Eating and Drinking, Edinburgh
Next to the entrance to the castle, this centre is an attraction well conceived and planned to please adults and children. The tour is simple but pleasant, the tasting demonstrations are quick but concise, and the shop is large and varied.
We had lunch in the restaurant, at a reasonable price, with a common meal (nothing to remember or complaint).
Just one thing went wrong: We bought a pack of whisky candies, tasted them upon arrival in Portugal, and felt sorry for not buying a full container.
If you want food as fresh as it can be, you just *have to* get up early on a Saturday morning and visit this award-winning market! It takes place every Saturday, year round, come rain or shine or sleet or snow, from 9:00am-2:00pm. So early on a rainy morning we grabbed our rain coats and headed up the stairs behind Edinburgh Castle. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I was very very very pleasantly surprised; delighted actually!
Apart from the produce, it's also a fantastic place to have a chat with the local farmers, fishermen, suppliers and also with the residents of Edinburgh.
It just doesn't get any fresher and more "local" than this!
(from the website):
Over 55 specialist producers currently attend the market. The majority are primary producers, growing what they sell; offering offer meat products including specialities such as wild boar, venison, ostrich and water buffalo (click on photo to see a whole spit-roast pig at the market!). Organic beef, chicken, lamb and pork are also available.
Other types of produce include fish (lobster in season), free-range eggs, cheese, seasonal fruit & vegetables, honey, chillies and plants. In addition you'll find producers who bake and prepare their own farm products. Guest producers provide specialities including organic beer, liqueurs, bread, chocolates and chutneys.
John bought Tablet (see my separate 'Local Customs' Tip on my Scotland page for details) and we also bought some absolutely delicious organic whisky and flavoured Vodkas. We also tried lots of little samples of fantastic cheeses before finally narrowing our choice down to 2 varieties (I wanted them ALL!) and we had a great time talking to the farmers & producers. It was so nice to speak to someone who has a real passion & pride for their produce... real "Food Heroes" (like the TV-program by chef Rick Stein).
List of suppliers / produce here:
TIP: Bring you own cotton bags / backpack, etc. to reduce the use of plastic bags; and to be able to carry your goodies back home more comfortably.
TIP: Car parking is convenient with car parks on Reigo Street (off East Fountainbridge) and Castle Terrace itself. You can also use the bus routes on Lothian Road; Haymarket and Waverley train stations are only a short walk away.
The Elephant House - One cozy (but at times a bit noisy) place to either have a drink or fine dessert or a proper meal! - always very busy, but worth of standing in line and waiting for your table - everything tastes great! If you're alone you can enjoy your morning coffee while reading a book or a magazine (they have plenty) or simply look through the window at the Edinburgh castle! They say it's a place where plenty of artists got their inspiration for their work, among whom also J.K.Rowling...
Food in Edinburgh... hmmm... well, I suppose to the local Scots and Perhaps even the English the selection is fabulous and the prices are fine. To anyone from farther away they likely will find an extremely limited selection of food that has been tailored to the typical bland British palette at unbelievably high prices. The proper restaurants in Edinburgh are a complete ripoff. Any place that considers Pizza Hut a luxury is a bad sign to begin with. And I've never paid so much for a commercial pizza in my life. Aside from that, pub food sometimes can be decent enough, but it is really hit and miss here as some pubs are decent and others serve food I wouldn't even provide my dog with.
If you are looking for anything like Mexican food you might as well forget it. There are a few places such as Illegal Jacks in Tollcross and some place in Leith (I've forgotten the name). And although they do make a decent attempt at it, the spices and flavors are completely wrong. The prices are extortionate as well. A $4 or $5 burrito will cost you around $10 or more in Edinburgh. Especially since if you want complimentary chips and salsa you will need to shell out a small fortune for a miniscule portion.
If you seek Chinese food your best bet is with some of the local takeaway places... however, be ready to again shell out a small fortune for a small meal. Even a decent sized portion of fried rice is going to cost you around $8. By the time you order some rice, a main dish for two people you have blown the eating budget for the day.
