Edinburgh’s culture and food, glorious food
A few of months ago you might not have wanted to go to Edinburgh, well, not unless you are an ardent lover of the Arts and wanted to immerse yourself in the world’s largest Arts festival, writes Katie Wood
Of course, the Edinburgh Festivals (yes, it is plural) are wonderful, but they also swell the city to more than twice its normal size of around 450,000, so it is not for the feint-hearted. Crowded pavements, queues for any restaurant worth going to, and ridiculous prices for a room, it has got to be planned well ahead….
Now it is over though, the Scottish capital is a manageable city once again. Speaking as a local I can now once again appreciate the delights of being able to walk without the person right in front of me stopping abruptly to take a photo and banging their rucksack into my face. So, what is new in this beautiful capital to tempt you to organise a break? Well, one new product worth knowing about is a new city pass that gives you significant savings on some of the city’s most treasured attractions. Valid from one to three days, the Edinburgh City Pass gives entry to 17 attractions. The pass will guide ticket holders from the hustle and bustle of Princes Street to the seaside town of South Queensferry right down to the historical town of Dalkeith, ensuring visitors get a broader experience of Edinburgh and the Lothians. Attractions included on the pass include the Edinburgh Dungeons, Georgian House, Scott Monument, Gilmerton Cove, Edinburgh Vaults, Forth Boat Tours, and the National Mining Museum Scotland.
The Edinburgh City Pass is priced from £45 per adult and £20 per child, and offers savings of up to £100 per adult pass. Purchase a pass at EdinburghCityPass.com, at the VisitScotland iCentre, at Edinburgh Waverley and via www.edinburgh.org
Braveheart’s Revenge is Edinburgh Dungeon’s hot new show. Be among the first to come face-to-face with Scotland’s most fearsome warrior, William Wallace. As part of your Dungeon visit, you will be welcomed to Dumbarton Castle, 1305, and within its walls William Wallace meets his gruesome fate, betrayed by his own people.
Exhibition-wise you can also discover the history of Scottish pop at the National Museum of Scotland
Rip it Up is the first major exhibition dedicated to Scottish pop music, exploring the musical culture of the nation over more than half a century, from influential indie pioneers to global superstars, and from the dance halls of the 1950s to the stars and emerging talents of today. The majority of the 500 objects on display are on loan from the artists themselves and in many cases have never before been on public display, including costumes, memorabilia, instruments and props from musicians including Alex Harvey, The Proclaimers, Lulu, Midge Ure, Simple Minds, Annie Lennox, Franz Ferdinand, Shirley Manson and Young Father. It runs until 25 November.
The fabulously-buoyant Edinburgh restaurant scene continues to flourish. With more Michelin-starred restaurants than any city in Scotland and more restaurants per head than any city in the UK, including London, you are never stuck for options eating out in Edinburgh.
The Ivy is the new kid on the block. Located in St Andrew’s Square, when I ate there it was one of the best meals I have had in months. Sister of the famous Ivy in London, the restaurant has 130 seats, alongside a buzzing bar and attractive mezzanine terrace, the brasserie offers all-day dining and an extensive cocktail list. The food is an eclectic mix of British and international favourites, as well as comforting Ivy classics such as their wonderful shepherd’s pie and chocolate bomb with hot salted caramel sauce. Great staff and terrific food. www.theivyedinburgh.com
Another central classy act is The Printing Press at 21-25 George Street. In addition to their excellent a la carte menu, there is a very reasonably set lunch from Monday to Thursday, from noon to 6.30pm, with two courses priced at £15 and three courses at £21. The Principal’s popular roast is still served every Sunday from noon to 5pm with the menu priced at £19.95 for two courses, with children priced at £9.95 and under-fives dining free. Starters include confit duck with Asian slaw, roasted cashew nuts, lime and soy dressing as well as the No. 25 Principal Gin-cured trout with pickled mussels, hand-dived scallops, and tempting mains include Wellington Farm pork belly with beans and asparagus; stone bass with peas, ham hock, charred baby gem and onion and charred cauliflower with golden raisins, curry oil and pickled celery. www.printingpressedinburgh.co.uk
If pounding the legendary cobblestones of Auld Reekie has exhausted you, treat yourself to a bit of a spoiling and head for the wonderful Guerlain Spa at the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian (and try and get Mathilde). Awarded Best Luxury Hotel Spa in the UK at the 2017 World Luxury Spa Awards, this is the first and only Guerlain Spa in the UK., utilising the very finest Guerlain products with patented methods and protocols dating back to the inauguration of the spa’s esteemed Parisian counterpart, L’Institut Guerlain, in 1939. Among their plethora of spoiling treatments to revive you is a marvellous facial called the Abeille Royale Expert Treatment. This lifting and firming treatment starts with ‘microdermabrasion’, followed by a special six-minute massage with warm plant infusions to purify the skin and stimulate the firming action. Each wrinkle is targeted with the technical application of Abeille Royale Youth Serum before the face is massaged using the Guerlain method, then steeped in a serum bath under an adapted mask. The result is immediate and visible.
While you are in this haven of luxury have a meal at the famous Pompadour Restaurant, which also won the Fine Dining Hotel of the year accolade. This elegant restaurant first opened in 1925 in the heyday of Victorian railway travel to serve the rich and famous of the time. Now restored to its former splendour, the Pompadour by Galvin continues its tradition of classical French excellence under the guidance of the Galvin brothers and Head Chef Daniel Ashmore. Enjoy classical French-inspired dishes prepared with locally sourced seasonal Scottish ingredients, as well as traditional Scottish and English favourites. They offer everything from a seven-course degustation menu to a reasonably priced set menu at just £35. http://waldorfastoria3.hilton.com/en/hotels/united-kingdom/waldorf-astoria-edinburgh-the-caledonian-EDNCHWA/index.html
The latest restaurant that everyone is talking about is Hawksmoor Edinburgh Steakhouse and cocktail bar. Located in the beautiful former Royal Bank of Scotland’s headquarters, a Grade A listed building of national importance, the restaurant has been sensitively refurbished to celebrate the building’s original features. The menu highlights the best of fresh Scottish ingredients in Edinburgh: seafood , beef from grass-fed native breed cattle, hand-dived scallops from the Isle of Mull and sourdough bread from Edinburgh’s own Twelve Triangles. The food, staff, ambiance are all five-star, and alongside Hawksmoor classics, like their dictionary-thick steaks, Old spot belly ribs, Hand-dived scallops with white port & garlic and Charcoal-grilled monkfish, new dishes include Cast iron fillet steak with bone marrow skirlie. You cannot be disappointed. https://thehawksmoor.com/locations/edinburgh/
Not new, but a city classic, and an absolute ‘must’ if you love seafood and fish, is Ondine. Located on George IV Bridge in the Old Town, this is a shrine to exactly how to cook and serve what comes from our seas. They offer the finest seafood and shellfish from the East Coast of Scotland and beyond. In addition to wonderful, knowledgeable waiting staff, this restaurant also has the rare ability to cook steak to perfection, so if you are not a lover of fish or seafood, fear not. The wine list is impressive and their lobster thermidor is worth every penny. For a special meal out you cannot beat it, but book well ahead, as it is an Edinburgh favourite. www.ondinerestaurant.co.uk/
Whenever you come, enjoy the Scottish capital – a wonderful city at any time of the year.
Main image | © www.schnappsphotography.com