ALLAN's EATING-OUT GUIDE
THE EDINBURGH AREA
Based on their
Eating places reviewed: Vittoria on the Walk (++) Eatalias
(+) Simply Sandwiches (+), Sheraton (+) Café e Cucina (++) Deep Sea
Fry (+) Giovanni’s (+) Khushi’s (+) Gurkha Brigade (+) Shezan (--)
Passage to India (-) Omar Khayyam (+) Jolly’s (+), Elm Rose Café
(--)Mama Roma (--) Giuliani’s (-) Ferri’s (-) Valvona and Crolla,
Elm Row (---) Le Ciero (+) La Rusticana (=) Blue Moon (+) Mezz (+)
Playfair(-) Frankie and Benny’s (+) Filling Station (+) La Tasca in
the Omni Center (++) Slug and Lettuce (=) Pizza Hut (-) Walkabout
(+) Conan Doyle(=) La Favorita (+) Taste of Italy (-) Vittoria on
the Bridge (+) Pizza Express (+) Albanach(--) Mithras (+) Bank Hotel
(--) Calton Highland Hotel (+) Spoon (+) City Restaurant (+)
Brasserie (+) La Petite Folie (+) Cafe Andaluz (+) Hendersons (+)
Fruit Market (+) Jimmy Chung’s (=) Radisson Inn on Royal Mile (+)Phuket
Pavilion (+) Pearce’s (-) Treacle (+) Café Renroc (++) Merlin bar
(++) Pine Garden (+) Waiting Room (+) Howies (+)Fishers on Thistle
St.(++) The Shore (+) Fishers on the Shore (+) Mussel and Steak (++)
Phuket Pavilion (+) Pearce’s (-) Café Habana (---)Boston Bean
Company (--) Regent (+) Kentucky Fried Chicken (-) Xanadu (+)Theatre
Royal (-) Elm Bar (-) Treacle (+) Outhouse (-) Royal MacGregor (+)
Garfunkels(-) Ensign Stewart (+) Deacon Brodie (=) World’s End (-)
Halfway House (=) Artcafe Morita (++) Arcade (++) Black Rose (+)
Amber Rose (+) Maison Bleu (-) L’Escargot Bleu (+) Cramond Inn(+)
Two Bridges Inn, South Queensferry (+) Old Clubhouse, Gullane (+)
Four Mary’s, Linlithgow (-) Ricarton Arms, Currie (=) Bridge Inn at
Ratho(+) Cafe Piccante (+) Sian Thian (=) Fiddlers Elbow (+) Smoke
Stack (+) Mahlers (+) The Street (+) Sea Breeze (+) Silver Bowl (=)
Deli Polonia (++) Bijou(+) Espey, Portobello (+) Glasshouse,
Musselburgh (+) One-on-One bar, Musselburgh (+) Waterfront Cafe,
Newhaven(+) Haman (+) Wok (+)
108 Reviews on a single webpage, including three unnamed
restaurants (----) (--) (+ )
10 (+ ) 63 (=) 9 (-)17 (--) 6 (---) 2 (----)1
TOP TEN RESTAURANTS
(1) Artcafe Morita on the Canongate, (2=) Vittoria on the Walk,
(2=) Fishers on Thistle Street, (4) Mussel and Steak in the
Grassmarket, (5) The Merlin Bar in Morningside, (6) Café
e Cucina in Morningside, (7) The Arcade on Cockburn Street,
(8) La Tasca in Omni Centre, (9) Café Renroc on Montgomery
Street, (10) Deli Polonia on Leith Walk
Mama Roma, Elm Rose Café, Shezan, Café Habana (--- no food),
Boston Bean Company, A strange breakfast place in Abbeyhill (--),
Albanach Bank Hotel
Valvona and Crolla in Elm Row, A nameless joint on the Royal Mile
(1) Giovanni’s on Northfield Broadway, (2) Deep Sea Fry at top of
BEST BAR FOOD
(1) Cramond Inn, (2) Bridge Inn at Ratho, (3)Two Bridges
Inn in South Queensferry, (4) The Regent on Abbeymount
In Tom’s neck of the woods, Vittoria on the Walk
is currently one of our favourite eating places. Young
Alberto Crolla was educated at Edinburgh Academy. He’s particularly
welcoming and hospitable, and will sometimes come into the street to
greet you. While Grandpa Alberto can get a bit gruff, the owner Tony
Crolla is reassuringly sensitive to his customers’ needs. While he’s
an avowed perfectionist, he’s also a cultured gentleman of the old
[Just to avoid any misunderstanding, it was Antonio Crolla, who owns
Bar Napoli on Hanover St., who got shot in the leg,
and his assailant has never been caught. The extended Crolla family
in Scotland has its origins in the tiny rustic town of Picinisco
near Rome, which has about 1200 inhabitants, and at least four
different Crollas own restaurants in Edinburgh]
Tony Crolla’s well-fed waiting staff in Vittoria are
ultra-keen to pour on the pepper and the grated cheese, and to offer
you exquisite desserts like tiramisu. But don’t return anything to
the kitchen for extra gravy, or they’ll go frantic.
