Edinburgh Restaurant Reviews

What we think of some of Edinburgh's eating places. These are entirely our personal opinions, and in most cases based on only one or two visits. You may have a completely different experience. Have fun!

All reviews are copyright Tim Day and Julie Odell. In answer to the most frequently asked questions:
No, we're not interested in providing content for your new reviews website.
Yes, we will try to come and visit your restaurant eventually. Edinburgh has a lot of them though!

Note that the criteria for awarding yum (or "yummies") is basically how much we'd like to go back there if someone else was paying. So value for money isn't a factor, but if a place is exceptionally expensive or cheap we try to mention it in the text. Check pricing in The List's restaurant guide if you're on a strict budget.

Edinburgh City council has a scheme to publish some information on food hygiene inspections which should be of interest to all diners. Unfortunately the information on each establishment seems to be limited to simply "Pass" or "Improvement Required" which could mean anything. It's a shame they haven't chosen to follow the superb example being set by Highland Council and simply published the full inspection reports. If you agree with us please write to the email address on the scheme site, and your councillor if you're an Edinburgh resident, and let them know what you think.

Rhubarb yum yum yum yum yum
Prestonfield House, phone 225 1333
(Last visit December 2004) If you've ever been up Arthur's Seat and looked south to a golf course and a distinctive circular building (once stables, now used for functions), you'll have also been looking at Prestonfield House, recently refurbished as a hotel with a fantastic restaurant. Use this knowledge to reassure yourself that you're not headed in the wrong direction as you approach past the endless fifties bungalows lining Priestfield Road: eventually you'll reach the driveway to a grand floodlit building, and your goal, the dimly lit dining room glittering with candles. You are now in food paradise. The menu is extensive; there's fish, fowl, venison, beef and lamb dishes, often multiple instances of each. Everything we tried was faultless, including the absolutely delicious puddings. The courses arrive at a relaxed pace, and after a couple of hours of indulgence you can retire, satiated, to a more comfortable situation in an armchair or sofa by the fires in one of the sitting rooms upstairs.
Warning: Expect to spend on the order of fifty quid per head on an evening out here. The choice for vegetarians is quite limited.

The Witchery By The Castle yum yum yum yum yum
Castlehill, phone 225 5613
(Last visit winter 2006) Considering the formidable (or perhaps just overhyped) reputation this place seems to have established, we were surprised how just pleasantly low key and informal it is. We were in the vaulted stone-and-wood-panel room adjacent to the Royal Mile which, by candlelight, is a superb setting. There's another dining area further back in the building which we only glanced into which seemed more open and less gothic. The food is good honest un-mucked-about-with Best-of-Scotland stuff, and somehow a simple meal of oysters, a big chunk of beef and the multi-pudding selection went on for hours. Bliss.
Warning: As with it's sister restaurant Rhubarb, this place can inflict serious damage on your bank account. But a "Witchery Experience" gift voucher does make a very nice present for special people.

The Vintners Rooms yum yum yum yum yum
87 Giles Street, Leith, phone 554 6767
(Last visit October 2010) Absurdly expensive posh nosh. Fortunately there are occasionally special offers courtesy of groupon so keep a lookout there. The food is surely Michelin-star quality, but without the fussy pretentiousness or cringingly obsequious service; indeed there is a positively quirky, individualistic feel about the place. The setting is a small intimate dining room with a handful of tables (quite a contrast to the cavernous adjacent Whisky Room bar) and the atmosphere is relaxed enough that it doesn't seem at all out of order to strike up some conversation with the other tables. Get genial host Silvio (who clearly has a loyal following of regulars) talking about what you're eating and you could be treated to a passionate commentary on, say, balsamic vinegar selection or the challenges encountered sourcing your bottle of wine. A meal here should probably be on any Edinburgh foodies hit list; it's certainly one of Edinburgh's more "interesting eats".

Tower Restaurant yum yum yum yum yum
Chambers Street, phone 225 3003, website
(Last visit March 2011) Well we finally got around to visiting the third member of the self-proclaimed "Edinburgh's Best Restaurants" trinity (the others being the Witchery and Rhubarb). "Not cheap" alert: we were there on a thirty-pounds-for-three-courses deal; the same budget would just get you into two courses territory on the main menu. The wine list starts just under £20 and escalates rapidly. Given the location on the upper floors in the museum we were expecting better skyline views of Edinburgh but in fact it's not quite high enough (just go up on the museum roof terrace during normal opening hours for that instead). The place is rather modern (reminiscent of Atrium, but more crowded and busy) and service just a little too quick for our taste. Food veers to the "popular" end of the spectrum; think pork belly, steak and chips and fun like "posh" fish fingers - sorry I mean goujons - and mushy peas. According to the menu Tower take their beef seriously and indeed the beef bourguignon turned out to be the star of our meal. Deserts were excellent too (the warm poached pear frangipane and custard... mmmmmm!). But right now I'd have to say, given the choice of going back to the Tower or visiting Rhubarb/Witchery... I'd pick one of the others.

First Coast yum yum yum yum yum
97-101 Dalry Road, phone 313 4404, website
(Last visit Summer 2011) We don't venture out to this part of town very often, but if First Coast is anything to go by we should make the effort more often. A large and unusually cosmopolitan menu with homegrown favourites like Aberdeen angus or pork belly sitting alongside mainly asian flavours such as fish with chilli, lemongrass, banana leaf and nasi goreng or a stir fry with jasmine rice. Combine with excellent service, a relaxed atmosphere and prices that aren't sky high... altogether a great combination.

