Edinburgh Festival Guide: Where to eat, West End
French brasserie classics, sushi with sake and dishes you'll want to instagram
This article is from 2016.
Edinburgh's theatre land caters for international tastes, with French and Vietnamese restaurants rubbing shoulders with Japanese and Indian. There's also several Scottish options for post or pre-theatre dining.
The Atelier (SCOTTISH)
159–161 Morrison Street, 0131 629 1344, £14.90 (set lunch) / £25 (dinner)
Flash, bang, pow, wow! Get your phone out because you're gonna wanna Instagram pictures of this meal. The Atelier's chef likes an adventure and his experimental menu and stylish establishment is an unexpected addition to this west end neighbourhood. The upside is really good quality Scottish produce with a scattering of foraged accoutrements, and very good value. Fresh wild trout sits atop a colourful concoction of mini Scotch egg, rhubarb, quinoa, and fennel beside a pool of star anise hollandaise.
More info on The Atelier
L'Escargot Blanc Restaurant & Wine Bar (FRENCH)
17 Queensferry Street, 0131 226 1890, £11.90 (set lunch) / £25 (dinner)
Cosy candlelit tables, old-style posters for classic movies and French liqueurs lining the walls, the impressive room-temperature cheese board on display – this place ticks all the boxes for a relaxed dinner. The produce is proudly Scottish with few exceptions: rabbit from France, and snails too when the Barra ones are in hibernation. The hearty food covers all the French bistro classics – fish soup, tartiflette, cassoulet, and sausages all feature heavily. The addition of a wine bar at street level adds much to the restaurant's appeal.
More info on L'Escargot Blanc Restaurant & Wine Bar
Galvin Brasserie de Luxe (BISTRO)
Caledonian Hotel, Princes Street, 0131 222 8988, £16 (set lunch) / £26 (dinner)
The menu has three strands, first up are the stars of the Scottish seas in all their simple glory, oysters on ice, lobsters and langoustine with mayonnaise. Next, from the grill, come steaks classically garnished with field mushroom, tomato and watercress. But what really sets off a joyous rattling of pots in the kitchen is the handful of French brasserie classics such as plat du jour boeuf bourguignon or a cocotte of cassoulet.
More info on Galvin Brasserie de Luxe
8–10 Grindlay Street, 0131 228 1602, £14.20 (lunch) / £18.50 (dinner)
Kanpai's food is all about finesse, from the super-fine batter coating the tofu, to the delicate crisp yam noodles. Sushi here seems far more than the sum of its parts, even though those parts are pretty noteworthy; chef Max has pretty high spec for his fish, requiring Irish sea mackerel and Japanese tuna. A sensibly concise drinks list (including some superb sake) complements rather than confuses the enticing menu, and service is as smooth and elegant as the rest of the package.
More info on Kanpai
Locanda de Gusti (ITALIAN)
102 Dalry Road, 0131 346 8800, £12.95 (set lunch) / £21 (dinner)
You could trip over the fresh produce in Locanda de Gusti. Boxes of gleaming aubergines, tomatoes and lemons, wait to be whisked into the kitchen and transformed into dishes that retain all the freshness and flavour the raw ingredients promise. There's a daily-changing menu that majors on high quality Scottish meat and fish, and vegetables sourced from his native Campania. Pizza dough is made 24 hours ahead; bread is baked on the premises; everything tastes good and feels like it is doing you good.
More info on Locanda de Gusti
232 Morrison Street, 0131 629 6022, £8.50 (lunch)
The stylish and understated décor of Milk fits with their tagline of 'fresh, seasonal, local, homemade food'. With breakfast, hot stuff, seasonal soups, burritos, sandwiches, salads and home baking, they offer much more than your basic café. There's great gluten-free options like tasty feta, kale, pea and broccoli fritters. Or try the Indian burrito of black dhal with yoghurt, rice and dhal muth. Coffee is good too; enjoy it with a vegan choc truffle slice or courgette and poppyseed cake.
More info on Milk
88 Haymarket Terrace, 0131 281 7187, £8.50 (set lunch) / £26 (dinner)
Inspired by regional Indian dishes and making the most of Scotland's larder, the menu offers a refreshing twist while retaining authentic flavours. A choice of lamb, chicken, seafood and vegetable dishes offer innovative combinations. Tandoori-grilled salmon to start delivers fish delicately marinated in paprika, roasted cumin, mustard and curry leaf. A main of kali mirchi ka lobster, meaty chunks of lobster tail in a rich sauce of shallots, tomatoes and crushed red peppers is bold in heat, but without masking the flavours of the sea and spices.
More info on Navadhanya
19 Dalry Road, 0131 313 3222, £14 (lunch) / £20 (dinner)
As cool jazz plays on the stereo, perch on one of the high stools for a bird's eye view of the sushi chef as he works his magic. Pan-fried dumplings are feather-light and complemented by a sharp dipping sauce. Emaki sushi is presented as bouquets of seafood joy, encased in a crisp seaweed cone containing moist rice, crunchy veg and smoky, unctuous eel. The sashimi selection takes things to a whole other level – ruby-red slices of succulent tuna and gleaming salmon which melts like butter, are perfect reflections of the restaurant's meticulous attention to detail.
More info on Sushiya
10 Lady Lawson Street, 0131 221 1222, £30 four courses (lunch) / £55 four courses (dinner)
Timberyard is a conversion of a big old brick warehouse and former timberyard –hence the name. The ethos is laudable: what's not home-grown, smoked or hung is spotlessly sourced. Each dish on a variety of tasting menus comprises a list of always artfully arranged, often intriguing, ingredients – a lexicon of foraged foodstuffs from knotroot to woodruff. Wash it all down with organic wine or a couple of cracking cocktails, and hear the appreciation of your constitution, for it is, indubitably, all good.
More info on Timberyard
Vietnam House Restaurant (VIETNAMESE)
1–3 Grove Street, 0131 228 3383, £14.25 (dinner)
Here's one of those hot-tip, secret restaurants that's so consistently thrumming with happy clientele you realise it's on the verge of not being a secret any more. Thatched-grass ceiling provides a Vietnamese hut vibe, with gorgeous paintings on the wall and vibrant wallpaper. Fresh spring rolls burst with mint, prawn and veg, and elicit groans of pleasure when dipped into a peanut sauce edging towards decadence with its caramel overtones. Pho comes fortifying and in every variety you could hope for.
More info on Vietnam House Restaurant
Where to drink in the West End