The week-day lunchtime and afternoon fare at Vittoria is
surprisingly inexpensive, high quality, and nourishing. If you’re on
a high bran diet try adding some of the nutritional vegetable side
orders (e.g. camponata, asparagus, or el verdure) from the evening
menu. Allan just loves the garlic and mushroom pizza, and Tom
sometimes wonders whether he’s made of pizza.
Other early day highlights include the sautéed potatoes, minestrone,
salmon, steak, calamari, pollo milanese and spaghetti marina. It’s
usually best to miss out on the specials, particularly when the
waiters try to hard sell them to you (they probably won’t have even
sampled them themselves!), though they can occasionally be out of
The evening menu is also available during the day, and you can still
eat well for under twenty pounds. The breaded fish and chips is the
best-served of the seafood, as long as it isn’t left to dry, and
it’s better to try the salmon earlier in the day. The rack of lamb
is delicious, though not that large. The stinco cotto (boiled ham on
the bone), beef stroganoff and mixed grill are ginormous, and the
venison-on-the-bone is also extremely tasty. Other highlights
include the zuppe di pesce, which is larger than many seafood
suppers. And the tagliatelle vittoria; it really is bellisomo!
And wash everything down with a glass of draught Moretti, or your
choice of the well-selected wines. The Biferno and the Pecorino are
to be recommended, though they’re on the expensive side.
When Tony Crolla expanded Vittoria several years back, all
the way around the Eatalias chippie (which is good) to his function room, his effervescent Polish floor
manager Kamil helped him to build up his business to where it is
today, largely by attracting all those cute and well-remembered
waiting staff who introduced fresh dimensions into their customers’
However, Kamil sought grandeur and diversified to Simply
Sandwiches on Lothian Road. It’s well worth stopping by his
place for the inexpensive cuisine and the lively, expertly-chosen,
European waitresses who are always eager to please. Tell him that
Tom sent you! They provide numerous office workers in the
surrounding blocks with their lunch, by special delivery. So order
Simply Sandwiches is quite a contrast to the splendid
carvery in the Sheraton opposite where they could be a
mite more generous when they’re doling out the beef for twenty-odd
Deep Sea Fry at the top of Leith Walk is top fish
compares well with Eatalias, and Pasquale shoots a convincing
line on European football and thinks he knows all the gossip.
However, his coke, while fizzy, is exorbitantly expensive. Perhaps
it’s been spiced!
Giovanni’s in Northfield Broadway serve ginormous fish
to customers from far and wide. And their pizzas and kebabs are also
fantastic. A chippie to be reckoned with.
Until late 2011, Massimo’s (the family’s restaurant in
Glasgow is still superb) was the order of the day on Leith Walk, and
Ernesto and Lisa Crolla offered chic Italian food and their
excellent company at reasonable prices. However, they couldn’t
control the lunchtime trade, and the ruthless owner was reportedly
charging them over £70000 a year rent after they’d spent a similar
amount redesigning the place. To top that, the owner threw them out
on their ears when he wanted to move in, and they fled down
Morningside Road and opened Café e Cucina where
Loopy Lorna’s used to be.
