When it comes to the Edinburgh food scene, few are better informed than Nadine Pierce. Among several culinary endeavours, she writes the eatingedinburgh.com blog, which covers new restaurants and bars, the essential events, as well as informative reviews – complete with mouth-watering photos.
Nadine shares her tips on the Scottish capital’s food scene.
What’s your take on the city’s foodie scene?
“It’s really vibrant, with an ever increasing interest in food, drink and provenance. Scotland, and its capital in particular, are superbly placed to showcase high quality artisan products through restaurants, delis and farmers markets and shops – we’re really spoilt for choice!”
Who are the movers and shakers we should pay attention to?
Mark Greenaway is always up to something, whether that’s being on TV or engaging with his customers through innovative use of social media. Definitely one to keep an eye on – he doesn’t sit still long!
Queen Margaret University College is the first Scottish university to offer a Masters degree in Gastronomy – I have a feeling there’ll be some interesting things starting to happen on the back of this as we see each intake go through.
Craig Sandle, Head Chef at Pompadour Restaurant, is not only a fantastic chef (and a thoroughly nice guy) but he is also working this year on the Budding Chefs Exchange programme, which sees talented young chefs from Brittany and Edinburgh swapping places to learn more about food, produce and cooking – it’s an excellent programme (founded by Fred Berkmiller from L’escargot Bleu and Blanc Restaurants), and one that I’d love to go on myself, if they’d have me!
Which events should any food lover go to throughout the year?
There are a few that I go to every year, including the Royal Highland Show (18-21 Jun, 2015) and Foodies, but there are lots of newer events that are definitely worth looking out for – the Crail Food Festival over in Fife being one of them.
There are now several highly successful markets in the city, the original at Castle Terrace has been joined by Stockbridge and Leith and there are several others in smaller communities outside the city.
ScranSalon is a monthly event for foodies and food bloggers, run by the lovely Blythe Robertson of Lunchquest fame. It brings together the local food bloggers and interesting people from the food and drink scene.
Which restaurants are really getting people talking at the moment?
I actually think it’s the gin/bar scene that seems to be grabbing the limelight right now – there’s been a big resurgence in the drink, and with some wonderful new bars like Juniper on Princes Street, Panda & Sons on Queen Street and Edinburgh Gin’s Heads & Tales in Rutland Place, we’re seeing a welcome return to quirky, retro yet cosy bars where you can settle yourself in for the duration, and don’t worry if, like me, you’re not a spirit drinker: they all seem to have rather good wine lists too!
Any up and coming chefs to look out for?
For sure, there are many fantastic places to eat in the capital but there are a couple of lesser known chefs that stand out for me – Paul Gunning from Purslane restaurant in Stockbridge is definitely one to keep an eye on – delicious, beautifully presented and seasonal – he’s also a thoroughly nice chap! Rosario Sartore has been running Locanda De Gusti (recently moved from Broughton to Dalry) for the past eight years. Their southern Italian food is an absolute delight – I couldn’t stop grinning the first time I ate there and I’ve been back several times since. I’ve even taken part in one of his cooking classes – he knows how to put a smile in your tummy for sure!
Cheap eats and street food are increasingly popular. Any places that do this particularly well?
Cheap eats are a speciality of mine – I still love The Dogs on Hanover Street for value and quality and it’s a regular lunchtime haunt.
Pho Vietnam is a hidden gem where you can get a three-course lunch for a tenner – outstanding quality and authentic Vietnamese Food, it’s tucked away on Grove Street and is tiny inside so you may need to get there early or be patient.
Bollywood the Coffee Box in Bruntsfield offers fantastic home-made Indian dishes, all served with an extra sprinkle of panache from the owner, who can often be seen dancing and singing while prepping!
If I’m in need of a little ‘restoration’ after a heavy night, I often head to Shebeen on Morrison Street. A bucket of meat (this is actually a thing, with ribs, battered deep fried pork belly, sausages etc) and a fizzy juice has come to a very reasonably-priced rescue on several occasions.
As for getting the right ingredients, which shops would you recommend?
Now there seem to be fantastic ‘foodie’ shops in every part of the city. Earthy Foods do a great job, and I’ve always loved Real Foods on Broughton Street and Leith Walk, which is perfect for Asian spices and more unusual ingredients. I particularly like the farm shops out of town – Whitmuir Organic Farm, Hopetoun Farm Shop and Craigies Farm all offer a lovely day out as well as excellent produce purchasing opportunities.
You have one day and night to eat your way around Edinburgh. Where would you go?
Oooh tough one! If money and digestion weren’t an issue…. I’d probably start with a coffee and bacon focaccia in Contini on George Street followed by lunch at Wedgwood on the Royal Mile, and the Tasting Menu with matching wines at The Kitchin in Leith for supper (although to be fair I’d need at least three days to take in all my favourite places, not to mention the constitution of an Ox to manage it).
Got your own Edinburgh foodie tips?
Check out more Edinburgh guides:
• Edinburgh: A beer lover’s guide
• 10 of the best bars in Edinburgh
• Edinburgh Restaurants Guide – read the reviews and book tables
• A fashion lover’s guide to Edinburgh
• 5 of the best places for brunch in Edinburgh
• Coffee stops: 5 of the best places to refuel in Edinburgh
• 5 of the best cafés for cake in Edinburgh