Not visited Edinburgh since last year's Festival? Here are the top new restaurants to try in 2014
The best new established restaurants and Festival pop-ups, featuring Caffè, Aizle, Ting Thai Caravan and more
This article is from 2014.
With the start of the Festival season in late July, the sense of anticipation about what's capturing the zeitgeist doesn't just apply to Fringe shows. Food & drink editor Donald Reid rounds up the most notable newcomers to the local eating and drinking scene
Every year there are a handful of places that open up in slightly unseemly haste in the latter weeks of July, their opening fanfares accompanied by a screeching of brakes and clouds of builders' dust. Being open for August is just too important for profile and the bottom line to miss out. In that category this year are Victor & Carina Contini's new three-storey Caffè right at the top of the Royal Mile in the 16th-century Cannonball House, a sizeable new branch of the Mussel & Steak Bar on Jeffrey Street, replacing the long-standing Iggs and Barioja, and Enzo, an Italian-style bar and restaurant in the heart of the sleek Quartermile development beside the Meadows.
If you're keeping an eye out for the places that are new since this time last year, then top of the pile are probably Aizle, the excellent 'neo-bistro' situated between the Pleasance and Pollock Halls that serves intriguing dishes of locally sourced food without recourse to established menus, Ting Thai Caravan, a dynamic and frequently packed pitstop for Thai street food that first appeared as a Festival pop-up a couple of years back, and Mark Greenaway's second restaurant, Bistro Moderne, bringing a more accessible taste of the chef's imaginative and enjoyable interpretation of modern British cooking to the New Town / Stockbridge.
Life above street level is only ever half the story in Edinburgh, and voyages underground are the more exciting this year thanks to the arrival of cocktail speakeasy Panda & Sons on Queen Street and Heads & Tales, the subterranean West End bar housing two stills making Edinburgh Gin. Another hidden gem is Devil's Advocate, a sassy bar on Advocate's Close, one of the long passages running from the Royal Mile down to Cockburn Street.
Also in the centre you can find Laila's, an eastern Mediterranean bistro from the folk behind Hanam's and Pomegranate, plus an upgrade to the daytime and early evening dining options on the ground floor of the Festival Theatre that's called th'eatery. There's a first Edinburgh sighting of impressive Glasgow burger joint Burger Meats Bun, which has replaced the branch of Urban Angel on Forth Street just off Broughton Street, while Leith Walk has it's own bona fide pinchos bar in the form of Serrano Manchego by the junction with Dalmeny Street.
Over by Tollcross-Bruntsfield way, Harajuku Kitchen has quickly become a popular neighbourhood spot for a broad range of Japanese food, while just up the road the Osteria del Tempo Perso reminds us that good Italian food is a fine way to lose a few hours of the day. Not too far away, on Dalry Road, the relocated Locanda di Gusti also seeks to jolt us from bland Italian-flagged mediocrity, with chef Rosario Sartore cooking a compact menu of dishes derived from his Neapolitan roots. It's one of the more prevailing themes of the contemporary food scene that the best of the new ways are a reinvigorated presentation of the best of the old ways.
The best festival food pop-ups
Pommery Champage Café Bar
Bubbles, lobster and some tasty events in the ultra-refined environs of the Signet Library.
Aperol Spritz Garden
Pop-up orange groves, water features, live music and prosecco cocktails in St Andrew Square.
Backyard at the Roxy
Serves of sauvingon blanc and flat whites at a New Zealand-themed garden bar at Assembly Roxy.
Hendricks Carnival of Knowledge
An eccentrically eclectic four-day (7–10 Aug) residency for the Ayrshire-based gin at 1 Royal Circus.
Festival Square hosts a food and craft market with its own picnic zone and Airpuddle bouncy art installation.