The atmosphere in Café e Cucina is pure Morningside, and the
locals congregate around the trestle tables in the afternoons. If
you’re not that hungry, then the Stuzzichini menu offers delicious
Italian nibbles, or you can order other light fare. The evening menu
is ever improving, and the gamberi piccante and pollo alla mostarda
are to be recommended.
Meanwhile Massimo’s near the top of Leith Walk suddenly lost
its lovely round corner table and became Khushi’s, an
upmarket restaurant proffering uniquely-spiced Indian food.
Khushi’s and its prize-winning sister restaurant Mithas
near Leith Docks are doubtlessly the most jam-packed in town.
Khushi’s menu puts a spin on traditional Grill dishes alongside
classics such as Chicken Tikka, Lamb Bhuna and Vegetarian Makhani
Dalls. And you may bring your own wine without paying corkage.
When Khushi’s, established in 1947, first re-opened on
Antigua Street, Tom decided to forgive the tough-talking owner’s
dire mistreatment of Ernesto Crolla and to lunch in the same
location as before several times a week, since he’d always enjoyed
watching the pedestrians streaming along the pavement outside.
However, this quickly turned into a bittersweet experience. The
waiters were up to all sorts of underhand tricks. They would, for
example, bring extra sauces, or suddenly produce a pickle tray, and
tag the extra price on to the bill.
When Southern Indian food was added to the menu, Tom experienced the
final straw. The much- vaunted chicken wrap stretched right across
his plate, but there was only a small amount of, badly-cooked,
chicken hidden in the middle. Tom therefore decided to stop
patronising Mr. Khushi, for the time being at least.
We prefer to occasionally dine next door in the Gurkha Brigade.
The helpful Nepalese lady serves up solid fare. The lamb
jalfrezi and Chan Aloo chickpeas are highly recommended, but don’t
bother with the bland parathas or Nan bread.
The nearby Shezan Indian Restaurant is a poor man’s
Khushi’s. Before it’s latest expensive refurbishment, it boasted
a time-honoured reputation for inflating the bills when compared
with the stated menu prices. And the food has always been somewhere
between average and mediocre. More recently, the waiters have got up
to devious tricks. For example, they forced an expensive though
skimpy pickle tray on Tom and twice tried to whip it away before
he’d had time to digest it. After a couple of highly questionable
courses, he left with a curse on his lips and hasn’t been there
The standard of fare in the Passage of India tends to
go up and down. Last time Tom ate there it was on an all time low.
Perhaps we should try out the Indian restaurants on the west side of
town. We’ve heard that the Omar Khayyam is quite good,
and it certainly was seventeen years ago.
Across Leith Walk on Elm Row, Jolly’s Italian
restaurant provides senior citizens and genuine types with
substantial three-course lunches for under six quid. The owner Vito
Alongi is charmingly extrovert and philanthropic, and the rumours
about Love Hearts are totally misguided. He reportedly lost all of
his hair when a stray fire-engine crashed into his establishment,
and he offers reduced price deals in the evenings to his favourite
However, the basic foodstuff at Jolly’s isn’t obviously of
particularly high quality health-wise and, while Vito’s more than
generous, we’ve experienced a plethora of problems over the years,
including invariably flat soda, stroppy waitresses, sour orange
juice, burnt or under-cooked pizza, inadequate vegetables (e.g. just
peas), silly knobs of garlic bread, incorrectly selected or cooked
steak, badly-boiled potatoes that may have been left-overs and could
have caused food-poisoning, and an over-abundance of not-so-great
chips. But the tortellini al brodo and prawn salad are good. Menu
choice at Jolly’s is all important, and we’re usually too
polite to complain since we enjoy being jolly.
Jolly’s preferable to Guiliano’s, formerly an
outstanding family restaurant, where the inflated prices are
inconsistent with the marginally-less-than-generous helpings and the
brash waiters have been known to ask for their tips.
The owner/chef of Ferri’s is keen to express his own
high opinion of his prize-winning culinary expertise. However, his
prices are high, and he can sometimes be seen expressing himself
alone in his restaurant. Perhaps his vegetables and preponderance of
chips don’t match up to his cordon bleu, but we’ve only ventured in
a couple of times.
The Elm Rose Café fobs you off with left-over pasta.