Sweet Melindas yum yum yum yum yum
11 Roseneath Street, phone 229 7953
(Last visit November 2010) Cosy, lively, friendly and most importantly incredibly delicious. The menu is quite fish intensive, and there are absolutely fantastic puddings too. Quite pricey but worth every penny for a memorable night out.

Hanam's yum yum yum yum yum
3 Johnston Terrace, phone 225 1329, website.
(Last visit August 2010) This Kurdish and Middle-Eastern restaurant used to be by far the best cheap eat in the Tollcross area and was largely resonsible for the review-rate on this page declining as we kept going back there. It's now moved into significantly larger premises up near the castle, where it desrvedly has no shortage of customers (booking highly advisable). The main courses are the main attraction; if you're hungry look no further than the "original tashreeb"; a casserole pot of lamb and vegetables all sitting on top of a naan into which the juices have soaked. If that doesn't appeal try the delicious skewers of lamb or chicken from the barbeque. Note that alcohol does not appear on the drinks menu, which has probably the largest assortment of non- and de-alcoholized wine and beers you'll ever see. (At it's former location, Hanam's used to be a BYO. It's not so clear whether it is or not now).

Yes Sushi yum yum yum yum yum
89 Hanover Street, phone 220 1887, website
(Last visit summer 2011) For a long time we thought this relative newcomer was another branch of the No.1 Sushi Bar: the menu and signs look very similar (ie they appear to use much the same font and be similarly shiny), the pricing is very similar and both places have a television screen showing the same sushi-making video, but in fact they're completely independent places. Yes Sushi is a bit more spacious, feels a little more Japanese and did actually have some of the more interesting items on the menu available (e.g yellowtail and scallop) whereas No.1 invariably seems to be out of stock. The sushi is just as good at either place, althought Yes Sushi perhaps wins on presentation. Just to make a change from sushi we have actually tried some of the other Japanese dishes here; the tempura and BBQ eel in particular are very good, but we've yet to discover anything on the menu which will convince us that sushi isn't the main reason to visit a Japanese restaurant.

No.1 Sushi Bar yum yum yum yum yum
37 Home Street, phone 229 6880, website
(Last visit January 2011) Hurrah! At last: Sushi in Edinburgh which doesn't look like it was picked up from a chill cabinet at the supermarket. Tempura, yakimono (skewers) and noodle and rice dishes are on offer at this compact Japanese restaurant too, but it's sushi we find irresistible and guarantees a place in five "yummy" territory. We had miso soup, some Edamame, a large mug of green tea, and a big and satisfying mix of maki (seaweed wrapped rolls) and nigri (slices of fish on rice) for twenty five quid each. With the Cameo directly opposite, looks like trips to the cinema just became an even more attractive (and expensive) proposition.

Fishers in the City yum yum yum yum yum
58 Thistle Street, phone 225 5109
(Last visit July 2006) The very big, very fishy menu has so much yummy stuff on it that choosing is a tough job. Whatever you pick we doubt you'll be disappointed. Portions are generous. It's quite busy and noisy in the main area around the bar; the room in the back seems to be a little quieter.

David Bann yum yum yum yum yum
56-58 St Mary's Street, phone 556 5888
(Last visit March 2008) It's a veggy restaurant and, while we're big fans of some other Edinburgh veggie haunts like Ann Purna and Susie's Diner, we never seem to pick the vegetarian option when there's a choice between that and cooked animal flesh. However by the time we were stuck into our main course here it occurred to us that we had completely forgotten the restaurant's specialism and were really enjoying some terrific food. It probably helps that we love spinach. When it was time for pudding we were initially a little disappointed that nothing specific was jumping out at us, making for a difficult decision. Then we spotted the assiette of desserts to share, which is basically a bit of everything. Now that's truly a Bottlenose Pudding Paradise! We think the prices are good value; if there's a downside it's that the main large dining area is perhaps a little too crowded and noisy. They have an informative website.

Ann Purna yum yum yum yum yum
45 St Patrick Square, phone 662 1807
(Last visit March 2006) An entirely vegetarian Indian restaurant run by a friendly family who are eager to please. It is here we had the yummiest, most authentic thali meal we've had outside India. The regular curries are yummy too. We'll be back for more!

The Shore Bar and Restaurant yum yum yum yum yum
3 Shore, phone 553 5080
(Last February 2007) A small restaurant attached to a pub, but with a giant reputation in Edinburgh. The dining room seems stuck in a timewarp; our great-grandmothers might have been right at home there. The food, fish being the main event here, is excellent; bonus marks for the large accompanying bowl of steamed vegetables. They have a minimal website.

Khushi's Diner yum yum yum yum yum
32b West Nicholson Street, phone 667 4871, website.
(Last visit March 2009) This wonderful Edinburgh institution has moved into this lovely downstairs premises on West Nicholson Street following the fire that gutted their huge place on Victoria Street in December 2008. It's much more cosy and smaller than the last place, and the food is just as delicious and they've got a big window so you can see into the kitchen. Menu is quite extensive, loads of scrummie starters, and mains included tandoori, lamb, fish and poultry dishes as well as plenty of veggie options too. Huge dessert menu as well if you're not full up from your main course!! All the curries we ate were so delicious and all tasted different and were served by lovely smiley friendly waiters. Yummie nann breads and rice to accompany and of course poppadoms and great selection of pickles too. Prices are very reasonable and it's a BYOB and no corkage! Have fun!

