A bohemian vibe persists in Stockbridge thanks to the array of junk and charity shops concentrated along Comely Bank Road and the trendy delis scattered around the neighbourhood. More pertinent, though, is the abundance of restaurants in Stockbridge. Here are our top seven.
The Scran And Scallie
Gastropub, Restaurant, British, $$$
Celebrated chef duo Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack are behind The Scran and Scallie
For those new to the Scots dialect, ‘scran’ is food and ‘scallie’ is squint-eyed or lopsided. The thought process underlying Stockbridge’s The Scran and Scallie is surely then, a bold, off-piste reinvention of traditional Scottish cuisine. Indeed, a hearty dose of national pride suffuses the ethos of The Scran and Scallie gastropub, brought to life by Michelin-starred, Edinburgh-superstar chefs Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack. A more brazen attempt at an informal pub-style restaurant than the duo’s other fine-dining establishments in the capital, The Kitchin and Castle Terrace, The Scran and Scallie can still boast a unique level of flair and panache in their menu. Aside from pub staples such as juicy burgers, chunky chips and fish pie, the culinary selection expands to include oysters, home-cured salmon, braised hogget, sheep’s heid broth, and, for the sweet toothed, the delectable stout ice cream. Reservations are vital, but if fortune is smiling on you, you may be able to score one of the few tables the restaurant sometimes holds back during normal service for walk-ins.
Hector’s is a one-stop shop for all your favourite comfort foods and hangover cures. In this welcoming Stockbridge pub, replete with retro floral wallpaper and red leather benches, classics are served unassumingly, without pretension, and at pretty reasonable prices. Sausage and mash, steak sandwiches, and the chicken and ham hock pie are present and correct, but it is gratifying to note that most of the produce is locally and sustainably sourced and crucially, the portion sizes are generous. Some of the more original selling points of Hector’s are the build-your-own burger menu option, sharing boards and the vegetarian friendly kale, cauliflower and cheddar tart. After-work blues can equally be chased away by the great range of draft and bottle real ales, not to mention the decent stock of wines and spirits.
The small and pokey exterior belies one of the strongest and most resolute players on the Edinburgh burger scene that has been operating for over 40 years. While the menu has diversified to include soups, salads and even pancakes with ice cream, Bell’s Diner has earned its legendary reputation in the capital for one menu staple alone: their burgers. Available in three sizes and any number of toppings, including garlic, mustard and rockfort butters, these burgers help to strike an overall Parisian bistro vibe, aided by the wood panelling and red curtain decor. Surprisingly, sophisticated diners may even be stuck deciding whether to pair their burger with a bottle of wine or the equally legendary malted milkshake. For those foolhardy enough to go for broke with a concluding dessert, the diner also offers sticky toffee cake and pecan pie.
Purslane eschews the stuffiness often associated with fine dining
A recent winner of Scotland’s Best Fine Dining Restaurant in the Scottish Entertainment and Hospitality Awards, Purslane is turning heads with its somewhat contradictory goals of offering casual and rustic fine dining. Its fast-growing reputation on the city’s foodie scene, however, vindicates Purslane as an informal, non-stuffy culinary experience to seek out. The overall ambience is relaxed and smacks of quality without the expense. Tables are arranged around simple wooden pews decorated with scatter cushions while the walls are adorned by the works of local artist Andrew Lennie. The Purslane kitchen’s focus is on similarly unfussy food that is nevertheless aware of the pleasure of detail and the importance of sourcing locally produced artisan ingredients. Menus are arranged under simple ingredient headings which then expand into graphic descriptions, crab bonbons with saffron aioli and a crab bisque, fillet of sea bream with a squid, confit pepper and fennel compote, prune and Armagnac rice pudding with candied rosemary. Purslane’s true gift is in plating up five-star meals at budget prices.
Romantic fine dining at an economically friendly rate is the motto of the Stockbridge Restaurant, which has been delighting locals for over a decade now. Step below the street level into this enchanting grotto to be greeted by the beautiful interior decor of grey slate walls adorned with prints by the Scottish Colourists, Cadell and Peploe and ornately framed mirrors. After dark, the tiny fairy lights and candles come on, reflecting off the gold brocade chairs, white linen and delicate silver cutlery. Romance will inevitably be kindled by the restaurant’s use of local produce cooked to stunning effect. Kick off your generously portioned feast with a starter of spiced pigeon breast with fig tart tatin, prunes wrapped in bacon and port wine sauce or the goat’s cheese and pistachio nut terrine wrapped in potato, tomato dressing and tapenade. Proceed enthusiastically into a main course of grilled halibut with crab and scallop mousse, fennel, crushed potatoes and langoustine bisque before wrapping the evening up with a vanilla rice pudding with apple compote, shortbread crumble and cinnamon ice cream or the plum and nut crumble with vanilla sauce and praline ice cream.
Restaurant, Wine Bar, Bar, Contemporary, British, European, $$$
Located at the al fresco end of Raeburn Place, where locals and visitors alike are often seen lapping up the weather in the summer months, Rollo is a quirky restaurant and wine bar perfectly suited for evening excursions after an afternoon jaunting about Inverleith Park and the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens. A cozy atmosphere is engineered by the family owners, from their friendly welcoming personas at the door to the small tables snuggled close together underneath intimate lighting; several artworks and sculptures adorning the venue are also to be noticed. The bites are wonderfully light and delicate yet wholesome and rightfully portioned. Start off with the tapas-style bon bons, filled with haggis and whisky marmalade or smoked mackerel, before ploughing onto a bowl of wild boar and chorizo meatballs or a plate of sweet potato and zucchini rosti or tuna nicoise before indulging on a decadent dessert such as the mango, passion fruit, mint and orange salsa fool.
Lancers is another proud standard-bearer for spicing up the Stockbridge restaurant scene with its scintillating take on Bengali and North Indian cuisine. Lancers truly caters to all palates with a spice index ranging from delicately flavoured dishes to punchy curries, and a dedicated selection for vegetarian diners including veggie paneers and the sabzi jalfrezi. Traditional tandoori mains are accounted for plentifully with bhunas, dansaks and vindaloos and Lancers’ signature plates include the ginger murgh and the North Indian chili massalam. And it’s not only the food that possesses a vivacity; the interior is hand printed with bespoke wall coverings and furnished with rosewood tables and crisp white linen. With a choice of feasting in the main dining room, the romantic Regiment Club, or the chic Officers Club, each dining experience at Lancers is individual and precious.