My wife and I recently returned from a weekend in Edinburgh where we enjoyed the Edinburgh Festival (www.eif.co.uk). Eating-wise, I expected the worst so was pleasantly surprised by what we found. A survey follows; Id be curious to read others experiences:
VILLAGER, George IV Bridge. A great place for lunch. Had excellently executed breaded haddock & thin fries (not fish & chips) and the roasted pepper soup was really flavorful. The place is a refurbished pub operating as a pub cum restaurant. Yet while many places go for the sleek modern design inside an old space look and pump up prices to match the inflated attitude, the Villager does no such thing. The décor is hipster, the staff are very friendly and efficient, and the prices are totally reasonable. And the food is excellent.
BAR ROMA, Queensferry St., West End. Ended up here when we missed last orders at SYGN which is just down the alley. Slightly better than average Italian fare but friendly staff, reasonable prices, no pretensions, and its open late. Itll be hard to find a place of similar quality serving mains in London after 10:30pm, much less Edinburgh.
SYGN, Charlotte Lane, West End (www.sygn.co.uk). Did lunch here. Very stylish place that turns into an ultra hip bar at night. Food was done very well, but with a bit of volatility. Calamari & Cold Noodles was fresh, tender and flavorful. The Burger was done well but somehow lacked flavor. The flatbread I chose of Asian Chicken was merely average (but I may have chosen poorly). I would return to SYGN to give the other choices a try. The lunch special is an excellent deal.
NORTH BRIDGE, North Bridge. In the old anteroom of The Scotsman, this was my second dinner at North Bridge. Both times it came through will flying colour. The menu is pretty simple, well at least what we had, and the chef relies on fresh inputs and flawless execution to keep diners happy. Starter of Spinach, Avocado & Poached Egg salad was executed very well, as was the Tuna Capriccio w. White Bean. The Seared Tuna was, as expected, cooked to perfection and full of flavour while the accompanying tin of chips were taken down (although not with the Béarnaise sauce on offer but substituted with some very fine Dijon mustard). Steak was cooked perfectly but the accompanying mash was nothing special. Service was a bit inattentive, but with such a fine room that serves well-executed mains until late in the evening and at reasonable prices, we werent complaining.
HOWIES, Victoria St. I found this lunch here to be OK but nothing special. The Lamb Burger was done well but was almost lost in the massive occasion bun. No sides to help it along. The Haddock & Salad was very good - - I didnt get much from my meal mate so it must have been so. Good wines by the glass and a pleasant room make this a safe bet.
ALWAYS SUNDAY, High Street. The café serves good coffee, but the service was so dreadfully slow that I was fuming into my foamy caffeinated beverage. Dont go if you see a queue, but there often is as its one of the better places on the Royal Mile for coffee, etc.