Peckham's Underground yum yum yum yum yum
155-159 Bruntsfield Place, phone 228 2888
(Last visit December 2005) Excellent restaurant located in the basement of the amazing Bruntsfield branch of Peckham's deli. The diner style seating around stainless-steel tables has you initially half expecting a burger-and-fries menu but in fact it's interesting bistro fare and generous portions. With things like a whole baked camembert on the menu for starters, you definitely want to have worked up a good appetite before you head here. We were in on a quiet night and found the combination of comfy seats, chilled music, dim lights and full stomachs induced such levels of soporific relaxation that we couldn't bring ourselves to head out into the cold winter night until closing time. There is a huge wine list (presumably reflecting the stocks in the deli upstairs). They have a not-very-informative website.

La Garrigue yum yum yum yum yum
31 Jeffrey Street, phone 557 3032
(Last visit Summer 2005) French restaurant, apparently specialising in the cuisine of the Languedoc region, although not knowing anything about the area it all just seemed classically rustic French to us. There is fish here, and duck and rabbit too, all cooked to perfection, and the puddings don't disappoint either. The only slight problem would seem to be that the restaurant and it's attractive wooden furniture is somewhat awkwardly shoehorned into some rooms which seem more suited to being a flat. They have a slick website.

Duck's at Le Marche Noir yum yum yum yum yum
2/4 Eyre Place, phone 558 1608
(Last visit early 2007) Superb Scottish, unless you consider it French with a slant to Scottish ingredients, restaurant. The faultless dishes are generally quite simple, letting the flavours of their primary ingredients speak for themselves. This is posh nosh; it's not cheap (although watch for special offers) and don't expect a side dish of scruffy vegetables to detract from your perfectly presented main course. They have a website.

The New Bell yum yum yum yum yum
233 Causewayside, phone 668 2868
(Last visit August 2005) A restaurant above the Old Bell Inn (which is such a fantastically well preserved traditional pub it's well worth a visit itself). The food is modern Scottish and done very well indeed, accompanied by plenty of vegetables. It's quite expensive, but the service is excellent and there is a definite impression of people taking real pride in what they do. It all feels quite old fashioned (but cosy to go with it), and at least on the evening we were there we felt like we must be the youngest customers; it was almost as if we had stumbled on somewhere the older generation were keeping to themselves. Well, the secret is out now!

A Room In The West End yum yum yum yum
26 William Street, phone 226 1036, website
(Last visit May 2006) Bright and colourful basement restaurant with a buzzing atmosphere, friendly obliging staff and Scottish influenced cuisine. The food is fantastic, with starters like spring rolls stuffed with vegetarian haggis and apple, and puddings like rhubarb parfait stealing the show from the main courses. Amazingly for a place with such fancy food it's also a BYO (two pounds a bottle corkage).

A Room In The Town yum yum yum yum
18 Howe Street, phone 225 8249, website
(Last visit December 2011) Basically the same formula as the Room In The West End above. Foodwise there isn't anything to choose between them. This one is above ground so may feel a bit less claustrophobic and echoey than the West End basement. On the other hand the tables seem a bit too close together here and it's very loud (or maybe it's just a "good buzz"). Try them both and decide for yourself.

Grain Store yum yum yum yum
30 Victoria Street, phone 229 7635 website
(Last visit July 2010) Very pleasant posh nosh (Scottish), without being too formal. Perhaps a little overpriced for what's on offer.

Bonsai yum yum yum yum
46 West Richmond Street, phone 668 3817, minimal website (with pointless muzak).
(Last visit January 2011) One of those places that we'd been meaning to try for years but it's a little off the beaten track so it took a Groupon offer to finally get us in the door. The obvious comparison is with the Number One Sushi Bar and Yes Sushi: the format ("Japanese tapas"; you order and then it comes in any old order) is basically the same. You'll find Bonsai either "more rough and ready" or "less sterile" depending on your point of view. The food itself seemed just as good, although the other places definitely win on presentation and precision. On the other hand, Bonsai deserve special mention for their unagi (eel) nigiri (huge pieces! lots of sauce!), which is our favourite, and a very yummy tempura eel roll special. There's some inspired marketing at work here too: having reeled us in once via the Groupon offer, our bill came with one of those "collect the stamps to get a discount" cards one stamp short of full. So we'll surely be back again to fill it up, and again to use it. Very clever.

Thai Orchid yum yum yum yum
5a Johnston Terrace, phone 225 6633, website
(Last visit Winter 2008) Nice quiet Thai restaurant with yummy noodle, stir-fry and rice/curry dishes in varying degrees of spicyness and a good range of choices for vegetarians. Don't hold back in anticipation of a dessert; the starter end of the menu is far more interesting. Our favourite amongst the Thai restaurants in Edinburgh.

Daniel's Bistro yum yum yum yum
88 Commercial Street, phone 553 5933, website
(Last visit 2007) A modern and buzzing French restaurant; we were here midday and had the "business lunch" menu which was very good. If you follow in our footsteps, just admit defeat from the start: you will go for the three course option, which is superb value for nine pounds. We'll be back for a proper evening meal sometime.

eh15 restaurant and bar yum yum yum yum
The Club, 3rd floor, Jewel and Esk College, phone 0131 344 7344, website
(Last visit Winter 2010) A bit of a journey out of town, but worthwhile for a great value meal prepared and served by the college's own hospitality students. The plain restaurant does have a bit of a college cafeteria feel, although one with immaculate tablecloths and primly folded napkins. If we hadn't been there in the depths of a winter's night, there would have been great views of Arthur's Seat and we'll make time for an al-fresco drink on the terrace if we return in the summer. The quality of the wait staff is a bit random, from "this really isn't the job for you, is it ?", to extremely professional. We were slightly nervous after some friends told us a story about having tomato soup spilled all over them, but were relieved to find it's not at all "Fawlty Towers". You do get a chance to fill in a feedback form along with the bill! Food was good quality but hardly excptional, perhaps more towards the "catering" than "restaurant" end of the spectrum, although mostly very well presented. See the website for some sample menus. There didn't seem to be as nearly much activity in the kitchen as we'd expect to see for a restaurant this size, we suspect most of it is pre-prepared in the day in classes. Certainly well worth a visit for collectors of novel eats in Edinburgh.

