I recently visited one of my favourite cities – the one in fact, which was my number one place to visit in the UK before moving to London in 2013. With more listed buildings than anywhere else in the world and a castle built on an extinct volcano, I am of course speaking about the classically beautiful city of Edinburgh.
I had not visited Edinburgh since moving to London so it is safe to say I was long overdue a trip. Making it the destination of choice for my Mr’s birthday celebrations, we decided to drive from London up to the Scottish capital. As flights and trains were exorbitant that weekend because of Scotland playing a Six Nations rugby game at home, driving was the most cost effective option and took around 9 hours – which included stopping about four times plus a snowy selfie in a bracing -4 gale at the border on the way up.
Opting for an Air B&B in Leith, an area to the north of the city centre, it was just a 15 minute bus ride from outside where we were staying to the famous Princes Street. A prime location for some of the best food in Edinburgh, Leith offers everything from tiny cafes to Michelin starred restaurants serving some of the most delicious seafood in Scotland.
Our first port of call after our drive was to a charming bar and restaurant on the Shore area in Leith. With the building itself dating back to the 1400’s, the welcoming and cosy atmosphere was exactly what we needed in The King’s Wark. On the quest for some Scottish delicacies but not quite ready to introduce my man to haggis, I opted for a hearty bowl of Cullen Skink. A smoked haddock and potato soup like stew, it went down really well after some initial dubious looks. Followed by the special of the day; a tender lamb stew with steamed greens and creamy mashed potatoes there was simply no room left for dessert – very unusual, I know. With a wide variety of beers, ales, cocktails and gins available as well as some soft drink options, it made me realise that you simply do not get pubs like this in London.
The next morning was a blustery but bright Friday and staying close to our Air B&B we picked a place we had both heard a lot about; Mimi’s Bakehouse. A family run bakery and restaurant providing lots of choices for breakfast as well as cakes for all occasions. Scottish bakery cafe of the year for four years in a row, what they describe as their ‘Belly Bursting Breakfasts’ are not to be missed if you are around The Shore. Really playing up to the gram in all that they do, it seems like this little place would be as popular as somewhere like Peggy’s or Elan’s had it have been in London. Still not opting for any cake, I picked out a sausage and bacon roll, which was a little disappointingly dry but nevertheless delicious when remedied with a good squirt of brown sauce and a cup of Scottish breakfast tea – which they all insist is different to English Breakfast types.
With my mum and dad living not too far from Edinburgh, they joined us on the Friday afternoon. After meeting them at the wind tunnel that is Waverley train station we grabbed some lunch at The Clock Cafe and Bistro also apparently known as The Clock on the Shore. An all day breakfast sort of jaunt that also offers some simple Mexican and even Greek dishes as well, this eclectic take on a greasy spoon provided some delicious food at very reasonable prices. The little cafe on the corner is open seven days a week and gets quite busy from what we saw, but is definitely worth a visit.
With our first choice of bar being to capacity, it is things like that which make me think everything happens for a reason. A cold, rainy, Friday evening closed in around us and we made a mad dash for another bar, seeking celebratory birthday cocktails. The Dome was where we decided to settle and this place was the literal definition of fabulous, with celebrity fashion stylist Gok Wan himself being across the bar from us. This place was simply too majestic to put into one paragraph (and I have far too many pictures) so please anticipate a blog post dedicated to this wonderful part of the city, very, very soon – we even returned to The Dome the next day for one of the best afternoon tea’s I have ever sampled.
Not wanting to fill up too much on cocktails, the Friday evening saw us have a birthday dinner at one of our favourite places to eat in London; Dishoom. Yes, Dishoom has a branch in Edinburgh and with it being one of the only ones I had yet to sample (even though they all offer a variation of the same menu) I was keen to get inside. With a typical wait of 45 minutes to an hour for a table, Dishoom is worth the wait. When it starts to rain outside, the only people that remain in the queue are seasoned Dishoomers, who know just exactly what devine dishes await. After 10 minutes outside and 40 more minutes at the bar we finally got to select what we wanted to eat. Opting for my favourite chicken ruby, some fluffy, white rice, garlic naan and some too-good-not-to-order gunpowder potatoes it is worth saying that Dishoom food is made for sharing. Between four of us we ordered about twelve dishes and devoured the whole lot in what must have been record time. I honestly love Dishoom so much I feel like it is only right to make a whole post about this place one day soon. Completely stuffed with incredible Iranian food, that brought Friday to a close.
Saturday started as one of those typically crisp winter days – freezing cold but super sunny, even if it was the middle of March. With thousands of people in the city for the rugby match, the atmosphere was lovely. We stayed in Leith for breakfast on the Saturday morning, opting for Finn and Bear. Offering everything from early morning breakfasts to late night cocktails, this place serves something for everyone and can cater for a huge range of dietary preferences. Picking out my favourite breakfast roll of choice; juicy sausages, succulent bacon and scrambled eggs inside a toasted granary roll with a big glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, this place provided the perfect set up for a day’s worth of exploring in the city.
Carefully timing brunch to coincide with a return to The Dome on Saturday for afternoon tea, this is one of the reasons why I mentioned earlier that this place needs its own post. We loved it so much in the bar on Friday evening, my mum – who was also celebrating her own birthday that weekend, decided this was the place to come for afternoon tea. #ComingSoon.
After filling up on afternoon tea, we did not really require anything on Saturday evening to eat, grabbing a quick pizza on the way back to the Air B&B. However, by the time Sunday morning dawned, and with another mammoth drive back to London ahead of us, we picked Cafe Tartine for breakfast, which was a stones throw away from where we were staying. The food here was lovely however the portion size was a tad on the small side, which resulted in us needing to order a dessert – after breakfast! Due to staff shortages as well on the weekend of our visit, there was a 45 minute wait for food which was not the most ideal. However apologetic staff can be, this sort of wait for breakfast can potentially put a dampener on the day. Poached eggs and salmon was simply not filling enough which made me and my man decide to split the Nutella crepes following our main courses before our drive back to London. The crepes were so good, I didn’t even manage to get a picture before they were gone!
Needless to say we ate incredibly well in Edinburgh and I simply cannot leave it another six years before returning. With lots to see and even more places to eat, this city is a paradise for all things bloggy. Do look out for my future blog posts on the capital as I have so much more to share with you all.