Edinburgh’s Must-Try Dinner Date Venues
With a thriving culinary scene there is almost too much choice when it comes to picking a venue for a romantic dinner date in Edinburgh. So how do you pick the perfect evening spot? We asked Jo Cooksey, Editor of Taste Today, for her top recommendations…
A city with a castle resting atop a rocky escarpment and a peak shrouded in myth and mystery is already well on the way to being a romantic date destination. Edinburgh has been Scotland’s capital since the 1400’s and has been the seat of Scottish royalty since the 12th Century. It is a vibrant, thriving city with a wealth of attractions and festivals. At the creative heart of it is the Edinburgh festival, which brings in visitors from all over the world to sample its many delights. The dining scene in Edinburgh is plentiful, varied and of the highest quality, so whether you reside there or are a visitor you will be spoilt for places to try on a date.
Michelin Starred Dining
Edinburgh has a total of five Michelin starred restaurants plus three that have been awarded a Bib Gourmand and all have their own specialities and atmosphere but two in particular standout. The Castle Terrace and its sister restaurant, The Kitchin. The former is situated on Castle Rock, in the shadow of the fortress itself and its Edinburgh born Chef Patron, Dominic Jack has had a varied and rich career in some of the best Michelin French restaurants in Europe and the Near East. As soon as you enter there is an atmosphere of calm and tranquillity, enhanced by the soft heather hues of the décor and the discreet but excellent service.
If you would prefer to dine outside of the city then the suburb of Leith, on the banks of the Firth of Forth, is the perfect place to head to. This energetic and attractive area has a wealth of bars and restaurants and if fine dining is your idea of the best sort of date then book a table at The Kitchen, yet another of Edinburgh’s Michelin starred establishments. The restaurant is housed in an old whisky warehouse and the décor within is beautiful and sympathetic to its surroundings. Owner and Chef, Tom Kitchin believes in a ‘Nature to Plate’ policy of serving up the best that Scotland’s natural larder has to offer. The welcome here is warm and friendl,y as is the atmosphere and visitors from all over the world return time and time again.
Within the city of Edinburgh you can find a little piece of Parisian paradise. The Café St Honore is tucked away down a little cobbled street and you could almost feel like you were in Montmartre. They serve excellent bistro style fayre and the menu, which includes gluten free and non-dairy dishes, caters to everyone’s tastes. Chef Director, Neil Forbes, who was Scottish Chef of the Year 2014 buys as much produce as possible from local farmers, growers and foragers and serves dishes that contain, “Good honest ingredients, cooked simply.” The menu here changes daily depending on what ingredients have inspired chef that day.
Another bistro of note is Bia Bistrot, which is owned and run by Frenchman, Matthias Llorente and his wife Roisin. Both of whom are chefs. They met in Scotland fifteen years and travelled the world via its kitchens before deciding to settle in Edinburgh and open their first venture. The menu is small but perfectly formed and gives a nod to both Scottish and Continental cuisine. The perfect, intimate spot to impress that someone special.
Perhaps you want the place you dine to be a talking point long after your date is over. Choose The Dog’s in Hanover Street and you will certainly have an evening to remember. Ascend the rather striking staircase and you will find the restaurant housed in two rooms that are a homage to the canine species. The owner, who will often be found waiting on tables has been likened to Basil Fawlty but this is half the fun of dining here and very tongue in cheek. The menu is full of reasonably priced Scottish comfort food and the portions are hearty.
Another quirky little spot is Aizle. Quirky in that the menu is a list ingredients, which changes monthly. You simply tell them which of the ingredients, if any, don’t appeal to you and they then rustle up their five course set tasting menu. It’s the surprise present of restaurant dining. Or as in the words of Forrest Gump, “You never know what you’re gonna get.” What fun.
Any piece about dinner dates in Edinburgh wouldn’t be complete without mention of the Timberyard in Edinburgh’s Old Town. Its characterful building was originally constructed as a theatrical props and costume store before becoming a timber warehouse. It now houses Timberyard’s kitchens, dining areas, smokehouse and butchery whilst the outdoor space is utilised for fair weather dining and a kitchen garden for herbs and flowers. This family run concern has justifiably won a plethora of awards and is constantly on the lips of people from far and wide who love to dine.
It would be all too easy to write a bulky tome about the dinner date options afforded by this beautiful city. If you are a resident you should book a romantic interlude forthwith and if you are a visitor try not to be too overwhelmed by the choice. It is all there to be enjoyed.
Want more date inspiration? Check out the eHarmony Great Date Guide.
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