My Big Fat Greek Kitchen yum yum yum yum
6 Brougham Street, phone 0131 228 1030, website.
(Last visit February 2011) The one word to best describe this place: welcoming. The hospitality is matched by the quality of the food from the extensive menu, and vegetarians unusually well catered for. The meze platters are particularly recommended.

Empires Cafe yum yum yum yum
24 St Mary's Street, phone 466 0100, website
(Last visit August 2010) Excellent little Turkish Cafe serving delicious fresh meze dishes. There's other stuff on the menu but for us the meze is the main attraction. The upstairs area with cushions and low tables is attractive, but can get stiflingly hot in the summer. Technically a BYO, but the corkage charge is quite steep (and the off-licenses in the area have a dire selection anyway).

Blonde Restaurant yum yum yum yum
75 St Leonards Street, phone 668 2917, website
(Last visit August 2010) Good value and the extensive menu has plenty of meat, fish and veggie options. Starters and mains were top notch. Unfortunately the deserts seemed a bit more variable, the orange and pecan bread and butter pudding being absolutely incredible, while the creme brulee with a Toffee Crisp in it (yes, the Nestle confectionery) was a sickly gimmick. The restaurant occupies several rather small rooms which get very noisy and warm.

Stac Polly yum yum yum yum
8-10 Grindlay Street, phone 229 5405
(Last visit December 2003) Yummy (but pricey) Scottish food. On the downside, the tables were perhaps a little too close together, possibly due to a desire to pack in as many people as possible during the busy Christmas season, and our otherwise excellent meal was was rather spoiled by the strident, irritating voice of one member of a neighbouring party.

Dusit yum yum yum yum
49a Thistle Street, phone 229 2225, website
(Last visit May 2008) A small Thai restaurant subverting stereotypes by being buzzing and loud, with a small army of busy brash staff who are game for a laugh. Lots of choice on the menu for both starters and mains (with venison and whisky featuring in a few dishes), but we stuck to good old reliables pad thai and green curry after demolishing a selection of interesting starters and certainly weren't disappointed. While the portions looked a bit lost on the enormous white plates, appearances are deceiving and we were too stuffed to consider the minimal desert menu.

Thai Lemongrass yum yum yum yum
40-41 Bruntsfield Place, phone 229 2225 website
(Last visit Winter 2010) We hadn't been here for a few years after a disappointing previous visit, but are glad to report it seems to be back on form. We had a lovely evening with delicious, well presented food and attentive service. Don't save yourself for the dessert menu; it has about 2 items on it. It was a shame to have to eventually leave into the cold winter night outside.

Pink Olive yum yum yum yum
55-57 West Nicolson Street, phone 662 4493, website
(Last visit February 2011) A quiet (and remarkably clean; seriously, the place is just spotless) little restaurant near the university. The extensive menu defies easy classification - choose between Scottish, Italian and Mediterranean - and if that wasn't confusing enough they also open early for Sunday brunch fry-ups. We thought the three-courses-for-twenty-quid dinner menu (2 course deal also available) was very good value (with generous portion sizes) the highlights being a massively tasty ox-tongue starter and an amazing chocolate and orange cake dessert.

Maison Bleue yum yum yum yum
36-38 Victoria Street, phone 226 1900
(Last visit March 2004) Don't be put off by the deeply pretentious claims of "a new style of eating", or the attempts to confuse you with regard to starters and mains because you'll be missing out on a treat. The menu blurb seems to be encouraging a tapas style of ordering, but if you look at the prices it's fairly obvious that the conventional two-tier starter/main regime persists and the waiters are there to help you avoid doing anything too silly. Despite that we went for a fifteen-pounds a head deal on three courses; if you opt for this it's important to be forwarned that the main dish is starter sized or you could be rather disappointed. Most importantly the food is excellent and the surroundings pleasant, although the background music is a little loud; this isn't a place to take your partially deaf elderly relatives. Downstairs an invitingly comfortable bar area looks like a good place to linger before and after your meal; we'll be back.

The Dogs yum yum yum yum
110 Hanover Street, phone 220 1208, website
(Last visit Winter 2010) On arrival, our initial impression was more of a crowded and buzzing pub/wine-bar than a restaurant. Since we there with a big group for a birthday gathering and eating was secondary to sinking a few glasses in good company, this was fine. Food itself is hearty crowd pleasing stuff (the pork belly...mmmmm!) and seemed pretty good value (for New Town anyway). However, be aware that this place divides opinion enormously: check out The List's reviews. But we enjoyed our evening and would say it's worth a visit to decide for yourself.

Urban Angel yum yum yum
121 Hanover Street, phone 225 6215
(Last visit Winter 2010) Small and pleasant cafe with a tapas menu, and a heavy emphasis on organic and fair-trade sourcing. It would be the perfect place to while away a few hours on a Sunday with a newspaper, if it wasn't for the fact that half of New Town seems to have the same plan and you're unlikely to get a seat. Once you have secured a table your only remaining problem is likely to be the ease with which your bill can escalate skywards as you order just one more plate of yummy stuff. They have a minimal website.

