Edinburgh, Scotland: 10 best places to eat and drink in 2016

From smart, seasonal dining to pop-up gin bars and experimental supper clubs, here are 10 of our favourite spots to eat and drink in and around the Scottish capital

1. There’s a real buzz around Norn right now. In a space that was once home to the Michelin-starred Plumed Horse, down in Leith, this restaurant is the city’s latest culinary hotspot.


Owned by chef Scott Smith (ex-Peat Inn, near St Andrews), his four or seven-course tasting menus don’t just offer the usual local, seasonal produce but are ‘fiercely focused’ on sourcing produce from sustainable, ethical and passionate suppliers. The result? It keeps the chef on his toes and jumping through creative hoops with the ingredients-led constantly changing menu (think hake with Dunbar salt marsh herbs and chicken dashi or roast chicken with mushroom, cavolo nero and lovage). nornrestaurant.com

2. Part restaurant, part supper club, Edinburgh Food Studio is event dining. An exciting space created via crowd-funding to explore and experiment with Scotland’s raw, often overlooked, ingredients.

Three nights a week (Thursday to Saturday) Ben Reade, who was formerly head of research at the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen, and his partner, Canadian chef Sashana Souza Zanella (or a handful of guest chefs and foragers depending on the week – check the calendar), create seven-course tasting menus and demos for diners crammed around two cosy, communal tables. It’s a dining adventure – and one of the hottest tickets in town. edinburghfoodstudio.com

3. Over the Forth Bridge, Fife-favourite The Wee Restaurant turned 10 this year, and spawned a little sibling in the heart of the capital. At the sibling kitchen’s helm is Edinburgh-born Michael Innes, fresh from three Michelin-starred El Celler de Can Roca in Girona. In a low-key space, the menu features the likes of white onion and thyme soup, chive cream and white truffle oil; and grilled sea bass, spiced crab and spring onion risotto with baby artichokes, micro fennel and salsa verde. theweerestaurant.co.uk

4. Many places brag about their organic credentials, but there’s now a Soil Association award to prove them: Organic Served Here. And the first UK restaurant to bag it is Cafe St Honoré, the cosy French bistro-style restaurant tucked away down Edinburgh’s tiny, cobbled Thistle Street.

Chef Neil Forbes’ daily changing, seasonally focused, menu notched up three out of five stars for sourcing 50-75 per cent of all its ingredients from certified organic farmers, growers and processors. Classics include grilled Scrabster Gurnard with Clyde valley tomato and cucumber; Gartmorn Farm confit duck leg and lentil salad; and a wild mint crème brulee and shortbread to finish. cafesthonore.com

5. Popular artisan bakery and patisserie, Manna House, is hidden away on Easter Street at the back of Leith Walk. It’s not on the tourist trail but is worth a detour to stock up on picnic provisions for a schlep up Arthur’s Seat.

Making and baking everything they sell, the bakery’s range of daily breads includes rye, pain de campagne sourdough and spelt and honey, while speciality loaves are baked on rotation, from feta and mint to crispy onion and olive and coriander. themannahousebakery.co.uk

6. Festival time is fun – and what could be more fun than a Marvellously Mixed Musical Martini Maker? From now until the end of September you can pitch up at Pickering’s Gin Terrace at One Square for a signature cocktail – or two, (Festival Square Fizz features gin, crème de fraise, fresh lemon and prosecco), a gin tasting or a martini masterclass in the shadow of the castle.

It has to be done, if only to cast an eye over the Pickering’s Gin contraption – designed to stir drinks to the rhythm of 78rpm. onesquareedinburgh.co.uk

7. Great British Menu chef Tony Singh’s Road Trip pop-up restaurant went down so well during the festival last year that he’s back. For a two-year stint, at least, at The Apex Grassmarket hotel where he’s dishing up recipes reflecting his Scottish Asian heritage.

Dishes range from haggis pakora to coriander and lime cured salmon and Filipino fishballs, poached and fried street-food style. The New Town Burger, meanwhile, is from the ‘posh end of Auld Reekie’ made for sharing with Highland Wagyu beef, truffled onions, cheese and millionaire’s dressing. apexhotels.co.uk

8. For a gourmet caffeine hit head to Brew Lab‘s new venue, a former lock up in the West End. While the company’s first speciality coffee shop is in a historic building in the university quarter, the new venue has a stripped back, contemporary look with clean lines and neon lighting.

Brew Lab Edinburgh
Brew Lab Edinburgh

You can take your coffee geekery to the next level with barista classes or professional training in the state-of-the-art lab here. Or just sit back and order a cold brew (the bar includes a Cold Brew Coffee tap, so they serve Nitro Cold Brew on draught). brewlabcoffee.co.uk

9. The Witchery is no newcomer. The buildings housing this cluster of sumptuous suites at the top of the Royal Mile date back to the 16th century. As a restaurant with rooms it’s been around since 1979. However, it’s still the benchmark for theatrical, decadent dining with suits of armour in the rooms, ornate antique four poster beds and sumptuous drapes.

The cooking is traditional but comforting (think platters of fruits de mer, whole Dover sole, steaks and roast venison; you can even order haggis, neeps and tatties). But breakfast is the real highlight. The breakfast hamper delivered by your butler to your suite is the ultimate indulgence. thewitchery.com

10. Deli di Rollo has been a Musselburgh institution for over a hundred years, ever since Domenico di Rollo upped sticks from his small Italian village and opened an ice cream parlour in this east coast fishing town.

Last year the family branched out by opening a deli in Edinburgh, selling paninis to go and, more importantly, its famous ice cream (flavours range from lemon sorbet to caramelito and pistachio). dirollos.co.uk

Written by Lucy Gillmore, July 2016

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