And they say they don’t care. But the backroom restaurant in
Valvona and Crolla on Elm Row gets a heavy lead spoon. I was
once charged six-fifty for a tiny peasant breakfast that had to be
seen to be believed. And it’s never got better since, although the
stuck-up waiters will happily call you ‘M’sieur’. The celebrated
deli is snotty, extortionately priced and pretentious. Tom was once
charged seven pounds for a small jar of honey. And when he spent
fifteen pounds on a small box of chocolates for Heather, they were
gone in a flash.
Mama Roma isn’t worth the powder. Le Ciero
on South Bridge is much more hospitable and caring, and their
tortellini carbonara is a treat. La Rusticana in New
Town is palatable, but they do keep pressuring you ad nausaeum
to order extra items. And that ain’t user friendly.
At least one of Vito’s five pretty nieces is nowadays in regular
attendance in Jolly’s. That makes a change from the
succession of maladjusted waitresses who take it out on their
customers. One doughty waitress once called Tom a ‘boring old fart’
and went screwball when he complained. Another one stoically
declined to know more than sixteen words of the English language,
and blamed her customers when she slipped up on their orders.
Nevertheless, Vito and his brother Alfredo are our personal friends.
Vito’s a local institution, and we wish him well.
The Blue Moon on Broughton Street is a lively, LGBT-friendly
social hub. The food has reportedly substantially improved since we
were last there, and everybody loves the nachos. But they could also
try the hospitable Mezz for a convivial atmosphere.
The Omni Center offers several exciting choices. Not including the
Playfair where the attitude can be misguided and the
atmosphere depressing. Frankie and Benny’s and the
Filling Station proffer traditional American music and
food. However, the top of the list is La Tasca where
the range of delicious tapas and cocktails are very appealing to the
young at heart. The Slug and Lettuce is rather more
congealing and you can keep the Pizza Hut, but the
Walkabout produces some genuine Aussie grub. Allan loves
the kangaroo burgers.
Around the corner on York Place, the Conan Doyle
hasn’t improved since its refurbishment. While still tasty, many of
the helpings seemed to have been shaved. And the brash Aussie
waitstaff have all left.
In addition to Vittoria on the Walk, Tony Crolla owns two
other restaurants on Leith Walk. The menu at La Favorita
is more innovative but the atmosphere is less cosy, Tom loved the
fish soup, and his lawyer friend went bananas on the pasta. In
contrast, the food in the highly popular Taste of Italy
is surprisingly mediocre, and the hordes of enticing waitresses
don’t tip the balance.
Tony has turned into quite the fatcat. As well as putting both of
his sons through Edinburgh Academy and visiting Milan to watch
quality football, he owns Vittoria on the Bridge. When
Allan’s parents ate there they thought that its high quality matched
the other Vittoria, with a few roundabouts and swings.
But you risk being thrown out on your butt with five minutes
notice if the hitherto-charming waiters need your table. Allan’s
parents and their church friends got the boot ninety minutes after
they arrived, even though they’d reserved their table. Be well
advised. It’s best to book for after 7.30.
The Pizza Express on North Bridge serves high quality
pasta and pizza, and the atmosphere is classy. But it’s not worth
stumbling into the Albanach around the corner. The
last time Allan went there, it stank. However, Mithras
to the left serves good quality bar food.
In contrast, the Bank Hotel on the other side of the
High St. serves horribly bland, though much-vaunted, Scottish
breakfasts. You may wish to retreat the Calton Highland
hotel, where the meals are traditional and suitably classy. However
in the afternoons and evenings, Spoon on Nicolson
Street is trendy and intellectual with lively music and tasty
snacks. The City Restaurant still serves wonderful
breakfasts and meals, and a snazzy extra floor has been added for
The Brasserie on the west end of George St. is well
worth a visit. They serve traditional Scottish food in a convivial
atmosphere. Further to the west, La Petite Folie
serves extremely high-quality French food in medium quantities and
at an affordable price. Further to the east, Café Andaluz
serves magnificent Spanish tapas in a more vibrant atmosphere,
though it can get a bit too noisy.
We’ve visited Hendersons on Hanover St. several times
with discussion groups from our church. The healthy deli counter is
complemented by delicious pastries and panini.