Henderson's Salad Table yum yum yum
94 Hanover Street, phone 225 2131
(Last visit Autumn 2010) This self-service vegetarian cafe is an Edinburgh institution. During the daytime at weekends it seems to be overrun by noisy childrens parties (although if you're a fan of the "Modern Parents" in Viz comic, you may find some amusement value), but its much quieter in the evening. The food is excellent, substantial down-to-earth stuff; this is probably the most "brown rice and lentils" restaurant in Edinburgh. There are usually 6 main dishes to choose from, and plenty of salads on offer too, as an accompaniment or a main.

Earthy Market Cafe yum yum yum
33-41 Ratcliffe Terrace, website
(Last visit Autumn 2011) Cafe downstairs, shop upstairs, all with an organic/wholefoods/seasonal/local theme. Feels like the Hendersons of the south side (it's far too up-market to possibly be compared with the much missed Susi's Diner), although with the big difference that you'll find meat on the menu. Certainly just as crowded and popular as Hendersons at the weekend. There's a gimmick of food being served on thick wooden chopping boards rather than plates. Seemed rather expensive for what it is. Open a bit later than most cafes, although not on into the evening.

Toast yum yum yum
146 Marchmont Road, phone 446 9873, website
(Last visit winter 2011) Operates as a cafe for most of the day, (and a popular one too; good luck getting a seat!) but turns into a restaurant for a few hours at lunch and dinner time. A cosmopolitan menu, with influences from all round the world, besides Scottish/British favourites. If you're foolishly restraining yourself to two courses, go for the dessert. Seems to have a bit of a problem with heat and ventilation in the summer we think - possibly something to do with the building's former role as bank ?

Bar Napoli yum yum yum
75 Hanover Street, phone 225 2699
(Last visit winter 2007) On Sunday lunchtime at least this is another busy and buzzing New Town place in the Hendersons/Urban Angel area. Unusually for an Italian (in our experience) the pasta surpassed the pizza, the pizza being disappointingly soggy while the pasta (or more specifically its blue-cheese based sauce) was absolutely delicious. Service was excellent, apparently nothing being too much trouble for the waiters. The ventilation seems insufficient though; while the occasional pillars of flame in the tiny cooking area are entertaining, they do seem to contribute to making the place rather smoky.

Kebab Mahal yum yum yum
7 Nicolson Square, phone 667 5214, website.
(Last visit August 2009) Fantastic value hole-in-the-wall curry house with a casual cafe-like atmosphere. Lots of choice of yummy curry with gigantic naan breads big enough to use as a blanket.

Mosque Kitchen yum yum yum
33 Nicolson St, phone 667 4035, wikipedia page.
(Last visit summer 2011) Has now moved from its former hole-in-the-wall and outdoor area back of the mosque to some grander, more "proper restaurant" premises nearby (and just across Nicolson Square from the Kebab Mahal). During the day the menu still offers the same insanely cheap deal on a plate of curry and rice as it used to, but in the evening it switches to an all-you-can-eat-for-a-tenner format. There is a massive amount to choose from (vegetarian or meat); just help yourself from the tubs but just remember how filling this stuff is and don't be such a pig that you take more than you can finish. Whether you'd choose to go here or the Kebab Mahal probably depends mainly on how hungry you are. NB No alcohol for sale and not a BYO.

Hot Hot Chinese yum yum yum
60 Home Streer, phone 656 0707
(Last visit April 2009) Passing by, we initially assumed this was just another Chinese takeaway, albeit one with a surprisingly large number of tables and plastic chairs for eat-ins. However, the bottlenose team's interest levels were greatly raised when we noticed it is regularly packed out with Asian diners. Our preconceptions couldn't have been more wrong. There's no sweet-and-sour pork or fried rice here, the menu essentially lists only one option: "hot pot", sometimes also called "steamboat stew" or "Chinese fondue". As such the Hot Hot is probably one of the most interesting and unique eateries in Edinburgh at time of writing. Basically there's a divided pot with a couple of kinds of stock placed on a hotplate on the table, you're given a lot of plates of raw ingredients - noodles, seafood, mushrooms, seaweed, vegetables, tofu, thinly sliced meat (this is a visual feast too) - then you cook them in the pot, scoop them into your bowl, add sauce and eat. This is all quite fiddly; we took a leisurely hour and a half to work our way through everything on the table! Unadventurous diners may find themselves a little out of their comfort zone, but the staff are obviously well practiced at explaining the drill to newbies. Note that some common-sense food hygiene is required due to the presence of raw meat; while it cooks in just thirty seconds in the the pot diners should be alert to the risk of contamination of chopsticks, fingers, glasses etc. (Beer available, may also be operating as a BYO ?)

The Khukuri yum yum yum
8 West Maitland Street phone 228 2085
(Last visit March 2007) A Nepalese restaurant. Our only previous experience of Nepalese restaurants (outside Nepal, anyway) suggested that they were indistinguishable from any other Indian restaurant (apart from the obligatory picture of Everest on the walls), so we weren't expecting much different here. However, we were pleasantly surprised to be wrong; each of the dishes our party ordered from the extensive menu was quite unique and different from anything we've had before. The staff are certainly a friendly smiling crowd; if you've spent time in Nepal, you'll probably agree with us that it's them who make this restaurant a little piece of that country far more than the food or the decor. They have a simple website.

Rainbow Arch yum yum yum
8-16 Morrison Street, phone 221 1288
(Last visit Autumn 2005) This is apparently the only place to go in Edinburgh for dim sum, and it's the real thing. So we went to try it; you have to ask for the menu and deflect the waiter's attempts to push you towards the more conventional fare. We were with enough people we could try at least one of everything, and most of it was absolutely delicious; only a few things (notably the fish balls and crispy chicken's feet) seemed to be a bit too alien for the taste of most and it fell to the most voracious half of the Bottlenose Team to dispose of these more interesting items.
Update Winter 2006: You might want to read this news item before visiting.

