20 George Street, 0131 260 3000
Comfortably familiar from its many incarnations around the world, the Hard Rock Café serves up a menu of American classics to a backdrop of rock music and memorabilia. Burgers, steaks and home-smoked ribs are the belt-busting order of the day. Don’t forget to buy that all-important souvenir t-shirt on the way out.
19-21b Causewayside, 0131 466 6660
NEAR fifteen minutes to the Pleasance Dome
Since opening in 2004, chef proprietor Richard Hewat has been building up business in his Southside venture with his wife Margaret looking after the front of house. There are Scottish flavours aplenty in starters like the haggis wrapped in Savoy cabbage with carrot and Glayva sauce, but elsewhere Med influences crop up in dishes such as the seared seabass and salmon with lime, fresh pea and saffron sauce, crushed potatoes and florets of broccoli. As well as the à la carte menu, there are several set price options, starting with a two course lunch at £13.95 and rising to the £35 set dinner.
11 Bristo Place, 0131 247 4900
NEAR One minute to Gilded Balloon
Since it usually pours down for most of August, this new Hotel Du Vin is likely to be very popular for its courtyard smoking lodge. Non-puffers will enjoy the bistro, which serves fashionably retro classics that have been given a polish. Steak hache with a fried egg, braised oxtail and coq au vin made with Linda Dick’s posh poultry are the sort of thing they dish up at unexpectedly reasonable prices. As the name suggests, the wine list is worth getting lost in, as is the whisky bar.
15 Jeffrey Street, 0131 557 8184
NEAR Five minutes to the Pleasance
Iggy Campos made his home in Edinburgh a long time ago, but his menu hints strongly at his Spanish roots. A typical starter might be the stew of baby squid, clams and mussels with garbanzo alioli while the mains might contain options such as the fillet of hake on crushed green-mustard potatoes, pan-fried crayfish tails, capers and saffron. Igg’s goes big on fish dishes but also makes the most of Scotland’s land-based goodies with dishes like the pan-roasted Highland venison with slow-braised oxtail, red cabbage and boozy prunes. While Iggs is aiming at the top end of the market, next door is his jolly Barioja tapas bar which is particularly good at catering to large dining parties. Iggy is a wine enthusiast and it shows on the list.
47a Thistle Street, 0131 220 2111
NEAR Five minutes from Assembly
This relatively new city centre restaurant boasts a modern menu that matches its smart casual looks. Some of the starters such as the roasted quail with spicy potatoes, orange and rocket salad flirt with flashiness, while the mains, such as the ribeye steak with black pepper and a squeeze of lemon, are much more straight down the line. A three course dinner will set you back between £20 and £25. Two courses at lunch are £11.95.
19 Dundas Street, 0131 557 1875
NEAR 10 minutes uphill to Assembly Rooms
The Kweilin has been serving Cantonese food in the New Town for quarter of a century, and a recent change of ownership has done nothing to rock the boat. Dim-sum, crispy duck and crab soup are among the popular starters while main courses range from familiar char sui pork to rather more adventurous stewed duck feet and Chinese mushrooms. Seafood, such as the classic steamed sea bass with ginger and spring onion, forms a major part of the menu’s appeal. The smart New Town premises are reflected in the smart New Town clientele but it is far from stuffy. Banquet menus start at £23.95 a head. Lunch is available Tuesday to Saturday, offering two courses for £10.95.
5 Hamilton Place, 0131 332 3444
NEAR one minute from Theatre Workshop
Sometimes it has to be a curry and Lancers can boast Elton John and Billy Connolly among their past customers. Get stuck in to their paneer cutlets, chicken chasni and king prawn biryanis.
61 High Street, 0131 557 0330
NEAR Five minutes from Pleasance Courtyard
Quirky styling and a sense of humour makes Monteiths stand out on the Royal Mile. Half funky bar, half proper restaurant, it serves grown-up dishes like this starter of seared quails breast, cep stuffed leg, fennel and pea sprout salad. The serious intent of the kitchen is matched with a playful décor that includes a spider lamp made with several Anglepoise lights, clear Perspex seats and a 3D paper stag head. It’s a sister operation to the West End’s fashionable Sygn bar.
38 Grassmarket, 0131 226 2442
NEAR Five minutes to Underbelly
Edinburgh’s Grassmarket has a different charm from that of the Left Bank of the Seine, but Petit Paris injects some French flavour into the mix. Founded eleven years ago, this is a cosy and often bustling little bistro that serves all the classics. Steak frîtes, grilled snails, bouillabaise, grilled Toulouse sausages and crème brûlée are all here. The intimate atmosphere makes it seem all the more continental.
33A St. Stephens Street, 0131 225 8342
NEAR Two minutes from Theatre Workshop
Californian chef Annette Sprague showcases her home state’s cooking here and it’s fresh, colourful and exciting. The menu changes fortnightly and costs £20.95 for two courses or £25.95 for three. Fusing the culinary ideas of Vietnam, Mexico, Japan and France with Scottish ingredients, Sprague comes up with plates of lemon sole with lemongrass ginger sauce, and balsamic marinated flank steak with basil pesto served with warm sweet potato, feta and spinach salad. They offer BYOB for wine and are also licensed.
73 Morrison Street , 0131 221 9998
NEAR ten minutes from King’s Theatre
Launched by Tony Singh, chef/boss at Oloroso, Roti is now under the wing of his cousin Ryan, a man with years of experience running Indian restaurants in Glasgow under his belt. The place puts a sophisticated spin on Indian food with old school faves such as lamb rogan josh becoming Kashmiri style lamb shank with masala lentil, deep fried lotus stem and green pea rice. Indian food in Scotland can be stuck in a very familiar rut, but Roti goes beyond the tried, tested and tired to unearth a fresh take on the subcontinent’s different kitchens. Tiffin-sized portions of home-style dishes are Roti’s latest innovation. Like the food, the bold, contemporary décor at Roti breaks the mould.