Some of us congregate in the Fruit Market on Jeffrey
St. after church on Sundays. The soup is well-spiced and the
specials offer all sorts of tasty crepes, curries and chic salads.
The service is sprightly and the trendy waiting staff are
good-humoured. There’s a bookshop and an art gallery attached where
you can browse.
Around the corner on Waverley Bridge, Jimmy Chung’s
offers a plentiful buffet of stodgy Chinese food. But beware the
paltry breakfasts! However, back up the hill the Radisson Inn
on the Royal Mile offers magnificent early morning buffets.
If you fancy expensive Thai food, then the Phuket Pavilion
beats the erstwhile Thai Me Up hands up.
The proprietors of Thai Me Up sold up under debatable
circumstances. Wild rumours were flying around the Pink Triangle,
and many gay customers reportedly voted with their feet. According
to a friend from Hong Kong, Mood and his partner have now opened up
again somewhere near Leith Docks, maybe in the Ocean terminal. We
haven’t had time to check out the ownership of the Yuet Ben
yet, but we do hope that our friend Lucky isn’t serving tables in
the boom docks.
The Oriental decor and the fish tank in the Phuket Pavilion
are high brow, and the Irish owner is utterly charming. He
nevertheless tends to over-focus on his profit margins. Try to avoid
getting to share a bowl of rice during an eighty-quid meal à deux,
and count the infinitesimal number of lychees in your pricy
ice-cream-splattered afters. The appetizers and sizzling duck dishes
are superbly prepared with subtle seasonings, but leave the tepid
coffee for later or your bill will ratchet up. Beware the
super-expensive monk fish, in case it vanishes on your plate.
Anna, the lovely Swedish owner of Pearce’s bar on Elm
Row originally tried to pamper her anticipated clientèle of artists
and writers with an exquisite Scandinavian cuisine. However, the
poor lady’s head chef turned megalomaniac, and the menu and Swedish
meatballs became more limited and mediocre. Their high-priced wine
often turns out to be seriously inferior. And manager Pete is
relaxed about keeping reserved tables free for the people who
reserved them, even if it’s your birthday. But that guy’s relaxed
about everything, including his beard and the extremely tall chef!
Please remember us to the tall barman from Gothenburg with the
Treacle on Broughton St. should be recommended to all
your naff friends. The atmosphere is electro-electronic and the food
is fabulous. In contrast, the food in the Outhouse rarely
comes up to expectations on food, though it’s good for a drink.
Café Renroc on Montgomery St. is trendy and Bohemian,
and there are plenty more tables down the spiral staircase. The
spicy sausages and breakfast paninis are excellent, and the
atmosphere is nostalgic. This place is a gem!
As well as Café e Cucina, there are several other
splendid restaurants in Morningside. These include the Merlin,
a bar restaurant that’s been a local institution for years. The bar
food is generous and of an unusually high quality. The restaurant
menu changes every day. Last time Alan was there he ordered the
asparagus soup, sea bream on a bed of roasted potatoes with Irish
potatoes, an New York cheesecake, all freshly made. A wonderful
The Pine Garden is just across Morningside Road from
the Merlin. The ambience inside this traditional
Chinese restaurant is intimate and friendly, the portions are
generous and well-flavoured. The king prawns in black bean sauce is
there for the connoisseur, and the chicken in chilli and garlic
sauce is a crispy treat.
The Waiting Room bar on Balcaress St. offers
budget-priced, good quality fare. Allan and a friend usually share a
seafood or Indian platter. The prawns with pieces of sea bass,
calamari, mussels and salmon are a great deal for a tenner.
Howies in Bruntsfield serve local and Scottish fare
with a modern twist. Allan has only been there for their for their
lunchtime deals. Last time a rolled salmon starter and haddock and
queen scallops with sautéed potatoes were the order of the day.
When Allan and Tom can afford an extra-special treat, then
Fishers on Thistle Street (to the east of the feted
Oxford Bar) and The Shore on the Shore
sometimes take their fancy. Fishers on the Shore is
similarly enticing, but the premises on Thistle Street are much more
spacious. All three offer exquisitely-prepared, classic seafood in
The Mussel and Steak is both magnificent food-wise and
toddler-friendly. That makes a change for the Grassmarket.