Hanedan yum yum yum
41-42 West Preston Street, phone 667 4242
(Last visit October 2004) A modern clean and bright Turkish restaurant serving up absolutely delicious and mostly charcoal-grilled meat dishes. Ordering some salad is a good idea or the white porcelain plates look a bit austere when they arrive with just a bed of rice to accompany your kebab or meatballs.

Cafe Royal yum yum yum
17 West Register Street, phone 556 4124
(Last visit 2007) The Cafe Royal is two bits. The restaurant is the Oyster Bar, and next to it is the Circle Bar, which is one of Edinburgh's nicest pubs so making time for a pre-dinner drink is essential. The bar gets pretty busy with the post-work crowd but then seems to thin out later, so you've got more chance of a seat in the comfy booths and a quieter meal next door the later you eat. The food is good, with a bias towards fish (and oysters!) but to be honest it's the spectacular Victorian era decor (sporting-themed stained-glass windows, black and white marble floors) which makes dining here a memorable occasion. Would have surely deserved a higher yumminess rating if they hadn't been short staffed on our visit, which led to some sloppy service (to be fair, they did warn us of the situation in advance and were quick to make amends).

Howies yum yum yum
10-14 Victoria Street, phone 225 1721
(Last visit March 2004) One of a small Scottish chain, with perhaps 4 or 5 in Edinburgh. Our starters and main courses were pleasant but forgettable; the puddings were absolutely superb however. The major downside for us was that the service was simply far too fast, and we ended up repeately sending away a waiter hovering over us attempting to take a pudding order. It is a BYO (small corkage charge) though.

The Hub yum yum yum
Castlehill, phone 473 2067
(Last visit February 2006) A very pleasant cafe during the day, turns into an restaurant in the evening. The food is nicely presented but nothing special. The simple puddings (a green ginger parfait, and a white chocholate mouse) were the definite highlight of the meal for us. We were there for a two-eat-for-the-price-of-one promotion, which was excellent value (excluding wine, fourteen pounds a head for three substantial courses). However, if the prices on the menu hold during the rest of the year then you're looking at twenty eight per head which seems a little pricey for what it is. Despite these concerns and the unexceptional food The Hub has lot going for it: we had no problem booking a seat at short notice on Friday night, there's no "sittings" system in operation, the tables are well spaced, the staff don't rush you and there some comfy sofas around to flop into for coffee.

Nile Cafe yum yum yum
6 Chapel Street, phone 667 8200
(Last visit Autumn 2007) A little Sudenese restaurant. At least so it appears upstairs; there's actually a much larger area downstairs; unfortunately it's rather airless and becomes very hot when packed out (which this popular place seems to have no problems doing). The starters are the best part of the menu. As with Edinburgh's other Sudenese place (WAW; now closed), the nature of the main courses is generally something meaty in sauce accompanied by a pile of pointless iceberg filler. We thought the desert menu a bit of a disappointment too, although Sudenese baklava here turned out to be an interesting variation on the more familiar middle-eastern stuff). At least it's reasonably priced and a BYO too.

The Sheep Heid yum yum yum
43-45 The Causeway, Duddingston Village, phone 656 6951, website
(Last visit May 2006, for lunch) This establishment's claim to fame is that it's the oldest surviving pub in Scotland (since 1360!), so combined with a stroll around olde-worlde Duddingston it's a great place to bring visiting American relatives to show them something twee. The main attraction is the dim old fashioned bar downstairs (including an old-fashioned skittle alley, which can be hired out). Food, in the form of upmarket pub grub, is served upstairs (only) in a brighter restaurant which seems to contain no two chairs the same. We were only after a light lunch so settled for some soup and yummy ciabattas but there are far more substantial things on offer with Scottish cuisine well represented by haggis, venison sausages, Angus burgers and salmon. It's very busy at weekends, especially Sunday lunchtime, so booking is advised.

The Engine Shed Cafe yum yum yum
19 St Leonard's Lane, phone 662 0040
(Last visit 2007) Yummy wholefood cafe serving cheap and tasty fresh fare using a lot of organic ingredients. (Checking opening hours advised because it's generally only open a few hours either side of lunchtime.)

Vittoria yum yum yum
113 Brunswick Street phone 556 6171, website
(Last visit Winter 2005) Busy italian which avoids feeling too crowded on account of being a rambling series of interconnected rooms occupying most of a block besides Leith Walk. This made it a good choice for the office party season, as the big groups have their own spaces. Pasta and pizzas are good, the monstrous seafood platter being especially impressive. However we were slightly annoyed by the lack of the advertised chillis on a Pizza Diablo, for which we were given two different explanations ("we've run out" and "we find most people don't like chillis") by two different people. While this isn't in the same league as another establishment's attempt to serve us an anchovy-free Salad Nicoise, it is irritating when places don't tell you about such changes and give you a chance to pick something else. There is now also a branch of Vittoria on George IV Bridge too, but we haven't tried it.

Jimmy Chung's yum yum yum
30 Grindlay Street, phone 228 8688
(Last visit Autumn 2005) One of a chain which seems to spreading rapidly across Scotland. The format is "Chinese buffet", which means all you can eat for anything between five and twelve pounds, depending on the time and day of the week. There was an impressive array of dishes on offer; their website claims 20 starters and 40 mains, although there's no particular reason to make such a distinction when you can pay repeated visits to the tables with the pots of food and mix-and-match as you like. On the whole most of the dishes are the equal of anything you'd get in an ordinary Chinese restaurant; while there were some rather unappetising items, with so many other things on offer it doesn't matter. The staff, who don't seem to have much to do except bring drinks and replenish the vats, are very friendly, good with children and seem to be mainly interested in having a laugh.

