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At one time, I spent a lot of time visiting Edinburgh on business and ate out in lots of places on expenses. I was conscientious in blogging about my eating experiences and some people have said that they found these reviews helpful. We still eat out in Edinburgh but no longer on expenses so I’ve become a bit more selective about looking for value for money.

When I started, there were hardly any Edinburgh food blogs, now there are lots of reviewing bloggers and I’ve become less inclined to write about individual restaurants. Others do it more eloquently than me. So, rather than write about individual places, I’ll cover about half a dozen places in this post where we’ve had good experiences and which are good value for money (although not always cheap).  This has a ‘south side’ bias as that’s where we stay. We don’t eat much in the centre of the city. The general rule that you get better food for less money if you get away from the touristy area applies in Edinburgh as it does everywhere else.

High-end

Castle Terrace (in Castle Terrace) is superb. We have been there for lunch and dinner and have never had a weak course let alone a poor meal. Definitely the best of the Michelin Star restaurants that we’ve eaten in although all of them are pretty good. It’s expensive but you won’t be disappointed.

Dessert in Castle Terrace

Dessert in Castle Terrace

Seasonal

Aizle in St Leonard’s Street focuses on seasonal ingredients so there is no fixed menu. Rather, each month, the restaurant choses what’s in season and offers a no-choice menu based on these. The menu board tells you that month’s ingredients and the dishes are a surprise. Some of the courses we had were absolutely superb, other’s didn’t work quite so well but overall this is an unusual and remarkable eating experience.

Aizle starter - oyster, Ajo Blanco and crab

Aizle starter – oyster, Ajo Blanco and chicken liver

(Gardener’s Cottage has a similar approach – we haven’t tried it yet but have a booking there in a couple of weeks)

French

For quite a long time, my favourite French restaurant has been La Garrigue in Jeffrey St. It specialises in the food of south-west France with dishes such as cassoulet and stuffed rabbit.  It would fit in well in a regional French town.  It has been around for many years and hasn’t changed much at all – but why should they change a winning formula.

Rabbit stuffed with black pudding in La Garrigue

Rabbit stuffed with black pudding in La Garrigue

Italian

Edinburgh has a lot of mediocre Italian restaurants and a few, expensive, excellent ones such as Contini’s in George St and Vin Caffe.  But, in terms of good value for money, I think the best places are in Bruntsfield – Osterio del Tempo Perso and Nonna’s Kitchen. When Osterio del Temp Perso opened, it was superb but they changed the menu and I don’t think it was an improvement. For this reason, I’d put Nonna’s Kitchen in Morningside Road as my top pick Italian resto. Always great fish and if you are lucky, Jimmy will recite the whole of the specials menu to you from memory.
Nonnas: Spaghetti alla vongole

Nonnas: Spaghetti alla vongole

Local bistro

The Three Birds in Bruntsfield is a wee restaurant with an eclectic selection of dishes. It’s impossible to classify – Scottish/French/Cajun fusion would be the closest I can get. Great value lunch menu. The Bia Bistrot, also in Bruntsfield is also pretty good. Definitely worth the taxi or bus ride to Bruntsfield.

Three Birds

Pub food

Leith has a great selection of restaurants but it’s a bit out of the way from Bruntsfield. However, on a Sunday we sometimes take an 11 or 16 bus and head to the Kings Wark in Leith for lunch. There’s no pretentions to fine dining – just hearty pub food and excellent beer.

Kings Wark: Smoked haddock, black pudding and poached egg

Kings Wark: Smoked haddock, black pudding and poached egg

Disclaimer
Apart from Aizle, where we’ve only been once, we’ve eaten in all of these restaurants several times and have always paid for the food and wine with our own money.  Some Edinburgh bloggers accept free meals in return for reviews on their blog – I don’t.

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