If you plan to eat on the High St., then the Royal MacGregor
is our pick of the bunch. The Ensign Stewart runs
second, well ahead of the Deacon Brodie.
Tom particularly recommends the steak-and-ale pie in the Royal
MacGregor, and Allan likes the well-seasoned cullen skink. The
World’s End bar falls short on attitude and quality of
food, and the quality and quantity in the quaint Halfway House
on Fleshmarket Close are mixed e.g. the bangers were small wedges of
meat the last time we sampled them.
In a nameless first-floor joint on the Royal Mile close to the
Royal MacGregor, Tom was once served with entirely different
bits and pieces of rabbit than he’d ordered. Then the manic female
owner came out of the kitchen, ranting and screaming. Tom paid up
and scarpered. There goes our second lead spoon!
Garfunkels is much better, at least by lunch-time.
Artcafe Morita on the Canongate is out of this world.
The walls are covered with paintings that the Japanese owner Kozo
Hoshina has brought over from his mansion in Mayfield, which houses
the luxurious guesthouse the Art House Morita. The
food is amazingly inexpensive and superlative. Last time, Tom tried
the subtly-flavoured noodle-based soup yakisoba, with a
poached egg on top, followed by the yakitori chicken kebabs.
Allan ate the vegetable noodles tsukimi udan. Then the both
filled the gaps with a slice of tarte au citron. Try going
there after ten for a breakfast that’s different. Evening meals with
multi-choice set menus are served on Friday and Saturday evenings.
The interior of the café is much grander than the ordinary exterior.
Mr. Kosino also organizes splendid tours of Scotland via his company
Morita Emporium, and heads an Anglo-Japanese art trust with several
thousand paintings. A gentleman and a connoisseur if ever there was
one. He walked us across the street to our taxi when we left.
The Arcade on Cockburn St. is chic, delightful,
and LGBT friendly. Such heart-warming mulled wine to wash down the
haut cuisine in the winter. Eva also runs Frenchies,
a plush cocktail bar on North Rose Street lane where she
and the ever ingratiating Polish barmen serve muffins with the
cappuccino, and the free peanuts are delicious.
The Black Rose at the neat end of Rose St. near
Charlotte Square serves generous, high-quality food, and the
Scottish barmen there are equally helpful. The Amber Rose
on Castle St. serves genuine pub grub in a vibrant, hospitable
With the exception of La Petite Folie, the Arcade
contrasts well with the French restaurants in town, most of which
are seriously overrated. Take, for example, the fêted Maison
Bleu on Victoria St., where Tom and his seven relatives were
once served unexpectedly meagre portions in seriously compressed
space that hung over the stairs.
Tom also had mixed experiences in L’Escargot Bleu on
Broughton St. He broke a tooth on the appetizer, and then the
loquacious owner tried to explain away the absence of the pommes
de terre, that’d been promised with the main course, as a French
eating experience. Despite the obvious high quality, Tom told the
handsome owner that he had ‘une araignée dans le plafond’, and he
hasn’t been back since. But L’Escargot Bleu is probably ranks
a not-so-close second out of the French restaurants in Edinburgh.
If you fancy a short scenic drive, then the Cramond Inn
is an excellent prospect. The seafood chowder and the views of the
Firth, and the Romanesque village outside are absolutely
scrumptious. The Two Bridges Inn in South Queensferry
is similarly appealing.
If you take a tour, you could discover the splendid Old
Clubhouse in Gullane, noted for its traditional cullen
skink, and the Four Mary’s in Linlithgow that is
pretentiously mediocre and where the unfortunate cullen tends to
gets drowned in the skimpy skink. The Ricarton Arms in
Currie offers adequate family fare with a pleasant drink.
And the Bridge Inn at Ratho has a superb menu,
including steak stuffed with haggis, and an excellent view of the
barges on the Union Canal. So take a canal trip after you’ve stuffed
Let’s return to the top of Leith Walk, and Broughton St. The
Café Piccante is a sit-in chippie that serves palatable
late-night kebab. Siam Thian serves Thai food without
frills, and may be worth a try when you’ve been on a binge.