1-3 Rutland Street, 0131 229 3402
NEAR Five minutes from the Usher Hall
After a massive revamp last year, The Rutland has emerged re-energised and ready to take on the glitzy leisure temples of George Street. From the basement nightclub to the ground floor style bar, it’s a fashionable operation, but the first floor restaurant is what really shines. Bold décor and great views of the castle and Princes Street are striking and the food will stick in the memory. Local produce, cooked with care and innovation means dishes like the pot-roasted Borders rabbit served with turnip and potato gratin, creamed Savoy cabbage, braising juices and Arran mustard. The puds are fab.
3 The Shore, 0131 553 5080
NEAR 10-minute taxi ride to city centre
One of Leith’s many restaurants where the relaxed atmosphere belies the carefully prepared food, the Shore has a small but smartish dining room off the main bar area. A recent change of hands means fewer fish dishes but old Shore favourites such as the ham hash cakes with poached egg and hollandaise remain. From the main menu, expect the likes of pork belly and scallops served with horseradish, applesauce and pickled white cabbage. Live music in the bar is scheduled every Tuesday and Thursday evening, but it’s not unknown for spontaneous jam sessions to break out on other nights.
1a Dock Place, 0131 554 1018
NEAR 10-minute taxi ride to city centre
Seafood has been served in the comfortably cluttered Skippers for 30 years. It’s now part of the Room In group of Edinburgh restaurants but has retained its own identity and menu. The menu depends on what is available on the day but Loch Creran oysters with a shallot vinaigrette are often on the menu, as are West Coast mussels. A more complex dish might be the seared king scallops with a smoked haddock, lemon and thyme risotto. There is always a meat dish such as a char-grilled 10 oz organic Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak with roasted cherry vine tomatoes and café de Paris butter for those not so fond of fish.
8-10 Grindlay Street, 0131 229 5405
NEAR One minute to Usher Hall
29-33 Dublin Street, 0131 556 2231
NEAR Five minutes to the Stand
38 St Mary Street, Edinburgh, 0131 557 5754
NEAR 5 minutes to Pleasance Courtyard
Aiming to be as Scottish as the mountain they’re named after, the St Mary Street branch is a new addition to the long-established other two restaurants. The décor of the Dublin Street restaurant has a rough-hewn Highland charm compared to the more soigné feel of its theatreland brother. Sample dishes might include a starter of seared king scallops with Stornoway black pudding, frieze leaves and spiced red pepper drizzle, while a typical main course would be something along the lines of the seared calves liver served with Dijon mustard mash and a sherry vinegar and game reduction. Their list of malt whiskies is wider than most if you want to finish your meal with a dram.
0131 226 6743
NEAR Five minutes from Assembly Rooms George Street
Run by Tony Singh, who also operates the much more upmarket Oloroso around the corner, this recent arrival offers a well-cooked, globe-trotting menu at sweet prices. At dinner, three courses are a set £20. The menu changes daily, but you might find crispy quail with a spice glaze, lamb koftas or rice ‘n’ peas made with Buckie crab and lobster sauce. Lunch might mean a simple mug of leek and potato soup served with bread from the restaurant’s bakery next door, or it could mean a pigeon pie made with Puy lentils and puff pastry. A city centre gem.
121 Hanover Street, 0131 225 6215
1 Forth Street, 0131 556 6323
NEAR five minutes from Assembly Rooms
A breath of fresh air when it opened in 2004, Urban Angel has recently expanded to include a slick new branch just off Broughton Street. The menu in each will be slightly different but will stick to the core ethos of being, as far as is possible, free range, Fair Trade, organic and locally sourced. Just as importantly, it’s delicious. The menu changes regularly but runs from breakfasts of organic porridge with heather honey to dishes of roast pork belly with fennel seed crust and homemade chutney via salads of spiced roast pumpkin with herb couscous and grilled vegetables.
19 Elm Row, 0131 556 6066
NEAR Two minutes to the Playhouse
Regarded by many as Scotland’s finest Italian delicatessen, Valvonas also runs a very busy café bar at the back of the deli. The menu changes daily but you can feast on meals such as Port Seton langoustine, pan-fried with garlic and a little chilli, served with fresh rocket leaves and homemade garlic and herb mayonnaise or the V&C bakery pizza with spicy Italian Ventricina salami, fresh rocket leaves, tomato sugo and mozzarella di bufala. Valvonas also boasts a remarkable wine collection and you can have any bottle with your meal for a corkage of £6. Popular with Edinburgh’s foodie population, who drop in to buy some bread or cheese then can’t resist stopping for a bite. Open for reservations in the evening during the Festival.
11 Multrees Walk, 0131 557 0088
NEAR: five minutes from Assembly Rooms
Sassy offspring of the venerable Valvona and Crolla, VinCaffe is a smart, stylish Italian that makes the most of the seasons. The menu should suit both ladies who lunch and those with more robust appetites. A couple of tapas style snacks such as the calamari and a trio of crostini plus a glass of wine are yours for a tenner. More substantial choices could include the crab linguine or the chicken breast pan-fried in extra virgin olive oil with Prosciutto di Parma, fresh sage, white wine and garlic, served with cabbage sautéed with pancetta. Thanks to a complicated looking bar contraption that keeps opened bottles fresh, VinCaffe offers a wide range of wines by the glass.