Insider’s guide to Edinburgh
A view of Edinburghâs iconic castle from Princes Street. (Laurence Coss/BBC)
Two Edinburgh locals help you dodge the tourist traps and find the best places to eat, shop and stay in the Scottish capital.
The food and the prices at Seadogs make it my favourite local. Their fish and chips show a laudable attitude: five choices of fish include smoked hake and whitebait, but not cod. Herring parfait, rhubarb jam and toast, £5.05, is imaginative and there are only three dishes above £10 – seafood platter £26.55 for two, steak, £11.75 and a whole baked trout, £10.15.
Despite lots of competition, and being a touch out of the way, Bonsai is my go-to place for a sub-£5 lunch sushi deal or a very reasonable, elegant dinner. Décor is bistro-Japanese, with fans, calligraphy and a red, black and cream colour scheme. Soft-shell crab gaijin-zushi (inside out sushi) is a favourite, as are unagi temakizushi (conical eel hand-rolls, £3.45), blush pink salmon sashimi, £3.95, and light, crisp prawn tempura, £5.95.
I always learn something from Michelin-starred The Kitchin’s nose -to-tail ethos, the current menu features Tom Kitchin’s trademark crispy sweetbreads, £16, brawn (called “pig’s head”), langoustine and crispy pig’s ears, £18, and rib beef and bone marrow potatoes, £69 for two.
Urban Angel is a central favourite. Mainly using organic produce, the menu is fantastic – try their Arbroath smokie and haddock fishcakes with tomato and sauce grebiche, £6.90, and I have an addiction to their dense chocolate brownies, £3.
Not your run-of-the-mill Thai restaurant, Dusit has a contemporary menu that uses Scottish produce and imported spices from Thailand, a must-try dish is Tod Mun Pla (Thai haddock fishcakes), £6.50.
Striking Cucina, with its modern Italian cuisine and décor, is the heart and soul of the Hotel Missoni. I go straight for talented chef Mattia Camorani’s pasta, homemade and simple, it is the first stop for any pasta lover, prices start at £10.
Demijohn is the world’s first liquid deli, selling handmade vodkas, whiskies, liquors, olive oils and vinegars. I recommended the elderberry and port liqueur, excellent with a cheeseboard.
A tiny, crowded tea/antique shop hybrid, Anteaques offers a tea menu seven pages long, including Night Melody and Sweet Osmanthus. Tea and cakes are served on vintage bone china while you sit on restored chairs, surrounded by antiques and silver for sale. Book ahead for one of only four tables.
Head to Edinburgh Farmers’ Market at Castle Terrace to see a fantastic range of Scottish produce and views of Edinburgh Castle. Eat porridge for breakfast made by Stoats Porridge Oats, an Edinburgh-based company, and for lunch a roll stuffed with freshly carved hog roast from Oink Hog Roast, choose your stuffing – either sage and onion or haggis.
Visit The Sheep Heid Inn, Scotland’s oldest pub (circa 1360), for their fantastic beer garden, skittles and a traditional Scottish menu.
Le Monde offers three glamorously designed bars, the Shanghai nightclub and 18 individually designed bedrooms, each reflecting the cities they are named after. Doubles from £99.
Good value b&b No53 Frederick Street works in partnership with chic basement bar Rick’s. Doubles from £85.
Tigerlily is the place to be in Edinburgh, a chic boutique hotel right in the heart of the city. Doubles from £180.