Italian food abound in Edinburgh. Unfortunately, most places get it wrong and you will end up with small portions of the British versions of various dishes. Pizza is unbelievably expensive in Edinburgh. And they consider a 10 or 12 inch pizza massive... and even that will set you back a good portion of money.
The fast food places (KFC, McDonalds, Burger King, etc) are basically the same as they are elsewhere in the world; probably slightly more expensive though, but reliable if you want to save money and can tolerate fast food.
Chip shops are a decent deal as you can get a good portion of fish and chips for a decent amount of money; Although fish suppers in Edinburgh are more expensive than outside the city. A fish supper is going to run you around £6 (around $10)... which I suppose is reasonable.
Your best bet for food in Edinburgh is to purchase things at a local market (avoid Tesco as they are very expensive... instead try Lidl, Farmfoods, etc) and prepare them yourself if you have access to facilities to do so.
Kebab shops in Edinburgh are astronomically expensive for what you get. A large chicken kebab in Edinburgh will run you between $6 and $7 pounds (about $10+) and you don't get much for your money...a single small pita bread and a bunch of tiny chicken pieces with some cabbage tossed on top and a cheap version of chile sauce. Definitely not worth the money at all.
Anyway, I wish I could give some suggestions for decent affordable food in Edinburgh for foreign tourists, but there really are not any. Edinburgh has much to be desired in terms of food and cost. Edinburgh food would benefit greatly from one Denny's restaurant or something like that; yeah it is that bad and that expensive. I would even take a proper chile dog or chile cheeseburger if one could be found in Edinburgh. The best hot dog I've found in the city was from a street vender at the foot of Leith... and it was affordable for what I got; a miracle in this city.
Overall the restaurants in Edinburgh are WAY too expensive for what you get and the food is not all the great to be honest. Many boast about having stars and whatever. The stars mean nothing since the food is bland and boring and your average taco would beat most of it hands down no questions asked.
Brits continue to earn their reputation of not understanding food, except in Edinburgh you will get that coupled with prices that demand lobster and steak be sitting on the plate. If you visit Edinburgh be prepared to be board to death in terms of food and feel like you were ripped off at every meal.
For all you whiskey lovers.. this place is a must-go!
It's large, and shows you the procedure: how it's all done, etc.
A perfect way of whetting your appetite, & then 'quenching' your thirst !!! (don't overdo it though)
Och aye. This is a real can 'o' wurmmmmms. Ok in English, Deacon Brodie was one of the City Fathers in that he was a judge by day, judging the miscreants of Edinburgh and hanging them publicly in the Lawnmarket by day and naffing off at night to pilfer good citizens' homes. Eventually he was found out and hanged on his own scaffold. He was the inspiration of Robert Louis Stephenson's novel Jekyll and Hyde wherein two sides of the human psyche occupied the same body. You can go and see the room that Mr Stevenson wrote at The Hawes Inn at the south base of the Forth Bridge.
This is a lively pub situated on The Lawnmarket. They do have live music (see the website) and from there you can walk up and down the Royal Mile and see the historic buildings of the Old Town. The restaurant is upstairs, in busy times (ie during The Festival) it's a good idea to book a table, telephone number below.
Opening hours, Monday to Thursday: 10.00am to 11.00pm Friday and Saturday: 10.00am to 1.00am, Sunday: 10.00am to 11.00pm
It is named after Deacon William Brodie, the man who inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Deacon Brodie (1741-88) lived a double life. He was a respected craftsman and a member of the Town Council. He used to manufacture and repair locks. At the same time, he lived an expensive lifestyle including mistresses and gambling. To support this second life, he began to take copies of all the keys so that he could return some time later with accomplices. After a raid he was arrested and found guilty. He was sentenced to hang. Although he bribed the hangman, the plan failed and the steel collar he was wearing could not save his life.