Suruchi Too yum yum yum
121 Constitution Street, phone 554 3268
(Last visit October 2004) A spacious and un-cramped restaurant with a hint of a colonial atmosphere and some curious decor (particularly a giant wooden camel, decorated Rajasthan style). Bizzarely, the menu (viewable at their website) is almost entirely in Scottish dialect. Unfortunately the food, while beautifully presented, doesn't quite live up to the attempt at up-market surroundings, but maybe we just picked badly. We'll certainly be back to give it another try. There is also another branch in Nicolson Street which we haven't been to.
Update Summer 2008: we never did visit again, and after reading this I doubt we ever will.

Khublai Khan yum yum yum
43 Assembly Street, phone 555 0005
(Last visit May 2004) A Mongolian themed "barbecue restaurant". Places like this were all the rage in Bristol some years ago, but disappeared as quickly as they appeared when the novelty wore off. Basically you fill your bowl up from various containers full of meat, vegetables, spices and sauces, take it up to some frantically frying chefs, and when it's cooked it's delivered to you in your seat. Repeat as many times as you like, but leave room for pudding. There is a helpful list of suggestions for spice and sauce combinations which should help you avoid coming up with anything too disgusting. It's good fun with a big group. The only downside is that the chefs are a miserable looking lot (perhaps because there's not much for them to do but stir-fry your creation), and it's a bit of a gimmick; once you've tried it I doubt you're going to rush back.

Zest yum yum
15 North St Andrew Street, phone 556 5028
(Last visit October 2004) Describes itself as "contemporary Indian cuisine", but the only thing distinguishing it from any other curry house was some wobbly Ikea furniture and the spotlights which have the interesting effect of making the greasy sheen on the food distinctly sparkly.

Katie's Diner yum yum
12 Barclay Terrace, phone 229 1394
(Last visit October 2003) Cosy space with photos of New York on the wall and a predominantly burgers, steak and fries menu. We sampled the stuffed peppers and Katie's special chilli which were both good, but it's basically "pub food".

Creelers in Edinburgh yum yum
3 Hunter Square, phone 220 4447
(Last visit early 2007) A fish restaurant just off the Royal Mile. Nothing wrong with it, but we were strangely underwhelmed by uninspired food and dead atmosphere. To be fair, it has to be said we were there midweek in the post-christmas lull and on the ERA promotion so our options were limited. All the same, we'd take some persuading to try it again in preference to Fishers or The Shore. Their website provides some interesting information on the business of which restaurants are just one part.

Bombay Bicycle Club yum yum
6 Brougham Place, phone 229 3839
(Last visit March 2003) Fairly ordinary curry house with a wacky name, good food but unfortunately only so-so service. The extensive menu has a good range of choice for vegetarians, and they serve up plenty of it.

Peking Inn yum yum
3 Tarvit Street, phone 229 6789
(Last visit July 2003) Unexceptional (and unpretentious) Chinese restaurant-and-take-away hidden away in a quiet side street. Doesn't look very inspiring from the outside, but after spotting some Chinese people dining there the Bottlenose Team had to investigate. Has a comfortably downmarket feel, but the food and drink is reasonably priced, the service very zippy, and it's very handy if you're off to the Cameo cinema before or after. Most Chinese restaurants seem to serve up pretty much near-identical stuff to us; however, the Peking Inn's interesting incoporation of spam (or something a lot like it) into their Singapore Noodles made this quite a unique experience.

Henderson's Bistro yum yum
25 Thistle Street, phone 225 2605
(Last visit April 2003) Part of the Henderson empire which seems to occupy this corner of New Town, the quiet and dim vegetarian restaurant is good value but the food is completely forgettable. We'd much rather go to their Salad Table cafe around the corner.

The Tapas Tree yum
1 Forth Street, phone 558 7838
(Last visit January 2004) The Tapas certainly seems authentic enough. It's probably nicer if you're sitting in the pleasant-looking upstairs area; unfortunately we were put downstairs in a drab and cavernous overflow room. At one point some musicians arrived, tortured us with an accordion then harassed us for money. They have a garish website.

Dario's yum
85-87 Lothian Road, phone 228 4193
(Last visit February 2004) Grim looking Italian. Convenient for a quick pizza before or after visiting one of the cinemas in the area, but has little else to recommend it.

Giuliano's yum
18-19 Union Place, phone 556 6590
(Last visit 2004) You wouldn't suspect it from the outside, but the front of this apparently small and cosy little Italian opens out into a cavernous main dining area, no doubt intended to cater to the hordes flocking to the Playhouse Theatre opposite. Unexceptional pasta, soggy pizza.

Kalpna yum
2-3 St. Patricks Square, phone 667 9890
(Last visit Spring 2005) Vegetarian Indian restaurant. We were somewhat underwhelmed by the food and small portion sizes, but maybe we just picked badly. The dosas in the South Indian section of the menu remain to be tried, as does their thaali meal. However, with the superb (and also vegetarian) Ann Purna nearby, not to mention numerous other terrific non-vegetarian places in the area, it may be some time before we do.

Bar Italia yum
100 Lothian Road, phone 228 6379
(Last visit October 2006) Unexceptional pizza and pasta in a closely packed, brightly lit restaurant. You won't be surprised to learn it's one in a small chain (Ciao Roma). If you're the kind of person who likes a side order of chips with their pizza while a tinny radio blares pop music at you, you'll probably be in your element. The desserts were probably the best bit: a nice big chunk of Tiramisu and a very lemony lemon sorbet. And at least it's handy for the Filmhouse cinema.

