbecue beef salad is tangy, sour and sure to blind with its liberal helpings of bird’s eye chillies. Its Thistle Street setting means spontaneous weekday after work outings aren’t always successful and on busy Friday and Saturday nights, the restaurant operates a loose timetable of two sittings, so you may have to eat up fast. Still, Dusit is a convivial Thai eatery with some of the friendliest service in Edinburgh.
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm; Sun: 12pm – 11pm
Watch out for: The Tiger Cry barbecue beef salad
9A Thistle St, Edinburgh,Scotland, UK, +44 131 220 6846
On Edinburgh’s action-packed Broughton Street amongst trendy coffeehouses, butchers and bookshops is the genial French bistro, L’Escargot Bleu, residing in the home of a former clockmaker. The restaurant completely nails the Provencal spirit and atmosphere – beyond the bright blue door, one is greeted by vintage posters of Edith Piaf, blackboards adorned with today’s specials, floor-to-ceiling windows and the cosiest tables. The cuisine varies from traditional French classics to more avant garde dishes from chef patron Fred Berkmiller’s childhood that also simultaneously honour a commitment to Scottish produce, such as Borders beetroot and Orkney scallops. The Gallic joie de vivre is present and correct in the signature dishes: homemade terrine with pickles, coq au vin cooked instead with local beer and the sickly sweet tarte au chocolat with creme anglaise. It would be a cardinal sin not to close off your meal with a selection of fromages, especially considering the pedigree of cheesemaker Herve Mons.
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 12pm – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 10pm
Watch out for: The Provencal atmosphere, French childhood classics re-invented
56 Broughton St, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK , +44 131 557 1600
Number One at the Balmoral Hotel
Newly refurbished by executive chef Jeff Bland, who’s held a Michelin star for 13 years, and equally talented head chef Brian Grigor, Number One at the Balmoral Hotel has reclaimed its status as one of the most well-regarded dining rooms in the city. A certain old school elegance is established by the new deep red lacquered walls, modern art hangings, warm oak floors and deep banquettes. Meanwhile, the cuisine is thoroughly contemporary – the chef’s’ specialty is the citrusy and velvety Balvenie smoked salmon. For those with money to burn, the chef-selected four-course Scottish menu is available for £75 and roaming sommeliers will distribute the customary impeccable service.
Price: Fine dining
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 6pm – 10pm
Watch out for: The chef-selected four course Scottish menu
Balmoral Hotel, 1 Princes St, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 131 557 6727