While in Edinburgh you might like to visit the "Scotch Whisky Heritage centre" the centre explains the making of whisky from the start, it is done in a series of exhibits combined with smells and sounds. A taste of the product is given at the end. The restaurant in the centre is very good and serves tradional Scottish dishes (often with a drop of the water of life added). Good sightseeing for a single malt lover.
If you visit the website you can print out a voucher to give to a discount for the entrance price and for a free dram.
If you like your pubs and beer, then you have to go to Rose St in Edinburg.
Here there is pub after pub, most that have their own inhouse brewery attached.
There is a pub every few yards for about a mile
Its a great wqy to pass an afternoon/day/weekend
I loved this little cheese shop in the Hay market that keeps a really great variety of cheeses on hand. The owner was quite helpful and willing to let me sample many of his latest cheeses. I stopped in every couple of days to pick up something new to snack on in my flat. I don't know the address or the name, but I'm sure if you put your mind to it, you'll find it.
For a wee night out I would recommend the following jaunt along George St (wi a few staggers down the side streets). See the nightlife section for more comprehensive views on the places mentioned below.
OK, start at Charlotte Square and head into George St and on your right is..
Bar 38 then across to Tigerlily then next door to The Living Room and downstairs into Candy Bar then may want to try to get into Oloroso (turn right down Castle St for a fantastic sunset on the rooftops) but if not try Centrotre (103 for non italians) back on George St, along and down left into Frederick St to Ricks and back up into the Queens Arms (auld sytle drinking with great fires) back to George St for The Opal Lounge (do avoid The Standing Order), next would be Grand Cru, left down Hanover St then possibly into All Bar One (some are a bit funny on this one) then it's into Tempus. Cross over to the new & swanky Le Monde before slipping next door to the elegant Dome and finally ending up in Grape on the corner of St Andrews Square
Clubbing after all these suggestions may be difficult (you could miss some out though) but I would recommend any of the following ....
The Opal Lounge, free before ten as is...
Po Na Na's, beside the Queen's Head but must be in before midnight
Why Not which is below the Dome on the right hand side
Tokyo in the basement of Le Monde
Lulus in the basement of Tigerlilly
Fill your belly with edingburgh finest pies and takeaway for a penny before you enjoy your day. I read about Pie maker somewhere in VT and yes I went there. I was gonna yell " What a delicious pie?" when I took my first bite. Prices are very reasonable too. Besides, if you have a student ID card, let them see and get a free house special chip-choc cookie. Seriously, I went there altogether three times in my 2 day trip and bought an extra pie to chew on the way back as well. Imagine it.
Warning: food are outrageously tasty and hot :P
OK, here is the second pub crawl route I'd recommend with this one being centred on the great bars at the West End of Princes St. Not much walking required as all are within a 100m of each other.
Right then start at House of Fraser then head North towards Charlotte Sq and you'll come across...
Hudsons Bar, out of there and down the stairs into Whighams Wine Cellar, bit tricky now so pay attention, cross the street an head into Charlotte Square and go down the alley beside West Register House (big green domed building) and sygn is right in front of you. Out of here and Indigo Yard is right next door, double back up the alley then left into Randolph Place and Halo is just over the street. That's it for the good bars but if you want more then head back along towards Princes St and you have the following...
Mathers - can't say I've ever been in
Ryan's - showing it's age nowadays but not too bad
Rutland Place - as Ryan's
Rat Pack - used to be a favourite before they got a piano, crooner and Baltic hoodlums
Haggis is a Scottish traditional dish. I was very curious about how does it taste and couldn't do without doing it! Here I am in a Scottish restaurant with one of their various type of Haggis, 'the Haggis Jacket Potato'! It tasted delicious! My friend did not like it but it was not the same for me! MMMMMMHHHH....
The Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre, located on the Royal Mile, offers a great overview of how whisky is made. The cover the process of malting, mashing, fermentation, and pot stills. Also covers how the flavour of the whisky differs in each region of Scotland. You'll learn about the two different kinds of Scotch Whisky -- Malt Whisky and Grain Whisky. The tour ends with a Whisky Barrel Ride which takes you through 300 years of history.