Not so good places

Merchants hmmm
17 Merchant Street phone 225 4009
(Last visit spring 2005) We were here initially for a work xmas party and thought they did a superb job of catering for the hordes. Indeed, the evening would surely have been worthy of multiple yums, if it was office parties that we were rating. We were so favourably impressed that we resolved to come back and see what wonders might be produced in more normal restaurant circumstances. Unfortunately it was distinctly forgettable, basically the same fare which had been produced for the masses on the previous occasion and which now seemed dull and formulaic and, with us paying for it ourselves now, overpriced. The impression wasn't improved when we realized that our main dishes had had their sauces swapped from what was described on the menu; a little more conscientiousness needed in the kitchen perhaps ? Leave Merchants to do what they do best: dealing with big groups, a focus which is apparent in their website address www.merchantsCATERING.co.uk.

Other sources of information

Ian Sommerville's Edinburgh restaurant guide (formerly here). If you've found our page, but not Ian's, your search engine is broken!

Another personal guide to Edinburgh eating (although somewhat secondary to the wine tasting notes).

Toptable's Edinburgh pages have a incredible amount of information on many restaurants, including photos, user contributed reviews and information useful to those looking to book a large group or function.

The List (Edinburgh's what's-on magazine) have a comprehensive restaurant guide which also comes out in printed form once a year; copies can usually be found in some newsagents all year round.

The Scotsman newspaper has an online archive of reviews.

EdinburghMenus is an upcoming community reviews site (includes takeaways).

Qype's Edinburgh restaurant pages are pretty good.

MyEdinburgh has a list of restaurants, some with reviews attached,

There is a Edinburgh page in the ChefMoz open directory.

The Edinburgh Restaurateurs' Association generally runs a promotion in the slack season after Christmas. We have a theory that some restaurants look at the promotion as an opportunity to get people who wouldn't normally be customers in and impress them so they come back again as regular customers in the future. However, some other places are just desperate to keep a few punters coming through the door and then serve them the cheapest thing they can get away with. The trick is to go to the ones in the former category.

Groupon is worth keeping an eye on for good restaurant deals.

Use to find other websites in/about Edinburgh.

Extra-special out-of-town places

Travelling on beyond Edinburgh ? We've decided to start mentioning any exceptionally deserving places we find out of town too.

Monachyle Mohr yum yum yum yum yum yum
Balquhidder, phone 01877 384622, website
(Last visit summer 2008) This out-of-the-way hotel on the picturesque road to Loch Voil has a restaurant which is home to sometimes-TV chef Tom Lewis. Basically, you're in for a fantastic taste experience. Every detail is just right. Dishes are packed with interest but without being gimmicky. Service is attentive and efficient but refreshingly informal. Tables are divided between the conservatory (which has a nice view of the surrounding glen) and the windowless but more cosy main dining room. Some practical details: at the time of our visit there was one fixed-price menu (46 pounds/head) for a 5 course dinner (counting a couple of entertaining "amuse bouche") plus coffee. The wine list started at 17 pounds. We thought it exceptional value for food of this standard; we doubt you can eat nearly as well in Edinburgh for the price. However, rooms in the hotel certainly aren't cheap. There are some bed-and-breakfasts in the area (taxi distance) but be sure to secure a table in the restaurant first, and you will likely need to book some time in advance especially for weekends.

Barley Bree yum yum yum yum yum
Muthill nr Crieff, phone 01764 681 451, website
(Last visit winter 2007) A restaurant with rooms, so you don't have to stagger far to your bed after a top-notch feast of Scotland's finest produce. Seems to be quite a new venture, and the prices are very reasonable (so pay a visit soon before they've built a reputation and put them up). The chef was formerly at Atrium (one of Edinburgh's premier restaurants). The rooms are nothing particularly special; the best thing about ours was an enormous roll-top bath with the taps in the middle for a prolonged dual soak after a day out walking near Crieff.

Bunrannoch House yum yum yum yum yum
Kinloch Rannoch, phone 01882 632497, website
(Last visit Summer 2010) The iconic Scottish mountain Schiehallion towers over this quirky little restaurant and B&B. The food is local Scottish produce, espeically game, at it's best; we'd be surprised if venison and salmon were ever absent from the menu. Congenial hosts Rita and Ben have defied conventional tourist-board star-rating wisdom and succeeding in created something very special here: with no televisions anywhere, people do actually talk to each other in the spacious and comfortable lounge. So what if there aren't tea/coffee making facilities in the rooms ? Just go the kitchen and help yourself. There's perhaps a sense that the the operation is still something of a work in progress, with some grand refurbishment plans to restore former Victorian hunting lodge glories, but the owners have rightly concentrated on the restaurant aspect first.

Chechek's Mediterranean Restaurant yum yum yum yum
The Square, Aberfeldy, phone 01887 829229
(Last visit Summer 2010) Tucked away down an alleyway off a corner of Aberfeldy's town square, this is a real gem, and all the more so because Aberfeldy seems to have little else on offer but curry/fish suppers/pub grub. Don't be put off by the slightly awkward, almost corridor-like appearance of the dining area (it seems some are - we've seen prospective customers poke their heads through the door, take one look and turn tail); the food is much better than the modest setting might suggest. We started with some delicious houmous, baked aubergine and flatbreads, all of it fantastically fresh, followed off with Turkish-style grilled meat, simple salad, rice and another gigantic flatbread. We can see the 20 minute detour off the A9 to eat here becoming a habit in future.