The so-called Café Habana in the much-respected
Edinburgh Playhouse is a grotty gay bar that doesn’t serve food,
which it’s reportedly supposed to under its contract with its
brewers. Beware the self-acclaimed police-killer should you venture
in. He isn’t part of the theatrical performance.
That place is no match for the all-accepting Regent
on Edinburgh’s Abbeymount, where Heather and her cronies
serve delightful food with the drinks. Indeed, the Regent is the
only decent eating place in Abbeyhill. Tom went to some strange
breakfast place on London Road where the misfits stared at the
walls, and the badly-attituded waitresses glared at him. What a
shame for such a lovely district. Perhaps the Kentucky Fried
Chicken that controls the Meadowbank Shopping Park has
something to do about all this, though they do leave some meat on
the greasy bones. It’s chicken licken bad!
The Xanadu is on London Road just west of Meadowbank
Stadium. The budget-priced Chinese food is of remarkably high
quality. Allan enjoyed the king prawn, bean curd and oyster sauce,
washed down by a glass of refreshing lager. A shining beacon in that
part of town.
The Boston Bean Company in the King James’
Thistle Hotel is the pits, and you won’t get your money back. The
less-than-exciting food in the Theatre Royal does not do
justice to the quality of this historic bar. The nosh in the tawdry
Elm Bar is better.
The Fiddlers Elbow (previously Thai Me Up) was
extremely unwelcoming on the two occasions when we tried to eat
there, and they seemed to have lost their chef. We thought that they
might learn a lesson or two from the bouncers outside the colourful
GHQ bar in the cellar. Perhaps the shady Glesca magnate
Stefan King is still operating the entire building from afar, after
he took on the much-feared Diane in C.C. Blooms
opposite. But beware the fickle reviewer! We’ve now heard from
several sources that Fiddlers Elbow has got much more
customer-friendly and that the food varies between ordinary and
great. So that’s a (+) instead of a (--), and no wooden spoon. It’s
also a quirky place to stay, though we’d be scared to bits. One for
The last time Tom tried eating breakfast in the Smoke Stack
on Broughton St, he got less than he bargained for. We’ve however
heard that it now serves delicious steaks. Mahlers is
a welcoming, traditional Scottish bar that sells juicy burgers. And
the trendy Street serves palatable nosh.
If you’re brave enough to venture down Leith Walk beyond Vittoria,
the standards quickly deteriorate. We don’t want to mention the name
of the first Chinese restaurant on the right, as they once stood us
up while we were dying of hunger on Boxing Day. Perhaps they should
rename it the Number Seventeen Viet Cong. However,
they do serve delicious plum sauce on their duck. They therefore
deserve to be recommended. Further along, the Sea Breeze
serves excellent late morning breakfasts. Their Desperate Dan
takes the biscuit. We had an average experience in the Silver
Bowl Chinese and Thai place.
However the Deli Polonia is fantastic, a squeaky-clean
oasis in the middle of nowhere. The Polish breakfast is
breath-taking, with an enormous traditionally-shaped sausage. Try
some bigos on the side, and don’t forget to take away a few loaves
of their wonderfully-grained breads.
Let’s take a few last lingering looks around and about the city.
The popular Bijou bistro on Leith Links offers
a light breakfast and a substantial dinner.
It is difficult to recommend too many places in Portobello, which
seems to be lost somewhere back in time. However, the Espy
bar on the Esplanade is run by a hospitable Australian couple.
There’s a playroom for children and board games for the adults, and
the atmosphere is very relaxing. The bar menu offers tasty fare, and
the evening menu changes every day with a slightly Latin and New
World twist. The kangaroo burgers are one of the delicacies.
In Musselburgh, the Glasshouse is said by an
artist friend to be the best, but Allan’s parents prefer the
One-on-One bar on New St. The Waterfront Café
in Newhaven serves good family food, and there’s a playroom where
you can throw the kids.
Back in town, Allan’s parents like the Kurdish platters and buffet
in the Haman restaurant off the High St. Allan likes
the Wok on Causewayside where the Chinese dishes are
fresh and crispy. It’s certainly no greasy spoon. TO BE CONTINUED