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.
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
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.
The article 'Insider's guide to Edinburgh' was published in partnership with BBC Olive magazine.