Scotland - the land where wild haggis roam the heathery hills and everyday man goes to work on a diet of Irn Bru and deep fried Mars bars. Or so the rest of the world might think, but did you know that Edinburgh, the country’s capital city is host to a quaffable quintet of Michelin starred restaurants? Step aside Edinburgh Castle, men in kilts and hairy, ahem, haggis… and welcome to the culinary capital of Scotland.
Reach for the (Michelin) stars along the ‘Michelin Mile’ north of the city, in Leith. 21212 won its Michelin star in 2010 a mere eight months after opening under the guidance of outrageously experimental chef Paul Kitching - chicken with (blue) cheesy chips anyone?
Martin Wishart teams classic French cuisine with divine fresh, local ingredients - opt for the six course tasting menu for a faultless dining experience. Fancy trying Wishart’s signature style at a sliver of the cost then make a reservation at The Honours - a classic brasserie. Be bold and start with the mouthwatering pressed pigs head terrine - you’ll be glad this little piggy went to market.
Edinburgh Food and Drink on a Budget
For those on a lesser budget Edinburgh offers some bargains. Make like Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh and head to Los Cardos for a £5 haggis burrito, or go Bollywood at Bollywood Coffee Box with a curry’n’rice takeaway box from only £3.50 served from a former police box (okay, tardis) - pakoras, samosas and temporary art are also on the menu. No better a bargain can be had than that at the city’s famous Mosque Kitchen - a no-frills canteen with generous portions of authentic Indian food and change from a fiver.
Local produce features heavily at Ondine - a firm favourite in Edinburgh’s thriving seafood scene and a restaurant regularly cited as one of the city’s best. Dive in head first to platters of delicious oysters from Carlingford Lough, Loch Ailort and Loch Fyne, or go fusion with the sea bream curry or squid tempura and Vietnamese dipping sauce.
Celebrity Chef Tom Kitchin’s restaurant also resides here and diners can experience both fashionable and local cuisine curiosities. Book lunch to sample Michelin dining at a reasonable price. Kitchin is also behind the city’s latest Michelin star - the Castle Terrace with dramatic fayre served with an even more dramatic backdrop of Edinburgh’s proud Castle. For other food-with-a-view options try The Witchery - a gothic style destination restaurant, modern Asian cuisine at Chaophraya or enjoy a post-retail foodie fix at the Harvey Nichols Forth Floor Restaurant. Head back to the city centre for your final Michelin Star establishment at Number One on Princes Street - the inhouse restaurant of the grand Balmoral Hotel and a subterranean haven of sirloin, sweetbreads and a decadent nine course tasting menu.
Bars in Edinburgh
World renown for their hospitality, Scots know how to enjoy a good drink, and it’s perhaps no surprise then that Edinburgh is home to its fair share of bars. Cocktail fans can enjoy a Wonderland style tea party at Roseleaf where gin concoctions are served in quirky teapots, while those in the know enter through a secret barber shop entrance to Panda & Sons where Edinburgh’s coolest kids hang out. If beer is your thing then Brewdog is a good bet - a Scottish brand with a handful of impressive IPAs and a selection of top quality guest draughts, or try Holyrood 9A with friendly, knowledgeable staff on hand to help you navigate the 20-plus beer taps and multi-bottled choices.
Fancy drinking like a local - then the Canny Man is a must with one of the city’s finest whisky lists - including the award-winning, limited edition Ardbeg Uigeadail, or visit Whiski smack bang on the Royal Mile with more than 200 whiskies on offer from the obscure Bowmore to the quintessential like Talisker and Lagavulin. With more restaurants per head than any other city in the UK, Edinburgh is sure to offer something to suit even the most discernible of palettes. Look out for the Taste Our Best logo, a new award which recognises establishments that put quality Scottish ingredients at the forefront of their menus.